From the Archive 1: Paddling in Nigeria

Project: Nigeria Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project
Donor: World Bank.
Year: 2002.

The photo: Due to overcrowding, people have taken to build houses on stilts in the shallow lagoon. They use small home-made boats to get to and from, for fishing, to transport goods, etc. The boats are not well made, are not sturdy, and are difficult to maneuver. I told villagers in Makoko that when I lived in Bangladesh I used boats every day, boats that I owned and that I paddled myself (only one oar is used, alternating on the port and starboard side).

Comment: Naturally, the locals in Makoko wanted to see proof, and I had no choice but getting into this wreck of a small boat and make the best of it. The whole village looked on and commented on my every move. Luckily, in spite of the difficulty of maneuvering the boat I did not capsize, which was just as well since the water was smelly and very far from being clean (do not ask me to expand on this). The locals had never before seen a white man row a boat, and were duly impressed.

So, also on the African continent I managed to impress the locals with my handling of boats (it comes naturally, I am Norwegian, born and raised along the North Sea, and have owned and used boats always). I have bagged much sympathy and respect in various locations and countries in this way!

Lars T Soeftestad

(1) Image credit: Lars Soeftestad, Supras Ltd.
(2) Permalink. URL:
(3) This article was published 21 January 2019.

Lars Soeftestad, paddling boat in Nigeria