Student Voices: City of Contradictions

By Peace Eneh

Over the summer of 2014, Peace Eneh is working on a survey of knowledge of cancer among physicians and medical students in Nigeria. Read all the posts about her experience here.

Lagos is like New York but more intense. It’s the biggest city in Africa and has a booming economy to match its fast pace of life. There is so much energy. Lagosians are go-getters. The day usually begins around 5:00 a.m. and ends very late at night.

When I step out of the apartment in the morning, I am greeted by an intense sun. As I walk to the bus stop I am enveloped in a frenzy of activities. Everyone is going about their business; there’s so much buying and selling. I even have to jump onto the bus as it moves. Yes, it’s true. I literally have to jump onto a moving bus because everything is in motion. Some of the buses slow down just enough for people to jump off and on. It seems to be regarded as a waste of time to come to a complete stop in this fast-paced city.

Peace Eneh with Dr. Dennis Hogan, who has helped her navigate the health-care system in Nigeria.
Peace Eneh with Dr. Dennis Hogan, who has helped her navigate the health-care system in Nigeria.

While it might seem like there are not enough buses to take people around, the truth is that there are just too many people and too many cars and buses going to too many different places. This causes the roads to be packed at all times. The traffic jams are ridiculously crazy. If you are not ready to be in traffic for at least three hours on any given day, then you would be better off staying at home. And if you are not fit to jump onto a moving vehicle, please visit the gym and try again later.

Yet while the city of Lagos moves at a fast tempo, the systems in place to serve the people are slow and unpredictable. For instance, the internal workings of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), the hospital where I am doing my cancer research, can be very slow. As a government-owned hospital, the fees for service are usually subsidized. The hospital therefore has a high patient volume but is understaffed. The wait times are long and the waiting lines are even longer.

Read the rest of Peace's post here...