WELCOME (back) TO Lagos, NIGERIA
First things first. In case you stumbled upon this blog and have no idea what the phrase “IJGB” is .
Let me explain.
It’s an acronym for “I Just Got Back” which refers to Nigerians in the diaspora that have just returned.
This shouldn’t take long. I mean I hope it won’t. To make this less painful, we’ll go with some dos and don’ts that I felt were important to highlight.
Before you continue. Do read this with an open mind and humorous spirit or else
Ogun Kee You!
If you are reading this and you are NOT a Nigerian. Welcome and I hope this helps you and encourages you to visit this unique place in West Africa.
I made this list during my recent trip back home, so here we go.
photo credit: @EverythingNaArt on Instagram.
DON’T have any expectations beforehand. I mean this sincerely.
Whether your visit is an annual ritual or it’s your first time back in a long time, leave the standards of what you’re “used to” at your “local” home. Lagos is an outlier.
We can even argue that Nigeria as a whole is an outlier. But let’s continue shall we?
If you’re going to be in Lagos for more than 4 days, DO remember to obtain a local phone number while you’re in Lagos.
(You can do this at the airport). Well, it’s not a must but here is a great reason why; You may need Uber or Taxify (Similar to Uber) to get around (Well, that’s unless you’re OBO, then your chariot awaits). If your original number is there, they (the Uber drivers) wouldn’t be able to reach you on the phone through the app. bonus: Your local number allows you to add credit to your phone, transfer money easily (if you have a Naira account in Nigeria), and most importantly make calls and accept calls without using internet data as you would on WhatsApp.
Speaking of WhatsApp…
DO keep your original number on WhatsApp.
WHY!? Well, once you get a local number attached to your cell phone, and you try to open WhatsApp, the app will ask if you want to change your WhatsApp number to your Nigerian number. YOU WILL ANSWER “NO!!!” Why?! Everyone back home and whomever is in your contact book already has your original number and would be able to reach you effortlessly (so long as you have WiFi or a data plan). Why would you want to start over and start sending your entire contact book your new (temporary) number?. Get it? GOOD
DON’T forget to have your device “unlocked” before you leave your country of origin.
Without an unlocked device, none of the points I mentioned above will even apply on a smart phone.
Also DO try and open a Naira account while you’re in Lagos
– if you don’t already have one. (Expect for it to take at least a week and upwards of 3 weeks because it’s NIGERIA! Duh). But it’s worth it. Cash isn’t always king in Lagos. The ability to transfer money will prove to be super useful and super convenient. Most businesses allow you to pay cash, use a Naira linked debit card and the option of transferring your payment for goods and or services to their account instantly. The alternative is for you to carry Naira everywhere or ask your friends and or family with Naira accounts to manage transactions for you via their account. If you ‘d prefer to be a pain to people, please do the needful.
Before you pop bottle anyhow, DO set a budget for yourself before you land!
Because I’m writing this list for those in diaspora, I know the urge to convert everything to dollar or euro is tempting and will make you feel like you’re richer because of the exchange rate. You’re still spending whether it’s Naira or dollar or pound or Ghana Cedis, so watch how you spend by setting a budget(s) for food, transport, events, e.t.c. If you don’t know what a budget is and you are throwing a party, “SEND ADDRESS BROS…” (Who doesn’t like a fun night out LOL).
DON’T break your neck trying to let everyone know you’re from “The abroad”.
Chill on the leather jackets and hoodies inside of a hot venue/nightclub in the middle of Lagos. Like guy, calm down. They know that you’re here to “oppress” and “pepper dem” with your “gucci gang” baffs. Take it easy. It’s ok to not slay every where you go
Don’t go and come and go kill yourself with heat exhaustion. Issokay.
Also, DO expect that you will be given higher prices by virtue of the fact that you’re not “local”.
They can smell it on you. Let alone hear it in the way you speak and move (Look out for the point on forming accent…. *side eye*). Of course I’m NOT talking about restaurants, Hotels and formal environments. For example, you go to a souvenir market. You ask for the cost of something, you’re given a once over and the price can be doubled if not tripled. Don’t worry; price it back down with confidence without insulting them because these artisans have to eat too); and you’re good to go
(think of it as using a verbal coupon :-D).
DO expect to have loads of fun
(Like I said, you reading, if you’re the type that has money to blow on parry/club/lounge, SEND ADDRESS BROS…). There are soooooooo many things to do in Lagos, something is always going on. Low-key things and also high visibility events and awards etc. The more you go out, the more you’ll meet people and probably be invited to more events! But abeg, rest too.
You fit turn into zombie by day two if care is not taken.
DO plan out your day in advance or else you’ll get nothing done.
Between the traffic and the stress of the hustle and bustle, you can easily get caught up.
DO expect to get frustrated with the customer service at various establishments.
Just look at it as a work in progress. IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS. An evolution. A pruning. Sometimes people will even be rude to you because you expect better
(like how dare you?! expect professionalism?).
Be kind anyway.
DON’T expect to be able to take photos any and everywhere
(You’re not Linda Ikeji or Bella Naija, don’t be snapping, snapping everybody and say “hi, I’m a blogger”….Slap fit enter).
You’ll be shocked to know that taking a photo of an inanimate gate because you like the color and rustic vibe can cause a huge ruckus and almost get you arrested!
I’m serious. I may or may not be speaking from direct experience.
DO tip service people that you feel did a good job.
It’s definitely not a part of the culture in Lagos to tip. However, I don’t conform to such , If they took care of me I tip, and when I come back they provide that same standard of service if not more.
Plus you’ll bring a huge smile to their face. Because they “neva expperredit”.
DO support local charities and organizations that are giving back to the less privileged back home.
I mean we come and enjoy and go back home but some folks are truly in need of our help.
Try and make it a point to give while you’re “taking”.
DO understand that, like with many other countries, you may be appalled by the juxtaposition of poverty right next to wealth;
especially during the Christmas season as many IJGBs plan out their “stunting” specifically for this period. You’ll see G-Wagons parked in front of dilapidated residences. You’ll see estates with pan handlers in front. You’ll see people popping Ace of Spades on SnapChat while they are crashing on their friends couch. Don’t be alarmed. This is Lagos. But please, don’t get caught up in the hype. Stay level-headed and face your front.
DO know that your experience in Lagos will vary depending on the time of year that you go.
Although its always busy and fun; visiting in December is a completely different vibe from visiting in the calm of April. If you are heading to Lagos for the party scene; December is your season. The Local Yoruba (or insert any tribe you wish) Demons and Slay Mamas await you. Trust me. I’ve actually never been to Lagos In December as it’s just not my vibe (for now).
If you are more into tourism and fashion for example; you might want to visit in October during Lagos Fashion and Design week. But either way, you will find something to do.
DO get on a Keke (yellow tricycle) and enjoy one of the most convenient, cost effective and fun ways to get around.
Some of the drivers even play great afrobeat music while you’re riding. Hold on tight to your wig though. They drive pretty rough sometimes. It usually costs about 100 Naira per rider (it’s a shared ride with other commuters/strangers) depending on the distance you’re going. Which is about 30 cents.
Also don’t be afraid to ask him or her if you can pay a little more to have it to yourself for a bit for photos or just comfort. I used the Keke to get around Lekki mostly. However, again, if U be OBO…. Carry Go….
My first time in a Keke the driver charged me 1300 Naira for a ride from Chevron Drive to Northern Foreshore in Lekki (just past Ebanor market). I had no clue it was only 100 Naira. In fact, he charged me 2K Naira and I thought I “bargained” down to 1300 Naira. I didn’t realize what happened until i entered a Keke again and the driver asked for 100 Naira for a much longer trip.
The first guy knew I was a fresh IJGB. God’s Plan. So please don’t be like me. Be smart.
DO connect with an Uber driver OR Taxify and see if he or she can be your Go-To person when you need to get around.
This is much cheaper than calling an Uber everyday. You get to know the person and build a trusting business relationship. They’ll wait for you kinda like a personal driver would. I saved a lot of money this way, especially if I had tons of errands to run in one day.
DON’T try and go anywhere that requires you to cross the toll gate from Lekki to Lagos Island between the hours of 4-7pm.
I repeat. Don’t try it. You’ll be in stand-still traffic….. for hours….. and hours. If you don’t believe me then please, joor, travel between 4p and 7p. I don warn una ooooo.
DO buy from and support Nigerian brands.
IJGBs really help the economy when they spend at home! Lagos is booming with entrepreneurship and industrious young Nigerians. Support and Buy Nigerian. I say this because there is an overwhelming amount of creativity in and around Lagos. Artisans making novelty items from scratch, homegrown fashion brands, people that cook amazing food and use social media to pitch and sell it, Brand consultants, AH-MAZING restaurants, and gosh the art!. Oh and did I mention THE ART!!!!!! Art is everywhere from street art to galleries. While in Lagos, I discovered so many amazing clothing brands that I purchased from.
And it felt good to support them. So please, #BuyNigerian
DO Enjoy the food!
Man, I am not biased because I am Nigerian. The food is amazing! Even if you don’t like “ethnic” food like Swallow etc; there are so many alternatives popping up on Lagos. Italian, Asian, French and I feel they all have a bit of Nigeria flavor to them.
I will do a separate post about my favorite places to eat as this blog post isn’t for “plugging” any particular brand or restaurant.
DO try and experience a Lagos wedding in your lifetime.
No party like a Lagos party! Nah, No wedding like a Lagos wedding.
It’s only in Lagos that the reception will have an “after party” and then after that;
the guests will go to the club (with Aso Ebi on) until the sun comes out.
Where? Lagos of course!
Most Lagos weddings are all about the pomp and circumstance. You’ll see a lot of money spent on the decor. You’ll see people dressed like they came to steal the groom away from the bride. You’ll see the Lagos “cool kids”.
You’ll see women who are here “to seize bae” and meet their future husband. I’ve also heard of weddings where you’ll see side chicks/sugar daddies giving the bride/groom congratulatory hugs without an iota of shame. I’m playing. Well, maybe. Yes I’m kidding.
If you love to people watch, a Lagos wedding will keep you entertained for hours.
DON’T pay any tailor or “celebrity” tailor or anyone in full (before you get the product) in Lagos.
I repeat, DO NOT PAY ANYONE IN LAGOS IN FULL OHHHHHHHHH… until you get your product.
DON’T expect to go to the passport office and come out in an hour or two or three.
In fact, bring sleeping bag and underwear to change the next morning.
DO ask your resourceful friends if they know anyone at the passport office.
In Lagos, who you know can prove more important than what you know in certain situations.
DON’T comment on the obviously apparent things like “hot weather” or “traffic”.
This is typical IJGB behavior. You knew it would be hot. It’s always hot. That’s why you packed shorts and bikinis for this trip. Don’t shout “It’s so hot” or else you’ll get side eyes from your local friends. Even if they are also complaining that it’s hot.
You just keep quiet as per your IJGB level na.
DO expect to find places of worship all over the place.
Like, literally, ALL OVER THE PLACE… If you say you can’t find a church or mosque in Lagos, it means you are not looking for one.
DON’T drink pure water. If you like form aje pako and catch cholera.
If you’ve been living abroad for some time, your body don change, uncle…. aunty…. drink bottled water, abeg. or natural lemonade from Wilson’s juice.
I swear it helped me recover from a cold while I was in Lagos.
DON’T form foreign accent (All of you living abroad with H factor, STHAAPIT)…
While pidgin is helpful and super convenient to speak and understand and while navigating lagos,
DON’T force it. Please just don’t.
I promise you will still have an amazing time. Be yourself. No go fall your own hand.
DO remember to take anti-malaria and anti-diarrhea drugs with you.
Trust me… After Iya Micheal’s amala with gbegiri, you and the toilet will be best friends. like BamBam and Teddy A.
If you know, you know.
DO Enjoy your time at home, surround yourself with family, friends and loved ones.
And remember, “There’s no place like HOME”
God Bless NIGERIA!
oh one last one:
Lagos is home to the Local Time Wasters Association of Africa.
YOUR. Time. Will. Be. Wasted. on many levels. People will tell you to meet them at 8am and show up at 4pm and wonder why you ” just left like that”.
Please just know; This is Lagos. Welcome.
I hope these tips have been helpful. There’s a mutually beneficial relationship between the locals and the IJGBs.
Hopefully people see it more as symbiotic relationship although it can seem quite parasitic.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your own tips for the IJGB in the comments.
It’s an Art to be able to not pull your hair out and enjoy your trip in this city. #EverythingNaArt.
In the infamous words of a fellow IJGB:
“Lagos is so much fun when you have a return ticket home. #ICantWaitToMissLagosFromAbroad”. See Ya!
Author | Amin of Everything na art
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