October 9, 2020, a day I will never forget. I woke up that Friday morning, made my way to Twitter and saw a video that some of my Nigerian brothers and sisters slept all night on the floor in front of the Lagos state office without electricity or tents clamoring for an end to police brutality and most important, #EndSars.
The request for an end to SARS didn’t begin on this day, if I am correct; it has become a ringtone as the people of Nigeria have protested for this change over and over again since 2017. A quick back story for those who don’t know about SARS, It stands for Special Anti-Robbery Squad, created in 1992 to curb robbery in the country and protect the people.
The problem here is, rather than do what they are paid to do which is protect the people, this armed men have become terrorists in Nigeria. They go about profiling and extorting young men and women of their hard earned money. That is not even all, in recent times, they have killed thousands of innocent people, left parents heart broken and killed dreams. Now, we have had enough and we want them scraped!
With that, I hope you have some understanding of why we want an end to SARS. So now you are probably wondering, why are we protesting in 2020, right? Well, despite the numerous pleads to the government to reform the police and end SARS, none has yielded positive outcome, hence we have taken to the streets to protest and hopefully bring the change we so badly want.
PROTESTING IN LAGOS
Over the years, I have learnt that protesting is one way the people know to speak to their government but because some people have been shot at, injured or worse killed at protests, many people including me are scared of protesting.
Truth be told, until the 9th of October 2020, I had never been at any protest. I am one of those who would rather join online and raise awareness via my platforms but this time I couldn’t stop myself from being part of a movement that strongly affects my generation. I just could look away or stay safe online, so I went to the venue of protest closest to me.
I joined the protest at Alausa Ikeja because it was just two buses from home, but before I could leave home, I had to convince my mum to let me go. I don’t blame her, in three days since the protest began, people have been killed or injured, and she was only being a concerned mother.
So I spent some time explaining and giving her reasons to let me go. I know I could have gone without her knowing but I didn’t think it was the right thing to do, plus what if something happens to me? I needed to make sure someone knew where I was going to be and the closest person was my mum and sister. In trying to convince her, I told her my Boss was going to be there too, funny thing is, I didn’t know if my boss was going there or not. It just seemed like something that would help put my mums’ mind at rest, so I did it and just as I thought, that was a pass for me.
In her words, “make sure to stay close to him oh, he has a son, so he will remember to go home and not do anything risky. The rest might not.”
Very quickly I sent a group message to my folks at Scroll where I work as a content creator and presenter asking them if they were going to Alausa for the protest. Luckily, they replied in affirmation and my Boss was also going. In fact they got there before me so I was very clear!
I dressed up as simple as possible, wore my sneakers, a jean trousers, my media top from scroll with eyeglasses and a bag, since we still got COVID, I had my face mask, also for easy identification, I took two ID cards, my Voters Card as well as my office card, for communication, I had my phone and lastly but very important, my power bank.
Off on the streets, there was a little traffic on my way, so I took a bike to beat it and then a small bus when there was no bike. Got to Alausa, Ikeja then I had to locate my people as the protesters were not at one spot. It took me another 15-30 minutes to locate everyone but once I did, I made sure not to lose them again.
We moved round Ikeja, singing the national anthem or Fela’s songs and shouting END SARS. As an over hyped media enthusiast that I am, I was at the front taking pictures, catching up and interviewing people. Got there at around 10 am, didn’t leave until about 5pm.
Some amazing things to mention, we didn’t lose anyone, we didn’t destroy government properties, we didn’t disobey authorities, we didn’t constitute a nuisance and most of all, we were not violent. What we did was, we were fearless and united despite being surrounded by armed policemen, and we let the authorities know about our grievances and made our petition clear.
For me that was success! The officials were expecting the worse from us but no, we came out in our numbers and showed them a different generation. Even when boys from Agege came down to Ikeja led by Small doctor, we didn’t lose focus or fight, we protested together despite our differences.
Also important to mention that people came with different supplies to help protesters. Some people came with water, some with drinks, some with food, some with mats, some with bread, glucose and many more. I was pleasantly surprised.
I also benefited from the kindness of people present. While protesting, Coded, a friend who saw my post and works at Alausa sent me a message and volunteered to bring me food. It was a beautiful moment for me, I wasn’t even expecting it but I ate it with joy and happiness.
Not only that, while I was busy protesting, I didnt realise the amazing Afro Visuals was taking pictures of me. After the protest, he sent me 4 beautiful pictures he took and edited of me while I was working. I was so happy, because again I wasn’t expecting it.
What those two act proved for me was, there are amazing people in Nigeria. Even in the mist of problems, we are united.
At around 5pm, I and my team mates at Scroll were ready to leave as most of the protesters had left and we needed to take time off to recuperate.
As I type this, I am still recuperating as my legs hurt from all the running around yesterday but guess what, I am so happy. It feels so good to be part of something bigger than me. I am so proud of my generation for this movement.
Will I join other protests in future, yes! Will I ask you to, yes, if you can, but if not, join the conversation online or donate towards it.
I love my country Nigeria and hope that very soon, we will see the END OF SARS!!!