It was a Sunday afternoon, I took my bag, my camera kit, and I phoned Uche (a travel blogger- lagosigboboy.wordpress.com) to join me on an adventure to Makoko – a community that resides in the heart of Lagos, on top of water, just right in the middle of third mainland bridge (the longest bridge in Africa).
I journeyed to Makoko with little or no knowledge of the community. “It was going to be fun, I was going to make an awesome video for my Youtube fam” (that was my thought). I never knew I would learn so much from a community that seems so little and neglected.
Uche took me to see the Iwaya community before we got into Makoko, and it was there that I got to see the true definition of a community.
This bridge below might seem like nothing to you, but it represents love, sacrifice and patience. Prior to my visit to this community, I always wondered what their lifestyle was like whenever I looked over 3rd mainland bridge during a go-slow, and it was amusing to know that they had a normal lifestyle like every other Lagosian… or at least that is the way they see it.
Back to the bridge. Note that without this bridge, if you cannot swim, you cannot get from point A to point B. This to me seems like what connects the floating community to the land, it connects the buyers to the sellers, it connects the adventurer to the heart of the community. And this bridge was built with the donations of money, time, and labor from the people in the community and regular visitors or rather compassionate visitors.
It was interesting to also hear how they built a primary school that is being run by themselves to help any interested child get basic education to get them ready for the higher institution. All these stories just revealed to me that when there is love, there is a way.
This is a community of people from different parts of West Africa whom have come together to create what they refer to as “a home”. They live in a community with very poor hygiene, yet you could see their faces filled with so much joy and happiness, you could tell that their joy came from being one, from being “together”.
The funny thing is, they are also part of the daily Lagos grind and hustle, I got to speak to one of the locals there about the conditions of the environment, and he said “it is something they are trying to improve, however, they would love the assistance of the government”. He also mentioned they were tired of being used as a tool for political campaign every year.
However, one the contrary, I hear some of the locals are pretty comfortable with the community lifestyle, and they do not want anything to change.
I understand that some of them feel this way because this is what they were raised up with, and this is all they know, so they cannot imagine life outside water, just the way a fish would not want to dream of staying on land (just imagine that for a second), hence, a few might be ignorant to the murky environment.
Take a look at the picture below, these are houses made of wood and plants on water, just like the one in Makoko, except that this is in Thailand. You can see how urban and neat this is, and this is what most people travel to Thailand to experience, we can replicate this, all I am trying to say is that we can make their community more habitable and tourist friendly.
The way I see it, what should be done is to improve on the existing environment and conserve its heritage so it is marketable to tourist. The government does not necessarily have to move them away from there, because the people of Makoko have already made the place their home. All that needs to be done is some modernization and environmental sanitation, and boom the journey of being the megacity would be elevated even more.