Some months ago, I read a BBC article on a journalist’s first impressions of Lagos, having just moved here from Beijing. At the time, I decided to make my own comparison – albeit slightly more trivial – as I had also just moved to one city and have been to the other. Here are my thoughts:
Both are grossly overpopulated cities; but Lagos is definitely denser which may come as a surprise to some. One doesn’t feel the population as much in Beijing.
Both cities have their pollution woes – be it smog from industry in Beijing or generator noise and fumes in Lagos.
Lagos adores all things foreign (especially American) while Beijing looks up to South Korea.
Outside a few affluent areas, people stare at foreigners. However, in Beijing people may ask to take pictures of any non-Asian race but Lagosians eye mostly white people.
Beijing is planned out, as shown by the grid system. Lagos is still trying to understand what planning means.
While Beijing appears to strive towards order and peaceful coexistence in its communities, there are no such efforts to rein in the aggression in Lagos.
People speak their minds more in Lagos than Beijing. If they don’t like something, they’d tell you.
Though Lagos may seem freer and more politically outspoken than Beijing, there is still an underlying fear of saying or seeing the wrong thing one day and disappearing, never to be seen again.
Both cities love their dancing – choreographed steps at sunset in Beijing’s community parks or spontaneous moves at a bus stop with friends in Lagos.
Drivers don’t want to kill pedestrians in Beijing. I am still trying to figure out the general opinion of motorists on that matter in Lagos.