By Tokini Peterside
Entrepreneur Tokini Peterside is founder and director of ART X Lagos, an international art fair showing contemporary work from Africa and its diaspora. The annual event takes place for the fourth time on November 1-3.
I have always felt Lagos’s greatest asset is its people. Lagosians are colourful characters: fearless, energetic and lively, with a great sense of humour. This is a city where people will converse with you with ease while waiting in line, or where total strangers will go out of their way to help you during a moment of great difficulty.
This probably has something to do with the fact that many of today’s Lagosians emigrated to Lagos from other parts of the country, and so at one point or another were strangers here themselves.
In Lagos, you truly experience the breadth of Nigeria’s cultural diversity. I love the sense of community one feels here, even with a population that is close to 21m people.
Where to live
I live in Victoria Island, which is along the city’s coastline and is surrounded by water — the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and a creek and lagoon to the north and west.
It is Lagos’s lifestyle and commercial heart, with a cross-section of the city’s best restaurants, art spaces and my favourite flower shop, coexisting with large hotels, corporate offices and nightclubs — a true mish-mash of activity jam-packed into this one strip of land.
In recent years, Lagos Island — the old city centre nearby, with historical locations such as Freedom Park and the Brazilian Quarter — has experienced a resurgence among artists and creatives because of its vibrant street culture.
Where to eat and drink
I would start with breakfast at Orchid Bistro Express in Ikoyi for the spicy stewed eggs and yam — a breakfast favourite for most Lagosians. Then lunch at Z Kitchen in Victoria Island, where the rib-eye steak and beef short-rib lasagne are favourites, as is the zobotini cocktail, made from the local zobo drink with hibiscus flowers.
For dinner, I would head to NOK by Alara, the restaurant and concept store housed in a striking red building. NOK’s quirky outdoor grill serves fusion specials from cuisines across the continent, such as spicy hummus with chicken suya (grilled spiced meat — a must-have in Lagos), jollof rice with dambu nama (west Africa’s signature rice dish, topped with shredded meat from the north of Nigeria), and kelewele (Ghanaian spiced plantain).
Danfo Bistro, a cocktail bar in Ikoyi, takes playful inspiration from the city’s distinctive “danfo” buses — poignant at this time when the bright yellow vehicles are being phased out by the city’s government.
Meanwhile, RSVP in Victoria Island features a much-loved pool and terrace bar, which draws a great crowd on Friday nights spurred on by the DJs.
Where to discover art
Victoria Island and Ikoyi are home to several art spaces and galleries, such as 16/16, a boutique space dedicated to creative exchange, the African Artists’ Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works closely with photographers and young artists, and The Treehouse, an artist-run space by Wura-Natasha Ogunji, which provides a platform for experimental visual art. The scene here in Lagos is extremely dynamic and ever changing.
Where to discover music
Lagos proudly asserts itself as Africa’s music capital, thanks to the plethora of stars it has given the world in recent years, such as Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy. But today’s Afrobeats icons are heirs to a legacy that began in the 1960s, with mavericks such as Fela Kuti, Victor Uwaifo and the Lijadu Sisters.
The Jazzhole is a music store that brings all of this together with an unrivalled collection of vinyl and CDs by many artists from Nigeria’s past and present. Its owner, Kunle Tejuoso, is an eclectic collector who will engage you in conversation about Lagos’s past and its music history in the store’s coffee shop — if you’re lucky to catch him there.
Where to relax
On Sundays, we take a boat to the beach. Tarkwa Bay is a sheltered public beach 20 minutes from Victoria Island. One of my favourite photos is a black-and-white image from the 1960s of Nina Simone in a big sun hat, dancing and laughing with Brock Peters at Tarkwa Bay.
Photographs: Getty Images; Alamy; AFP/Getty Images