Written by Munira .A. Adama

Eric Obuh: He’s not a politician, an engineer, a doctor, nothing of such import. He is a Nigerian. A scavenger. Olasosun dump site. Welcome to Lagos. I just finished watching the BBC2 production titled ‘Welcome to Lagos’ which I will say was a rude shock, putting it mildly.

I never knew we had places like that, the extent of my knowledge on poverty in Lagos was Ajegunle, Isale Eko, Makoko. Olasosun?? Never heard of it, well until now. There are a lot of lessons to be taken away from this 1 hr reality jolt.

Was it just me, or did anyone else notice their level of spoken English? Wow! Needless to say, we aren’t doing badly as a nation.

These are people many of us like to look upon as miscreants, the dregs of the society, the ne’er do wells etc. But, with this portrayal of them, they have single handedly put paid to such notions.

Their organisation is another thing that had me. They had a well organised system of governance where the chairman was someone everyone could relate to, he wasn’t a dictator, nor was he any form of ‘omnipotent’. Maybe our leaders can come to Olasosun for a crash course in governance.

Joseph, another patron of Olasosun, is introduced. He is a married man, with a family to cater for, and his love for his wife and children shines through his every word, his actions.

What drives him? His love for his family. It makes him go out there and strive to earn a living so he can provide for them. He seemingly is content with his lot in life. Can he serve as role model for some of the men of our class? What drives them? The lust to have more money. The greed to be the richest man they know. The love for all things luxurious. It might provide for their family at the end of the day, but it doesn’t come attached with love and feeling. Yet again, the people of Olasosun triumph.

The cow market.

Interactions between people from all over Nigeria, I had to stop watching for a minute, and clarify that this was actually Nigeria. Is this the same Nigeria where Fulani and Birom can’t live in Jos together? Same Nigeria where people agitate for a division every day? How come this Fulani man is arm in arm with this Yoruba man? How come there is so much unity in this market? Or are these people mutants of the true Nigerian man? Or maybe these are the real Nigerians while those who do the agitation have lost touch with reality.

This is our reality; this is what the situation truly is. As much as it pains me to say, many of us, in fact all those who are going to read this note, share my same myopic view of our nation. We are filled with the politics we fail to see the human angle.

These are the masses. I dare to say that the people featured in this programme are even better informed than I am. Yes. They are on the street, they know what they want, what is lacking, while I sit in the luxury of my generator powered home, behind the screen of my Toshiba laptop and spew words about injustices and corruption. Maybe if I took a day out of my life and lived the life of a scavenger, I would sing a different tune.

‘This is where you see the unity of Nigeria in manifestation’ says Eric Obuh. No truer words have ever been spoken.

I see a number of my country men have taken to bashing BBC for showing us what is in our backyard. I would rather thank BBC for opening my eyes up to seeing the truth about my country. That we have ghettos doesn’t take away from our dignity, instead, we should look to see what can be salvaged from these ghettos. This is a sore we have to clean up not cover it up with bandage and let it fester.

This documentary shows beyond the pictures. Beyond the spoken. It shows us the future of our country, not the poverty but the unity, the organisation, the camaraderie, the resourcefulness, the optimism, the vigour for life, the justice that can prevail, the honesty, the good People, the great Nation.