This is a frantic, mystical journey through Africa’s biggest metropolis: Lagos. Going beyond the popular images of mad traffic or crowded slums, we learn of the incredible feats Lagosians pull off to survive their broken-down city, and the secret enabling them to cope with the chaos and precarity of Nigeria’s most populous centre: spirituality.
A female street fighter in a male-dominated mafia extortion business. Two powerful chiefs locked in a deadly feud over billion-dollar real estate. An oil tycoon who gambles her fortune on televangelists’ prophecies. A rubbish scavenger dreaming of a reggae career. A fisherman’s son trying to save Makoko, the ‘floating slum’, from demolition. A priestess to a river goddess selling sand to feed Lagos’s construction boom.
Belief in unseen forces unites these figures, as does their commitment to worshipping them–at shrines, in mosques and in churches. In this extraordinary city, Tim Cocks uncovers something universal about human nature in the face of danger and high uncertainty: our tendency to place faith in a realm beyond.
‘A remarkable if underrated book of narrative nonfiction about what everyday life looks like for a range of the Nigerian city’s residents, in all of their shame and glory.’ – Los Angeles Review of Books
‘An entertaining take on the city by an enchanted foreigner.’ – Adewale Maja-Pearce, Anglo-Nigerian author of The House My Father Built
‘Tim Cocks’ affection for Nigeria’s exuberant and complex metropolis shines through vividly sketched Lagosians in their dogged pursuit of a better life.’ – Lola Shoneyin, author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
‘A vivid portrayal of Africa’s biggest city, deftly capturing its combustible energies and multiple contradictions. In its daily struggle for survival against challenges both human and natural, Lagos signposts the future of the human race. Read this book as a prophecy.’ – Paddy Docherty, author of Blood and Bronze
Tim Cocks is a British-born journalist of South African parentage. Currently based in Johannesburg, he was formerly Reuters West & Central Africa bureau chief, based in Dakar, following four years in Lagos as Nigeria bureau chief.