top of page

Michael Palin In Nigeria | Preview (Channel 5)

In his latest epic adventure for Channel 5, Michael Palin embarks on a 1300-mile journey across Nigeria.

Known as ‘The Giant of Africa’, within 50 years Nigeria will be the third most populated country in the world after India and China. And while claims of corruption and fraud have blighted the country he also finds a very different Nigeria - stunning nature, diverse cultures and fascinating people. For Michael, at 80 years old, it may well turn out to be the most prophetic journey of his life.

In episode 1, Michael lands at Lagos International Airport at 4.55am and is immediately thrown into the crowded chaos that is life in the biggest city in Africa. Seventy per cent of the population of Nigeria is under 25; 60% of people live in poverty.

Michael visits Makoko, often characterised as the biggest slum in Africa, but with houses built on water, it is also a vibrant, teeming community and Michael finds himself ultimately uplifted by what he sees and the people he meets.

That evening, Lagos life at the other economic extreme emerges in the luxury bars of Lekki where music business insider Idara Idemeko explains the ambition of a generation now living the high life. But there are tensions and fears for the future.

The next day, Michael travels out to the coastal town of Badagry, which was once a slave port.

Britain once called this part of Africa ‘the slave coast’ and led the Transatlantic trade, which saw over three million Nigerians taken across the Atlantic. Michael meets historian Aduke Gomez who is herself descended from slaves. They retrace the final terrifying journey that enslaved people would have taken before boarding slave ships at the beach known as ‘the point of no return’.

Returning to Lagos, Michael pays a visit to the ‘New Afrika Shrine’ and meets Yeni Kuti, the daughter of Fela Kuti, the father of Afrobeat. They discuss the important role Fela had as an activist against the military dictatorships that ruled Nigeria for decades, as well as his hedonistic lifestyle. But Yeni also warns about her fears for Nigeria, as it struggles to deal with its people’s futures.

Leaving Lagos, Michael then flies 500 miles north to the city of Kano. Unlike the Christian South, Northern Nigeria is Islamic, and also home to terrorist group Boko Haram. Kidnapping is a risk and Michael and his UK/Nigerian crew require strong security measures to travel.

He is invited to meet revered Islamic leader, the Emir of Kano, at his royal palace. When Michael arrives, he discovers a huge impromptu event has been put on in his honour. With flame swallowing, sword swallowing, wild alligators and hundreds of horses and traditional costumes, Michael’s first ‘Durbar’ is an exhilarating assault on the senses. He finds himself wondering what incredible sights await him as he starts his 800-mile road trip down the spine of this extraordinary country.

Michael Palin In Nigeria begins Tuesday 16th Aril at 9pm on Channel 5.


bottom of page