Mayfair may trump Banana Island. But how does Old Kent Road compare to Makoko?

Last night I checked my calendar and discovered that there are literally two weeks before Christmas Day, and I have so far bought the sum total of zero Christmas presents and zero cards.  I don’t know how it happens, but each year Christmas just creeps up on me and I never sort out my gifts well in advance.  So I am pretty sure that on Saturday I’ll be running around the streets of London in a desperate attempt to find suitable gifts and cards for my nearest and dearest.

When one of my colleagues mentioned earlier today that Monopoly has just launched a Monopoly Lagos edition - the first of its kind for an African city - I became pretty excited, thinking that I must make this a defnite Christmas gift for someone close to me (mainly so that I can play it too!!)

Sadly, it seems though I’m not able to buy Lagos Monopoly in London just yet. I will probably be running around some of the “green” streets of London this weekend to get my pressies. I don’t think I’ll be able to quite reach the dizzy “blue” heights of Mayfair and Park Lane, but I may end up finding a few bargains along the “brown” Old Kent Road (traditionally the cheapest road on the London version of the Hasbro game).

But it did make me think, how does the Old Kent Road compare to Makoko - the cheapest property on the Lagos board.

Makoko is a coastline settlement in Lagos where thousands of people dwell. It is a huge settlement which stands on stilts over the capital’s waterways. Despite this large area – considered by some to be a city in its own right – being home to thousands, the authorities in Nigeria have previously forcibly evicted residents from their homes.  In 2006, Amnesty published a report highlighting how bulldozers came in and started demolishing houses, churches, and medical clinics. Within three days about 3,000 Makoko residents were forcibly evicted from their homes.

Again earlier this year, authorities demolished homes in Makoko making thousands more residents destitute.   According to a resident of Makoko, people had only been given 72 hours to leave their homes. He added that armed Marine Police demolished their homes without any alternative arrangement for resettlement.   

According to one media outlet, only homes built on the shoreline were allowed to remain.  This is all part of an effort to develop and beautify Lagos, making it appealing for Nigerian businesspeople, tourists, and foreign investors.  

Tragically Makoko doesn’t have the monopoly on such human rights violations. A few months ago Amnesty condemned the authorities in Port Harcourt for forcibly evicting 10,000-20,000 residents of Abonnema Wharf from their homes.  Their homes were demolished by state authorities and they were forced to leave with no notice leaving them homeless and destitute.

Amnesty regularly campaigns to stop forced evictions. Earlier this year activists in Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Zimbabwe called on their governments to stop forced evictions and make sure that people living in slums have equal access to water, education, health care and other essential services. To find out more about our campaign visit www.amnesty.org.uk/slums

In many respects London and Lagos may be worlds apart. But whether you live on the Old Kent Road or in Makoko, one thing is certain: no resident should live in fear of having their homes demolished at the throw of a dice.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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