By Tope Templer Olaiya
Until lately, Lagosians were not known to spend festivals and public holidays indoors. Such days, which are far in between on the social calendar, are unique moments when families go out to experience fun on a full scale. The nation’s commercial capital had always been reputed for high-flying celebrations, which earned it the sobriquet, Eko for show.
On such days like Democracy Day, which was held recently, residents are usually spoilt for choice with places to visit and be thoroughly pleasured. But social re-engineering, security concerns, economic distress and horrid living conditions, which have all combined to make living in Lagos as stressful as living in a war zone, have made such choices limited.
In Lagos Island, popularly known as Isale Eko, a group, Ajia Ijesha Boys’ Club, staged the second edition of its Jersey Carnival to mark this year’s Democracy Day. With trading activities partially locked down in the busy business district due to the public holidays and the area devoid of the buzz of traders and shoppers, it was the perfect moment for residents and Isale Eko boys to unwind.
This, they did, to the fullest. The scene of action for the Jersey Carnival was Oshodi Street, but it wasn’t until sundown before the youths took over the carved out park at the entrance of the street known as the Oshodi Recreational Centre.
Along the long stretch of the street, it was fun time for both the young and the old. Children gathered to play pranks and chase each other while the men sat in groups bare-chested to play card games, ayo and ludo. Some others gathered in front of a buka to anxiously wait for a bowl of fresh-hot pounded yam, which was being prepared by three women at once in a rhythmic dance movement.
By sundown, the big moment arrived and residents all came out to the roadside to absorb the scenic sights of youths trooping out in their preferred jerseys in different colours and throwing jives at friends adorning jerseys’ of opposing clubs and countries.
According to organizers of the event, which was powered by several organizations including The Guardian, Jersey Carnival was a novel way of channeling soccer fanaticism among football followers into productive use by celebrating democracy day in a different way to foster patriotism and national unity among the youth.
Ajia Ijesha boys and youths of neighbouring streets laid siege on Oshodi Street into the early hours of the morning under a bright clear moonlight donning football jerseys, mufflers, flags, banners and wristbands of the Super Eagles, Brazil, and other countries and popular club sides.
Attraction included stage performances, dance competitions and comedians who were out to crack some people’s ribs with jaw-shattering jokes. After the awards’ contest, Oluwakemi Disu emerged best-kitted fan. Nigeria was the most represented country jersey and Manchester United emerged the most represented club jersey.