50 iconic places in Lagos

by Ozolua Uhkhaeme

Last year May, two art journalists Akeem Lasisi (Punch) and Kabir Alabi Garba (The Guardian) started writing a book intended to capture some iconic places in Lagos. They planned to present it as part of their contributions to the Lagos @50 celebration that ended last month, but that was not to be.

At a recent sneak preview and presentation of the 120-page book titled: Phenomenal Lagos: 50 Iconic places in the Centre of Excellence, to some arts and culture writers in Lagos, the authors recalled how the journey began, urging colleagues to explore the many opportunities provided by the profession to enhance themselves. They added that journalists should never be discouraged by whatever challenges they may face.

The coffee-colour, hard cover book contains comprehensive profiles, photographs and poems on the selected iconic places. It celebrates the sociocultural and political monuments of Lagos. Its aesthetically packaged sharp pictures complemented the brief history and poetic verses that illuminate the souls of the sites to its readers.

To the duo, the publication aimed to enrich the historical archive in an attempt to preserve Lagos cultural heritage. In the course of selection, the authors considered the five divisions of Lagos called ‘Ibile’, which include Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, Ikeja and Lagos Island.

“We decided to do a comprehensive research and found out why some places bear the name they are called today. We found out why Mushin is called Mushin. Why Agege is called Agege and many more like that. We aimed for a very high quality so as to be presentable in places that matter,” said Lasisi.

On the challenges encountered, Garba said they have learnt a lot of lessons. “The major lesson we learnt in this journey is that nothing is impossible. If you go for any event, present something unique and presentable and don’t stop at that. Interpret your stories. Learn how to manage your life wherever you find yourself.”

The seasoned art writers acknowledged Lagos State’s support towards the realisation of the project, especially at the printing stage of the book. They noted that the selection of the various places was done in conjunction with Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy.

“We didn’t stop at culture and tourism. We considered the political, historical, religious and business landscape of Lagos in our selection. In the book, you will find such edifices like stock exchange, computer village, whispering palm for tourism, City Hall, Lagos House, the first judiciary building in Lagos, point of no return, first church in Nigeria, first mosque in Lagos, Eko Hotel and others,” Lasisi said.

In the foreword to the book, Prof Olanrewaju Fagbohun described the book as a direct interpretation of celebrating those socio-cultural and political monuments of Lagos. “Some of the iconic places featured are history personified. Others directly project the state’s tradition and culture, including some that justifiably echo its economic destiny,” Prof Fagbohun said.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde said in the prologue that the uniqueness of the compendium lies in the poetic verses that complement the brief history and pictorial representation of each of the 50 iconic sites.

Lasisi, who is Assistant Editor with The Punch, has distinguished himself as a performance poet in the past 25 years He has also performed poetry in different parts of Nigeria and countries like South Africa, Germany and Brazil.

South Africa, Germany and Brazil. Similarly, Garba, who holds Masters of Science degree in Mass Communication from Lagos State University, Lagos as well as Postgraduate Diploma Certificate in Journalism from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba Ikeja Lagos, is an Assistant Editor with The Guardian.

Ozolua Ukhaeme is Assistant Editor (Arts) with The Nation

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