A Lagos of the Future

We’re big supporters of the LAGOS 2060 project being managed by the Dream Arts and Design Agency (DADA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Center for Excellence in Film and Media studies.  Lagos 2060 is special to us for a myriad of reason but two of the top ones are that it explores pride in the city of Lagos, and it explores the genres of science-fiction or fantasy-fiction as you may have it.  For these two reasons alone, Farafina Books has also pledged to lend as much support as possible.  Culled from the Cinema and Fiction blog, the article below takes an in-depth look at Lagos and why projects like Lagos 2060 are so vital to our continued development.

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Lagos 2060

October 1st 2010 will be the 50th anniversary of Nigerian independence from the British empire. Senator Adamu Aliero, has reportedly announced that the Nigerian Government is planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence in a grand style. A new literary project, however, is set to mark the 50th anniversary in a different way – by imagining Lagos in the year 2060, 100 years from independence.

Lagos is a megacity with a population of around 13.5 million residents, making it the 5th most populous city in the world. One of these residents is Fred Nwonwu. “Writing fiction of any kind in Nigeria,” says Fred, “is more of a passion than an economic pursuit. Most writers here do it more for the love of the craft than the financial gain. Perhaps that is why there seem to be a multitude of gifted writers here.” Fred is a participant in Lagos: 2060, chosen based on a sample of his writing. For the project, Nigerian fiction writers imagine what the city of Lagos could be like 100 years from independence in the year 2060 and turn their ideas into an anthology of short science fiction stories, complete with illustrations. Fred says, “Lagos 2060, aside from granting some of us the opportunity to get published and recognition, also gives us the opportunity to explore the corners of our creativity.” The Lagos: 2060 project engages the participant writers in a series of three workshops. The aim of the workshops is “to stimulate creative minds to exceed themselves in fiction writing.” They are not to tell the writers what to write and how, but to provide an environment and creative stimulus to help them develop their own ideas and to turn them into compelling fictional stories on the theme of Lagos in the year 2060.

Below is an Al Jazeera report from February 2009 on positive changes and hopes for the future of the city of Lagos under the leadership of Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola:

The question ‘what do you think the future will look like?’ has been asked by millions of people around the world, says Fred, adding that “sci-fi is basically attempts by writers to answer that question.” The project is run by Dream Arts and Design Agency (DADA), in collaboration with the Nigerian Center for Excellence in Film and Media Studies, and Studio 1.5. DADA is a creative consultancy with interests in architecture, design, film and publishing. DADA Books, their publishing imprint, will be releasing an anthology of short science fiction stories resulting from the project, complete with illustrations. “Nothing beats telling your own story,” says Arigbabu, “if you don’t, others will tell it as they see it. For all those who bellyached over the way Nigerians were portrayed in the (South African) science fiction movie – District 9, Salvation has come!” At the time of writing, DADA is in talks with international distributors for the anthology. The partnership of organizations are providing guidance for the writers through the project. “At the first workshop, we got to discuss Lagos and our visions for the future,” tells Fred, “The participants were mainly writers and architects who all share an interest in futuristic fiction. The conveners hoped to draw from the skills of the creative writers and the architects in creating a scenario of what Lagos will look like in 50 years, seen from different minds and ideas.”

The way Ayodele Arigbabu tells it, the writers will be starting from a relative tabula rasa, meaning they can take whatever liberties they like because they are not bogged down by any existing models, and could very well create their own models for science fiction writing. “Lagos lends itself to experimentation and improvisation,” says Arigbabu, “we will draw from the chaotic freedom the city offers to the best of our abilities.” Although Nigeria is an oil-rich country, successive governments have been unable to establish basic infrastructure and services such as drinking water, roads, electricity and security to meet the needs of the growing population. Urban growth in Lagos has been examined in a recent Harvard study led by architect and designer, Rem Koolhaas. The runaway urban growth of Lagos, Koolhaas says, is developing at a rate exceeding attempts of urban planners to adequately describe it let alone plan for its future. This growth and the ways people have adapted to it was also the topic of recent BBC series Welcome to Lagos (reviewed here on guardian.co.uk). Due to the ways the people of Lagos are adapting to the rapid growth of the city, Koolhaas has dubbed Lagos the city of the future. According to Myne Whitman, the edge science fiction has over most other genres is that at the core of most of the stories is an idea. “I think it is very important,” says Whitman, “that as we mark a half centenary, we also look ahead to the future and more than that, incubate ideas to move the country forward.” Fred is excited about the ideas coming out of Lagos: 2060 so far. “I don’t know, perhaps it had something to do with the recent upsurge in development here,” he says, “or the fact that everyone there is a youth, but most of the ideas participants mooted were more about a positive future.”

In the video below, Rem Koolhaas talks about Lagos with supporting visuals:

The article continues here

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