Published on May 13th, 2020 | by Francis Nwani3
The City That Never Sleeps Now Goes To Bed At 8pm
The hype capital of the world. The city that never sleeps. This city now snores at 8 p.m. But then, it is what it is. This is where we are now.
Teeming with more than 21 million people, Lagos is Africa’s largest city and has been rightly called the city that never sleeps up until the 30th of March 2020 when the Nigerian President ordered a total lockdown of the State that lasted for 5 weeks due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Agitations in many quarters and a clearly dying economy led to the lifting of the lockdown on the 4th of May but with the provision of a dusk to dawn curfew. Still, this big giant sleeps in many ways.
The City That Once Was
I am thinking of a more fancy way to say Lagos does not sleep but that is just it. Out there in a busy Lagos junction used to be a woman washing 2 paint measurement of rice to boil and sell. You’d return to her stall few minutes past midnight and she’d say “Oga rice don finish o, sidon wait make I boil another one.” No, you’re not the only customer waiting in line.
Somewhere down the road, female night workers flag down cars and offer services to male patrons. Clubs causing traffic on major roads way past midnight. That is the Lagos we know.
I can beat my chest and say there is one business transaction or the other going on every hour of the day 7 days a week in Lagos.
Daytime in Lagos is just as adventurous. Workers start pouring out by 5:30 a.m. leaving you to wonder when they woke up. Traffic gradually fills the road from 6:30 a.m. and reigns in terror till noon. Ironically, that is the Lagos we’ve come to love.
Public transporters offering premium comedy in their own way. From bus drivers turning vehicle horns to a musical instrument and conductors dropping quality bars to conductors using pick up lines on pretty passengers. You can’t help but love them and the city that made them.
The Sad Reality
The Lagos we know is asleep. While many are laying low, the nightlife is totally dead. The curfew imposed on the state by the Federal Government prohibits movement from 8 p.m. till 6 p.m. As the numbers of infected people swell, with Lagos as the unfortunate epicentre of the virus, the few who brave the odd to earn a living arm themselves to the teeth with protective nose masks and gloves.
A frantic rush envelops the city from 4 p.m. as people hurry to get home before 8 p.m. or else face fines up to N30,000 or cool off in a Nigerian prison for 2 months. Who knows, perhaps 8 p.m. is when the virus comes out to play. Better safe than sorry.
After 8 p.m, the city snores. Lagos becomes a shadow of itself with empty roads and eerie silence.
The slay queens and party rockers can only look at pictures and watch videos of what used to be while we all focus on ways of stopping the spread by washing our hands and practising social distancing. The sooner we take responsibility and stop the spread of the virus, the quicker our world will return to what it used to be. It is in our hands to stay clean and virus free.