Nowhere in Nigeria can prepare you for the manic in-your-face vitality of Lagos. A high voltage mix of screaming humanity and teeming streets. The city is an unrelenting assault on the senses of someone Fela Anikulapo-Kuti calls a Johnny Just Drop (JJD), someone who’s not a Lagosian.
Raucous, polluted, unruly, deafening, Lagos is a city that polarises opinion like no other. Tell a Nigerian you are going to Lagos and they will either praise the city’s artistic and cultural heritage, reminisces on the glory days of the darling team of a Lagos – Stationery ‘Super’ Stores, a potpourri of dishes and meals, and fantastic natural setting. Or they will warn you to avoid Oshodi and Ojuelegba at night and the rush hour, which has no particular hour.
Lagos is the most populous city in Africa, ahead of Cairo, Egypt. It’s Nigeria’s largest city and its economic capital. The state is in the country’s southwest, alongside the Atlantic Ocean. According to a 2014 report by the National Population Commission, Lagos, with a population of 21 million, is the 7th fastest growing city in the world.
Let’s leave the city and talk about the character traits of the people.
Actions speak louder than words with character traits. It becomes even louder when you see a typical Lagosian. By typical, we mean the average man or woman on the streets of Bariga, Badagry, Ikorodu, Somolu, and Ajegunle, while not exempting some living in high brow areas. Lagos has a personality of its own and there are some character traits that you can identify with someone who has stayed in the city for some time.
Some character traits are connected to your values or beliefs. Some examples are religious, honest, loyal, loving, kind, sincere, ambitious, happy, faithful, patient, determined, persistent, adventurous, homebody, considerate, cooperative, optimistic, and funny.
Not all character traits are outstanding. You may not want these traits associated with you, but somehow, you show them unintentionally. Some examples of these types are dishonest, disloyal, unkind, mean, rude, disrespectful, impatient, greedy, angry, pessimistic, repugnant, cruel, unmerciful, wicked, obnoxious malicious, grumpy, quarrelsome, caustic, selfish, unforgiving.
Now, you know the good and bad character traits. If you’re considering a move to Lagos or are already ten-month-old in this city with its personality, we present character traits that make you know you differ from that Lagosian you will soon share a bus, bar, newspaper stand, place of worship, market with. Or how to know you’re a Lagosian from your experience in a bus, bar, newspaper stand, place of worship, market, etc.
10 Lagos behaviours
1. Strong affinity with the city
For a Lagosian, wherever they are – in Benin City or the Benin Republic, London or Lisbon – Lagos is the greatest city in the world. They might spend 30 years as an investment banker in New York or run a crèche in Michigan, but a Lagosian will still regard Lagos as home.
A Lagosian is very much aware of his image. He knows that many of the stereotypes non-Nigerians hold of Nigerians – noisy, theatrical, food-loving, passionate, and proud – refer to him. And he revels in it.
A Lagosian is very confident in who he’s and he’s not afraid to show the world. He doesn’t need to put up a smokescreen as he lets his true personality shine. Authenticity is a byword to being a Lagosian.
2. Pessimism mixed with resilience
Lagos is not what it once was. It’s a lot tougher place to live and eke a living. Among the people, optimism and hope have given way to indifference and cynicism, especially towards the ruling class. Politics affects the economy and every other thing it comes into contact with. Some maintain that lull was inevitable after a period of no change, others blame the opposition party for not having the structure to wrestle power from the ruling party.
But through all this, the most striking feature is the resilience of a Lagosian himself. Cynical and cheerful by nature, they make the city what it is. Visit Lagos today and what strikes you is the sheer energy of the people. Wherever you look, there are people on the move. A Lagosian may complain that the city is no longer what it used to be. But if he had not told you, you would never have guessed.
Looking up the word in a dictionary, you are presented with the following definition:
- An enterprising person determined to succeed; a go-getter
- Slang. A person who uses fraudulent or unscrupulous methods to get money; a crook.
- Informal. an expert gambler or game player who seeks challengers, especially unsuspecting amateur ones, to win money from them: he earned his living as a cheat at billiards.
- Slang. a prostitute.
- a person who hustles.
You can associate the word with any of the last four definitions. That’s okay. A Lagosian, however, knows the first meaning that describes him the most.
If you want to succeed in the city, you don’t wait for an opportunity to fall in your lap – you go out and make it happen. But not by hook or by crook.
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle,” Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th and arguably greatest president, sums it up succinctly.
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Whether the word is a noun or verb, knowing the import of this word that is hardly said is knowledge beyond the reach of a JJD. An immortal, but unheard, part of speech.
We could have used the word magical, but don’t you think abracadabra sounds more, abracadabra? By Abracadabra, we mean an infinite number of things. Abracadabra helps a Lagosian convert superstition to naira; what is meaningless to what is not. Abracadabra is the answer to the what, how, why, whence, and whither of the ‘magical’ things happening in the city. Let’s use a pothole to illustrate abracadabra.
Like Solomon Grundy, who lived an eventful life in a week, a pothole is noticed on Cele-Ikotun road on Monday. It’s talked about on the Ray Power FM phone-in programme on Tuesday. The pothole gives birth to more potholes on Wednesday. On Thursday, the traffic jam it makes up prevents the local government chairperson from attending an Owambe party of (what we later learned he threw for) his fifth wife. The state governor bears the brunt on Friday as he got late to commissioning a project around the pothole’s vicinity. Men from the state’s ministry of works swing into action on Saturday to fix the terrible spot. A small crack starts developing in the same spot on Sunday!
Lagosians love to talk. On the phone. While commuting from point A to B on a bus or train (You hardly see this happen when onboard a plane. Fear of the unknown? Need to behave ‘tush’? ‘Why people seldom converse on a plane ride’ should be my next article. Watch this space.). In the market. At a saloon. The runaway winner, though, is a newspaper stand.
Hot conversation topics, irrespective of what’s trending on Twitter, may include: prices of everything have gone up again; I know the winning Baba Ijebu lotto numbers. I dreamt of them last night; Ronaldo is 100 times better than Messi; There was a time the Super Eagles put fear into the rest of Africa, now we can’t even beat Ghana; I hope they are going to remove the refuse right in front of the national theatre; It’s not Victor Pele’s politics, I mind, I just can’t stand his voice.
They don’t care if those in power can stand their voice, either. But it doesn’t stop them from talking.
6. Weird sense of judgment
Who else can deny you a spot in traffic yet lend you his fire extinguisher when your car goes off in flames?
Still on traffic, but this time on road rage. Who can share the Grace with you in church yet remind you about the generational curses that are preventing your progress in life when in traffic after the church service?
Also, who else can attend your great-grandfather’s burial and even buy and wear the Aso-Ebi to the event without even knowing you, the bereaved?
Who can turn an unpleasant situation, like losing his job, into a laughing bout on remembering the sure-banker Baba Ijebu ticket in his pocket?
No prize in guessing. Only a Lagosian!
7. Laser-focused 24/7
A Lagosian eats sleeps and breathes whatever he or she is focused on accomplishing. Whether that’s waking up at 3 am in his Lagos Mainland abode to resume work at 8 am on Victoria Island or building the next ground-breaking mobile money app.
We all have responsibilities outside of work, but those that are laser-focused around the clock create a path that leads to accomplishing what they set out to achieve.
If you tell an average Nigerian that there is only a one per cent chance of their endeavour being successful, most would quit and opt for something else. The small percentage of people that wouldn’t even consider quitting is the true hustler, the true Lagosian – someone who isn’t afraid to take a risk, no matter how high the odds are stacked against them.
9. Can eliminate all distractions
There are so many distractions in the city of Lagos. There’s no point highlighting them out here. If you desire more success than anyone else, but allow outside distractions to interfere and take your focus off, you will never accomplish your goals.
A Lagosian knows it’s difficult. But he has learned how to eliminate all distractions, whether they are personal or work-related toxic relationships. He constantly looks ahead and doesn’t take his eyes off the end goal.
10. Lottery dreamers
We refrain from calling it addiction, which is a pitiable condition whereby this Lagosian’s psychological wellbeing and, sometimes, physical metabolism have become habituated to functioning in the presence of pen and paper.
Every day, thousands of Lagosians visit the several Baba Ijebu stands or use their phones in the comfort of their homes to select numbers at random, hoping to win millions. Lagosians are best known for their lottery superstitions. In every visible aspect, lotto players in Lagos are the same as every other: they buy pick numbers, make payments, and wait for results to be announced. Where it differs, however, is the way Lagosians select their numbers. They dream them or get it from the mentally challenged or use key local and international events to come up with a surefire.
Please, don’t ask me about the success rate.
An average Lagosian is bold, fierce, amazing, talented, and resilient. For sure, we can’t find a better way to amplify our pride than to let our actions speak louder than our words. We are Lagosians and we like it like that.
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