For those that do not have the patience to watch the video I took a lot of pains to provide above , (believe me it is a good watch. If you are Nigerian, it is a must watch) here is a one line summary. Welcome to Lagos is an excellent documentary that profiles the lives of people living in a certain slum in Lagos. It was aired at the same time as the first UK prime ministers debate so I did not have the opportunity of watching it live. The initial feedback I got was mixed, on one hand, people were complaining ‘the west’ had done it again always looking for an opportunity to rubbish Nigeria, while another group of people were shouting a certain name “vocal slender”. I decided to watch it for my self and here are my notes.
I have never more proud being a Nigerian than I was immediately after watching the documentary. It showed the side of Nigerians I wish the world defined us by. Hardworking, ingenious, resilient and happy people. I was not offended one hour of primetime was focused on the dirtiest area in my country and the reason is, it was shown in context. It was not a 1minute report on CNN speaking of how dangerous Nigeria is but one hour of the forgotten people telling their side of the story. Most Nigerians would not mind a well rounded story even it is not flattering
Quite a number of people are of the opinion that BBC should have shown the ‘real’ Lagos Shoprite, VGC, Ikoyi, Lekki (without the go slow), basically that BBC should have done a promo for Lagos/Nigeria. Well, if we tell our own stories, we would control how we want it told. Secondly, who are you to say that you bloody Blackberry pinning, Number10 clubbing, VI working, Facebooker represents the ‘true’ Lagos? That said, I would like a documentary on the city life of Lagos.
The documentary profiled a few people but focused on two Eric Obuh and a.k.a Vocal Slender a scavenger and Joseph Orji the scrap dealer. When I heard about the documentary, I though it was all about vocal slender so I was surprised when I saw Joseph the great family man, Mohammed the cattle rarer that came to Lagos without speaking a word of English and has rising to become a cattle dealer that speaks five languages and Gabriel the ingenious dude that turns cow blood into animal feed. I realised why everyone including me had vocal slender on our lips, ambition. Vocal Slender was the only one who showed dissatisfaction with his current state and was working hard to leave that life behind. If you have ambition, people will rally behind you. If you seem satisfied, well, you will be left the way you are not destabilized. “To save a drowning man, he must first give you his hand”. Vocal slender has given his hand, and he will be saved.
The life at the dump seemed chaotic yet there was order. It amazed me the peaceful consistence between the slum dwellers irrespective of their origins and showed no existence of the tribal tension the we see on Sahara Reporters everyday.
My criticisms of the documentary
- The Title: ‘Welcome to Lagos’. It could have been less definitive since that is not the only side of Lagos.
- The scheduling: It was broadcast at the same time as the Prime Ministers debate, drastically reducing the audience. I believe that documentary deserves a wider audience.
- The sequel: Welcome to Lagos 2 is a worse sequel than Speed 2.
- I learnt Shaki has got an English name, Tripe.
- The Intro score was bad ass, who is responsible for it?
BBC, thank you for telling their story.
What are your own thoughts on the documentary? If you have not watched it, watch it now.
Update: Someone was trolling on my blog insulting me and people commenting. It began to distract from what this blogpost is about therefore, I have had to delete all those comments. I am really sorry for deleting your comments. Thank you for coming to my defence, I really appreciate it. When I find out who the person is (shamefully it a facebook friend of mine who I am certain I know in person) I will hang the person dry :).