Residents of Kuramo
The recent ocean surge and the quit order by the Lagos State Government to residents of Kuramo Beach may have truncated the party at one of Lagos’ erstwhile hottest fun spots, but Nseobong Okon-Ekong reports that the party has simply moved next door
Things are not what they used to be at the Kuramo Beach at Victoria Island, Lagos. For so long, the leisure spot progressed from existing in the shadow of its more popular cousin, the Victoria Beach, better known as Bar Beach to start a life its own. Soon, it would be miles head of the Bar Beach in fame and notoriety. The reference was to Kuramo when mayhem, crime and debauchery were in the air. Kuramo was believed in many quarters to be the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, accommodating all kinds of vices and persons of easy virtue.
For whatever it was worth, the party at Kuramo Beach was brought to an abrupt and teary end recently, as the Atlantic Ocean crept in stealthily like a thief in the night. The raging ocean waters had cut through the patch of sand separating it from the Kuramo Lake. Following this tragedy, the Lagos State Government ordered an evacuation of the residents.
Residents of the commune were ill-prepared for the ocean surge, although a couple of them were still awake as is often the case with Kuramo which never goes to sleep, it was about 2 a.m. The majority of them were, however, asleep.
This reporter was at Kuramo in the early hours of Thursday, August 24. It is a new day at the once thriving leisure spot. An armoured personnel carrier stood guard where the entrance gate used to be. Before the ocean sacked the commune, fun-seekers were required to pay between N200 and N500 to access the place.
Rafiu Usman, who ran a small bar and fish barbecue spot at Kuramo, has since relocated to the Bar Beach, like several of colleagues. He is unbowed by the raging Atlantic and the insistence of the Lagos State Government to control human activities in the vicinity.
At the time of my visit, while all was quite at the Kuramo end of the beach, the party has simply shifted to the Bar Beach. However, not every former resident of Kuramo has decided to two Rafiu’s path. A good number of them have taken the twin warnings from the ocean and the government as a command to seek their fortune elsewhere.
This much was disclosed by Prince Kayode Aminu Akinbami, who used to live with his wife and two children at Kuramo. He has sent his wife and children ahead to his hometown in Ibadan. His days in Lagos are numbered. Akinbami, who calls himself Prince of the Coast, took up residence at Kuramo over 20 years ago after he lost his job as a sailor.
Speaking in impeccable English language, the Prince of the Coast said it may not have been rosy, but he was able to make ends meet by running a bar and providing “cabins” for overnight stay at N1000 per night. Now that his means of livelihood has been truncated, he is looking for a means to buy a vehicle with which he intends to ply the roads as a taxi driver.
Akinbami is not happy with his colleagues who failed to stop their trade in honour of the dead. Visibly pained, he lamented the loss of lives. “These were people that we lived and played; parents and their children. I knew all of them. The least we could have done for them was to close shop for one day, but I was surprised that people could not be persuaded to show such gesture.”
He was no less disappointed by the Lagos State Government. Comparing the Kuramo tragedy with the shooting in Colorado, USA, Akinbami recalled how the American President left everything he was doing to visit the bereaved. “What do we get here? Even if the President could not come, what about the governor of Lagos State?” he queried. “They only sent law enforcement agents to kick us out. It means that there is little value for human life in Nigeria. But when it comes to election time, they know that the votes in Eit-Osa and Alimosho local government areas matter.”
He was, however, grateful that the calamity did knock on their doors a few months back. He said the number of the dead would have been alarming. “The chairman of the local government visited us some time ago and ordered some shacks that were considered unfit for human habitation be demolished. This led to the evacuation of a lot of people from Kuramo. Otherwise, the recent ocean surge would have been a national mourning.”
The likes of Rafiu do not think their customers would have any difficulties in locating his new trading port at the Bar Beach area opposite the Tiamiyu Savage Street, off Ahmadu Bello Way. His only worry is that some of his clients loved the hide-away ambience that Kuramo offered. “Since it was tucked into the farthest end of the Bar Beach people who loved to enjoy themselves away from public glare preferred the Kuramo.”
The area boys are still in charge; locating a parking spot for your car and getting a fee for watching over it while you indulge. The taxi drivers are still alert, ready to take you to your destination. The sound of music was blaring from loud speakers competing for attention with the roar of the ocean waters. Revellers, who cared to dance, were up and moving to the beat. A couple of Aladura adherents were dancing to music of a different kind.
From the look of things, the Kuramo party has not totally ground to a halt. It has moved base to the Bar Beach, albeit in a moderated shape, as the new location is too much in the open to accommodate the social excesses that were carried on with reckless at the Kuramo.