Lagos Country Club at 70: Raising an idyllic enclave
A non-member will feel so when at the entrance, he is hugged by an enthralling Aristocratic façade that ushers him into the club’s sprawling recesses. A cascade of glittering metallic power wheels in the courtyard, interspaced by ancient trees and shepherded by smart eagle-eyed sheriffs, sums up the visage.
But to members of the club, it is simply a community of social and sporting fellowship; and many more that lift the body, soul, and spirit. As a phrase in the club’s constitution, it is a second home for the family. That second home turns 70 this year.
The Lagos Country Club is a mini-Nigeria, with membership cutting across almost all the ethnic groups and religions. One of the objectives of the club is to promote inter-ethnic and interracial understanding amongst people; with demographics across all age groups. Unlike other similar social clubs, the lexical combination of its name primes it an unofficial club for the nation-state, located in the heartland of Nigeria.
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo will be delivering the club’s Anniversary Lecture on July 30 and he has chosen to speak on the topic “Promoting National Cohesion for Progress and Prosperity.” When he mounts the rostrum to speak to a nation grappling for unity in these critical times of nationhood, he may need to decipher what makes the Lagos Country Club tick in the comity of clubs in Nigeria. For decades, the club has promoted cohesion among its diverse peoples and enabled progress and prosperity within its precincts.
Unlike many other big social clubs in Nigeria, which have been buffeted by sundry crises, the Lagos Country Club has never in its lifetime engaged in damning squabbles or litigations. If the Vice-President takes a tour of the facilities of the club and the quantum progress engendered by peaceful coexistence, he may have a take-away for administrators in Aso Villa.
It is a playground for families and is severally touted as a club with huge family values. It is an arena for sporting legends and captains of industry and professionals. The recently upgraded facilities are living up its pedigree.
One thing is certain, however, the depth of your pocket or size of your insignia, the club is a leveler; not a place to flaunt wealth or self-importance, and that is why the President of the club does not have a special seat in the gathering of people, neither special privileges. Big men and royalties come in unannounced, and will probably share in backslapping and guguru munching with members. The camaraderie is infectious, as laughter wafts through every dark and lit corner.
The young and upwardly mobile define their space around beers, spirits, and brandies; and you can identify them from the kind of hippie music oozing out of the side speakers. There are also areas you hear old jokes, time-honored jokes of the 60s and 70s from elders in their 70s and above. This is where they find true friendship and catch their fun, sometimes mimicking the sound of Osita Osadebey, Ebenezer Obey or Sunny Ade of the 70s. They know histories from the Lord Luggard era and could recount when Peugeot sold for two thousand nairas.
The Lagos Country Club has become their haven, a place that has preserved their lives from the vagaries of old age and loneliness. If you have children strewn in different parts of the world and your aged wife junkets among them to perpetually babysit, your natural evening habitat becomes The Arena (Elders’ corner) or the Cool Room (where you can take a nap by the way). Take-away moin moin or ofada becomes a ready companion as the culinary for the home front. This is not an old people’s home, but it is a place that caters to the psychological needs of the elderly.
While the young play squash or Tennis in an energetic frenzy, the Elders huddle around Ludo, Ayo, and Cards. Children skate around and play football and basketball. They are also in all the games with their mothers. This is a community defining the essence of life, and growing leaders with mental alertness and general wellbeing. A leader in politics and business must embrace work-life balance for optimal performance.
Nigeria is ingrained with enormous economic, political and social challenges. For entrepreneurs, building a business is tough with lots of sacrifices you need to make to grow and sustain the business. If the business owner is physically or mentally sick, the business is sick. A recent study by www.growyourbusiness.com says 63 percent of full-time workers believe the stress from juggling work and other responsibilities is impacting on their physical wellbeing. So, to manage your business or professional career, you need to manage your life through work-life balance. The contributions of Lagos Country Club in this regard to support increased productivity, healthy and happier living, are immense.
The club has in its lifetime played host to the powerful and the mighty: presidents, governors and ministers, captains of industry, royalties and diplomats; creating platforms for socio-political discourses and the Nigerian narratives.
In seventy years, the Lagos Country Club has raised an idyllic enclave.
• Onayoade is the Editor of Club News Magazine
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