Manuwa Street

Original title: Manuwa Street

Publication Date:

March 2021



Original language and publisher

French | Premier Parallèle

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia


Narrative Non-Fiction

Manuwa Street

Original title: Manuwa Street


This narrative is as lively as it is in disarray. It pulls the reader into a whirlwind of a tale about a woman living in a city. The city has many beautiful faces but it is also a place that has a dangerous penchant for chaos. 

Sophie Bouillon was living in Lagos, Nigeria’s sprawling business capital, in March 2020 when the first case of Coronavirus was detected. Sophie is a journalist, so she pulled herself out of sleep that night to write a brief informing the world that Africa was contaminated with what was locally referred to as “the white virus”. 

Manuwa Street is the first-hand account of a year that ended in revolt. It is also a love story about a town that never sleeps and an urgent invitation to readers to see the world in a different light. 


“Lagos will make you feel alive. It will kill you, too.
Here, you will be wrong about everything. Nothing will make sense anymore.
Here, nothing is explained, everything is devoured. Man’s madness, brilliant as well
as frightening, is expressed relentlessly and practiced daily.
Here, the planet breathes noise and pollution. Lagos makes millionaires and knocks
people into poverty. Here, nature thrives as much as it self-destructs.
And whatever your beliefs, whatever you think you know, never will you have
wanted to live so much, so intensely. In the middle of this glut of people, of
injustice, of parties and of excesses – in the middle of whatever you had tried to ignore
so far – never will you have dared to love so much. A love full of jealousy, sweat,
suffering and laughter.
Lagos is a story of destruction. Homelessness. Uprooting. It spits out newcomers
every morning. They pile up on the sidewalks like dead turtles washed up on the
beaches of the Atlantic coast.
In the 1970s, there were barely two million inhabitants in Lagos. Today there are
20 million. But don’t count on those numbers. Those are only estimates. Don’t believe
anything we say. Nothing here is reliable. Everything changes, disappears, is lost, or
multiplies. It’s all a blind and passionate bet on tomorrow.
Lagos is a story of renewal. Of dazzling successes. Of dreams that never end. A
place that knows no emptiness. It races forward without ever stopping to breathe.
Its people are eternal optimists. Damned souls, they all yearn for Heaven. Rich or
poor, ultra-rich or ultra-poor, all share the same passion for money, the same hunger for
bigger, for higher, for better. And they are all convinced that one day, they will get there.”