AJEGUNLE: Exploring The Slumside Of Lagos

Lagos is an emerging megacity which is home to all calibre of people from different ethnic group with varying socio-economic status. However it also host to millions of people who are among those at the lowest rung of the ladder and who have taken refuge in the slums. Among the different slums that abound in Lagos, one is believed to stand out in a couple of ways and this is Ajegunle. Wherever slums are talked about, Ajegunle is the word that comes to mind, not many know that there are actually three Ajegunles in Lagos- Apapa Ajegunle, Sango toll gate Ajegunle and Ikorodu Ajegunle. They are miles apart but surprisingly full of people that share quite a number of things in common which include a condition of living that captures poor economic strength but who are determined to make a living by all means in the megacity.

Sango Toll Gate Ajegunle- this is the least developed among the slums and also the least slum like which is situated close to the Toll gate end of the Lagos-Abeokuta express way. This community lies on the borders between Lagos and Ogun state, like many areas in Lagos the most prominent problem faced by the residents of these communities is poor roads. People living in these areas have appealed to the governments of the two states to come to their aid by constructing roads in their communities, including the abandoned roads. They believe that the only time the government remembers them is during campaign period. The residents laments that this having a negative effect on community development as many tenants were moving else where.

Ikorodu Ajegunle- is a water catchment area situated along Ikorodu express way with a population of about 1500 is surrounded by the Lagos lagoon and the Anjuwon river from Ogun state. The residents of this area live in constant fear of relocation by the government because of floods which have continue to ravage the Owode-Ajegunle communities since 2008. Though some of the residents were relocated to Epe in 2011 after the flood which led to loss of life and properties. The housing structure in most parts of this areas is poor because most of the houses are built with light woods and zinc. This area is surrounded by a river, which the residents depend on as their main source of water and use it for washing, bathing and other culinary activities. But portable water still remains a luxurious commodity to this community water because the water from the river is not safe for drinking and they risk exposing themselves to water borne diseases especially the children.

Apapa Ajegunle- this cosmopolitan community is located in Ajeromi/Ifelodun local government area, there is an area called Boundary in Ajegunle because in the past, Ajegunle was the boundary between the western region and Lagos colony. Apapa wharf and Tincan Island also border this community on the west. Ajegunle means ‘Wealth has landed here’ in Yoruba language and its popularly known as AJ City. It is home to almost all the tribes in Nigeria- Yoruba, Urhobo, Efik, Igala, Bini, Ibo, Hausa and Pidgin English is the popular language in this locality and a common denominator which unifies them. This Lagos suburb is notorious for infrastructural decay, criminal tendencies and the rate of unemployment is at its peak.

Many of the youths in this community roam the streets and have taken to gambling. Many Baba Ijebu (gambling points) and other betting vendors have taken over the area, because the patronage is high. Majority of the young men are out of school, jobless and they believe quick money can come from gambling. Also most of the girls take to prostitution in order to provide for their families. But these young ladies see it as ‘Runs’ not prostitution because many of have families and live at home not in brothels. Nightlife is a common phenomenon and this ‘Runs’ business can be said to be quite lucrative because nightclubs, bars and hotels dot virtually every street within Ajegunle. Some of the popular ‘Runs’ areas within Ajegunle are Gorilla which many people refer to as ‘Good evening street’, Mary’s corner by Nasamu street and the Tolu axis of AJ City which boast of no fewer than twenty brothels and houses over a thousand prostitutes.

Football is a family game in this community and everyone has a vast knowledge of the game from the oldest to the youngest. Many notable footballers have emerged from this suburb which includes Emmanuel Amunike, Taribo West, Samson Siasia amongst several others.

Originally published on Ynaija.

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