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Af ter the Revolu:Lagos 2025Wrien by Grace Adeniyi-OgunyankinIustrated by Edgar K Lushaju

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It is the year 2025. Three years after the revolution (2020-2022) ended. #EndSARS, #Naija4thePeople, #capitalismiswahala and other activist movements had made signicant gains. The people fought. And the people won. People burned shit up/down. They’d had enough. It was a revolution of dreams. But it had left the city in ruins.

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By February 2023, with much eagerness, international planners and governments, as they are wont to do, came running with reconstruction plans. Agencies and philanthropists made multiple presentations about steps to re-insert Lagos back into the global economy- ensuring its status as Africa’s economic powerhouse.

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But things were dierent this time. The new government, chosen by the people, cared about the people, listened to the people and consulted the people. We were done with debt-nanced growth strategies. Uninterested in the gaze of global capital.

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I attended all the meetings in my neighbourhood. Before the pandemic, we were on the cusp of being displaced. Blueprints of fancy high-rise buildings, shopping malls and amusement parks circulated. Blueprints of our replacement. Urban fantasies that deleted our existence. There was incessant talk that there was no doubt that Lagos has denitely arrived.

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Lagos could be a global city! Recognizable to the global, a city for work and play for the interested transnational individual. Lands were seized and given to transnational corporations for a paltry sum. Deals were made behind closed doors.

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People like me constituted a nuisance. My dwelling place was considered an eyesore – a blemish. Our maltreatment by the government and elite was justied because we were an embarrassment, apparently incapable of progress. Structural inequalities were ignored. There was a heavy cloud of amnesia concerning colonial legacies and there was a frightful willingness to embrace neo-imperialism. All in the name of being seen and acknowledged as world-class.

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So, you can only imagine the extent to which we desired change. And after the revolution, we refused to go back to a norm that was divorced from our realities. We didn’t want ‘glitz’, in the hegemonic sense. We didn’t want an exploitative market economy. We rejected the Eurocentric epistemological underpinning of city building that shunned our ways of knowing.

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We shouted a resounding no. Repetitively. Loudly. Every time a plan was shoved in our faces. Each time we declined the seemingly benign oers, they rudely told us that we’d be sorry. With much exasperation, they claimed they knew what was best for us.

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And so, we began to work. It wasn’t easy. Our imaginations were somewhat corrupted. We had imbibed, for years, particular notions of a good life. One that very much embraced consumption. We had embraced a particular aesthetic- one that was palatable and met the external gaze of approval.

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We struggled but managed to imagine otherwise. Our everyday lives and our city, for a long time, had not been centered on us, had not been about us. We wanted something that worked for us and reected us. We also wanted to stray away from ecocide. The future had to be now. We refused the inclination to work with what we had inherited. We decided to believe that what we had was not the only way.

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Some international media caught wind of what we were up to. There was derision. But we didn’t care. This is our lives. Our city. Finally feeling at home. At ease. Our dreams, nally true.