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Notes on the Geography of Nigeria: Lagos: Photo 1

world pictures Nigeria: Lagos

More to see than you might guess. This is the channel leading from the ocean (a couple of miles to the left) to Lagos Lagoon, a saline lake 30 miles long, though much narrower than that. A good harbor on a coast without many? Might be, except that until 1914 a sandbar at the mouth prevented ships with a draft over 14 feet from entering even at high tide. Until a channel was dredged in 1914, everything had to be brought in or out by lighters, and ships wanting sheltered anchorage had to continue eastward another 150 miles to Forcados, in the Niger Delta.

By 1924, modern docks had been built on the other side of the water at Apapa, until then mostly a swamp. The city itself stayed on this side, though space was tight because Lagos Island is all of three square miles. For a time, this channel-facing side of the island was a palm-fringed boulevard. It's still called Marina, but don't expect yachts and fancy shops. Marina was sacrificed to traffic, as the concrete wall hints. Did anybody deplore the change? Sure. In a 1996 issue of the Glendora Review, the architect David Aradeon recalled that he much earlier "had decried as environmentally unsightly, the concrete encasement of the Island in a continuous ribbon of elevated ringroad." Wole Soyinka has echoed Aradeon: "Who can imagine what used to flourish where now there is nothing but an oppression of concrete and motor grease?" (quoted in Godwin, 156). Of course you want to know about the oil-drilling rig. Is it a permanent fixture here? Sorry, you'll have to ask somebody else, but it's been parked here for a while--some say for years. Call it temporary storage.

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