Life in Lagos: The Deafening Roar of Big Religion

The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Annual Convention, Camp Ground, Mowe, on the outskirts of Lagos. As many as 300,000 people attended the mass. Photo credit: Robin Hammond

Lagos, Nigeria, is Africa’s most populous metropolitan area—with an estimated 21 million inhabitants. It also boasts the biggest economy of any city in Africa, housing some of the richest people on the continent, as well as huge numbers of poor.

Robin Hammond photographed life in Lagos for the story “Africa’s First City,” which appears in the January 2015 issue of National Geographic magazine. In a series of five posts on Proof, he chronicles this city of contrasts that is fast becoming Africa’s hub of creativity, fashion, and business.

Every Sunday, as a child growing up in Wellington, New Zealand, I was taken to church; my Dad insisted. While the priest—a good man, but a man with no natural talent for public speaking—sermonized, my father would invariably fall asleep.

Once I asked my father why we went; shouldn’t we just sleep in and save on fuel? For my Dad the act of going to church was important—what happened there, less so. And I’m afraid our priest didn’t do such a good job keeping us engaged. If that priest had been schooled by a Nigerian church, he might have had a better chance of keeping my father awake, and the one-hour service may not have seemed so long.

Read more: Life in Lagos: The Deafening Roar of Big Religion | PROOF.