Life goes on in La­gos, but much has changed

CityPress - - News - FES­TUS ERIYE in LA­GOS news@city­press.co.za

At the Synagogue Church of All Na­tions in La­gos, life goes on – after a fash­ion. Almost four weeks after the col­lapse of a guest­house in which 116 wor­ship­pers, 80ofthemSouthAfricans, died, aser­vice for the el­derly is in progress.

The street that runs par­al­lel to the main church build­ing is de­serted. The typ­i­cal crowds are ab­sent. Po­lice guards war­ily eye passers-by. All around, signs warn loi­ter­ers to keep away.

I am re­ceived by two me­dia depart­ment of­fi­cials who steal ner­vous glances at my phones to make sure our dis­cus­sion is not be­ing recorded.

The prophet, as ad­her­ents re­fer to TB Joshua, is un­avail­able for me­dia queries be­cause he’s at “prayer moun­tain” – a place he re­tires to for con­tem­pla­tion.

All that is left at the scene of the dis­as­ter is a mass of man­gled iron rods and con­crete.

But while it ap­pears to be business as usual at the church, the same can­not be said for thes­mall­busi­nesses that sprouted up around it to ser­vice the tens of thou­sands of vis­i­tors.

Nike Adewusi, whose hus­band runs an in­for­mal hos­tel, says busi­nesses have been badly af­fected. “Peo­ple still come around and lodge in the fa­cil­ity, but you can­not com­pare it to the days be­fore the col­lapse, when it was booked all day and night.”

The cy­ber­cafés, can­teens and air­port taxi driv­ers have also been hit hard.

Neigh­bours say hun­dreds turned out on the Sun­day after the col­lapse – mainly the cu­ri­ous and devo­tees who wanted to show sol­i­dar­ity with Joshua. But num­bers have since dropped off. Neigh­bours and small-business own­ers think most of the for­eign vis­i­tors have put their vis­its or faith on hold.

Fol­low­ing the col­lapse, Joshua and his church have come in for scathing crit­i­cism in the me­dia, es­pe­cially after it emerged church of­fi­cials and guards had as­saulted jour­nal­ists and first re­spon­ders, pre­vent­ing them from ac­cess­ing the site, and many Nige­ri­ans have called for his pros­e­cu­tion.

You can­not com­pare it to the days be­fore the col­lapse, when it was booked all day and night

NIKE ADEWUSI

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