Just Culture & High Reliability: The Initial Approach

A few months ago, I stepped out one morning and saw a coil of animal poo on the doorstep. My mother and I spent a long time trying to figure out what sort of animal had done the deed. We decided, in the end, that a fox was the culprit. But it could also have been a racist. The incident has occurred twice but as we’ve got rid of the evidence both times, we’ll never know.

I am not the only one who has had a similar experience in London. Just search “poo on doorstep”. It occurs frequently enough to have generated several threads on the internet. Yet, when ranking the world’s best cities to live in last week, the mighty statisticians of the Economist Intelligence Unit didn’t take into account “likeliness to find a turd on your front doorstep”. In the 14 years I lived in Lagos, I never once found faeces in front of my house. Yet Lagos is judged one of the 10 least liveable cities in the world, and London comes much higher in the desirability rankings, at number 48.

Granted, I have no problems with some of the things the index does track, such as crime rates, the efficiency of transportation networks, and quality of healthcare. All are important, and improve one’s experience of a city. Lagos scored low in all these categories and as a Lagosian, I readily admit that we can do better in all these areas.

But I’d certainly question how cities were ranked in some of the other areas that make up the index. In the culture and environment category, which includes recreational activities, Vienna scored 96.3 out of 100 and Lagos just 53.5. Now I’ve been to Vienna, and I’ve lived in Lagos, and there is no way Vienna is 43 points ahead of Lagos in culture and environment.

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Just ask Emmanuel Macron, who recently made a pilgrimage to Fela Kuti’s New Afrika Shrine in Lagos. Lagos is a city of galleries under bridges, where artists paint and display for free. It’s a city of owambe parties that last until dawn. Every weekend there is a royal wedding that shuts down roads and stops traffic. Lagos is a city of fashion, home to the third biggest film industry in the world, and its Afrobeat music pulses out to reach the ears of a global audience. It’s obvious the statisticians didn’t know where to look.

What does it mean to rank the culture of one place above the other? To say Douala in Cameroon comes lower than Dakar in Senegal in culture but higher than Dhaka in Bangladesh? What ingrained biases went into calculating these scores? Culture doesn’t only live in a museum, in an opera house or in a Picasso painting. African artists, by the way, inspired Picasso.

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And let’s talk about the things that were not measured. The report observed: “Those that score best tend to be midsized cities in wealthier countries.” Perhaps because they mostly picked metrics these cities would score highly on. How lonely are the people who live in the wealthier capitals of the world? How high are the levels of anxiety in these cities? How likely are strangers to come to your aid if you are in distress?

My car has broken down several times in Lagos. Strangers have always arrived, bearing tyre pumps, offering to push-start or fetch a nearby mechanic. In London, friends who have broken down report vehicles whizzing merrily past. No one stopped, not even when it was raining. And why should they? The infrastructure is so great. Some emergency breakdown company would get to them eventually. The city is so efficient that there’s no need to get personally involved in helping a stranger.

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Why do studies like this exist anyway? The people who actually live in Harare, Karachi and Algiers are still living there, no matter how “unliveable” the Economist Intelligence Unit judges their cities. In the report summary, the compilers state that their findings will help in “assigning a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages”. I’d just like to say that Lagos has enough expats. We see them, overpaid and overfed, establishing little colonies, disparaging the local culture, food and customs, and earning three times what they would at home. There are qualified Nigerians who know the terrain and can do their work just as well or even better.

Yes, there can be hardship living in Lagos but there are also joys, highs, thrills and jollof rice. So whether you judge Lagos liveable or not, Lagosians will go on living and thriving there. To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and global liveability indexes.

• Chibundu Onuzo is a Nigerian author

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/who-says-the-most-liveable-city-is-in-the-west-culture-doesn-e2-80-99t-just-live-in-museums/ar-BBM96v0

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