Monday, May 14, 2012

The 315th good thing about Lagos: The Lagos Carnival!

Usually we travel out of Nigeria around Easter, so we haven't been in Lagos to view the colorful celebration of the Lagos Carnival, which has happened in the past few years on the Monday after Easter.  So I didn't feel too bad about staying in Lagos this year with a packed weekend of activities. I had a friend from African Book Group who was handing out VIP tickets for the stadium.  Carnival consists of two parades -- one for youth and one for adults.  They take different routes, both of which end up at Tafewa Balewa Square, the same big stadium where we enjoyed seeing the Eyo Festival.
This parade was not quite as unusual as that celebration.  Carnival was full of vibrant color from bright costumes.  The parade organizers had prepared 12,000 costumes for the parades!  I don't know if it was different for the adults, but the youth in various groups just paid a small registration fee and were given a costume to wear.  The costumes were really quite elaborate and I can't imagine the work the committee had to do to get all of them designed, sewn, and organized.

The result was an overpowering visual feast and I had a hard time deciding what photos to post here and so I decided to just show you a bunch, to give my readers a sense of the visual overload, without a lot to say.

There was very little live music during both of the parades, most of the marchers just danced to the recorded music broadcast through the stadium.

 Just to reassure you -- I took many more pictures that I'm not posting here.  And though I was busy snapping away, I was also frequently being snapped.  I was among a small group of fewer than 10 white faces in the crowd and many, many people wanted to take pictures of us and with us.  It was kind of weird. 

They really enjoyed it when we jumped into the parade to pose for a picture.

And after someone thrust their baby at me to take my picture holding him, I handed my camera to them so I could also record the moment.

Shortly before we were going to leave, it was getting crowded down on the parade level, so we decided to go up in the stands to get a view of the crowd.  It was amazing to see how many people had assembled!

We really had a fun time marveling at the costumes, but one thing that surprised me is the scarcity of food vendors in the stadium.  There was a small booth selling schwarmas and drinks and one other small food booth, but neither were very busy.  There just wasn't much food at all being sold inside and not many people eating (very different from a typical American celebration).  But when we left the stadium and went outside, there were plenty of food options there.  We guessed that getting a license for a concession inside was expensive, probably making the food more expensive, so Nigerians were getting their snacks outside.

We didn't try the boiled eggs....  maybe at next year's parade.

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