Shit happens, but that is not the subject of this discourse. We are spotlighting FESTAC Town in Lagos. It is in contention whether or not, the last Festival of Arts and Culture, hosted by Nigeria and held in Lagos, had benefited the host. Yes, it has! The FESTAC ’77 brought about the institution of the National Theater at Iganmu, and the creation of FESTAC Town: a community of vast expanse of housing blocks, projects and executive plots, at Amuwo Odofin.
If any one part of Lagos has witnessed significant urban development, it is FESTAC Town. The project was embarked upon by the General Yakubu Gowon led Military junta in Nigeria, supposedly to accommodate the February visitors to the country during the Festival of Arts and Culture in 1977. Things were very good for Nigeria as at that era. The swagger was there, and the patriotic feelings were sky-high, we were so blessed a people, We had so much Petro-Dollars, that spending it fast enough was an uphill task. So we invited the whole world to a whole month-long dinner “come”, we said “bring your drums, bring your singers, and your dancers, even the lame ones; bring your writers, your painters, your photographers, and poets, even the hungry ones; bring your destitutes, your geishas, your masquerades, your idols, even the ugly ones; there is plenty goodies here for every one.
I can remember my Dear Father regaling his buddies with tales of his romping escapades during the FESTAC festivities. He was a young private in the Army, and how he met my to-be mama, during guard duties. I can recall vividly the how his eyes will light up when he get to the part of his romp with Elsie, his African-American Photographer Girlfriend. That was how Elsie became my favourite name for a Black American Female Photographer. I have this unshakable notion that everybody’s father. Has tales to tell their young uns too. It was a laisez Faire, affair, That FESTAC of ’77
Since 1977, the apartments and plots of FESTAC Estates have been sold or allotted to private, and corporate holdings. The town is, today, one progressive community where peace and tranquility is the order. The cleanliness, and orderliness of FESTAC Town is next to Godliness. You wouldn’t want to throw trash out on the streets, closes and avenues. There are tree-shaded Walkways, strategically-located to serve everyone- residents and visitors. There are public gardens, and playgrounds. There is a KFC on 4th Avenue junction on 23 Road, Shepherd Specialist Hospital, Diamond Bank, Access Bank, Thrillers Family Restaurant, Kingdom Life Bookshop, there is Finbank on 23 Road too. There are other corporate establishment to service the needs of residents and visitors to FESTAC Town. Sadly, however, there is no one public toilet to be seen around this place, as it were in other parts of Lagos. Too bad.
Yes, too bad for this town, because shit happens, and it happened to me here, on 23 Road in FESTAC Town. I have been given directions to Kingdom Life Bookshop, where a wide range of Christian literatures are stocked, on 23 Road. I have chosen to walk the distance from the Alakija Gate , as that walking will be the major exercise I would have had this morning. I was sauntering along, enjoying the scenic ambiance of the trees, and structures. 23 Road marked the outskirts of FESTAC Town. On this Outskirts are privately owned mansions, and Corporate offices. And I had the need to use the toilet. The farther I went, the more pressed to shit I got. I passed churches, Mosques, Schools, but I was on the look out for Banks. A bank will most readily oblige me the use of the convenience. Soon, I was just about to shit my pants, at that point, there was no Church, no Mosque, no offices in sight, only private residences. Their sky-high perimeter fences, and the heavy iron gates with “keep off” signs were too bold and too daunting to approach. But I found a thickly-vegetated virgin plot, and I delved in to relieve myself. It wasn’t really a virgin plot.
Every inch of the plot was dotted with droppings of excreta at different stages of decomposition. The excrements are also varied in shape, size, and colouration the flies seem to favour the fresher lumps, and the dung-beetle where contentedly making big round balls of the older one and rolling them away. I didn’t see no mosquito that time, they must have been busy making lava in the nearby stagnant murky water of a nearby canal. The air was syrupy, with many layers of smells, I could have counted them and named them one by one- I found out too that stink has more than one variant. I was practically breathing in some form of Natural Gas. Could have been pure Methane, and breathing out some new kind of fart. There was hardly a free space to squat in and poop. It was a miracle that I didn’t step on shit. Even the spot I dropped my payload on was second or third hand.
Glory be, I finished my business without dying of suffocation (one gets used to things and situations you know) little wonder adaptability is one of our characteristics of our specie.
I have left that shit plot for about ten minutes when I decided to resume pinging on my BB, but my phone was gone. Good gracious me! I made a sharp about-face and started re-tracing my steps. Agitated, eyes cast down looking for my beloved Phone. I was back at the shit-hole. I gingerly picked my way through the maze of shit, ignoring the buzzing flies. And I found my phone. No sigh of sweet relief came forth. My Dear Blackberry Curve 2, which I remembered putting in the shallow hip-pocket of my skinny-Jean was there, faced-down on my fresh shit. Well, it is my shit. The rest is Chemistry, because I am typing this post with the Cherished Blackberry. she could have been History, but for the Chemistry between us.
I only wish FESTAC Town, where I still am, I type this, has more public toilets than shit holes.