Greetings from Lagos in Nigeria. We have had a productive week here. We are being hosted by Adeboye Ola and his team at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) in a suburb called Ogba on mainland Lagos.
Many of us almost did not make it with authorities at the various Nigerian consulates around Africa setting up all manner of hoops to jump through. All but one got here in the end. Early in the week Adeboye organised for us to get official media accreditation by the External Publicity Department in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. This has been very helpful in getting us out of some challenging situations and allowing us to work freely.
With 15 to 20 million inhabitants, Lagos is an incredibly alive place that provides rich soil for cultivating all manner of fascinating features. Its often gridlocked traffic has meant the 12 radio journalists and 12 photojournalists have had to work hard to get their stories together. As in Ghana, the cell phone networks dominate advertising and MTN Nigeria is certainly making the most of its sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on billboards and banners all over the city. Sitting in traffic the inhabitants of this great city certainly have the time to contemplate the message.
But the stories are also just around the corner. On Friday evening I went for a walk and ended up at “Clean Cut” barber shop with enthusiastic soccer fans crammed into the little venue watching television with Hungry pipping favourites Italy to the post in a dramatic overtime derby at the U-20 FIFA World Cup in Egypt. The intensity of emotion when Italy equalized within a minute of Hungry scoring in overtime was thrilling.
Today is match day. Nigeria plays Mozambique. They have to win to even be in with a chance, of participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa next year. Their fate, however, is also in the hands of Tunis who have to lose to Kenya today for Nigeria to go through. Whatever their fate today, we are all looking forward to the passion of 15 million football fans!