Lagos state, a vast expanse of lagoon, creeks and estuaries with substantial coastal terrain cannot fail to be both a place of interest and enigma. The coastal terrain is Kerala, Amazon and some deep rainforests in South East Asia combined. This rich coastal terrain is in abundance of human and diverse aquatic natural resources that could well be next big business and tourist attraction generating billions of dollars for Nigeria, we are yet to explore the potentials of boat cruises from Emina in Epe and 5 cowrie creeks in Lagos Island to beaches in Badagry.
Unfortunately, Water Hyacinth which I have chosen to call the ‘Beautiful Disaster’ is a huge menace to the way of life of the people living in these communities which is fishing. There are cases of people who get trapped in Seaweeds for days while pregnant women/ sick that has to be ferried to the hospital die as they could not leave their communities, some of which can only be reached by boats. I’m talking Seaweeds going as far as the eyes can see into the horizon. Sometimes it feels like our boat is on a huge green field peppered with brilliant pink/purple flowers.
To explore this, Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode commissioned a pivotal health study of the coastal region to understand various human and demographic challenges of these long-neglected people.
The trip started from Epe and is designed to comb over 54 communities from Ologbokere, Emina, Oko Abe, Ito Omu, a round trip of about 200 km on water through massive swathes of sinistrous Water Hyacinth
The study was to impact on Maternal, Neonatal and Children health (MNCH), Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Health Literacy, Hypertension and Diabetic Screening, and Household Demographic Survey of this entire area.
The project at the inception made a huge impact on the people as they were able to frankly express their opinions on various governments from the start of this democratic experience. The dearth of critical infrastructures kept staring us in the face from one community to another.
The raping of the communities by Loggers, sand miners and dredgers continue without abatement with active connivance of the dark forces in government. ‘Who will now save us?’ lamented a Baale from one of the communities?
In Ibon, a big signboard straddling the lagoon and thick bush announced “Bond Estate”, a signal to the next rapacious annexation by greedy exploiters intent on subjugating the people. Perhaps they have been bribed, cajoled and subjugated by few naira without critical infrastructural support and meaningful input.
The Project it still on as their are still more villages to cover as at the publication of this story.
Bolaji Alonge is an artist, international photographer, actor and journalist from Lagos, Nigeria. His visual language speaks of the wonders of nature and human exchange, urban culture and searches for historical continuity in a world that is sometimes heavily fractured. He is also a globetrotter who has travelled around the world during the last decade documenting exotic culture and history. In May 2017, Bolaji organized his “Eyes of a Lagos Boy” photo exhibition at the prestigious Freedom Park in Lagos.
His second solo exhibition “Urban Culture – Historical Continuity” was held at One Draw Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos in November 2018, establishing Bolaji’s brand of photography to a new audience, receiving great reviews from artists and art lovers worldwide
In February 2019, Bolaji showcased his work at Baza Studio in New York, The event was attended by the Nigerian Consul in New York, UN officials, art curators, musicians, artists, press and art aficionados. More projects in New York are planned for 2019.