Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First Impressions of Lagos: Ghanaian's Perspective

Last week, I spent three days in Lagos and loved it! Today's blog entry is a conglomeration of all that I found to be interesting about Lagos consisting mainly of how it differed from Accra and in which ways the two cities are similar.

Nigerian People
One of the things that was immediately evident to me is how much more attractive the women in Lagos were than the ones in Accra. They were thinner, taller, had reasonably-sized asses and prettier faces. They also seemed to put more effort into looking good. The only thing I didn't like is that the women tend to be a tad too liberal with the make-up on their faces, but I'm a minimalist when it comes to make-up so make of that observation what you
will. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks Nigerian women are pretty because on my way back to Ghana one employee of Virgin Nigeria asked me at the airport if I was Nigerian, and when I said I am Ghanaian, she responded and I quote "Hardly will you find a very beautiful Ghanaian woman". I could have slapped her! but all her colleagues shared her view. When I got back to Accra, I asked one of my Ghanaian male friends, Ivy-League-educated (whatever that's,..yes, hating), arguably worldly guy, possible womanizer what he thought and he too agreed that Nigerian women are finer, adding however, that they are too sikadicious (Ghanaian term for money-sucking. ie. a woman who drains a man's pocket.) The only person who had a different view is a Nigerian medical student who has lived in Accra for the past seven years. Let's call him Segun. Segun thinks that while Nigerian women may have pretty faces, Ghanaian women have the booooooodaaaaaaaay! He claims that Ghanaian women have what African men want, i.e. ass. lol. and that Nigerian women are too straight, few curves. Nuff said.

On the other hand, it might seem that Nigerian men have it all, the looks (the younger ones are really fit, but as they get older and make more money, their waistlines expand), the money, and the willingness to spend the money on their women.
Yes, the men too are better looking than the Ghanaian men. A Cameroonian friend of mine, a guy used to tease me mercilessly that Ghanaian men have huge noses and are among the most unattractive in Africa. I couldn't really argue with him because that guy was the only Cameroonian I knew and he was attractive. What are the chances that a randomly selected Ghanaian man will be attractive? ...uh...let me leave this alone before i rouse the ire of all the Ghanaian men reading this blog. In Lagos, it was nice to see more men with afros, and to see that unlike in Ghana where certain foods are sold exclusively by women, Nigerian men sold oranges and groundnuts by the roadside. They are also more aggresive. I say this because I've been in Ghana for over two months and I haven't had a single older man proposition me to be his sugar baby but only three days in Lagos, and I had an older married man (mid forties) ask me to be his girlfriend. When I asked whether he was married, he brusquely inquired if I was looking for a husband. I left it at that. Perhaps Ghanaian men are more guarded because I live here whilst the Lagosian wouldn't have to worry about any clashes between me and his madam. It would be convenient for him to have a girlfriend in Accra. Only 45 minutes away by flight, he could easily come over for weekends, have his fun, and fly back in time for work on Monday. Or maybe it was the appeal of the exotic. The self-proclaimed timid man had finally summoned the bravado to reach for the forbidden fruit. He did what I have now learned Nigerian men know how to do best: He took me to the mall, and told me I could have whatever I wanted. In Ghana we call this bO me ka. Wow! The sales-ladies were too excited, they did not seem to have any qualms that a man that old had brought a young lady like me to their shop. They encouraged me to choose, saying "Your Oga says you should pick o". I cringed. This man was not my Oga, dammit! I was just caught in a funny situation and was trying to survive it unscathed. The amusing part of it all, similar to what has been reported of men in Senegal, he told me he loved me. Yeah right! Now i'm receiving emails that read: I WILL SOON BE VERY BUSY SO I'M TRYING TO TIDY UP ONE OR TWO THINGS SO THAT I CAN BE FREE AND COME TO GHANA TO SPEND SOME FEW DAYS WITH YOU. Ouch! What I don't get is how he doesn't ask my opinion on any of this but assumes that because he wants to do this, it is fine with me too. I'm pretending this isn't happening. I find it quite amusing, but I think I have to send an email soon that emphatically discourages this man from making any such plans.

People Selling in Traffic
I haven't been to any other African countries but in both Ghana and Nigeria, sellers bring their items to the buyer in traffic. It can be convenient service as in when I needed to buy MTN units two days ago, and a boy brought be some right when I needed traffic, but it can also be annoying. Read more about commercial activities in traffic here. The only differences I noticed was that besides the boiled groundnuts (Americans call this peanuts) and shaved oranges, the drinks being sold were something called the boost pack drink, coke, and bottled water instead of the Refresh, and Pure water (water that is packaged in plastic sachets) we buy in traffic here in Accra. Speaking of traffic, the congestion in Lagos is far worse than in Accra, so spending three hours every morning on one's way to work is typical. Workers leave home as early as 5 am and get back home as late as 10 pm. Who is watching their kids, are they getting enough rest? In light of the global credit crunch, all Nigerians thinking of returning home in hopes that work life in Lagos is less stressful and thinking that it would be advantageous to escape the crazy work hours on Wall Street should please think again. In Accra, yes, but in Lagos, uh, I don't think so! Another feature of the traffic is the types of cars that can be found on the streets. In the mainland, I saw more taxis and buses. These are painted yellow as in the picture below. There was also a lot more unlawful maneuvering by the drivers, whilst on Lagos Island, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, and Lekki, there were more private cars, nicer looking cars...always with tinted glasses. I hear the tinted glasses says something about the social standing of the car's owner. Dem go kill us o!


When I told one of my Ghanaian friends that I liked Lagos, he was surprised. According to him, he doesn't see what is to like about such a filthy city. Sure, the main streets of Accra are much much cleaner than the streets of Lagos, but hey, people like NYC! Lagos reminded me of NYC. I think the first thing that surprised me about NYC was how dirty the streets were. I don't know how i'd gotten it into my coconut (head) that somehow the US was going to be so clean but I remember being really surprised that people threw away their trash on the streets in NY city.
But the similarity to NYC doesn't end there. Lagos also had really tall buildings. I wouldn't go as far as to call them skyscrapers, but but they have much taller, more imposing buildings than we have in Accra. The gap between the rich and poor is wide. On one side of the street you see the suit-wearing business executives walking into whichever bank or oil company they work at, and on the other side you see bare-chested young men dangerously transporting people on motorcycles. This juxtaposition of wealth and poverty is everywhere, but in Nigeria, somehow it seemed ever more remarkable.

I'm not very adventurous when it comes to food. I did not have any Eba or pounded yam. I stuck to rice, chicken, and sauces. For breakfast I had omelets on toast, and tea saturated with milk, and sweetened with cube white sugar. The Nandos at the Palms Mall (Shoprite) had some great grilled chicken though, and Yellow Chile Restaurant on Victoria Island has wonderful atmosphere (kinda like a pub), and delicious stewed escargot and prawns. There are a lot more smokers in Lagos than in Accra, that is, unless all the smokers decided to congregate at yellow chile the night I was there. Ah let me give you one gist (the nigerian term for toli is gist, probably borrowing from the english term from which it was probably derived). When I went to Yellow Chili, I wanted to drink something that could only be found in Nigeria so I asked about Nigerian beers and was told that "Up" was a good Nigerian beer. However the waitress said they were out of "Up" and I ended up having two Gordon's Sparks which got me quite pleasantly tipsy. Yes, yes, I know. I don't drink. This was a one time thing. lol. So the following evening when I had dinner at "La Pizza", an open air restaurant close to the "Great Mall" (Is that what that mall is called? I forget), I asked for "Up". The waiter brings the beer, I read the label and it says "HARP". I couldn't laugh. haha. I knew that Nigerians have a problem pronouncing the h sound but the fact that I had not caught this one and had also called it "Up" for two days was hilarious, Chineke! Just one more peculiar finding: Nigerians eat raw garden eggs. They eat it like one would eat an apple. That was an eye-opener because even though Ghanaians also eat garden eggs, we always eat it cooked.

Movie Theatres which don't show Nigerian Movies

By movie theatres, I mean the one movie theatre that I visited. It's called the Galleria, and is a three or four tiered building, done very much in the style of the movie theatres you'll find in Germany, or the US, with popcorn and soda and all. They even show relatively new movies from the US. Ironic that Nollywood is the fastest growing movie industry in the world, and at the Galleria in Lagos, they are still showing the imported stuff. See I wouldn't be so miffed if the movies were classics, or educative and entertaining independent movies but they're importing all the trash that hollywood churns out, and making Nigerians pay for it. Clearly the demand exists or the Galleria would be out of business, but I can't help thinking that the demand is not so much for the movies but for a nice movie theatre. Like Ghanaians, Nigerians like to flex (show off), and just as Rhapsody, a bar in Ghana is popular not because of the service or the food, but because it looks very nice in there and people go to there to flex, it is possible that the Galleria is also being patronized because of the atmosphere and the flex, not necessarily because of the movies. It is also possible that I am completely wrong about this.


Lagos is easily twice, if not three times as expensive as Accra. Nice hotels in the city like the Eko hotel charge as much as $600 per night. It is not possible to find a hotel for $100 on Victoria Island. Food is just as expensive. Breakfast cost $16 , lunch about $26, and the taxi ride to the airport cost $30 with the taxis painted yellow, and $50 for the taxis that are not painted yellow. It is a fact that Nigeria has more money than Ghana, but I did not expect things to be as expensive as they are. Billboards
Unlike in Ghana where quite a number of our billboards have non-Ghanaian looking people on them, all the billboards that I saw in Lagos had Nigerian-looking people on them. On this I salute Nigerians.

Check out this link to see pictures of Yellow Chili, The galleria, the malls, and more of Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lagos Island and other places I mentioned.


  1. Wow, seem like nigeria iz a whole different place huh.

  2. went to Nigeria... You really do crack me up...I guess I need to go back to my country sometime soon...I'm glad you survived it...and you had fun there tooo...

  3. Hey Esi, this is Soji frm Duke. I stumbled on your blog via facebook. Glad you had a great time in Lagos... and it's great to hear that you think our women are beautiful! lol.


  4. Oh ho sister maame esi, whatever happened to "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder"??? That's a first, I never heard or though Naija women were more beautiful, prettier. If anything, I have had friends who keep saying they look alike. That's interesting! I have quite a number of GH and naija female friends and I can't make that generalization either. Oh, yeah, stop being a hater coz you aint got no ass, ummm if I lost any more weight I would still be a skeleton with a behind, that behind is all muscle. From one donkey butt to another (who may be reading), the key is not losing weight, it's finding the right jean fit or stretchy ones because most jeans are made for Beckys and no-behind chicks like you lol. I hope Gh is treating you well, I will be there next yr hopefully with my bf and I hope to hang out! Ciao

  5. Nigerian women are more beautiful according to whom? Western men? Nigerians? Yourself?

    I do enjoy your blog, but I think your generalizations on beauty standards are quite skewed and problematic.

  6. I have never been to Nigeria so cant really make an accurate comparison of their men and women compared to Ghana. However, my experience has been that there are more beautiful women in any different country that you go to than yours. I am not exactly sure if they are just different and mistery can be very sexy but, thats what I have figured so far. Personally, I find Italian women very sexy and it has very little to do with their looks but more to do with their crazy atittudes and nurturing culture.

  7. Great blog..keep it up

  8. Nigerian women morebeautiful than their Ghanaian counterparts ? Really ?

  9. i applaud for u dear. Niger remains the gaint of Africa lol