A good stay at the Southern Sun in Lagos

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Nestled the booming metropole of Lagos Island, is the affluent Ikoyi neighbourhood, where houses retail in the millions and corporations dot their offices. Traffic can be a nightmare here sometimes, but it isn’t as bad as the mainland, hop over one of two main bridges and you are on the mainland or over to Victoria Island. This is where Tsogo Sun decided to situate its Lagos hotel — a good choice. The Southern Sun in Ikoyi is indicative of every South Sun you have ever been to expect it’s different.

The hotel’s golden exterior with its red and chrome finish and glass revolving door welcome you into a cool lobby, a needed sanctuary from the heat and humidity of Lagos. It’s marbled floors and glass walls gives you sense of calm from the concrete jungle that resides outside.

As I walk over the reception, I am greeted with many “welcomes” and “do you need help with your bag” – all I have is backpack but I guess for them a guest is guest no matter the luggage size. The hotel doesn’t try to be pretentious, every guest is equal and treated like the awe-like reverence that I suppose celebrities are often accorded.

The beauty of the hotel is obvious and its staff exceptional courteousness can be pegged down to a level of professionalism that the parent company refuses to compromise on. However there is more to staying at a hotel than just professionalism and beauty, for me at least.

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As someone who is never home, the comforts of home are incredibly important to me. When you are in a foreign country, those comforts are even more important. So hotels intend to be my save haven when I am away from home, I trust hotel staff far more than I should perhaps, but I feel if someone is going to have to bare witness to my bad judgement after a night on the town, they deserve some trust.

I did feel at home here, I fell into the feather soft bed with ease and drifted off into a dreamless sleep, a rare occurrence for me. I felt comfortable here, the space is warm and inviting and the bar is lively. SSLagos tries to keep its Nigerian traditions while catering for its Western clientele. Perhaps the staff can get to friendly but I was interested in getting to know them and the hotel’s work ethic better.

The food is amazing, a mix of Nigerian and the mundane. I ate, a lot then I ran a lot both in the gym and the hotels surrounds much to the staff dismay. I think they would have preferred me not wonder off too much on my own. Friends and family sent me texts trying to make sure I saw safe but truth be told I couldn’t even trip here, because someone will magically wheel around and catch me.

If I can say one thing or two about my stay at the Southern Sun in Lagos, it is that I felt at home and I had the luxury of escaping my life for a few days. The hotel staff is attentive and interesting. They were willing to indulge my questions and eager to help make my stay a better one. They even helped me cross the road, you do not want to mess with traffic in Lagos, crossing the road is its own version of The Hunger Games.

I do think the standard rooms could be a tad bigger just because I like a lot of space! This is a vast improvement on my previous experience with the Tsogo Sun.

Burn the media: the dangers of the fourth estate

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As a journalist I find I often have to defend the media a lot, because we are the enemy and it’s our fault everything is wrong. Between governments and the media I am not sure who gets blamed the most for the world’s ills and society’s disarray.

Truth be told the media is not entirely blameless, we produce more news than is needed, yes that is a thing but more that later, and we bow to society’s construct of what the news ought to be. When thoroughly interrogated you will find that the media can be tactless and some of the old taste and class that would ordinarily be associated with such a respectable institution has since faded away.

A recent solution to the media’s continued damage to society is to burn it down and begin again. There are some hard truths about the media that we, the media, tend to ignore. Self-reflection and introspection does not come easy to the fourth estate. But one must ask: can we truly still call ourselves the fourth estate?

The schizophrenia of the media cannot be denied and its impact no longer ignored. Between selling out to advertising to keep journalists like myself employed and attempting to be an honest voice for the people we caved and sold out to the highest bidder – society.

Here is what happened, somewhere between the acrobatic wordplay that challenged governments, the deep thoughts that questioned the Church and forced society to take an introspective look into its own shortcomings the media became something else. It became gossip and gloss, it cared more about what society wanted to know rather than what it needed to know. It began to mirror society rather educate and inform it. A healthy balance of both was lost. We began publishing more news than we ever needed. In every respect we, the media, created issues so we could talk about them.

Celebrities and their missteps are a construct of society. If the world did not find it interesting it would not be published. The many falls of Justin Bieber is the young pop star’s way of playing his role in the spotlight, a place were relevance means everything. I often refer to the deaths of celebrities I hadn’t heard of in a while. I am constantly cautioned that just because someone is not in my entertainment does not mean they are dead. This is true, but society aided by its greatest ally, the media, has made it so. If you do not dance on this stage we have created for you then you are irrelevant. Your dance, its method and its message are not important, but the fact is you must dance and entertain us. So how can we then chastise the likes of Miley Cyrus for the emergence of her risqué and rebellious side when we have proven to her that this sells? The truth be told, we like the new Miley because she gives us something to talk about and we can judge or admire her, depending on which side of the fence you sit, because at the end of the day she breaks the monotone of our days. She is not different; she is just another version of others that came before her.

Some will argue that the world of gossip, the most successful media arm, is in a way uplifting and allows us as society to escape our own mundane or tragic lives. Some will argue that it is a bit of fun, a laugh at the expense of celebrities that are too silly to know any better. What would happen if we all stopped caring what celebrities did? What if we followed politics, healthcare issues, and education issues with the same fervour that we followed stars of tinsel town? Imagine the revolution that would be. What if we gave up reality television and engaged with hard-hitting drama and stories with interesting plots that challenged our thinking?

I do not defend the media nor do I place blame squarely on society’s shoulder. I will not attempt to use my prose to mitigate the damage this fine institution of ours can impose on impressionable young minds. The media let it happen.

However, if you would humour me for a moment longer: Thomas More argues that if a government were to suffer its people to be ill or uneducated and have their manners corrupted from infancy when those people become criminals because they don’t know better can it not be said that first that government first created criminals then punished them?

A magazine editor recently told me that no matter how much she wanted to represent the everyday woman on the cover of her glossy, it was impossible because no one bought it. “I tried,” she said “and I failed miserably and went back to the airbrushed beauties.” As much I cannot defend the ‘media woman’ she is a construct of my own making and the media simply represented her to me. Now I have begun to see the errors of my ways but I am only one of a few.

So if by accident or design society through uses and gratification compelled the media to produce and report on its underbelly of moral ambiguity and ill-conceived ideas then perhaps it can be said society created the media and it now crucifies? And vice versa.

In the end, the media sticks to what it knows with very little discernment and taste. Some media houses have no rules and their content jungles slug it out with best of the best. Some may not like it but plenty others do and they are willing to pay for it. And lest we forget the media is a business.