Beauty in the Everyday: Abuja, Nigeria
06 February, 2018
You have no doubt heard of Lagos, the former Nigerian capital and a booming megacity that audaciously demands attention with its vibrant existence and infamous traffic jams. But what do you know of the newer capital, Abuja? Comparatively, it is to Lagos what Orlando is to Miami; a sleepier state largely dominated by wealthy politicians, retired government officials and their foreign business associates. And yet, it is this slower way of life that makes Abuja so alluring, fulfilling its original design plan. Instead of a city that never sleeps, you'll find a place where mid-afternoon naps are encouraged, watching the sunset on your veranda is an acceptable weekend activity and the hypnotic booms of the National Mosque's final call to prayer act as a comforting reminder to unwind and slow down.
Above all, it is the stories told at the town's local watering holes - shared over a colourful array of fruits at Wuse Market or during painters' workshops at the Arts and Crafts Village - that make Abuja appealing. Strategically placed in the centre of Nigeria, Abuja acts as a crossroads through which various tribes and religious groups cyclically travel in and out, creating a regular stream of new faces in familiar areas. With fewer activities to distract, people are forced to strike up conversations with one another, sharing tales of their original homes and hopes for a future life. It is similar to island mentality, yet trapped in the middle of a land with no coast in sight. It is these routine rituals that we wanted to visually capture while visiting Abuja last year, an international metropolis unique in its ability to celebrate beauty in the mundane and every day.
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