"Speed expands time by contracting space. It negates the notion of the physical dimension."
we are collectively swimming through a deep sea of data about the history of Nigeria. the forces that have shaped it into what it is today is both fascinating and tragic. i've managed to locate several maps, models and conceptual images of Tange's master plan for the city. they are, without question, depictions of a utopian and therefore imaginary place.
abuja officially became the new capital of nigeria in 1991, after about a decade of planning and relocating from the former nigerian capital of lagos, a self-organized cesspool of humanity and neglect that is one of the fastest growing cities on the planet. abuja is also located literally in the center of the country, a political calculation intended to locate the physical center between the Christian south anchored by Lagos and the Islamic North anchored by Kano . Upon the discovery of these details, many questions immediately presented themselves. Is Abuja a bridging device, or does Abuja divide the country in half? Is it an impartial political, cultural, and financial arbitrator or is it concerned with itself as a polemical entity? What comes at the expense of distancing the capital from the grit, chaos, and disorganization that characterized these colonial cities that are inextricably tied to the national identity of Nigeria's citizens? In other words, Abuja is a perplexing and ambitious project that's also very very strange.
When I began this research I suspected we would discover that Abuja and Lagos, despite the best efforts of the state, would have been slowly converging demographically and urbanistically. What I found was more less true - that Lagos was being incrementally stripped of the disorganization, slums, and markets that so clearly defined what it was. in fact, the fascinating markets that koolhaas examined in his documentary, lagos wide & close, have vanished. a consequence of this cleansing was that these displaced people needed someplace to go, and thousands migrated seven hours north to Abuja where they have basically recreated the chaotic urban conditions that existed before. But who is responsible for this? A valid argument is that there wasn't enough affordable and accessible infrastructure in place when they arrived, and so they had no choice but to make a life in any way they could on the outside of the city. Abuja was conceived as a necessary response to Lagos. In other words, the state knew what Abuja could not be, and so they looked for ways to reconstruct their reputation.
abuja then becomes a patchwork of old habits and glossy ambition, continually at odds with its own identity and put under pressure and precise scrutiny by the external forces (corporations) it so desires (needs?) to attract.