It is the tale of two beaches from Emmanuel Onyeche who visited Kuramo and Oniru Private Beach. He writes that though they are just metres apart, their vision and mode of operation place them in two different worlds
The echo of a loud shout from Oniru Private Beach would be heard at Kuramo Beach. These
two beaches, located along the shore line of the Atlantic Ocean in high brow Victoria Island, promise lots of fun and entertainment to their visitors.
But that is where the comparison ends. Oniru – very private and exclusive – offers serenity and protection to its upper class visitors while Kuramo – chaotic, untidy and unsafe - continues to wallow in the notoriety it created for itself with its swarming presence of cheap prostitutes and criminals.
To cross over to Oniru from Kuramo, one would need to first scale the hurdle of money and security. Oniru collects a gate fee of a minimum of N1000 per person. This amount could be up to N4000 when a show is being hosted there like the one popular musicians, Tuface Idibia and MI the rapper participated in last Christmas Eve. Quite a number of security personnel and bouncers at Oniru are also ready to embarrass any intruder.
Even if the struggling average guy manages to sneak into Oniru from Kuramo, he would need to be careful as the charges could burst his pocket. Bottled beer is not allowed at Oniru and each can beer costs N300.
To sit under a canopy with four chairs and a table, one would need to pay N1,500 exclusive of the drinks and food. Also, the bottled spirits – wines, whisky and champagne – are quite expensive and they are even much more so depending on the exclusivity and popularity of the bar where you drink them.
At G12 – a popular and highly patronized bar – you would need as much as N11,000 for a bottle of Moet Chandon – a popular champagne. VSOP brand of Hennesy costs N10,000 while the ‘Ox‘ brand can go for as much as N50,000. G12 is so popular that it was declared the best youth hang out in 2010 at Dynamix awards. Dynamix organization publishes a youth magazine. Mr. Daniel Ekaragha who works at Oniru says a group at a table in G12 can sometimes spend hundreds of thousands of naira in a few hours. Dagrin, a popular musician who is now late is said to have cut his musical teeth at G12
But it is a bar called D-Block, owned by one of the princes of Oniru, that is the most exclusive. Mr Ayo Alele who also works at Oniru says you can have your pockets bursting with money and still be refused entry at D-Block. Other notable bars are The Royale, Hi, Arisco, Handyz, Tommy and Ekaabo.
Food at Oniru is also different from what obtains at Kuramo where several local restaurants offer local varieties from N50 and above depending on what one can afford. At Oniru, Lolac restaurant, said to be owned by an unnamed wife of a celebrity, handles the popular local varieties like pounded yam, ‘fufu‘, ‘amala‘ with assorted meat and soup and you need a minimum of N700 to eat there. Lolac is said to operate a branch in the United Kingdom.
Different Babacue fish stands at the different bars also cost between N1,300 and N3000. Shawama hot dog costs N800 for the single and as much as N1,200 for the double. The fish is exclusively croaker and it is grilled and garnished.
There are also lots of summer huts owned by the same people who own the bars and they are rented out to people.
For all these, a clean and tidy beach front awaits the visitor at Oniru which is quite a big contrast to what happens when Kuramo where cheap prostitutes rent a space that is the size of a dining table‘s top for N500 a day and ask for as low as N300 for few minutes of sex.
A source who did not want his name mentioned says that many of these prostitutes are under age girls who are regularly made pregnant by men old enough to be their daddies and uncles.
At Kuramo, the beach front is an eyesore and it is nothing to be shocked about to see people defecating openly there. To lie down on the beach sand at Kuramo is akin to a big risk. Kuramo is also home to lots of homeless Lagosians whose kids are seen running over the entire beach and getting enmeshed in the quagmire.
Kuramo is also said to be the hideout of criminals who are always close to where there are prostitutes.
Pastor Adamson Orioye who operates a church said he had been at Kuramo for over a year and his regular members were not yet 10. He said his possible converts at Kuramo preferred a church where they could go and worship and still have the freedom to engage in their wrong doings.
He nevertheless said he would not relent in his effort to win souls at Kuramo as he had been called to do so.
Business goes on all day at Kuramo but at Oniru, if you are not in by 12 pm, entry is restricted but once you are in, you can leave when you like.
“The special thing about Oniru is that you enjoy the regular services of a night club but this time at the beach,” says Ekaragha.
Women of easy virtue are also found at Oniru but they are said to be the ones in a special class that can pay the gate fee and buy the expensive items on their own while waiting to catch the man of their dream.
At Kuramo and Oniru however, smoking Indian hemp seemed to be a common occurrence as it is done openly with no one bothered about it.