I have always been fascinated about the Jazzhole even before I thought of being there. I first read of Jazzhole on one of my shenanigans as a kid. Growing up my uncle would usually leave the keys to his room to me and when he left for work, I would go through his tall shelf of books and find out which new book he had recently bought, sneak it out of his room to read and return it before he got back. I did this every day and that way I would be done with a book before I knew it. On one of my many book trips, I snuck out Americanah and got to know about the Jazzhole.
I was super psyched when my friend wanted to hang out with me and I suggested the Jazzhole and he agreed. It was like my wish had come true, I was living my dream in reality and I felt like a little kid given her favorite chocolate bar.
This beautiful drawings under the bridge I found
The Jazzhole was nestled between tall buildings in a busy street in Ikoyi, it was easy to ignore this beauty and walk past it. When we got through the doors, the first thing that hit me was the whiff of the fresh air conditioning, then I marveled at how everywhere was draped from top to bottom in books, it felt like I had literally stepped into a secret haven for books. I was a bit disappointed though at how small the bookshop was, just one medium sized hall. I expected more like the pictures which I had seen online. The best part was the old highlife music playing on an actual record player.
You will find a couple of tables and chairs at the far side of the room for people who would like to sip a cup of coffee, tea or a glass of orange juice while you munched on a slice of cake in between reading a book. Most of the white people were seated here because hello, no normal Nigerian will take coffee on a hot lazy Saturday afternoon. Next to the tall book shelves, you will see the drum set nestled in a corner; it looked like no one has played on it for a while.
The Jazzhole had an oldies feel to it. Imagine being a room surrounded by all these books that you can ever think of, your favorite Sunny Ade song playing, chomping on a piece of cake and slurping on a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
I was excited when I saw hardcovers of all Chimamanda Adichie’s book draped in Ankara. Also most of the people I saw at Jazzhole were white people, it said so much about the lack of a reading culture of Nigerians. Well, I wasn’t a bit surprised; most Nigerians wouldn’t spend their Saturday afternoon in a quaint bookshop in the busy city of Lagos.
I saw the owner of Jazzhole, Mr. Tejuose, he was a fine man probably in his early fifties and I loved especially the little white hairs that were freckled over his hair. But like Nigerians are won’t to do, he spoke in an unoriginal accent, an attempt at having an American accent while he attended to the white men and he quickly switched to a Nigerian accent or Yoruba when he spoke to his shop attendant.
The shop attendant was rude to us throughout our stay too. When we walked into the bookshop first, walked up to her counter and asked her if we could read here. She replied rather harshly that it was a bookshop and not a library. Ouch,, I was so embarrassed. Whatever happened to smiling to customers and explaining patiently?
While I tried to take pictures with my phone, she spoke loudly from the counter that no pictures were allowed. I ignored her and still took pictures because it was ridiculous to me. Even more ridiculous was when a white man walked in and took pictures with his camera and no words were said. You can imagine the hypocrisy.
Anyway after walking around the bookshop for several minutes, because I have a hard time making choices, I finally picked two books and my friend got them for me. Going to Jazzhole actually rekindled my love for books and reading. I was excited about my two new books and even more excited to dig in and read them. I was in a crunch where reading didn’t appeal to me, like I had outgrown it or something. The only thing I wanted to read was medium articles or articles from blogs I need for my research. Being at Jazzhole fixed it all; it was like a breath of fresh air after so long.
We ended our awesome hangout with a late lunch at this really cool restaurant with amazing food and a great customer service.
I loved every bit of my visit at the Jazzhole and I had an amazing experience. I would love to come back there again, Jazzhole is a rare gem but the customer service sucks.
Thank you, Friend for this day.