I’ve done it, folks. I did it. I have done the first half of my Christmas shopping here in Lagos.
It should have been my only shopping, but I may have assumed prices are friendlier in real life than on paper. So, I spent all the money I had buying less than half the items on my list. I just hope that my second shopping trip will be easier than the first one.
If somebody can label Lagos Island Market quickly, then it may be so. That place is more confusing than trying to learn the Okpe dialect.
The market is one of the biggest in Lagos. It is known as the hub for men and women clothing. Have you heard of Mandilas? That’s it. Mandilas is the “market” for men clothing inside the Lagos Island market.
Lagos Island market has markets within the general market. It’s one big market split into concentrated hubs of smaller markets; where you can find a variety of specific items at presumably better prices.
For example, Balogun Market is for women’s clothing. You can get shoes, bags, lace and Ankara fabric, wigs, etc. from there. Mandilas is for everything men. Except maybe fabric for Senator and Kampala. Dosunmu is for babies and interior decoration items. Idumota is for household items and hardware like pots, padlocks, etc.
There might be more of these smaller markets, but these are the ones I know of.
Asides from this, there is nothing different about the market. It is a typical Lagos market. It is crowded, tight and has narrow corridors filled with traders. But one thing that makes Lagos Island Market special is that you have to be initiated into the circle of regular traders to know the true ins and outs of the place.
There are underground shops where you may get goods at affordable, wholesale prices. And there are last floor shops where you will get them for straight-from-the-factory price. There are shops where you will find only fake Venezuela and Turkey wears; plus, there are the ones where you will find the ‘orijo’.
If you are looking for tailors that can copy original designs of ready-made clothing, package and present them as authentic; you will find them on a staircase there. But what you will not find is a guide that will teach you how to move around the market.
One thing I’ve learnt in all my visits to that market is that you learn by grave error or by repetition. Google Maps can’t even help you. You must either tap into your adventurous side, trust your instincts and plough on. Or you do like an ajebo and buy everything you want from one corner then flee!
Personally, I want to enjoy that market and find the treasures buried deep within it or hidden in its towers.
So, please, can somebody label it before I go there again?