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Surviving Lagos

Life is tough in Nigeria's teeming commercial mega-city

Cell phones are the main means of communication, as there are few working landlines. The postal service barely functions. To receive a letter one must have a post office box — zip codes for residential delivery have never been developed.

Buying and selling of goods, or petty trading, is one of the main ways people eke out an existence. Most people get by on just a couple of dollars a day.

Yet despite all these problems, Lagos continues to grow. Along with a high birth rate, Lagos attracts young people from all over the country, as the city is Nigeria’s driving economic force and offers the promise of success for those willing to try.

“If you don’t have work to do, life can be very difficult here in Lagos,” said the fashion designer Alhadji, who says young men turn to crime when they can’t find work. “But there is many work [opportunities] here in Lagos. Here you can try, you do whatever work you can and, god willing, you find money.”

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