Saturday, November 1, 2014

The 'Buj

Zuma rock, picture from here
I am happy to report that I'm just back from a very brief TDY to Abuja and it has inspired me to write at least a bit more about Nigeria.

Of course I'm going straight for the obvious - a not even a little bit biased comparison, Abuja v. Lagos

After almost two years in Lagos, my standards may be a bit different than yours, but my first impression was that Abuja is fancy (fancy being a personal shorthand for 'developed').

I could describe what makes Abuja feel this way or I could just show you.

Below is a Google image search result for Abuja:
pictures from ...Google
Remember your impressions.

Now here's a Google image search result for Lagos:
Bet you can't guess which picture is purely aspirational.
Seems like Google's impression of Lagos is a little less 'shiny city of the future' and a little more poverty, overcrowding and some combination of the two.

And just because... scroll down in the Google search result for my favorite, totally random guy with the world's most terrifying animal.
Naturally, since I've called Lagos home for so long I feel like I can finally see past some of ^that and present my own view of a city that - while flawed - has a lot going on if you know where to look. Take Makoko for instance (the floating town) - did you know the school I visited there is an award-winning (or at least award nominated ;) design? Visit the website in the link for a very cool discussion of housing possibilities for the area.
Anyway, back to Abuja and how fancy it was. Abuja has lots of nice things - hills, tree-lined boulevards, an Ethiopian restaurant, and a U.S. Embassy that looks and feels like it was built by a developed country. (just saying...)
Abuja also had a pretty notable collection of architecturally bold buildings - a few highlights below:

The Ministry of Defense building - 'Ship House'
picture from here
This tower and cultural center aren't yet finished but already stand out in Abuja's relatively short skyline. Lagos needs a cultural center!
picture from here

This church also stood out. I don't specifically like the design, but I can appreciate the uniqueness of it. And the tower is fun. Abuja seemed to be big on towers.
Picture from here

And finally, my absolute favorite - the National Mosque. I love the towers (see more towers!) -they look just perfect for a Disney princess, don't you think? I took a picture every time we drove by, but like I said - phone pictures = no good.

picture from Wikipedia

Inevitably, more impressions to follow.

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