Last Saturday night we had a social event, a not so frequent thing in our life here. It was "Small World," an evening hosted by the combined women's clubs in Lagos to benefit their favorite charities. It seems that each nationality has their own Women's organization, and there were 27 of them that joined together to sponsor this evening. Each of the clubs nominated a charity to be their recipient for their portion of the shared proceeds. This charity had to be approved so no single charity could get funds from more than one club, to allow the wealth to be shared, and also the charity's planned use of the funds had to be approved. The American Women's club charity is the Family Life Center, which I have visited. They will use their profits to purchase a real dental chair to replace the converted car seat which they presently use for dental work. On purchase of the tickets -- a not insignificant price of 7000 Naira each (almost $60) we received a fat program detailing the charities that would receive proceeds from the evening along with Lagos business directory with nice glossy advertising pages from the sponsors. This advertising essentially paid for the expenses of the event so all the ticket receipts could go to the charities. The tickets for this event are really in demand -- they limit the number to 3000, and the American Women's Club's share was sold out in a couple of days.
Small World was held on the grounds of the British International School and it was a perfect evening, not too hot and with a light breeze. We began with the eating portion of the evening and there was quite a varied offering, as each of the clubs hosted a booth with representative food and drink from their country. Our favorites were the Indian food, the Lebanese mini-schwarmas, and the French plate with a sampling of delicious cheeses along with a baguette. We didn't have stomach to taste everything, but we did our best. The American booth served hot dogs, which we gave a pass, but we did drink the American lemonade. The drinkers in the crowd got a better value for their money than did us teetotalers, because there was a plentiful offering of wine and alcohol from many of the countries represented. The alcohol samplings made for a loud and lively audience for the program, and I was glad that most of the crowd had drivers outside waiting to transport them home. After 1 1/2 hours of eating and visiting, the crowd took their seats in front of the large stage area and the program began. Along with an opening and closing dance number, each of the women's club had an offering of dance or drama. It was clear that a lot of people had spent many hours of practice time preparing for this evening. There were elaborate costumes and some interesting folk dances, along with humorous numbers. Before this evening I knew there was a large Indian population here (isn't that the case everywhere?), and I knew there were a lot of Lebanese, as they run many of the grocery stores and restaurants. But they were a lot more numerous, or at least louder, than I would have guessed. There were also a lot of Russians and even a Women's organization representing the West Indies. Most of the areas of the world were represented here. The Phillipines club did an elegant dance with steaming bowls (dry ice?) on their heads, and the American Club had a fun dance number to "Candyman," Christine Aquilera's tribute to the Andrews Sisters. The evening ended with a flag parade with flag bearers from each of the countries with represented organizations, which was, thankfully, NOT set to the music of "It's a Small World." Then there was a modest fireworks show. In the middle of the program, the emcees announced that there was a police action in the area and no one should leave until they announced that they had received the all-clear. By the end of the program, they said the issue had been resolved (our driver told us that there had been a robbery where there was gunfire, but it was not in the immediate vicinity of the event) and we were free to go or to stay and dance. They did give us the warning that the event had a police cordon around the area, but once we left that police protection, we were on our own. We were definitely out later than is typical for us here, but we made it home without incident. The emcees had announced that the evening had raised at least 30,000,000 Naira for the charities --almost $255,000! Quite a good sum! It was a nice evening, and a good thing to know that many worthwhile charities will be receiving a nice check to help them continue their important and necessary work.