I booked my London to Lagos flights around a month ago and was on my six days trip to Nigeria.The alluring markets of Lagos were on my list on the third day of the trip. Starting early morning with my friends our mission is to cover and buy stuff from every corner of the famous markets.
It is always advisable to do a certain research of the place towards which you are heading to and hence I planned my market visit judiciously. It was a hot Friday morning in the month of July and I had to keep energetic for the entire day to make the most of the trip. Travelling along the Mainland Bridge, our first stop was Balogun Market.
I could easily sight the street vendors from a distance on the busy streets of the market. One of them came close to my car and forced himself at my window, insisting to buy chips and water, as if making sure to replenish my energy need for the busy day in the chirping markets of Lagos. We went down the bridge to reach the Balogun market, situated across the Lagos Marina to buy some daily necessities like such as clothing, shoes, and school supplies.
A variety of quality fabric is also available like African lace and off course, the famous native of the place, Ankara. Ankara is the casual Nigerian wear that comes in different fabric, designs and colours. The sales ladies were shouting all over and calling me, “sister! Sister! See this, see that” and held the clothes close to my face insisting me to buy from them and not from anyone else. After pondering over a few patterns and colours, I selected a beautiful black one with a graceful design in white and golden colour. I was just done with one market and was already feeling exhausted.
Next, on our list was Oke Arin Market, where people go to buy groceries and eatables that suffice them for the entire month like sacks of potatoes, baskets of onions, bags of rice etc. The items are usually sold in bulk here and at cheaper rates.
I was not even able to get down from my car in the parking area, when a butcher approached me with a box full of raw meat proclaiming it to be the freshest one but we strolled inside the market for making purchase after a proper survey and analysis on account of amount, freshness and price of the food items. Spending around two hours in the Oke Arin market we walked towards our car with both our hands full and body drained off energy.
I had some fabric with me which I wanted to get stitched and also wished to buy some artwork. My friend suggested the name of Iponri market and Jakande Market. At Iponri one could easily spot the tailors in a row and also yellow rickshaws in bulk which were used to transport textile fabrics from the textile market to the tailors here. In between the shops of the tailors there are snacks and groceries’ shops.
It was already more than half day passed and only one more destination was left on our list, the Jakande Market which is well known for it’s original artworks, ceramics, crafts and sculptures. We were already late as the rush hour had begun at 5pm but nothing could be done. Jakande is situated at an interesting location on the Lekki Peninsular area, an island which is separated from Lagos Island by Five Cowrie Creek, a lagoon on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other.
You will be besieged by the exquisite and ethnic artwork on display. There are wooden, ivory, metal sculptures and also colourful paintings and sceneries which are original masterpieces from various parts of Africa. A wide choice of jewellery; multicoloured and in wood, metal and coral will entice you to buy one for every attire. My piece of advice is don’t get disappointed with your choice of purchased stuff if you find something better on the next shop.
Finally, our hectic but exciting day was over and we returned with our car stuffed with an overview of all the markets where we had been. The variety ranged from fabrics to paintings, jewellery to eatables and much more which we forgot but was packed in opaque packets.
As per my experience, a day is not enough to fully explore the cultural markets of Lagos, so if you have already booked your tickets to Africa, keep aside at least two days for these colourful cultural markets of Lagos and travel africa.