A Child laughs in Lagos


The January 18th daily prompt was called Reason to Believe it asked; In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day / people find some reason to believe.” What’s your reason to believe?

I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can.

— Linda Ellerbee

My reason to believe is even in the worst of circumstances, the most harrowing of places, and in the lowest depths of humanity, I find laughter.  Usually in the face and body of a child.

This is the third blog regarding my tour of Makoko the stilt village in Nigeria.  As always, my favorite part of this tour was being able to interact with and watch the children actively engaged in the routines of their daily life.  It seems that no matter where I go and what environment I am in, the children are always the happiest or at least the most engaged and willing to interact with the people who pass through their lives.

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Every house we went by the kids would jump around, try to hide from us, and laugh and scream and call us silly names.  They loved getting their pictures taken. It was inspiring and made you really think about where you were in your own life.  Despite everything, this area was filled with play and constant laughter.  How can you not have hope and believe with those smiling happy faces staring back at you?

If you’re able to grow up in Nigeria and go through certain things, you’re able to tackle anything around the world because you’re able to live wherever, if you can survive in a city like Lagos or Warri or Niger Delta, as far as I’m concerned.

Nneka

 

[Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. — Mark Twain

I hope you enjoyed my tour of Makoko.  Like I mentioned, this tour was just the start, just the beginning of my new routine.  Tours like this give me a reason to believe that I have a purpose for being here or anywhere.  For me the only difference between a routine and a rut, is how you move through it.

My goal is to once again move through my new routine in as a manner of learning about where I am and gaining a larger understanding of what I am doing and how to do it better.  It’s what keeps me believing.

Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.

Paulo Coelho

Nigerian Proverb:

Chicken wey run way from borno go Ibadan go still end up inside  pot of soup

loose translation: You Can’t Run Away From Your Destiny

HOPE – by Shaggy

More Reasons to believe

 

What is normal – Lagos Part 2


“Normal is an ideal. But it’s not reality. Reality is brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s every shade between black and white, and it’s magical. Yes, magical. Because every now and then, it turns nothing into something.”
― Tara Kelly, Harmonic Feedback

It’s easy to get caught up in how normal or abnormal a different life lived might be.  I would like to think that in general I live a fairly normal life.  I get up, do my stretches, eat breakfast, go to work..work..toil..worry..stress…eat lunch…work some more, come home, eat dinner and go to bed.  It’s my routine and I’m comfortable with it.

In the process of doing what I do, I will sometimes pass by lives, actions, ideals and philosophies that sometimes feel incredibly abnormal.  I might at times feel saddened by the brutality of it all, the abnormality and chaotic nature of it all.  I have to force myself to put the brakes on because what is normal to me now, might have at one point not so long ago, appeared to be very abnormal.  This life I lead right now often presents to me situations that do not feel normal at all.  When I visit some of the places I visit, a part of me screams inside my head that, “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!!”

I have to ask myself what is normal?  What is routine? Who am I to make that call?

So Makoko Stilt Village part 2.

We visited the village in a traditional canoe which allowed us to see more of the area and see how this community really lives.  We visited a maternity ward, a school, passed by local markets and we were able to get an authentic feel for the lives being lived here.  To me interesting and lives uniquely lived.  There is no argument to that statement.  Except maybe to the people who are living that life.  Their routines are no more abnormal to them than mine is to me.

It is brutal, it is beautiful, it is every shade of black and white.

The more I travel and the more I see, the more I realize that in the middle of every single place I visit, exist regular people doing what is normal to them.  They all have a voice and they all have a story.  It’s crazy that I have to remind myself of this so often.

But on the other hand, in the midst of the chaos, you find normal people. You find people who are willing to risk their lives to tell you what they saw, even though they have no dog in the fight.

John Pomfret

Other routines.

Finding a routine in Lagos – Part 1


“The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine.”
― Vilayat Inayat Khan

Well, nearly 4 months in and still trying to find that routine.  The quote above exemplifies though that my routine is not about conformity but about discovery and experiences.  Lucky me, I found and joined a group that will allow me the opportunity to create a routine of discovery.

The Nigerian Field Society (NFS) is a national organization founded in 1930 with branches in several cities across the country which depend entirely on local interest and volunteer commitment. The first edition of NFS’s publication, “The Nigerian Field”, was published in 1931. This journal still continues and is one Nigeria’s oldest continuous publications. For more information go to http://www.nigerianfield.org/.

I just completed my first trip with them to Makoko, the stilt village.  I was able to visit this community of about 100,000 people and experience what their daily life is really like.  At least as much as one can in a single tour.

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This village was initially established as a fishing village in the 18th century and has been referred to as the Venice of Africa.  From the A-frame school house I was able to interact with some of the children and was also given the best overall view from the 3rd floor of this structure at the immenseness of this”village”.  Mouth-dropping really to see how expansive this stilt city was.  To think that there were over 100,000 people living here.  Out of the 100,000 people, we were informed that only about 350 were lucky enough to go to school.

For the children who were not in school, they would help transport food through the village, learn to fish, do a multitude of other tasks, or simply hang out and play.

It was amazing to see this completely different side of Lagos.  You can see a very interesting article from CNN world that gives you more details of this village.  Postcards from home: documenting Nigeria’s floating community

A trip to the stilt village was added by another member of this tour group.  The video gives you a slightly different image with sound perspective.  I hope you enjoy.

Other routines you might find interesting.

Absence of Sound : Photography of Danelle Manthey


Super love what my cousin has done … she doesn’t know it but her work has been a bit of an inspiration for me to take more time and shoot more photos that have a different look and feel to them.  Also, to shoot what I love for no other reason than just because I love what I am looking at.

Source: Absence of Sound : Photography of Danelle Manthey