By HENRY AKUBUIRO
They are two journalists working in tandem to achieve a common cause. Akeem Lasisi, a renowned poet, is an assistant editor with The Punch newspaper; while Kabir Garba is an assistant editor with The Guardian newspaper. Both are seasoned arts and culture journalists who have worked in Lagos for many years. Little wonder they have been overwhelmed by the charm of the city.
Co-authored by both, the book, Phenomenal Lagos: 50 Iconic Places in the Centre of Excellence…, was presented to the media recently in Lagos. Sponsored by the Lagos State Government as part of Lagos at 50 celebration, the publication, unfortunately, couldn’t get out of the press early enough to be presented to the public as the celebrations climaxed in May. But the good news is that it is finally out. Like any other good read, its contents are deathless.
“It was an idea that has been developing over a year. We intended to do the book as part of Lagos at 50 celebrations,” said Akeem Lasisi, who encouraged his media colleagues to write books, for the work “we do as journalists is always in the wind.”
When the two authors set out, their focus was to identify 50 iconic places in Lagos and take photographs of them, “something that would be more endearing”. Hence, they established their choices, ensuring that they were fair representations of the state. It was eventually approved by the state government, though funding wasn’t prompt as expected.
Describing the book as high quality book that would be enduring, Lasisi informed that the book also contained history of important places in Lagos and what gave rise to the names they bear today. Each depiction is accompanied by a short poem woven around the icon.
Lending his voice, the co-author, Garba, said the major lesson to take away from their experience was that nothing was impossible once you were determined to achieve a goal. Gathering materials for the book wasn’t an easy thing, for they had to combine it with their daily work, which meant they had to spend extra hours each day.
The editor, who said the media industry at the moment was experiencing challenges because of the economic recession in the country, enjoined his colleagues to look for other ways to survive. He said: “We need to start thinking creatively as journalists on how to manage our lives.” Book writing, he said, was one opportunity they should explore.
Phenomenon Lagos: 50 Iconic Places in the Centre of Excellence comes with a paper back and 120 glossy pages.
In the Prologue, the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Olarewaju Fagbohun, describes the book as “a direct interpretation of celebrating those socio-cultural and even political monuments of Lagos. Some of the iconic places featured are history personified.”
Likewise, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, while writing in the Preface, says the “publication is borne out of the understanding that the cultural heritage of Lagos is inestimable”. He adds that the “uniqueness of the compendium lies in the poetic verses that complement the brief history and pictorial representation of each of the iconic sites.” A book that combines historical, academic, cultural, tourist, literary and commercial values of Lagos, the iconic places showcased in this book are places visitors and tourists would like to visit once in Lagos.
Some of these include National Theatre, National Museum, First Storey Building, Sungbo Forest, Eko Hotels, Muson Centre, Whispering Palms, Bar Beach, Tafawwa Balewa Sqauare, Afrika Shrine, Eko Atlantic City, Piont of No Return, Unilag, Queens College, Lekki Free Trade Zone and Lagos Ports.