Victoria Island, Lagos – I’m walking along Adetokunbo Ademola Street, on which Eko Hotels and Suites is located. Even at 10 a.m., there is still a slight morning bustle, people jostling to get into buses, the air faintly crackling with activity. Then I get to the end of the street and spot a ringed-off park, fitted with a waist-high metal fence that runs along tall electric poles. The park is eye-catching; there are long wooden chairs and the walls are painted brightly. On one part of the wall is a picture of the Oba of Lagos and a painting of an Eyo masquerade. It stands out, this park, that it gets my interest piqued. Is it opened to the public? How long did it take to build it? Is this part of another Lagos beautification project? For how long will it be a park before it gets wrongly repurposed? Will it be properly maintained?
“The park is for people to come sit down and relax,” the custodian at the park tells me, “It’s called the Eko Roundabout Park because of the location. It will be opened soon.”
The name of the park sounds unimaginative and bland, I think to myself, but I don’t tell him this. He says there will be flowers planted in the park and I think of the crushed, squashed and uprooted flowers that the immediate past government tried to beautify Lagos with. As he talks, I look across the narrow two-lane road where buses are stationary, conductors calling for passengers. I notice that the small, corner-side businesses are no longer there. Only one, a kind of food vendor, sits amid a company of customers.
“I like that the this place is fine now but I have lost customers,” the food vendor laments to me, “The people that used to come and buy my food think I have moved away, but I’m still here. But I know that, with time, business will pick up again.”
On the whole, the Eko Roundabout Park feels like a much-needed break from the long-stream, numbing work flow that bears down on you if you work and live in Lagos. But will it last?