“Welcome to Lagos,” is a BBC documentary showcasing the experiences of three Lagos slum dwellers: Olusosun rubbish dump, where thousands of people live on, and rake a living from, scraps and garbage; Makoko, the “Venice of Lagos”, the extraordinary floating slum on the Lagoon, where everyone travels round in boats; and the 1000+ beach squatters living adjacent to the Atlantic.
It is a pity that the government and some Nigerians would rather not have the documentary shown; there are reports of protests from the government and pockets of Nigerians living in UK and USA.
The government states the documentary is “an attempt to bring Nigeria and its hardworking people to international odium and scorn”, saying, It’s a “deliberate distortion of life in Lagos, and totally unwarranted.” Very strong words to describe an excellent piece of work, I think.
“They are proud of the fact that they earn an honest living, and are making a better life for themselves and their families through sheer determination and hard work,” blogs Will Anderson, one of the BBC production crew.
“Some 5,000 people work on the [Olusosun] dump, and we were immediately struck by how organised and efficient everything was”, Will writes. “It looks at first sight like a rough, lawless, dangerous place…But in actual fact, through the eyes of the people who actually DO work there, it’s a well-organised place where there’s good money to be earned.”
For me, watching the piece on Makoko was as sad as it was awe-inspiring (read an earlier write on Makoko: “Makoko… slum on stilts? Think again!“). I could feel their energy and pain, but also appreciative of their resourcefulness and determination. I walked away wet-eyed, with full admiration of their courage and drive to earn a decent living and make some sense out of their environment. (Watch the documentary on Makoko on AfricanLoft)
The documentary is certainly a win for the slum dwellers – a triumph over adversity!
Maybe this is what the Nigerian elitist-administrators wouldn’t want the world to see — how the people have completely sidetracked a government that has failed woefully in its responsibilities.
Those against the documentary need to “shut-up” and watch the documentary again, objectively. The documentary offers a lot of good character and society-building lessons. The documentary is a story on determination, hard work, diligence and ingenuity — qualities that become scarce further up the Nigerian the social/elitist ladder.