•Lagos former number one fun spot finally disappears, as new city emerges on the sea
By Cosmas Omegoh
It will shock anyone who has not visited Victoria Island, Lagos, lately to see what has finally become of the former Bar Beach.
Such fellow is sure to be rooted to the same spot, wondering if he’s not in midday slumber and dreaming that the Lagos’ onetime number one fun centre is no more.
Believe it; the once restless waters of the Atlantic Ocean, which ceaselessly drew massive crowds, have been forced to dry up. The waters of the sea have been literally and brutally-chased away. And what is being said is that the popular Lagos Bar Beach that many used to know is now gone. Gone with the quantum of fun it once held for all revellers. Gone with its many trademark thrills and frills. Gone with the agonies it also caused many whose loved ones it swallowed and still holds in its belly after snatching them away as they joyously surfed and splashed in its waters.
Now, even property and business owners around the area who suffered the incessant flooding from the beach can breathe well. They will no longer be under the constant onslaught of its waters.
But many will still miss Bar Beach’s phenomenal roar and howl which then ceaselessly resonated miles away like those of an ecstatic band of gorillas or packs of wolves enjoying their pastime in the forest. Those characteristic roars have now been muzzled. They are gone too. The beach’s unrelenting splashing which time and space hitherto could not hold back has also been dumped out, never to be seen again, with its all-time memories receding if not totally obliterated from the minds of many.
Now, the erstwhile space which the Atlantic Ocean once held firmly like a strong man, from where it dared everyone, has been forcefully taken away. It is now occupied by massive piles of brownish-white sea sand. The scene itself is now a spectacle. Anyone who is allowed to come close to see it would be shocked.
Looking as far as the eyes can see, all that is now left at the moment at the arena which used to be a beehive of activities is sand, sand and just sand. The pile lies spread out over an expanse, stretching deep into the area that previously was exclusive the domain of the sea. What is left easily brings to the mind, typical scenes in the heart of the popular Sahara Desert.
Indeed, with the seeming killing of the Bar Beach, many have been deprived the opportunity of seeing the splendour of that mirage where the sea and the sky seem to meet. It is gone. Many will also no longer experience that crowd of white-garment church goers who used to throng the sea side for their regular vigils and prayer meetings, letting out at intervals, generous thunderous shouts of Hallelujah which often reverberated in the distance. That too is gone.
Before now, every first-time fun-seeker’s sojourn in Lagos was incomplete without a visit to the Bar Beach. And there were hordes of business owners who seized the opportunity of their visits to make some cash by providing services to make their visits more memorable.
For instance, they gave them stretched-out chairs to relax and savour the sweet sea breeze for a fee. Some offered the visitors horse rides along the beach line – for a fee too. You guessed right; there were photographers too who helped them to document their visits and made them more memorable. Lots of other folks sold them food and drinks to add to their fun. For now, all that is history.
The true picture of the erstwhile Lagos Bar Beach at the moment is that it is fast evolving into a new town called Eko Atlantic City. At completion, it might be Africa’s wonder of the century, designed exclusively for the rich. Daily Sun gathered that Eko Atlantic Economic City or Eko Atlantic City is being fashioned to be “an entirely new coastal city built on Victoria Island adjacent to Lagos.” The size of the city is planned to be 10 square kilometres.
When completed, Eko Atlantic City would be: “Standing on 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the ocean and protected by an 8.5 kilometre-long sea wall. Eko Atlantic will be the size of Manhattan’s skyscraper district. Self-sufficient and sustainable, it includes state-of-the-art urban design, its own power, clean water, advanced telecommunications, spacious roads and 110,000 trees.”
The reporter gathered that in order to protect the would-be residents from the fury of the sea, a barricade nicknamed ‘The Great Wall of Lagos’ is being built. “It is the massive sea revetment protecting Eko Atlantic and Victoria Island from severe coastal erosion and the perpetual threat of flooding. It has already exceeded five kilometres in length, out of a total 8.5km.
The project is said to be privately funded by South Energyx Nigeria Limited in partnership with the Lagos State government and supported by the federal government.
When the idea of the new city was muted back in 2003, many had dismissed it as mere conjecture. But now it is gradually evolving into a wonder of the time. The project organisers said that when completed, the city which is being planned to host 10 districts, would be home to an estimated 250,000 residents and would attract a daily flow of 150,000 commuters. They said that apart from providing accommodation, “the development will also have a positive environmental impact, as it will help in stopping the erosion of Lagos State’s coastline.”
However, critics of the projects are insisting that many residents of communities along the Lagos coastline are already feeling the impact of the new city. “The ongoing construction works have caused coastal erosion and ocean surges, as ocean water surges through living areas, forcing residents of local communities in far and near places to flee.”
The critics are angry with the Lagos State government for failing to carry along the people of the state in planning and execution of the project, especially where it had to do with the environmental impact of the construction on their lives.
The critics are unhappy that some local communities in the state have so far been forced to vacate their ancestral homes as they could no longer stand the fury of displaced sea water now fighting back.
It would be recalled that some residents of one of such communities, Kuramo Beach in particular, were in August 2012, washed away by sea water while they slept. This sad development was generally blamed on the construction activities going on at the then Bar Beach, a shouting distance away.
When this reporter visited the former Bar Beach recently, he beheld massive construction works going on in the reclaimed space. For long, the entire length of the beach line had been cordoned off with security fence, and fiery private security men were stationed at the few entrance points, letting in construction workers. They kept many who had not heard about the demise of the beach at bay.
Looking deep into the place where seawaters used to be, all that you see now is sand and just sand. In the distance, a handful of earth-moving equipment and construction trucks can be seen labouring like busy ants hauling construction materials from point to point. Partially-paved roads have already started emerging. Through the roads, vehicles are seen weaving in and out of the area.
Meanwhile, buildings have begun rising sky-high on the reclaimed portions close to the approach of sea vessels to the Apapa and Tin Can Island wharfs. The workers have been active on the site, giving clear indication that the wonder city might be ready in no time.
Desirous to get at least half a measure of the fun that used to be part of the erstwhile Bar Beach, this reporter made a detour to the Oniru Beach to the far left end of the area. The Oniru Beach borders former Kuramo Beach whose residents have earlier been sacked both by the government and the sea. It was not clear whether the Oniru Beach would be part of the proposed Eko Atlantic City. However, there were indications that work might extend to the area. Already, the place has been cleared.
A few folks were seen lumbering around savouring the scene as the sea wind and waves lashed the area.
A man who identified himself as Akin expressed bitterness that the Bar Beach and the Kuramo Beach were no more. He wondered why the government chose to do what it did, regretting that the new Eko Atlantic City project for which the poor had been driven away would only benefit the rich.
‘How to live stress-free life’
• New Asian breathing technique berths in Lagos
By Cosmas Omegoh
A foundation has introduced a programme which it says funnels off stress from the body. The organisation, Art of Living Foundation, (AOLF) Nigerian chapter, says this brings happiness in an easy, quick and sustainable manner to the partakers.
To witness how this works, participants recently thronged the Bankers Hall on Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island, Lagos for an opportunity to meet the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. They experienced first-hand, the power of Sudarshan Kriya – a simple, yet powerful breathing technique that effortlessly draws an individual into a deep state of meditation.
For many years, the AOLF was said to have helped more than 370 million people around the world to achieve inner happiness through self-development programmes based on meditation.
The organisation held its newest offering, ‘Get Happy,’ to discover the “how” of lasting happiness, through Sudarshan Kriya.
Get Happy was said to have been developed under the inspiration of a certain Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a global humanitarian also known as Guru of Joy, to make the ancient practices of meditation accessible and relevant in today’s fast-paced life.
Expert instructors from the foundation hosted the one-day immersive experience, where Sri Sri Ravi Shankar himself led a special session.
“My mission is to put a smile on the face of every person I meet,” the founder of the Art of Living Foundation said.
“A disease-free body, quiver-free breath, stress-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, obsession-free memory and sorrow-free soul are the birth right of every human being.”
He added that more than ever, an individual’s complete happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy.
His reasoning is believed to be in line with the United Nations declaration that happiness, as measured by life evaluations, provides a broader indicator of human welfare than do measures of income, poverty, health, education, and good government.
Sri Sri Shankar further explained that the Get Happy programme involved a rhythmic breathing technique that harmonises the body, breath and mind, thus enabling the deepest connection one has with him/herself.
Some volunteers of the foundation, Haghu Sharma and Tanmy Mahak Kansal, who facilitate the programme in Nigeria, said it was aimed at bringing peace to Africa.
In an encounter with Daily Sun, Tanmoy Sabud who spoke on behalf of Ravi Shankar said: “What we are doing is for the peace and prosperity of Africa. We are into charity work; we have been doing a lot of charity work in South Africa, Uganda and in Nigeria. The opportunity is always there to help.
“We plan to bring peace and happiness to the mind of many Nigerians. We’ve been doing it for the past four years, and globally we have followers from different religions, races and groups.
“The idea is to bring about peace and prosperity to Africa. It does not matter where one is coming from; we are all one being, created by God Almighty. If you look at the whole world now, there is violence and Africa has its own share. We want to bring violence down and increase prosperity.
“This programme is popular in Europe and Asia, but not in Africa, especially Nigeria. When you have peace of the mind and you are calm, you can solve the problems that besiege you.
“The ancient practices of pranayam and meditation taught in the Art of Living programmes enhance this charisma by uplifting the spirit, intuition, creativity, enthusiasm, intelligence and strengthen your personality.
“You get the confidence and the ability to achieve whatever you want in life with an unshakable smile. This also makes an impact on people around you to look up to you as an inspiration.
“The experiences on the spiritual path are definite inexpressible. The first step is to learn the Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique that purifies and harmonises the body, mind and spirit. It allows us to release accumulated stresses naturally and effectively.
“Regular practice of the technique can totally transform the quality of one’s life, by culturing the system to maintain the peace, energy and expanded awareness throughout the day.
“When a drop of water connects with the ocean, it feels the strength of the ocean. In the same way, when we feel connected to the tradition of masters, it is a source of infinite strength,” Sabud noted.