Despite being notorious for traffic jams and reckless drivers maneuvering to beat others to reach their destinations, Lagos has impressive architectural buildings, a condensed city like other cities of the world, like London; the best city of the world and South Africa, the ensemble of all which God has created. When you see these cities you come to understand the purpose of creation. The beauty of Lagos should not be seen only in the architectural designs of its buildings, but should also reflect the beauty of peace, justice among its inhabitants. The beauty of Lagos should not be the Atlantic Ocean, the lakes, the lagoons, the national museum, the national theatre etc. but the beauty of the people who live in this wonderful master piece of God.
When peace and justice are lacking, the city becomes a withedsepulcher and tombs of segregated citizens who died because of violence, lack of diversity, bad governance, cultural nuances and subtle discrimination. In every city there must be poor struggling to live. Those who live under the bridges are not excluded. The drug addicts, the peripheries, the blinds and those who sleep at the garage and the displaced tenants and the new poor – i.e. those whose businesses and houses are constantly destroyed due to the mega city projects. All these people live in the dazzling city of Lagos. Not to talk about those who live in the ghettos; the vulnerable.
How the governors of the cities of the world handle its poor, determines its beauty, peace and justice. Selective justice is not for good cities. How to handle the creatures of God in the cities of the world is the problem of the world governments. The government of the world should cooperate with God and protect what he has created. Of course, in the cities of the world, there are institutions that see what the government could not see, the church; who looks after the casualties of the society and NGOs; who shows the world the poor they are looking after, to get money to help them. The help is diminishing now with the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic. The church hasbecome the hospital and sanctuary for the poor. Its work is timeless.Some of the government institutions for the poor lack caring hands and even thehospitals. Cities are not only built to attract tourism, attract business people to invest there but the cultural arrangements and the hospitality of the people are of uttermost importance. Cities, whose systems are entrenched in racism, are not attractive to visitors. Cities that are anti-migration are not visitable to those who want a change in their lives because immigrants contribute diversity all over the world.
The United States of America is a nation of immigrants but no one knows why the presentgovernment is introducing new stuff into America that used to be the leader of the world. Leaders that lack the history of America, lack what America is all about. One should ask why people rush to America and why America is attractive. First, they must have heard that America is rich and they want to grow and overcome the circumstances of their lives that they are not able to overcome in their home countries.
Look at now, with the corona virus pandemic a lot of people who travelled outside are forced back to their countries. While coming home, they would be tormented with regrets. They will say in their minds “going home for what”? To meet what drove us out?
Those who have been to America show signs of good life in America which is a quality of a city. Preventing peoplefrom coming in is a nationalistic policy and not what God planned for rich Nations.Closing boarders is a smack of isolating others and not the purpose why God created big rich countries and cities of the world. In South Africa, we see the blacks and whites displaying their cultures and shouting “This is my Africa”. Can Nigerians proudly say “This is my Nigeria”now with what is happening?Are American cities safe today? The killings in many cities of America have made American children to condemn gun control. The racial profiling and killings which led to the death of George Floyd sparked off the greatest protest of all time with the slogan “I CAN’T BREATHE” which was later baptized to BLACK LIVES MATTER movement. One can watch the social phenomenon going on in the world of today to find that the society is agog with racism and social injustice meted out on those of low income brackets.
Is Nigeria safe too? The killings in many Nigerian cities cannot qualify Nigerian cities as safe where visitors can sleep with two eyes closed. Every visitor coming to Nigeria must have heard all about Nigerian cities and become frightened. Lagos being a cultural melting pot, must work hard with other cities in Nigeria to create diversity because a country and its citizens that lack diversity ends up being parochial and loses its“cosmopolitanism” in its sense of the world. Cosmopolitan cities are not necessarily people of all nations living together but the quality of life they live and hospitality to people who are attracted to visit the city as tourist and also those attracted to live and raise their families in those cities. In that city you will see cultural unison, diversified culinary departments representing diverse cultures.
People who live in cosmopolitan cities think and act differently due to the culture of diversity they have imbibed with no more cultural nuances and discriminations. They do not flex muscles that they own the city or apportion blames to others immediately there is a misunderstanding. Promotion of life, equity and peace are hall marks of cities with values that are global not crowded cities in crisis plagued with tribalism, xenophobia and racism.These are features and attractions of a good city.
Very Rev. Msgr. Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and a Social Justice and Peace Advocate.