Lagos’s “No movement” day

Today I feel like I might bump into Will Smith and his dog running from a bunch of zombies. Lagos, a city of over 20 million people, is completely deserted. When I say deserted, I mean that even the chickens and the little sheep that are usually seen enjoying life in the side streets of Lagos are nowhere to be seen. I don’t remember the last time I saw something like this. In fact, I don’t think I have.

The reason for the city to totally hibernate for half a day, apparently, is a local (not even federal!) government election.  I am trying to imagine a deserted metropolis in the United States, or Europe, or Argentina, the day of the country’s election, but I’m not doing too well at it.


– Shop assistant/Beautician/Doctor/Taxi driver: ‘There’s no movement on Saturday, Ma’am. No movement. Everywhere’s closed.’

– Me: What about Ke Kes (Tuk tuks)? They’re not cars.

– Driver/Beautician/Doctor/ Taxi driver: No movement, Ma’am. It’s election day.

– Me: And???

– Driver/Beautician/Doctor/Taxi driver: If there is movement, people fight on election day.


People fight. Therefore, if they force people not to leave the house, then I guess they can proudly call it a “successful and peaceful election”.

Lagos Zombie
One of the busiest streets in Ikoyi, Lagos. Can you spot one living being? And no, that silhouette near the palm tree isn’t a human.

From the moment I woke up to this unusually calm city which on a typical Saturday morning (or any morning, rather) feeds on chaos and vibrates with people – and chickens – I realised they weren’t joking about this “no movement” thing. Everyone took it very seriously. While I start to get over the fact that a local election can literally stop a whole city, one thing is still not as clear to me: how did they manage to impose the restriction on animals, too? 😀

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, they say. Well, today I’m going to take this saying literally. If everyone else is taking this “no movement” thing seriously, I am going to do so, too. This is me, today, not moving from bed.

Hold on to that pillow, you ain’t leaving the bed.



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