For about a week, youths have been on the streets across cities in Nigeria demanding an end to police brutality. For a country like Nigeria where people are often divided along religious and tribal lines, it is unprecedented that youths across the country and in diaspora are protesting against a single cause in one voice. And what more, the protests were not planned, it started like a little fire that has now spread throughout the country.
Almost every young Nigerian has a police brutality story. If you have not experienced one personally then your siblings, friends, colleagues, or neighbours have experienced brutality and oppression from the police sworn to protect us. If you don’t know the stories, pobinproject.com have documented these bone chilling stories, check them out.
During the first two days of the protests, I felt paralyzed; I was unable to get any work done. I couldn’t believe some of the stories I heard from victims, and how the Nigerian police was brutally fighting back. There was this helplessness that took over me, I was afraid that even after this nothing will change in our country. I scrolled through my twitter feed crying for hours. It was like I was falling sick. Many people also had the same experience.
So how do you take care of yourself during such an intense moment in our history?
- If you are on the frontlines protesting physically, please follow protest safety regulations such as having a protest buddy, holding emergency cash, turning on your location for friends and family to track you etc. If you feel tired after a day or two of chanting on the streets, it is okay to rest.
- If you are protesting via social media, it’s okay to take a break. Take a break from scrolling. Watching videos and seeing pictures from the protest in real time can be overwhelming.
- If your company is threatening to fire anyone involved in the protests online or in person, (this happened to my friend), unless you don’t like the job anyway please find another way to protest. You don’t even have to tweet (if they monitor your social media). You can donate money to the organizers.
Finally, whether you are on the frontlines, or online or donating; intense moments like this are very likely to affect our mental health. If you need help, talk to your friends and family but if you need professional help, Mentally Aware Nigeria are offering their services for free.
As they say on twitter; na who dey alive dey protest. Please stay alive and stay healthy.