This is the second in a series of posts on Lagos, Nigeria's largest and most dynamic city. Lagos is a place of extremes, where wealth and poverty, modernity and tradition, chaos and order coexist and collide.
The photo above shows a young man holding a 1,000-naira note, with his arms and hands crossed behind his back to form an X. He was walking on the street in front of me, and I took this shot quickly. What message was he sending with his gesture? Was he proud or ashamed of his money? Was he flaunting or hiding it? Was he happy or sad?
Money is a powerful symbol in Lagos, a city of over 20 million people that generates about a quarter of Nigeria's GDP. Money can buy you access, influence, security, and comfort in a city that is often plagued by poverty, corruption, crime, and infrastructure problems. Money can also define your identity, status, and aspirations in a city that is constantly changing and evolving.
But money is not everything in Lagos. Money can also be a source of stress, anxiety, and conflict in a city that is highly competitive and unequal. Money can also be a distraction, a temptation, and a trap in a city that offers many opportunities and challenges. Money can also be a paradox, a contradiction, and a mystery in a city that is full of surprises and complexities.
This photo is part of my first photo book
, published in 2019, which was an assemblage of moments of everyday Lagos. It was a project that challenged me to capture the essence and diversity of the city, and to tell its stories through images. It was also a project that made me reflect on my own values and goals as a journalist and a human being. And how street photography can be a window to the soul and a mirror of one's struggles.
In this series, which I began and explained here
, I will share more photos and stories from my book, and explore some of the themes and issues that define Lagos and its people. I hope you will join me on this journey, and share your thoughts and feedback with me. Today is 2/7. Onward.
Lagos lives on, and so do we.