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Lagos Bar Beach gone, but memories linger

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Bar beach

For many who grew up in Lagos State years back, one of the most visited places in the city, especially for fun-seekers was the bar beach, along Ahmadu Bello Way. It used to be a place for them and others to wine and unwind.

It was also a place for picnickers to throng during public holidays, while birthdays celebrations for some were incomplete without a visit to the bar beach. 
 
Generally speaking, the bar beach used to be the most attractive fun spot during festive periods because apart from the waterfront, which was the major attraction for many, there were other side attractions that kept the picnickers busy during the visit.

 
And unlike these days that swimming pools are sprouting up in many homes and public places, the bar beach provided fun seekers to immerse themselves in water in a fun atmosphere hence the consistently crowded atmosphere that characterised it.

For the non-resident, especially every first-time visitor, a trip to Lagos without a visit to the bar beach was incomplete.

It was not only fun-seekers to the erstwhile bar beach that had a time of their lives. Hordes of business owners, including food and drink vendors, entertainers, game providers as well as photographers also smiled at the banks.
 
But a visit to the bar beach during the last Eid-el-Kabir celebration revealed an entirely different scenario. Cluttered on the long stretch of the beachfront are heavy construction equipment, including trucks, a handful of uncompleted high-rise buildings, and paved roads with flowers and blooming trees. 

There were no fun seekers and picnickers, no entertainers, food and drink vendors, neither were there assorted cars parked, or waiting to pick up picnickers. Indeed, the atmosphere was completely devoid of the razzmatazz of the bar beach, including the cocktail of white garment church members carrying out prayers in gymnastic fashion.

For some time now, the entire length of the beach has been barricaded by a perimeter fence, and armed security men stationed at entrances and exits.

Beyond the metal cordon, a large number of construction workers were doing their thing at the reclaimed beachfront, which is now Eko Atlantic City.

A security man at one of the gates informed The Guardian that the seawater has only been punched back, adding that sighting the Atlantic Ocean would only be possible if one makes it into the facility proper in the guise of seeing facilities available within the city under construction.

He further explained that punching back the water has put paid to the menace the ocean water was causing, especially during the rainy season, which always made driving through Ahmadu Bello Way an almost impossible. 

Joan Rosanwo, who grew up on Lagos Island, and very familiar with the bar beach and its neighbourhood Said, “my childhood memories were made of family hangouts, fun activities and a constant visit to the bar beach. It was the go-to spot for us as kids. I still have pictures of my second birthday with my dad at the beach.

“We used to make mats, drinks and food to the bar beach, and there we had the best fun of our lives, building sandcastles and playing catch-me-if-you-can there. Thanks to photographs, the memories would always linger. It is all gone now and a deep part of me feels hurt and sad because all we would ever have are just memories. It is now a city, it is now a long-gone history,” said Lagos State indigene.

Maria … , who also grew up in Lagos State narrated her first visit to the bar beach thus: “My first experience at the Lagos bar beach was when I was about 11 years old. My church had taken a number of us for water baptism there and it ended up being a beautiful experience as the place looked heavenly as I anticipated.

“However, I got the chance to tour the place when I was about 15 years old when two of my friends from high school celebrated their birthdays together at the beach. That was an experience I wouldn’t give back for anything in the world,” she stated.

“Another experience I had was during my secondary school graduation party in 2002. The bar beach was more than a riverbank.  The atmosphere then gave the feeling you never get anywhere else. This was what made a lot of people longed to have special moments and celebrations there. The feeling of serenity and peace, the unadulterated breeze, the view of the tides, ships and flying boats from a distance, all added to the spectacle we all longed to savour from time-to-time. Watching the water move towards the shore and then beat a retreat was such an exhilarating experience,” she said.


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