In 1472, Eko, a small Yoruba fishing settlement on an archipelago clinging to the lip of West Africa, was landed by Portuguese traders. They renamed it Lagos, meaning “lakes”, on account of the many lagoons surrounding the area. From this minor colony emerged a cornerstone of empires – a crucial trade hub and subsequent global slave trading hotspot and later capital of Colonial Nigeria.. By the time of independence in 1960, Lagos’ population stood at 762,418. Now, the swollen cosmopolitan metropolis is estimated to hold fifteen to twenty-three million – the most populous city on the continent.
Though it may no longer be the capital of Nigeria, Lagos is historically understood as the de facto international contact zone in West Africa, a cultural capital in its own right, and later, the location of the country’s desire to re-establish its national identity as a new republic. This said, years of coups, political crises, and corruption scandals have overshadowed the city’s abundant creative legacy.
Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, founder of Art X Lagos, the first international art fair in Africa, is working tirelessly to restore Lagos as a leading global artistic center. A Lagosian by birth, Peterside-Schwebig’s primary concern is with locality: her adaptable model feeds Lagos, just as Lagos feeds it in return.