Lagos, Nigeria. Feb. 26, 2015. A boy poses for a photo while steering his canoe in the floating village of Makoko. Here, children start to steer their own boats at 7 years old.
Lagos: Divided City
Originally published by IBTimes on March 3, 2015.
LAGOS, NIGERIA -- Lagos is the commercial capital of the biggest economy in Africa. Home to a burgeoning tech scene, Nollywood and is the base for most of Nigeria’s biggest corporate powerhouses. But across the Third Mainland Bridge bridge between the mainland and Victoria Island, the high-priced home of government officials and company executives, sits the floating slum of Makoko.
Tens of thousands of people live in the sprawling grid of houses built on stilts above the water, balancing on rickety planks between dwellings and steering long wooden canoes to get around through narrow canals to visit shops, go to work, and attend school or church. Children start steering their own boats around age seven.
“We love to live on the water,” resident Anthony Shemeun, 50, said through a translator. Like most of his neighbors, he was born and brought up in Makoko. “Just like fish wouldn’t survive on land, we couldn’t survive if we weren’t here.”
But as Lagos continues to get richer and expand, that goal is getting harder to hang on to. In the past, city authorities have evicted the residents from their homes, often with as little as three days warning, to make way for new developments, leaving thousands homeless.
“They call them illegal occupants,” says Agbodemu Ishola, a local politician and activist, who has often staged protests to try and stop the demolitions, sometimes getting injured doing so.
“They say that Lagos is going to be this new ‘megacity,’ but they didn’t include us in their plans,” he says. “Everyone, rich or poor, should be considered.”
Lagos, Nigeria. Feb. 25, 2015. Agbodemu Ishola, a local politician and activist, meets with members of the Makoko neighborhood to discuss community issues and the upcoming election.
A woman waits for a text message on the outskirts of Makoko, in Lagos on Feb. 25 2015.
A boy rides on top of a transport truck in Lagos on Feb 25, 2015.
Lagos, Nigeria. Feb. 26, 2015. The floating slum of Makoko is a low-income coastal community in Lagos. The vast majority of its residents are fishermen who often struggle with unemployment.
Lagos, Nigeria. Feb. 26, 2015. Many houses in the floating village of Makoko are surrounded by water. Locals use canoes to get around.
A local resident of Makoko sits in a canoe used to move between the homes and businesses on Feb. 25 2015.
Lagos, Nigeria. Feb. 26, 2015. A resident of the Makoko floating villages uses a canoe to navigate the area’s passageways.
Two women pause to talk in the floating slum of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria on Feb. 25 2015.
Two teenagers pose for a photo in Lagos, Nigeria on Feb 24, 2015.
A woman poses for a photo while waiting for her bus to work in Lagos, Nigeria on Feb. 25, 2015.
A business owner in Lagos, Nigeria opens her shop for business on Feb. 25, 2015.
A man balances a sewing machine on his head as he offers services by the side of a highway in Lagos, Nigeria on Feb. 25, 2015.
Lagos, Nigeria. Feb. 26, 2015. The floating village of Makoko sits just beside a highway overpass in Lagos.