Documentary Review: Welcome To Lagos Pt 1. - My FrontPager

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The documentary Welcome to Lagos depicts the day to day life of a dump and its dwellers, and how they manage to make a living with difficulty, create a semblance of government and work towards achieving much more than they have. The documentary describes an important part of Lagos that is almost never talked about. Eric Obuh nicknamed ‘vocal slender’ who has been in Lagos 28 years since his birth is amongst the main characters of the documentary. He works as a scavenger in Olusosun dump where he picks items to sell from the refuse dump so that he’s able to further his music career and take care of himself. He has ambitions to become to become a major recording artist
The documentary portrays the dump site as a community with everything needed such as restaurants, shops, bars and even the barber’s where people work, how organised the place is, and how they had their own form of democracy by electing a chairman. The people featured in this documentary could easily live anywhere in the world and the big chance is, they would still survive the hardship. Slender who works in the dump site weekdays built himself a place to stay and returns home in Ajegunle during weekends. There are about 500 people fully employed in the dump. There are other people who work in the dump too not just scavengers. 

Mr Joseph Orji who deals with selling and buying copper, zinc, brass, iron, aluminium and slippers to reprocessing companies is a man whose priority is his family. He found love at the dump site with a woman who used to sell food and now has two children. He lives ten minutes walk from the dump site where he rented a one room apartment for him and his family. In Joseph, we also see a story of a man that was left alone to grow up and fend for himself his whole life which explains his passion for taking care of his family. Most of the things in his house are from the things found in the dump site.

The next location was the Oluwanishola cattle market and slaughter yard. Mohammed is a successful cattle broker who was a herdsman from the bush who spoke only Fulani 10 years ago when he first arrived Lagos. He is one of the main traders who convince customers to buy from certain people. He speaks 5 different languages and helps to bargain the cows at affordable prices. On each cow, Mohammed gains 100naira. The slaughter slab produces meat that about 16 million people in the city of Lagos feed on. 

The first part of the animal that is sold is the digestive system. Every other part is divided and resourceful, so nothing is wasted. The only bit that is thrown away is the skin. The hooves get sold to the shoemakers, the horns get turned into plastic for television sets and even the content of the stomach is sold for fertiliser. 
Gabriel who was straight out of Agricultural College saw how blood was being washed into the river at the slab and decided to create an opportunity from it. The end product of the animal blood is feed for commercial chicken.
The Purpose of this documentary looks past the dirt and filth and see the strength and indomitable human spirit in these men and women as they craft their own life stories.

    ● One take that I find really interesting is the description of life on the dump as political philosophy advocating only minimal state interventions in the lives of citizens in action; ‘Not only did the scavengers sell on any rubbish of any value, but a market arose to satisfy their own needs; the tip had a cafĂ© and even a manicurist, and at the nearby cattle market, every part of the cow except the hair was used for profit; even the blood that would otherwise drain away was scooped up and turned into chicken feed. In this sense, we saw the free market in its perfect form: sole traders exploiting every tiny profit opportunity; the minute division of labour, hard work, energy and entrepreneurship; the lack of waste. We also saw that the market policed itself. The scavengers claimed that they trusted each other. They need the state to solve their disputes’.  
    ● The health of the different people who live in the dump. The fumes from other dangerous gas they inhale but think will do them no harm. The human body is funny and who knows what could be going on in there?
  ● In these people, the beauty of humanity was portrayed when they rallied to help Eric get out of trouble. They became his family though they were not afraid to let him know they were not happy with his actions by getting into a fight which caused a colleague his eye. He was punished, wasn’t allowed to work for a month. It is only those that care, that correct.
● The fact that Eric Obuh didn’t tell his friends that he works as a scavenger in a dump site wasn’t a big deal. He was trying to protect his self-esteem and have the ability to talk amongst friends. He didn’t want to be looked down upon.
● The focus was not on Corruption or the negative things Nigerians seem to be known for. The documentary portrays a dump site which may not be the best place to show Nigerians but in this filth, you see the heart of many Nigerians who are willing to achieve the best and are hard working.
● The only one who tried to help himself to other people’s thing was taught a lesson. He was lucky not to get jungle justice.

                         The sound of the documentary was good. The camera angle had certain issues considering the fact that the characters had to hold the cameras at some point and couldn’t get the perfect angles.

 ● The cow blood that is cooked and final stage is chicken feed.
 ● The things that Mr Joseph collected from the dump that made up the main things in his house.
 ● The pride they take in working at the dump to earn an honest living.

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