Sunday, September 13, 2009

nigerian shakara

Most of Nigeria's 150 million citizens may live in desperate poverty, but the West African oil giant also has an elite that revels in "shakara" — the flaunting of success.

"Nigerians who have money like to splash it,"
explains Naomi Okaja, whose company imports goods into Lagos, the commercial capital.
At the Megaplaza mall, a flat-screen TV taller than a man sells for $53,000, a crystal chandelier for $10,000. The wealthy import everything from refined gasoline for their Mercedes-Benzes to their children's favorite foods.
Restaurants post armed guards; the homes of the wealthy have walls with razor-wire, floodlights, cameras and security guards. Newspaper ads for luxury armored Hummers.An island and the connecting peninsula jutting into Lagos Lagoon offer the best real-estate. At night the rich neighborhoods become the ultimate gated communities, reachable only by bridges and checkpoints guarded by police with rifles. There are yacht moorings and helipads for the super-rich.

Meanwhile, four-fifths of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day.

The rich at Megaplaza think, a growing middle class will push for better governance and a better government will provide better services.

For Okuro and other stall holders around him, such visions provoke bitter laughter.

"When will it come? Tell me when," Okuro demands "We are tired of waiting."

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