lørdag 28. februar 2009

Football (soccer for those far far west)

Today was the day when I would finally go to a local football match. I had wanted to do this for a while but my dear husband is not a football fan, the security responsible told me that a Nigerian Football Stadion was no place for a woman to be alone - so then I had to invite some of my male colleguaes. Luckily - three og them were interested enough to join me. Thanks to Niels, Arne Gunnar and Stein Erik!

Before we left for the game we had a short briefing with security coordinator. He informed us that we would have to bring a police escorts, two policemen. The would be discrete - and not draw any attention towards us. We would not need that being the only four white ones in the stadium area! We were also lucky that the assigned driver came with us to watch the match - so the pick-up after the game were easy. We were also priced for our ability to dress "unattractive" - which I believe was meant to be a good thing.
On the picture: Arne Gunnar, Niels, Sylvester and Stein Erik.

The match was played at Onikan Stadium Ikoyi, Lagos so it was only 15 minutes drive from the office. We arrived shortly after 3pm and took a walk towards the area with seats. The tickets were in two price ranges - 50 Naira or 100 Naira. We went for 100 Naira seats so we could sit in the shadows and watch the game. We were seated all the way back so we could have a good view and some chill from the fresh air.

When we walked towards our seats we came across what I assume must be the VIP area. Leather chairs and tiled steps. It must have been fantastic some years ago.
Well the staion was worn down, and it was small for a match in first division - it seems to be to little room for the players to play! But it was still fun - and some variations from other saturday activities.

Todays match were between First Bank of Lagos and Benin Insurance of Benin city. When we arrived I asked the locals who would win - they all replied Benin. But the better team won - First Bank 1 - 0.

And the condition the played under were the same for both teams. A grassfield without grass in central areas for the game, uneven, slightly bumpy ground that made the ball bounce in peculiar ways from time to time. But some of the players were falling to easy and staying on the ground to long. If I had been the referee I would have carded them for "filming".

Not to far from us - actually just in front of us to the left, were two trompet players and three men to play the drums. And they played and played for the complete 2 X 45 minutes! Amazing stamina! And they made it look so easy. Watching the game while playing trumpet.

onsdag 25. februar 2009

Law and order in Lagos

The population is informed of new laws and stronger enforcement of existing laws by several media. This is from one of the local newspapers yesterday.

In Lagos there are many beggars and they slow down the traffic. There have been signs posted with "No begging" but there will be people begging next to the sign. No several of the most busy roads are off limit for the beggars, and it is also illegal to give money to them. So now I would risk one month in the local jail for giving money to children begging in the street.

It is hard to understand the need for these laws if you have not been here. While we drive in the traffic I am worried that some children begging will be hit and killed by the passing cars and motorbikes. The traffic is so crowded and the beggars are not aware of their security risk. If they get eye contact with a passanger they just rush out into the traffic in the hope of getting some money.

If you are hanging around a shopping centre or a central road you can risk 3 months to one year in prison if you can not document why yiou are there and what you do for a living.
The streets and open areas of Lagos are often littered with empty plastic bags, bottles, paper etc and there is a sanitation day once a month where people try to clean up the mess. Now there is a fine for littering, I just hope that the authorities will innstall trash cans of one sort or another for people to dispose of their garbage.
As I have mentioned on my blog before, there is as far as I know no puplic restrooms. We see people urinating against walls, sitting on the edge of the bridge "defecating" into the lagoon or from the walkways into the open sewer systems. I guess this will still be a problem except for the Central business district of Lagos.

Due to the unemployment rate and extreme poverty people are setting up their small one-man-business along the road, where they can reach customers with hteir services. You will find people taking passport photos, fixing motorbikes, sewing clothes, cooking a meal and sell flowers and drinks along the roads. They will now have to do this without any shade to protect them from the sun, or to advertise their business from.

It is a difficult issue, since I do understand that the authorities try to do something with the problem. My question is - Is this the way to solve the problem?

mandag 23. februar 2009

The Tarzan ferry

Tarzan is the name of a local "ferry" crossing from Ikoyi to Lekki. A short distance with boat - a potential long one by road with the unpredictable Lagos traffic.

The ferry can cross your car and a few more over, while you go into a smaller paasanger boat that cross the passangers over. We enjoyed the short boat ride friday evening, thinking of the long time saved by not taking the car. The small boat had four people per bench, and were filled completely when we crossed. We were all given life jackets to take on, but not all of them could be fastened properly.

After the boatride, when you leave the boat and the life jacket, you pay for the trip. Total cost 50Naira per person. I know I would like to take the ferry next time I am going shopping at Lekki, the problem were getting from the ferry to the shopping centre in a safe way.

Small World - Big Party

Saturday we left to take part in a charity fundraising at the British International School in Lagos. It was called "Small world - big party". Everyone payd for the tickets in advance, and food items were sponsored by different national and international organizations and corporations. When we had entered the premisses everything were free.
So we went around and looked at food and drinks and entertainment, talked to people and enjoyed ourself the whole evening. But we were very careful were to take food, and where to avoid.

At the end there were different nations presenting entertainment from their local representatives. we had it all from American cheerleeding to Palestinian men dancing a traditional dance, contemporary dance performances following traditional folk dance.

torsdag 12. februar 2009

The writing on the wall

When out driving or walking in Lagos you see a lot of writing on the walls. Some places you see "This property is not for sale", other places you se adverts for plumber or electricians just by the words "Fix your plumbing" followed by a cell phone number. Other places you are informed of events going to happen. But the writing on this blue gate confused me. If the property has been taken by the court order - this should not be of interest for everyone. I would guess that creditors, former owner and potential new owner should be informed. But the rest of us? Why not send a letter to the involved parties?
Another common text is "Do not urinate here". That is written on many walls in this town. First I found this rather peculiar - but after seen where and how many people are urinating along walk ways, not hiding away at all - I would prefere it if someone put up some facilities and wrote "Please - Urinate here!".

tirsdag 10. februar 2009

Fences, gates and walls of Lagos

Lately I have been walking to the office. It is only 5 kilometers, but the walk is nice in the morning, still a bit to warm when it's time to go home. In Lagos I have noticed that everything is fenced in. Mostly different brick or concrete walls are surrounding the compounds and villas of Ikoyi and Victoria Island. And the are not very friendly or inviting - it is a clear message to keep out.

Different methods are used to keep visitors away. At home some places I have noticed a sign stating that unwanted visitors are not welcome. I immidiately feel unwanted and go somewhere else. May be signs does nor work here in Lagos?
Well, to day I took Sofie's small camera with me when I went to work. Example number 1 - of not very friendly walls. A spiral of barbed wire are attached to the top of a rather tall wall. Well, I do not want to try to get over the wall for sure. Barbed wires are used a lot, but often they are stretched out in neat rows, 3 - 5 under each other. I guess it is harder to cut when it is not streched out and lined up.
Exampel number 2 is more used, and probably a much cheaper way of preventing someone climbing over your wall. Pieces of bottles, smashed and worked into the concrete.
Example 3: is rusty iron spikes on top of a tall wall. And they had a very uneven surface as well. So it is definately not something you would like to hold on to.
And it is not only the walls that are protected - this gate has an uneven zig zag of triangles on top to prevent a climb-over.
The winner - metall spikes in several directions attached to the wall. In addition I could hear som rather large dogs( according to the barking I assume the are large - no high pitched barking there) on the inside. I must admit - that this wall would be the one I had chosen if I wanted to bring a tadder and climb up and take a look at what was on the inside. But I will not do it - out of respect for our company's security guys. But when someone goes to this steps to keep people away - then I get curious - away from what?