Julian Röder: State of Flux

Market at Odun Ade bus stop, Lagos, Nigeria, 2009

Generators on roofs of Oshodi Market, Lagos, Nigeria, 2009

Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria and a magnet for all of West Africa because of its oil wealth. Over ten million people live here, and more keep coming. Although the city is growing, there is no place for it to expand further because Lagos is situated on two narrow strips of land that encircle a lagoon like the thumb and index finger. What interested me about Lagos was the interchange of chaos and order. I already got a sense of this on my very first day when I visited the Ministry of Information to obtain an official permit to photograph. Goats wandered through the hallways, there was a noisy flat-screen TV, and music played somewhere unseen. The only time it was quiet was when the electricity failed, which happens constantly in Lagos. The sound of generators, big and small, is everywhere on every street corner. Despite the city infrastructure being overloaded, Lagosians endure. The city is full of engineers: everyone builds, tinkers and welds; everyone finds their own solutions. Things are changing under Lagos governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (read our exclusive interview with him here). Once a month the radio announces a ‘sanitation day’. New hospitals and schools are springing up everywhere. Corruption is no longer tolerated. It was however not ezasy to work in Lagos. People are suspicious when they see someone with a camera. There are swindlers who photograph buildings and put them up for sale in the internet, which is why many houses have the word ‘not for sale’ written on their façades.”
Words by Julian Röder.

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