Lagos

Overview

Introduction

Lagos, Nigeria, is the largest market city in West Africa and is certainly one of the most important cities on the continent—travelers who really want to get a complete picture of Africa should schedule a day or two there to simply drink in the chaos.

On Nigeria's southern coast near the border with Benin, Lagos consists of four major islands and several mainland areas (bridges and landfills link everything). This is one city where having an escort is very important—otherwise, you'll never really get a sense of what's going on around you (or the best way to get around). If you don't know anybody in Lagos, hire a car and driver.

Sights in Lagos include the National Museum on Lagos Island (a fine but somewhat neglected collection of West African art), the Iga Idunganran (Palace of the Oba of Lagos), old Portuguese-style houses from the early 20th century and the modern National Theater.

Upscale residential neighborhoods such as Victoria Island house Lagos' best shops and restaurants, and South African-built shopping malls with cinema complexes are becoming popular, though there are lively, less-expensive markets throughout the city. The safest (and cleanest) beach around Lagos is at Tarkwa Bay. There, you can watch the many hundreds of oil tankers line up to get into Lagos Harbor.

The old slave port of Badagry is an easy day excursion from Lagos and has some interesting, though somber, museums dedicated to the slave trade. There on a sand bar is the Point of No Return—the last spot of African soil slaves stood on before being transported to the slave ships.
Day trips to Ibadan and other southwestern cities are also possible.

If you're looking for nightlife in Lagos, King Sunny Ade (the best-known performer of West Nigerian juju music) performs occasionally at the MUSON Centre when he isn't on tour. Femi Kuti, son of the late Afrobeat star Fela Kuti, carries on his father's music at the New Afrika Shrine Club. He usually plays on Sunday night when he's in Lagos and is sometimes accompanied by his 12-year-old son who can play several instruments.

On major Christian holidays—Christmas, Easter—you may see Carnival processions in the streets of Lagos. These celebrations, called fantys, are traditionally put on by descendants of freed slaves who emigrated to Nigeria from Brazil.

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