Every April, since 2017, tens of boats and canoes, decked in traditional attires, sail to the Lagoon Waterfront in Ikoyi, Lagos, with drummers and dancers and masquerades. In the splash of water and dazzle of colours, what emerges is a vibrant demonstration of the rich aquatic culture of riverine communities. The Lagos Boat Regatta was created to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of Lagos State in 1967.
Various divisions in the state, including Epe, Badagry, and Ikorodu, are represented. At different points in the day, there are performances of traditional boat parades and jet ski riding, and cultural displays by communities. Participants then line up to compete for prizes, including for open water swimming, canoe race, and outstanding boat regatta. There is also a demonstration of safety tips. Private boats and marine leisure firms feature, but on the sidelines.
The regatta, organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, draws thousands of visitors. The 2020 event was postponed due to the coronavirus.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Editor of Folio Nigeria, where he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: art, business, entertainment, activism, health, food. He is a writer, journalist, curator, media consultant, former academic, and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Open Country Mag, a new online platform covering African literature. In 2019, he received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians" by Avance Media. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.