This post should have gone up last month but i only got to finish it on Sunday night
The Lagos international trade fair holds every year in November and this year was no different. It usually features thousands of visitors as well as hundreds of exhibitors showcasing their products, this year it held at three different venues and for the first time since 1993, I attended the trade-fair.
The last time I was at the trade fair, I was a five year old little girl who wanted her mother to buy her one of those shiny balloons that had various shapes. I wanted the heart shaped one and my mother did not buy it for me, it is one of those early memories that you never quite forget. This time I went alone and it wasn’t quite the same.
I had planned to attend the last three editions but couldn’t do that due to circumstances beyond my control. When I learned that this edition was taking place on the Island, I literally jumped for joy because it’s much easier for me to navigate transport in the selected Island venues than at the tradefair complex at Ojo. The fair held in three locations
• The Tafawa Balewa Square
• Freedom Park
• Shell Hall Muson Center
I started my tour at the TBS because it had the bulk of activities taking place there, that was were organisations showcased their products for sale. The place was a literal beehive, I wish I could show you just how noisy it was. And the smells? It was an olfactory battle reminiscent of game of thrones and other epic battle series and movies.
The first thing I saw a Chinese company’s version of the nutri bullet, the Nigerian distributors had many other fantastic products but the nutri bullet drew me. it could pulverise dry beans to smooth powder, I touched the powder and felt like my ancestors must have done when they first saw bicycles and the like.
I headed to the Japanese pavilion and saw so many machines on display but it was when I saw the Yamaha bikes that I believed in love at first sight. Those bikes were so big and beautiful!
This bad boy kept calling my name but my bank account balance covered my ears
There’s this general conception that things are cheaper at trade fairs, the prices I saw there do not support that theory. However I did see a lot of items that I wouldn’t see at the stores so I guess it’s a nice balance.
I got lost several times, there were so many stands and people milling around. Schools even brought pupils for excursion (couldn’t help thinking of how much the school would charge for taking the kids to walk up and down), young couples skipped from stand to stand and other people just seemed to be hunting for bargains with a glazed look in their eyes.
Almost every major and a good number of minor companies had stands at the trade fair, visiting each of them and looking at their products would take a whole day if you don’t linger at any store. There was no particular order to the arrangement of stands, you could have an (my computer tells me it’s an) herbal medicine stand next to a swanky makeup brand’s stand which would be next to an electronics company’s stand.
There were some freebies- mostly edible stuff. I tasted the most horrible curry ever, it was the worst tasting food I’d ever had the misfortune of eating- and I went to a boarding school… The same company also had ice cream and I still haven’t recovered from the taste of that ice cream.
This yam pounder caught my attention, it is actually your basic food processor that’s being marketed as a yam pounder. It was Dooney, that fabulous Nigerian food blogger who popularised the use of certain kitchen appliances for making pounded yam. You can use the dough attachment of the food processor, the whisk of a mixer and even your humble blender to make pounded yam. I kinda like the marketing smarts of the importers of this product.
I stumbled on the interior decor section when I was trying to find my way out of the maze and I ended up spending an hour browsing the furniture stands and discussing with the Asian marketers. I’d always thought that I wasn’t interested in the frilly, decorative things but I was surprised to be proved wrong by my interest in the beautiful, beautiful sofas, beds and kitchen sets. The kitchen sets were beyond beautiful, I love beautiful kitchens! When I finally make my millions (in dollars biko, Naira ain’t gat no value) I’d have the kitchen of my dreams with every appliance in this world making an appearance.
After leaving TBS, I went to visit my friend whose office is at City hall Lagos. I spent an hour with him before heading to Freedom Park. I love Freedom Park and have written about it here a couple of times in some of my very early posts on the blog but the trade fair at Freedom Park was a huge disappointment.
The creative hub of the trade fair was supposed to be held at Freedom Park, I didn’t see anything that seemed out of the ordinary. It was business as usual, things were still sold at ridiculous prices. A few publishing houses and record companies had stands at the fair so it wasn’t a total loss. I saw a necklace that was twenty thousand Naira last, I almost wept when I saw it because if I had made that necklace (I can make it though) I’d have felt strange even offering it for sale at 10k. it saddened me to realise that I undervalue myself so easily, I’ll try to change- So help me God.
I took a couple of pictures just outside Freedom Park, that’s one of my favourite parts of Lagos. My father was born just a few meters away from there in the Island Maternity and I really love walking down the old streets near the marina and imagine how life was in the past.
The Shell hall of the MUSON center was supposed to be the venue of the corporate exhibitions, again it was a disappointment. Sadly it was even a greater disappointment than Freedom Park, I was just glad that there was no entry fee even though I know I’d have demanded a refund of my money.
My trade fair adventure came to an end on that rather annoying note but I’m really glad that I went, it was a fun experience all the same