Welcome to Lagos: Review

The opening line of this book sets the tone for the following 300 pages. “Evening swept through the Delta: half an hour of mauve before the sky bruised to black.”

Chibundo Onuzo’s use of language is beautiful and pleases the reader throughout the book. Her descriptive powers bring characters and environments to life with ease and elegance. But her talent expands past powers of description.

The story of the unlikely troup of misfits making their way from various backgrounds to Lagos in search of something better is captivating and transports you to the Delta within the first couple of words.

The first protagonists we meet are Chike and Yemi, military deserters, who no longer have the stomach for killing civilians. After leaving the battleground, they run into the cockily named Fineboy, who was a revolutionary fighter and wannabe radio presenter.

The unlikely trio turns into four when they meet the unfortunate Isoken, who never warms to Fineboy. Shortly afterwards, the newly introduced character accuses Fineboy and a group of fighters for attempted sexual assault.

Chibundu Onuzo second book, Welcome to Lagos //Wikipedia

It is not until later that Chike sits beside Ameobi -the last of the five friends. Onuzo reveals defining moments of the characters’ past to help us understand them better.

The book, however, excels in bringing to life the Nigerian city of Lagos. This is beautifully executed, through the people that the group encounter, to how they are treated when looking for jobs and shelter.

The plot takes you down many different roads. The small editorials of the fictional paper, The Nigerian Journal, really show you what is going on in terms of societal and economic corruption.

“Q. What do you call an honest Lagosian?”

“A. Dead”

It explores corruption, cruelty, poverty and urban survival within Lagos. Chief Sandayo, the Education minister says in the book: ‘It’s Nigeria, everyone has their price’. Which is shown in a myriad of different characters and scenarios.

Chike and Yemi give a great insight into the deeply rooted corruption that plagues the Nigerian civil service. The pair only take half wages for being traffic wardens and even at that, sometimes they wouldn’t receive all of their wages.

Ahmed, who is from a wealthy background takes the theme of corruption even further down the line. He is the editor of the (fictitious) Nigerian Journal and his role in the book is to highlight the power and the fickleness of the press in a semi-dictatorial country.
Onuzo masterfully succeeds in transporting you to the streets and fields of Nigeria. The characters and the problems facing them are simple, yet in a complex way. Welcome To Lagos highlights how deep corruption can run in a government and that everyone has their price.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *