Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Smallness of Lagos

Lagos is one of those places where it seems that everybody knows everyone else or at least they potentially know everybody through someone else they know. This is great if you want to immerse yourself in the social swing of things fairly quickly. It is not so great if you want to have some semblance of privacy. I cannot recount the number of times that it has turned out that I already know(ish) someone who I thought I was meeting for the first time. Or it turns out that I know their brother or sister or best friend or classmate. Then we start to connect the dots.

- OK, then you must have been at [so-and-so]'s Christmas party?

- Ah, yes oh! So that means that you must also know [insert name].

- Yes! Yes! I do! How do you know them?

- Hah!!! We have known each other for years. We practically grew up together. We are family friends!

Which brings me to that ubiquitous descriptor - "family friends." Anyone who you were forced to befriend as a child by dint of the fact that their parents knew your parents and you occasionally exchanged visits is termed a "family friend." Sometimes, if the relationship goes a bit deeper than that, then you can become "cousins."

I remember introducing an actual cousin of mine to a Ghanian friend back when I lived in England. He later asked me if the guy was really my cousin. Puzzled, I replied "Yes, of course."

"Well you never know with you Nigerians", he mused. "Everyone is your cousin."

But, back to this 2 degrees of separation between Lagos folks. It means that you really can't get away with anything. Any ill-advised thing that you do, say or wear will forever be remembered by someone somewhere, who will know your cousin's brother's friend's classmate's family friend.


Frances Uku said...

so what ill-advised action might you be wanting to get away with, pray tell? ;-)

Vixen said...

I don't think it's just Lagos o. It's with the Naija world period, even those abroad. I once went to a party in DC and talked to my dad in Nigeria on the phone the next day---he said he heard I was shaking my thing at the party and looking pretty hot. Now that is some speedy gbeboruns!

However that's one thing I will always like about Naija. You can always connect the dots and find a community. Wherever you are.

Ore said...

@ Frances: Me? None whatsoever.

Vixen: Yes, I agree that it's probably a Nigerian thing, but since I'm in Lagos I don't want to make any hasty generalisations.

Africainement said...

MM..and venus I'll go even as far as saying that it's in african point blanck..being from senegal i can so relate to this post..everybody knows everybody..and everybody knows a bit if not all ur business or can actually call someone who could share a bit of info in your life..

ah us african..:)