Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

25 January 2011

Real sounds of Lagos

LAGOS LIES AT the centre of a burgeoning West African conurbation stretching along the Gulf of Guinea. An OECD study predicts that, by 2020, this sprawling habitation will absorb 300 surrounding cities and have a total population of more than 60 million people.

Such megacities could become home to the majority of the human race in the 21st century. The historian Eric Hobsbawm thought that the new century would best be symbolised by a young mother and her children. In a similar way, Emeka Ogboh’s recordings of Lagos are like a global summing-up of the sounds of present and future daily life.

Lagos soundscape

Ogboh is a Nigerian artist leading the Lagos Soundscapes [website found to be defunct as of 1 October 2018] project. As part of the project’s exhibition stage, Ogboh travelled to Cologne and set up speakers outside the central library, playing sounds recorded in a Lagos bus station. As he explains elsewhere:

“It’s a melting pot of all kinds of sounds,” Ogboh said. “In this bus park, you discover the multiculturalism and the economics of Lagos. It embodies what the city is all about.” For Emeka Ogboh, the hallmark of the cities is multicultural cohabitation. That’s why he’s excited to see the reaction to his sound installation in Cologne. “I found it interesting for the installation to be out here on the streets in Germany, especially in light of Angela Merkel’s speech on integration, migration and multiculturalism,” Ogboh said. “I want to see how people will react to this strange sound out on the street, which could be likened to an immigrant coming into a new place.” On the other hand, Ogboh acknowledged that the acoustic landscapes he treasures in Lagos are just an annoyance for others. That’s been the case for some passers-by in Cologne, who have already made their way to the library’s doorman to complain.

The Lagos Soundscapes website presents a batch of the recordings in the helpful shape of a Soundcloud player with the embed code option enabled, so here it is:

Some of the recordings are quite long, and my favourite so far is ‘Go-slow’.