Welcome to Lagos

Welcome to LagosThree part observational documentary series which explores life at the sharp end of one of the most extreme urban environments in the world: Lagos, Nigeria.

Fifty years ago, Lagos, then Nigeria's capital, was a city the size of today's Bradford, with a population of a little less than 300,000 people. Everyone said it was lovely. Now 16 million people live there: it is one of a new breed of megacities in a world that is abandoning the countryside. And it grows by 600,000 a year.

That's like chucking in Glasgow every 12 months. It's a monster, force-fed to morbid obesity, but with the bone structure of a baby. It can't function properly, just lies there growing, groaning, and threatening to burst. No one says Lagos is lovely any more.

It is extraordinary, though, as is this documentary, Welcome to Lagos (BBC2), which zooms in on a handful of those 16 million. Bottom of the pile, literally, are the scavengers at the Olusosun rubbish dump, human vultures who pick through the stinking detritus with metal claws, looking for stuff that can be recycled and sold: tins, plastic, copper wire, rubber, clothes, anything.

In the dry season, fires often break out, adding toxic smoke and mortal danger to a day's work. And in the rainy season, the place turns into a slimy netherworld.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 2 hours, 48 minutes)

Ratings: 7.43/10 from 7 users.

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56 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Alex

    I have respect for the Nigerian people, and it has become bigger after watching this documentary, I love when a society works hard to reach thier dreams. very interesting

  2. Leonardo

    thanks for this one Vladko!

  3. zip

    Thanks for bringing this extraordinary lives documentary. It's time to find contentment in life. We never satisfy with our lives the way they are and never thought there are some who are worse than us out there. It's a good start to learn what a life really is.

    From today, I won't blame my life for the way it is. I will stop thinking negative and start doing what I have to. Thanks again!

  4. esmuziq

    makes me proud to be a nigerian
    we know how to use things and not waste
    even tho we don't live at the y2k high standards we still manage to cope well
    and make the best out of any situation

    thats straight hustlin in my opinion

  5. Gadfly

    Nigeria is a conservative's wetdream! Pure Laissez faire economics with no government regulation.

    The saddest part I think is when the fisherman was importing european fish in to smoke and mentioned that he and his family know all about fish since they used to be fishermen. That's when it hit me, all the fish have died from pollution and overfishing.

  6. Achems Razor

    I'm in! wonder if it will mention any "Nigerian scam" stuff. The most popular scam of all time.

  7. cezen

    I want to know what they are doing with the dried cow's blood. I googled and only found "blood sausages" "Black sausages" and other ethnic foods, as well as FDA articles on cow feed containing it.

  8. Imightberiding

    Such hardship, filth, squalor & corruption. Such beautiful eyes, smiles, faces & integrity. I seen a few docs on Nigeria, Lagos in particular. Always a potent reminder of how much we take for granted here in North America. Thanks for posting this!

  9. Imightberiding

    Huge pet peeve of mine. Incorrect use of past tenses. I meant to type:" I have seen".

  10. Imightberiding


    The fellow collecting & cooking the blood said he sells it for chicken meal/feed.

  11. dustin

    @cezen he was making chicken feed with the dried blood meal

  12. Ron Wattonville

    16 million where there were 300,000 fifty years ago, a statistic repeated globally whereever the distribution of wealth & fruits of labor is grossly uneven.

    An engineered herding of the "mouths" into the killing fields of urban areas everywhere, fulfilling the new world order's extermination or enslavement goals outlined in the UN's insidious Agenda 21.

    For the political & military puppets of the uber-rich global elite, it is easier than shooting fish in a barrel

  13. dread

    Look at the misery white man has brought to the rest of the races-es!

    This isn't only in Nigeria....

    Oh you white europeans what extent you push the rest of mankind to get your daily bread..

  14. gulfstream

    @dread.... it is better to judge your white americans

  15. louiseiiid

    What an inspiration - such optimism.

    I feel so ashamed of my own spoiled life and complaints in the face of such spirited human beings.

    Having said that, even within my quilted cocoon of an existence - strife exists and I usually perform much better in times of pressure - it brings out the best in me.

    I think what's different about these people's lives is strong family and community. Even trust and respect and clubbing together to help a fellow man in trouble on a rubbish dump!!

    We have become so isolated and distant from our neighbours and family in the 'West'.

  16. surrealchereal

    A positive spin on a negative situation. I'm sure the film makers were right when pointing out that all of our cities will soon resemble Lagos.

  17. Jack Green

    A bit of a shameless romantication of life in the slums, but then again you usually see a shameless dramatization.

  18. A. T. Heist

    tell me again, why are so many people on psychotropic drugs for depression in north america?

    ...no more excuses people.

  19. Hemant Trivedi

    I love the Nigerian spirit.

  20. StatingtheObvious

    Great doc... inspiring and informational.

  21. Ryan

    Westerners have this holier than thou mentality as if we are the best and know everything and the rest of the planet is stupid and needs us to Enlighten them. It's b@##$%^&, because I will ask you, if Westerners were faced with conditions like this, how many could honestly survive? Probably very few.

  22. MIchael22541

    Awesome! I have learn so much from these BEAUTIFUL people, I know about hard work pays off, but these people take to limit to the power of ten. God Bless You!!!!! and thank you.

  23. Kiteboarderjoe

    An eye opener to say the least. I want to give Joseph's family gifts!

  24. ez

    I had no idea that the old hatreds between the west and east were still so strong. I see them brought up more and more on every thread people can possibly find a way to bring it up. Sometimes a easterner is hating on the west sometimes vica versa. It doesn't matter who has done more wrong or has been victimized, it can be argued both ways. If we ever want anything to change we have to find a way to get past all the hate and hostility against whole blocks of people whether it is east versus west or one country versus another. That means stop blaming and stop denying, and every one take some personal repsosibility for our past failures so the argueing can stop and the planning for the future begin.

    Every group of victimized peoples that has shed that label will tell you that if you want to move on you have to forgive your tresspassers. Every group of guilt ridden perpetrators that has shed that label will tell you that to get past the guilt you have to admit some wrong doing. Lets get that part over with please and move forward, or we can keep argueing and hating until one finally destroys the other and in the process kills this one earth we live all live on, as well as slaying his own brother in the heat of his hate. I have lost people close to me and had others maimed for life over this my hands are not clean, just like many others. We must be bigger than our basic emotions or we will die together and never know what man could have done.

  25. Prana

    I'll die not only standing, but walking.

  26. capricious


    This was an absolutely beautiful documentary!! And seeing how it's 100% based in a landfill/dump, it's awkward to type that! :)

    I was VERY happily surprised to learn that this is actually a series and am *REALLY* looking forward to more of these!! They give you a new outlook on life and most importantly, should motivate us all to do something to force some sort of egalitarian balance in this world.

  27. capricious

    And I always tell you this vlatko, but I never say it in jest --- thank you for this site, man.. seriously. Your site has advanced my understanding and altered my perception of the world in profound ways. Thank you for all you do and I hope this site is worth your time so I'm never forced to look back on this site in memory... I'm sure I speak for many of us when I say that too.

  28. otto

    i think its important not to take a fellow human for granted this documentary really opened to how we can make th best of any situation. to each his own so much as he or she has a functioning brain. thanks vlatko once again.

  29. phil atio

    "Every group of victimized peoples that has shed that label will tell you that if you want to move on you have to forgive your tresspassers"
    tELL THAT to the most succesful ethnic minority in terms of economic sense, the jews, who not only say -never forget- the holocaust, they still do not forget/forgive the destruction of the temple or their enslavers in egypt. Do you think Jews forgive Hitler. Hell No. The real answer seems to be compensating victimized people for the crimes we have committed against them like how the jews were compensated by the germans, americans, russian, britains Canadians and so on. Your right countries need to take personal responsibilty and it starts with countries like Britain who created the mess in Nigeria to pay reparations like the Germans paid reparations to jews.

    As for taking personal responsibilty, the average nigerian clearly has more drive than the average american who just plays video games all day.

  30. Hesus

    Good documentary over all...At the rate mega cities are growing they will inevitably crumble under their own weight. This is perfect case of a unsustainable city with poor quality of life for its inhabitants though they really do seem to make the best of it. Most of the city is like a cancerous tissue that needs to be completely rebuilt. What these people desperately need is contraception and education.

  31. Vlatko

    Thanks @capricious. The "work" will continue.

  32. phil atio

    I disagree mega cities seem to work better than rural areas which is why people leave rural areas

  33. Hesus

    @ phil

    with population growth that we are experiencing mega cities are an inevitable result. Division of work, industrialization and agriculture on a massive scale now enable more than 50 % of world population to live in cities. The figure for developed countries is around 90%.

    Lesson we learned form history is that civilisation will thrive if there are abundant resources. Once you start using more than what is available or destroy the ecosystem nothing good will come of it. Example is Angkor Wat.This was city with about a million inhabitants. They had a great ride but after poisoning their water supply it was over in a blink.

    The world is approaching the Malthusian wall. We are running out of arable land, cheap energy and time. In the immediate future we face crucial shortages of everything but people.

  34. BlaketheSnake

    This doc seems to have the attitude of "look how happy these people are living in abject poverty! They've been poor and homeless so long that they've built a whole neighborhood based around them being poor and using garbage for everything! You could be happy too this way people of the west! In fact you'll probably have to the way your nations are being run."

    They said this shanty town was only a stone's throw away from the government buildings but nobody knows it's there! As if it was something to be proud of, that a government is so corrupt and detached that that is the case.

    Of course these people try to be happy, who doesn't? Joy comes from the people around you not your level of material wealth. Making the best of things, though, means very little when your homeless and hungry and your children are dying of treatable diseases.

    Having said that, it's always good to remind people that foreigners are people with lives and emotions too, because if you don't they forget.

    Also, great sound track.

  35. RSB

    I see they totally avoided any mention of the 419 scams running rampant from Lagos. Way to ignore the biggest reason most people know Nigeria from.

  36. omgLAgos!

    A lot of respect for Nigerians living in the Slums...new film new film,.......SLUMDOG NIGERIONAIRRE

  37. Joseph Bartolo

    Great Documentary.
    Would like to add that not the vast majority of europeans, americans are bad, just for an example scammers from nigeria are really bad people, but it does not mean that Nigeria is a very bad influence in the world. The Good is more than the bad, yet the bad is felt much more. We might be over 200 nations But we are one world in which together wecan live in harmony and prsoperity :)

  38. K.T

    There is no them and us. We're all humans equally responsible to make the world a better place, each as much as he/she can

  39. scoogers

    These people are extraordinary. Great film, a heart-rending display of the evils of capitalism and the oppression of the working class.

  40. High Voltage

    I imagine that if you could have filmed cities in Europe during the industrial revolution then it might look quite similar. People are the same everywhere, born to survive and make the most of a situation.

    On another note; isn't it amazing how a documentary can effect your emotional focus and opinion of an area depending on how they show information. Other docs I've seen showing similar conditions of life usually opt for hellish undertones! I end up feeling shock, sorrow and disgust. It was nice to see another shade.

  41. D Flynn

    I love this documentary and I have such a massive admiration for all the people featured. Fed up of my daughter and her friends living in the MTV Cribs dreamscape. I made them watch this to highlight that life is not all MTV want us to think it is.

  42. DancingHorses

    I love this documentary. It's such a nice change from the usual doom and gloom propaganda that's on offer.

  43. Laurent Gauthier

    very strange thing walking in the first video at exactly 6:01 at the bottom of the screen..

  44. caesar

    this was a beautifully done documentary. all documentaries which focus on world destinations should always show both sides of the story. unfortunately, the side that is told from a person living in extreme poverty is never told. people need to know both sides. the good, the bad, the happy, and the unfortunate.

  45. Chef Rah

    This left me very confused. Was the point to show that people living in horrid conditions are so resourceful that they do not need help from the so called "first world countries". Or that the rest of us need to shut up and realize that we are better off than people living in shit. This came across as a justification for the exploitation of 90% of the world's population by 10%, I suppose the lesson was; look, these people live in piles of rubbish and are very happy doing so, so we don't have to think about them or do anything to help them out of this horrible situation, they're happy that way. Pure capitalist, imperialist nonsense.

  46. Drazen Vojnovic

    I love this - great ever BRAVO!!!!!!!!

  47. Brandon Touchet

    Does their have to be a point to it? I don't think that they are trying to brain wash you with any "pure Capitalist, imperialist nonsense" as you put it. I think they were just trying to show you another part of the world that you have never been to, and can't be bothered to visit. What it means to you is subjective. When I see this I think of how much character these people have. I think of the bright future that their nation might have when its population has such an enterprising spirit.

    You say that they live in rubbish and that we should do something to help them. What should we do? Go and sort their trash for them? Send in a team of internationally backed workers to handle all of the dirty and dangerous jobs? That might seem like a nice thing to do but I'm sure all of the people who were drawing a paycheck from that work will be more than a little upset.

    No nation comes from no where. Everybody starts low and builds. If we really wanted to help them then we should be providing education opportunities and investing (not donating) money in their nation.

  48. Brandon Touchet

    Or it might be showing how these working class people can make something of themselves through a free market.

  49. Brandon Touchet

    I thought the same thing. We all had to come from some where.

  50. Nosoy Peropuedoserporunpoco

    If the world would send nothing but condoms...maybe places like this would get the point?

  51. Nosoy Peropuedoserporunpoco

    So, while the rest of the world is being conned by Al Gore and his global-warming BS, which has helped him get rich beyond anybody's understanding...these peeps burn plastic and polute like there is no tomorrow? Nuts...

  52. Moruph Osuolale

    Nigerians are one of the most courageous, hardworking, intelligent , accommodating, creative and smartest people that human race have ever witnessed. With what few parts of the society are doing, they still smile with lots of humors. I just wish I have a magic to provide them with all the infrastructures they need.
    Remember this single story is not enough to depicts the whole society.
    There are highly well educated doctors, professors,engineers, scientist, accountants, in this great society. Despite some Nigerian politicians are corrupted and embezzle public funds in a geometric type of trends if you may. Nigeria is one of the highest oil producing country in the world and it is one of the emerging nation.
    I hope the public health and the government can help them with infrastructures.

    Moruph Osuolale
    Middletown, CT. 9/21/2012

  53. berryz82@yahoo.com

    point is appreciate what you have and give thanks for life and strength each and everyday live and love that's it if they can be happy out of garbage you can jus imagine what they would do living a day of your life one love and only love can save the earth have a blessed day yall

  54. bringmeredwine

    My surgeon came from Nigeria and he saved my life.
    He is all business when he has to be; then breaks into the biggest smile and loves to laugh when he is being himself.
    An "error occurred" when I had only watched this for a few moments. I was very disappointed because this doc is very amusing and not at all what I was expecting.

  55. bringmeredwine

    Vlatko, I tried to watch this and an error occurred 10 minutes into it.
    Could you please let me know if it gets fixed?
    Thank you so much for letting me see all of these beautiful docs!

  56. Kenneth

    The documentary is OK but it should have been better named Welcome to the slums of Lagos instead of Welcome to Lagos, it is like the producers tried so hard to avoid showing any sign of affluence or developed environment, I am even surprised they managed to show a paved road, I kind of chuckled when the narrator always tried to compare this poverty to the affordable lives in the western world, he could have just compared the poverty to the affordable lives of the wealthy parts of Lagos, the trash that are being recycled by the "human scavengers" were not imported from Europe, they also came from the affluent neighborhoods in Lagos, Yes, Lagos has Hilton, Sheraton, other five star hotels, the most expensive real estate neighborhood in Africa is in Lagos.

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