A pictorial celebration of Africa’s largest metropolis
Writer and administrator, Fola Arthur-Worrey, showcases a compelling Lagos in his new book of photographs, CHUX OHAI writes
It was not for nothing that the cream of the public service in Lagos gathered recently at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, for the presentation of a photo book by the Chief Executive of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, Fola Arthur-Worrey. They had grabbed the opportunity offered by the event to join in the celebration of Lagos, often referred to as the ‘Centre of Excellence’.
In his short opening address, the chair of the occasion, Prof. Ade Elebute, acknowledged the fact that in the last few years Lagos had been an object of attraction to many people around the world, including foreign tourists and businessmen.
He said, “In the last three or four years, there have been several publications on Lagos, which makes it a very important destination. Lagos is probably the most futuristic metropolis today and all eyes are on it, whether from the north, south, east or west.”
Describing Lagos as the fastest growing city in the world, Elebute added that it was the type of priceless jewel that only a devoted resident like Arthur-Worrey could attempt to illustrate with his pen and camera.
Titled Aerial Lagos: A Bird’s Eye View of Africa’s Largest Metropolis, the book contains pictures of many parts of the metropolis taken by the author during extensive flights aboard a helicopter. It is, by all means, an extension of an endless narrative that seeks to unravel the city in different ways.
Arthur-Worrey described the book, in an interview with our correspondent, as the fulfilment of a personal dream that he had nursed since 2006.
He said, “I just took advantage of the opportunity to fly over the city a number of times. I had the opportunity through my association with Calverton Helicopter Services to do flyovers before the company went public. Although I couldn’t go everywhere because there were flight restrictions, I tried my best to capture the parts of the city that I visited. I finally came up with this book because I wanted to share my experiences. I knew there had been books with shots of Lagos, but not one that is dedicated to the city as a whole.”
The author notes that the content of the book does not only present a realistic picture of the city’s demography, it also settles the age-old argument about which major city in Africa – between Lagos, Cairo and Johannesburg – is the largest metropolis.
Arguing that Lagos had always been undercounted, he continued, “There are more than one concepts of the city. When you look at the pictures, you will understand what I am saying. If you look at density, there is Lagos Metropolitan, which covers the island up to the mainland – an area that used to be known as the old Federal Capital Territory. Also there is Lagos State, which has morphed essentially into one metropolis or what you may call a conurbation because it is connected everywhere.
“If you consider that there are over 300 communities and towns that make up Lagos, then you will begin to understand the idea that gave birth to this photo project. There have been add-ons over the years. I am talking about places like Surulere, Epe, Ikorodu and Ketu, which were parts of the old Western Region attached to Lagos. Now, if you fly over the city and you look at a place like Ajegunle, you will understand that there are probably more people living in the community than in half of Ibadan. So it is the informal settlements that, in my view, make Lagos Africa’s largest metropolis.”
While the guests, including Senator Olorunimbe Mamora and a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, took turns to comment on the significance of the book to the development of Lagos State, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. Itse Sagay, said it would be important for determining the position of the state in Nigeria in terms of history, geography and economy.
Congrats again Fola.Could not come.Tied up.But my wife said it was a very successful event.More grease to your elbows….Kayode Odumosu