Culture and Language

1 min read
21 Sep 2023

As in many big cities, people can be rushed, stressed and sometimes rude in Lagos. Because infrastructure is lacking, everyday activities can be a struggle. The congestion is notorious, with commuters spending an average of thirty hours a week sitting in traffic. There’s also a culture of lateness, so don’t expect meetings to be punctual. Foreigners may have an idea of Lagos as a dangerous and difficult city – it’s said that a gentle man cannot live here because it’s a city where only the fittest can survive – but the reality is often pleasantly surprising. The average local is friendly and helpful, especially to foreigners, but be sure to stay in secure accommodation and remain alert. Lagos is conservative compared to many Western cities and you should be respectful of Nigeria’s Muslim culture. Avoid revealing clothing and be aware that there are strict drug laws. Sexual relations between individuals of the same sex are outlawed in Nigeria, and LGBTQ+ visitors should avoid public displays of affection.

Learning the language

English is Nigeria’s official language and it’s the language of business in Lagos. Formal English is taught, but you’re likely to hear pidgin English in daily interactions. The local language is Yoruba, which is widely spoken, and you’ll also hear Igbo, Awori and Hausa. It’s not vital to learn Yoruba to thrive in Lagos, but locals may appreciate you making the effort to learn a few simple phrases. There are many schools offering Yoruba lessons in Lagos, including Alamoja Yoruba ( and Lextorah (