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Makoko sedation

Emmanuel Quaye/Twenty Ten

A feature from the Soccer World Cup 2010: Nigeria

Location: Lagos, Nigeria

The Makoko slum, with an estimated population of 50,000, does not have good roads, running water or a sewage reticulation system. This results in high morbidity from malaria, diarrhoea and other infectious diseases.

The residents, who live in wooden huts built on stilts above the lagoon, have used sawdust to create a space for their children to play soccer. Despite the high risk of disease, the children often have to brave the dirty water to fetch their ball.

Many of the original residents of Makoko are fishermen, attracted from across the region by the hope of a better life in Nigeria, West Africa’s oil-rich economic power house. But life is tougher than they imagined.

Friday Oliseh, a resident, said soccer was like a religion that united the nation.

Kwame Asante, a Ghanaian migrant, likened soccer to a medicine which cured diseases.

“With soccer you forget all your problems,” he said.

At video centres, locals gather to watch live soccer matches on satellite television. The flags of the European teams that they support adorn the walls, while posters of their favourite players are posted in front of their houses.

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