Growing up in Nigeria – health and safety edition pt1
I have been thinking about the health and safety in Nigeria for sometime since I moved to the UK over 10 years ago, more so now that I am a mum.
I will caveat by saying that things might have changed and this blog is based solely on my own experiences growing up as a child.
I remember when I was in primary school, once school was over, you packed your bags and headed for either the front or back gate of the school where you would wait to be picked up. So many times, in fact 7/10, the driver was never there to take us home. Myself and my little brothers would then roam around the school with our friends waiting to be picked up. How we knew when to go back to the gate I have no idea. All I know is eventually we see the driver or he finds us and then we go home.
The thing is, my primary school was in a university campus and all we were equipped with as children was don’t talk to strangers and if you pick money from the flood or collect things from strangers you will turn to yam. I remember clearly that there was a lot of gbomo gbomo (kidnapping) activity at that time. So how were we just allowed to roam freely on the streets/school?? I mean we could go anywhere within that campus and if wasn’t just only me and my brothers that had this experience, I mean, we had friends to play with. In fact when your real friends have gone home, you are forced to make new ones. Maybe that is why today I make friends relatively quickly.
In this country, you pick up your kids from their class rooms. I understand that from nurseries, if you don’t pick them up within an hour of end of school, they are obliged to call child protection services as they can no longer keep your child warm or feed your child legally or something like that. I have been thinking about this loads especially for when I go back to work and how I have to plan myself. I am not sure if the same applies to primary schools. I know some schools run after-school clubs and feed them there for parents who pay for it. Gives them a bit more time to pick up their children. But the teacher doesn’t go home till all the kids have been picked up.
I’m not blaming anyone for the way things were done in my time. I can only imagine things like unpredictable traffic and the fact people go to schools that are over half an hour drive away from home. Here they do not encourage that at all. In fact, some schools will award places to kids based on how close to the school they live, after considering their intelligence. This is also known as a catchment area. So for someone who lives an hour away to get a place, people living near the school must be real olodos or they chose not to apply to the school.
I’m not talking about driving on the streets, we all know there is nothing safe about that. How about driving with kids in the car? In my childhood, not only did we not have car seats, wearing your seatbelt was optional, basically, no adult made you wear it. In fact, some cars didn’t even have working seat-belts amongst other things!
Buying a car seat for my cherub got me thinking if I ever used a car seat as a child. Nor did my siblings or anyone I knew. If you had a new born baby someone carried the baby on their lap for the duration of the journey. I remember wondering what the big deal about seat-belts and car seats was when I moved here. Even till today, I only remember to use a seatbelt when I sit in front. At the back I totally forget, except I’m travelling with my English colleagues who prompt me.
So many more things I experienced growing up as the norm, that I wouldn’t dare do now. Thank God for protection.
….to be continued