Just as the saying ‘’Seeing Is Believing’’, so is the story of my experience at Makoko an informal settlement across the 3rd Mainland Bridge, located on the coast of mainland Lagos.
Before I set out on my journey, I had heard a lot about this major slum referred to as the ‘’Vernice of Africa’’. Unfortunately, the place is short of the experience of beauty and the feel of the sound of Vernice.
Although I went with zero expectations nor excitement, I was pleased to discover that there is more to Makoko than just the popular floating slum area. Yes! I mean it. The Indigenous people are just as normal as other people, they live on dry land, have their businesses going on, and have their schools and worship centres. Makoko is a community under the Yaba LGA of Lagos, Nigeria
However, there’s no doubt as to why the glory of Makoko has been summarised in the story of the largest floating slum in the world. By the way, if you ask me, I would say the slum settlement is an illegal settlement on top of water. The health danger and the environmental hazard of the slum is worthy of research; hence the place has gradually turned into a tourism destination. The Lagos State Government would prefer that Makoko floating slum does not even exist but the inhabitants would not give up on their place of abound, they would fight with their last blood to avoid eviction and demolition of the place.
It’s quite interesting because I have never seen a thing like that. The population of children and youths living there is alarming. It’s as if there’s no trace of birth control education in the slum. There are hardly very elderly people seen and that is simply because it is a settlement of people who need free accommodation to stay while seeking their daily bread. But Makoko started as a fishing settlement, with family groups migrating from the Benin Republic in the 19th century. No wonder the most prominent language spoken by the local community in the Makoko slum is Egun and it is a blend of French and other local Nigerian languages Benin republicans and partly used in Badagry.
The slum which was initially just a place to fish has grown to be the home for generations of fishermen from neighbouring countries.
It is hard to tell how many people reside in floating slums as there has never been an official census carried out, however, locals estimate more than one million.
Life in Makoko’s floating slum is different from what we know because everything is done on water. The water body is highly polluted with excretes from the toilet, human-generated wastes thrown into the water, and constant paddling of the canoe and erupting all debris from beneath the earth.
The only mode of transportation is by canoe, so activities like hawking, visiting one another, and going to School, Medical Clinic, or Places of Worship are done by water. There is not much difference between the daily activities of the people of Makoko and other parts of Lagos, there is normal livestock in Makoko like the raring of Goats, Dogs, Snails, and Pigs just to mention a few.
Makoko has also gained some attention as a tourist attraction, with visitors coming to experience its unique way of life and architecture. This has contributed to both awareness and economic opportunities for the community.
Would you like to visit, here is a contact of a canoe man that can take you around. Call Mr Solomon on 07045370561 and be sure you’re in a safe hand.