In the last one week, insecurity has worsened in Nigeria due to thuggery and looting of palliative warehouses. As of today, reports are that security officials have abandoned the streets of Lagos, no doubt in a bid to prove a point after the #EndSARS protests. #Sigh. The situation reminded me of the time I left home to live alone and how vehemently my parents fought against the idea. For context, they weren’t against the idea because of the old traditional beliefs that girls shouldn’t live alone. Rather, their worry was rooted in the fact that it did not seem safe.
When I insisted on leaving and got an apartment in a different city from my parents, my mum would call me every day and remind me to lock my doors, windows and to check that every electrical appliance was switched off. It was difficult in those early days of living alone and trying to navigate my safety, but after almost six years! living alone, I think I can call myself an expert in the safety business of living alone as a single woman in Nigeria.
If you live alone, you have to be extra cautious especially this period. I don’t intend to spread fear but to share tips that might signal some red flag or possible concern. Hope you find them helpful.
The area you live in is a major factor in your safety as a single woman. It is advisable to live in a secured area or at least a fairly safe part of town because no matter the safety precautions you take, if you live in a volatile place where they are regular robberies, cult clashes etc. your safety is already compromised. In the first apartment I lived in, I was robbed every other week or there was a fire, or cult clash or something. As soon as I could afford a safe place I move out. So, ask questions before you pay that rent.
Be conscious of who you invite into your home. Be conscious of people you give your address. Most cases of violence against single women are perpetuated by people who are somewhat familiar. If you are not yet certain about a person, meet them in public places.
When returning home from work, church, or hangouts, it is advisable to return home when there is still day light. And if you use public transport like I used to, I either walk from the bus stop or if I used an okada, I make sure to stop some distance from my home and walk the rest home. Random people shouldn’t know exactly where you live. If you cannot return home early, make plans to use a cab, or better still spend the night where you are.
In an emergency, who do you call? Have two/three people you can rely on on your speed dial. It makes more sense to have these people live close by or at least in the same city. It doesn’t help if your emergency contact lives in Ibadan while you are in Lagos.
Finally, a Nighttime Routine
Remember I said in my early days of living alone my mum would call to remind me to lock doors and windows? One can never be too sure of those things, so what I did and still do is I set alarms around my bedtime. It doesn’t matter if I think I locked everything. I get up and check again before going to bed.
If you have more tips, add in the comment sections. Stay safe everyone!