It was 1978 when we moved to Lagos. We lived in a house on Keffi Street in Ikoyi for a couple of years. In those days, most people lived in houses and my parents’ friends were mostly in Ikoyi and Ilupeju. Victoria Island was still a new place and it was very exciting when we moved there. The house was bigger, we had a huge garden, and our school was around the corner (the school also moved from Ikoyi to Victoria Island). We lived on a wide street lined with big houses.
Today that street is unrecognisable (I think). There are very few houses – there are shops, restaurants and malls popping up everywhere. In fact, it’s not just this street, I think it’s the whole of Victoria Island that has become commercialised. And the traffic is insane. What would have been a 5-minute drive several years ago is now 25 minutes long.
More and more people are moving into luxury flats with tennis courts and swimming pools. And people are moving back to Old Ikoyi and the newly developed Banana Island.
Banana Island is a man-made island, an extension of Ikoyi, and it’s a very affluent neighbourhood. It’s shaped like a banana, hence its name.
Luxury flats and houses are still under construction.
There are even pavements!
One of the residents told me that no commercial vehicles are allowed into Banana Island – no okadas (passenger-carrying motorbikes) or public transport. If you don’t have a car, the developers/residents have arranged for shuttles that leave from the entrance to Banana Island to various locations on the island. This cuts down the traffic tremendously.
Driving along the quiet wide avenues and looking at the big houses, the hustle and bustle of Victoria Island seem a million miles away.
The developers/residents have also decided that they don’t want any commercial ventures in the neighbourhood. As a result, there are no supermarkets or shops of any kind or restaurants. So if you’ve done your shopping for the day/week and have forgotten something, it’s at least a 20-minute drive back to the closest supermarket!