On a beautiful sunny day in Lagos, don’t ask me why but I found myself in a crowded part of the city trying to get a taxi. It was during the Christmas holiday period and where I stood, along with my female cousin K, no taxis were passing by. Cousin K suggested that we walk a little farther down and cross the foot bridge to the other side of the major road. This is when the issue started. As we started walking, people were whispering, some blatantly staring, while others approached us but in my mind I didn’t pay much attention and imagined they were trying to sell us things or find a way to scam us. My cousin K looked more worried and said something like, ah if I knew we would end up here I wouldn’t have advised us to dress like this especially you with your bum shorts. Her statement immediately set me back to the present moment. I realized people did not in fact want to sell anything to us or have anything to do with us. I noticed that people were mostly castigating us, calling us asewos and other names I wouldn’t mention here, while a few people were trying to preach to us and tell us that we need deliverance. Crossing the crowded footbridge was quite worrisome but we made it to the other side.
Finally we found a spot with some idle taxi drivers. I expected them to all try to offer to take us but they were all cool and nonchalant about our presence. One of the drivers finally decided to take us and he only went down slightly on the initial price that he quoted us. In desperation, we couldn’t even do shakara for him because we just wanted to get to our destination. At the beginning of the ride, cousin K and I talked most of the time. The taxi driver was listening to us and said that the way we were talking we sounded like we were from responsible homes. He said that based on our dressing he would not have guessed that. Mr. driver said, if he had known we were from good homes and not like those girls that roam the streets then he would have charged us a lower price.
What exactly was I wearing that was so obscene you might wonder? My hair was in braids, I had on thick sunglasses, a blue top with a thin strap which covered my upper body except my arms (no boobs showing just upper chest), and black shorts (no butt cheeks out). I had on flats I think they were black but I’m not sure. I couldn’t believe the driver said that to us but I wasn’t entirely surprised. I’ve read so many stories of women being harassed in public because of their looks. Recently I read about a soldier that beat up a female voter because of how she dressed to vote. There are so many things wrong with what that soldier did and what happened to me. When did Nigeria become so conservative or has it always been this way and I just didn’t notice it growing up? I don’t see anything wrong with how I dressed. I’ve definitely worn outfits with more skin exposed in the US and no one bothered me. Yes I know Nigeria is not the US but if I’ve seen better somewhere else I have to call Nigeria out and use other countries as comparison. The man should not have discriminated against me and that woman at her polling unit should not have faced physical abuse.
Anyway, when I got out of that taxi ride, I was thankful that things did not get worse. Someone could have behaved stupidly and decided to beat me up or worse rape me. Yes, rape. I’ve heard of women in other African countries that were raped because the surrounding men determined her dressing to be indecent. I would hope Nigeria is not that bad but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.
Have you lived or visited another country and saw something that made you wish things were done similar in Nigeria? Share The Frustration.
DISCLAIMER: Like most of the Share The Frustration posts, not everywhere in Nigeria has these issues. However, it happens enough times to different people that it is still worth sharing and hopefully things will get better.