Monday, 3 September 2012

Soapbox Diaries

Piece in the Guardian Comment is Free section.

On my last trip to Lagos, I drove past a new supermarket in an upper-middle-class part of the city. It was a huge concrete thing with sliding electronic gates, CCTV cameras and the sleek live wires that have replaced barbed wire in all fashionable districts. I remarked to my cousin, who was driving, that the building hadn't been there a year ago.

Read the rest here.


  1. This was very well written. Not that it wouldn't normally be, but because I have found that 'dual citizens' - of sorts - tend to either be particularly jaded, or they overly romanticise the Nigerian argument.
    I guess I mean then, that it was balanced. You made points I hadn't considered, what with the "gated tesco" and such.
    I think what happens is that when you live in the country, you cannot separate yourself from it objectively enough to recognise that seeming advancements can often be economic traps.
    You have to be a part of it to survive it, and that sometimes requires that you develop blind spots for issues that have no apparent solutions.

  2. Ha! Chibundu, i find the irony of Nigeria so fascinating! i heard about the tesco-like shops, and other shops that sell romaine, strawberries and other imported fresh fruits and veggies... WHo is buying these over-priced stuff? how can they even afford it?

    I have never understoodd the power supply issue in Naija. Why can't we have constant power?

  3. @cake and socks, I've been discussing this article with a lot of people and the more financial among them have argued that if there's a demand and market for N10,000 strawberries, then they should be sold and bought. Fair enough. If you can afford it and it's not government money, no problem. Just don't tell me this is development for Nigeria because we won't agree.

    and @Jaden, this is one diaspora citizen that has gotten some abuse for writing from outside. I think all points of view are valid and unique and should be heard. Whether from inside or outside, it's good to hear what everybody is thinking.

  4. Very interesting piece, Chibundu. As much as I understand your POV I just can't see how you don't consider "gated tesco" etc some form of development. It might not be the kind of "development" the masses in Nigeria need, but it will surely benefit some people, and I think that's a part of developing too. E.g. if I don't have to pack a box of *insert favorite lotion* from my vacation abroad because I can find the exact brand for a reasonable price in "gated tesco" i'd consider that development to some extent...


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