Lekki Wives – Hit show tells tough truth about Nigerian wealth

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Lagos (AFP) – With its tales of infidelity, backstabbing and money-grabbing, “Lekki Wives” has become one of the most talked-about television programmes in Nigeria.

Blessing Effiom-Egbe, creator of one of the most talked-about television programmes in Nigeria “Lekki Wives”, gives an interview at her house in Lagos, on December 4, 2013

But the edgy portrayal of life in one of Lagos’ newest suburbs is far from imagined — and a sharp turn for an entertainment industry long shaped by outlandish plots and, at times, supernatural storylines.
Instead, the series dives straight into key issues facing the country, notably “the ills of what people do for money”, said its creator Blessing Egbe.

She wanted to show how Nigeria’s so-called economic boom has brought untold riches to a lucky few but left life unchanged for most.
“We have pushed the envelope,” she told AFP. “We didn’t try to be nice about it.”
And the scripts push the limits in this largely conservative, God-fearing country, as one where a character seeks a partner to indulge his need for sado-masochistic sex.

With Africa’s biggest population and largest oil industry, Nigeria has averaged more than seven percent economic growth over the last decade, among the highest rates in the world.
But poverty has worsened since 2004, the government conceded last year. And while the middle class has expanded, a good part of the wealth is concentrated at the very top.
The show’s tension is driven by such nuances –how all is not what it seems: a tiny minority have gotten rich quickly but many are just faking wealth. Destitution largely remains the norm.
Egbe said her plotlines were “99 percent” inspired by real stories of people craving to be seen as elite, even if the show — whose title was inspired by the US hit “Desperate Housewives” — is highly stylised. Characters deliver monologues straight to the camera and performances could not unfairly be described as over-the-top.

Public reaction has been largely positive and the next season, currently being edited, will be even bolder than the first.
Blessing Effiom-Egbe, creator of one of the most talked-about television programmes in Nigeria “I hope I don’t get chased out after season two,” Egbe said.

A blue tollgate spanning a six-lane expressway marks the entrance to the real Lekki, one of Lagos’ fastest-growing and most-coveted neighbourhoods.

Banks, hotels, shopping centres and mega-churches line the well-paved roadway. Many of the buildings are under construction and others look brand new.

The expressway’s exits lead to gated communities, partly filled with US-style suburban homes.

Rents in Lagos’s posh neighbourhoods have long been astronomical and Lekki is no exception: a studio apartment can cost $24,000 (18,000 euros) per year, with payment due in full up front.

Egbe, a 37-year-old mother of three, moved eight years ago to Lekki, a community she says is full of people “who will do anything just to be seen, just to be looked upon as wealthy”.But the pretence does not always hold up.

“You see a big mansion and you go in there and maybe there is no electricity, empty rooms, or maybe the living room is so well-furnished and when you go into the rest of the house there is nothing. It is not real,” she said.


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