Shared City’s tour of Peckham, aka Little Lagos, is a great way to find out more about Nigerians living in London. Try it and you’ll want more. (Sponsored)
I love getting to know different cultures and getting immersed into them. You may think that I take it quite seriously having married an Ethiopian guy. I genuinely like to know what people brought up in a different country or culture eat and do on a daily basis. I like to know what’s important to them and how they interact with each other. It’s simply because I’m curious of other people. That’s why I like what Shared City is doing.
When I heard about the company which aims to present different ethnic minorities and cultures living in London, I was delighted. I emailed them and asked for an interview or a guest post for the blog, but they invited me to join one of their tours. They didn’t have to ask me twice.
After having a quick look at their offer and picked up the tour of Little Lagos. At first, I wasn’t fully convinced about my choice. I know quite a few Nigerians, so I thought I wouldn’t get much from the tour.
Wrong! I’ve learnt a lot and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. I wish I could talk to Kemi, our guide, and an actress too, for much longer. Well, I guess I need to sign up for another tour.
Before I do that though, let me share with you the best bits of the ‘Little Lagos’ tour.
Culture served on a plate
Have you ever wandered around any of South London food markets having no clue what most of the things sold there were? Or how to cook them? I have.
Because of that, for me the best things we saw on the tour were vegetable stall and a grocery shop. Finally, somebody explained to me all the yam, coco yam things I’ve been seeing on the stalls in London and outside. I could also ask questions about palm oil, different kinds of flours, and many other things, like spices and different parts of meat.
At the end we sat down to a meal at a local café and tried some of the things we’d seen in the shops. It was great to see them cooked and be able to try them too. But beware – Nigerian food is quite spicy. Kemi told us all about cooking each of them and explained the processes to us briefly. At the end she wrote in my notebook names of ingredients and dishes that I was asking about.
After spending some time with Kemi I felt like her good friend. Sitting down together at the table made that feeling even stronger. Really, it was sad to leave!
Explore the ordinary
We also visited a butcher shop, beauty shop, fabrics shop, a church and hairdresser’s salon. Each of them gave us a hint to what Nigerians like, how they celebrate and what’s important to them.
All the places we visited are part of everyday life and it was great to see them from a different perspective. Walking through them all with somebody, who knows the products and how to use them and can tell you more about their background, was absolutely fascinating. Kemi was open to questions and happy to talk about pretty much everything.
As we were walking along Rye Lane, ladies standing at different parts of the street were asking Kemi if she wanted her hair done. It happened every few minutes. Kemi explained to us the importance of hair in Nigerian culture. And that it not only relates to the appearance but also to politics or social issues
A tour with a friend
There were other interesting things we found out on the way. Like how a local church engages with the young men involved in gangs in South London and provides them with an alternative to the world of crime. It would be great to visit a Nigerian church too as I know their services are quite different to what we are used to in Western Europe.
There were all those little things we learnt, interesting people we met and the general feeling that we’re able to understand our neighbours better. Kemi talked a lot about how Nigerian celebrates and her own life, showing us the culture first-hand. For me, the most important part was to learn something new and see Nigerians from the perspective from within.
At the beginning, Kemi explained to us that the tour isn’t a kind of intellectual tour where you learn about geography or history of Nigeria. She was right – it felt more like a friend taking you around their town and saying – here I like to eat, here I go to church and over there I do my hair.
Whether you want to find out more about the minorities living in the capital, want to get to know London and its people better or you’re curious about what Nigerians eat, try this tour. It’s good value for money, the guide is brilliant and it’s a fun way to spend your Saturday morning.
Next Little Lagos tour is on 22nd July. For the rest of the offer of Shared City visit their website. Other tours include Italian London, Jewish, Norwegian and more.
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