If nothing has been stolen from you in Lagos, then you are lucky. I thought I was careful enough to avoid this menace when I lost something very valuable, stolen from me from someone trying hard to be nice. That was then, when my Lagos sojourn was still young. Well, I could be excused because I was in a hurry, stuck in traffic and about to miss a flight that was eventually delayed.
Well, in Lagos, it is very common to walk fast even if someone is innocently walking near you. We have developed a habit of holding on to our pockets in a public vehicle or touch them as soon as we alight. You see, Lagos teaches us to be always conscious.
It does not matter how long you have spent in this city. Stealing is many times done in broad daylight and thieves have sophisticated their methods. A colleague had money taken from his pocket by a “Good Samaritan” who willingly rushed in to calm flaring tempers when someone hit his car. He cannot still explain how the money disappeared.
So when in a bus and someone beside you sneezes, don’t empathize, touch your valuables and hold them firmly. When someone that looks familiar approaches you, keep him within an arms length until you are sure you really know him. Thieves are even known to steal from thieves.
That person that comes to help show you the way may have taken your phone; that man that you don’t know, the one that publicly does a “dobale”(prostrate on the ground) or “twale”(greet) while holding on to your leg is not a friend, another gang member may have taken your wallet.
It is not about distrust, but about being alert, looking above our shoulders for ourselves. Life has given us many challenges already, we do not need to add to it by not being alert. Trust is not owed, but earned.