Sunday, March 3, 2013

My week in Lagos aka Las Gidi aka the time of my life!

Ocean Front High Rises on Banana Island
I was in Lagos, Nigeria last week for Social Media Week. It was the first African city to host the event and I had to be there to check out the action. I moderated a panel with the prince and princess of Lagos aka Luvvie over at Awesomely Luvvie and Tiwaworks, international man of mystery and founder of the Atlanta Greek Picnic. My sorors, Afripolitans, and dear friends Maadie and Tahira rounded out the bunch for what ended up being an EPIC week. As Tahira kept saying, after visiting Lagos, I understand my Nigerian friends on a whole other level! Lagos is a clash of everything you thought you knew about Africa and everything you would least expect. It's luxury at the highest level and people living on a dollar a day, they even have a section in their newspaper, The Guardian, called a day in the life of $1 per day where they feature an interview with an actual person - crazy! Imagine the NY Times featuring a weekly piece called life on a WIC check, too much.

I arrived on Sunday on a Delta flight (sidebar: if you don't go to Africa bc you think it's too expensive, you can get a Delta or Arik Air flight to Lagos for under $800 RT) and wasn't sure what the night would bring. But I was in Las Gidi and there is something going on seven days a week. We headed out to a party at Elegushi Beach, the nicest beach in the city, and rocked out until about 3AM. Mind you when we left some people were just arriving. There was a strip of clubs with indoor/outdoor space, it was pouring down rain outside and that didn't stop anyone from getting their entire lives on the dance floor. It was definitely a great "welcome to Lagos" night.

Monday was gametime, our panel "Entrepreneurship in the Digital Age" was sold out and we gave tips on social media for business to a packed room at the Porsche Center. Check out the livestream if you need some tips, get it while it's free. The energy of the young entrepreneurs in the room was so live you could touch it. You had locals and expats who were hungry to grow their businesses and contribute to Lagos' success on the world stage. That evening, the Afripolitans hosted a "landing reception" at the Sheraton Four Points Lagos". Our rooftop shindig was a sight to see, you think the Brits and Parisians have fashion on lock, visit Lagos. Men and women were putting on for their city! I wish I was going back for Arise Fashion Week this month.

Other than our panel, my highlight of Social Media Week, was meeting Lemi Ghariouku the man behind Fela Kuti's album art. The Showcase presented by 37th State and Eclipse Productions in some ways captured the essence of Lagos. It was held in a mansion, on Victoria Island, and was all about fashion, film, and culture. The people were beautiful and the Patron sponsorship, froyo sundaes, and kettle corn definitely added a nice touch. (Sidenote: The amount of free liquor I was offered daily in Lagos made me hate my Lent choice of no hard liquor). Mr. Ghariouku is the Nigerian Harry Belafonte, all at once all artistic and talented but DEEPer than rap music. It was an honor to hear him speak about his experience, thoughts, and connecting Africa to blacks in the diaspora around the world.

Life outside of Social Media Week was way too much for one blog post but I'll say this, if you're looking for a place to vacation - the beaches, nightlife, and history in this city will only leave you wishing you'd spent two weeks there instead of one. If you're smart - you'll also look to Lagos as an investment opportunity. Depending on your funds - Eko Atlantic a new development project is poised to be the Dubai of Africa. Get in while you can, Bill Clinton visited the project while I was in town. If you go, you must visit Banana Island (similar to Star Island in Miami Beach), I'd suggest staying at the Radisson Blu (we had lunch with the architect, she's 30 and amazing!), def hit up a few markets, check out Club 111, the 14th St Guesthouse for 24 hour chinese food, and take a day trip to Badagry to see Lagos' history as a slave trading point.

Check out my week in pictures below.
Lemi Ghariouku and his amazing self!

Checking out the infinity pool @ the Raddison Blu

                                                                                Boats and Yachts...This is Africa!

Suya!!! Delicious Street Meat!

The Girl in the Orange Top has moves I can't event begin to start doing!
Tahira Chopping her Money!

First Night Out W/ The Fellas!

SMW Lagos Tees

Getting it all from our panel on entrepreneurship

A packed house at the Porsche Center
An opportunity to meet Obi and his beautiful wife!

Afripolitans Event was a HUGE success!

Yes thats Solange and Beyonce in KFS
Rollerblading in Las Gidi

I thought I'd arrived in Zamunda lol

I hope that women on the continent never lose the ability to do THIS! #skills