Zebra Crossings are just white stains on the road to Nigerian drivers. They mean absolutely nothing. To live as a pedestrian in Nigeria, one must skilfully master the art of crossing the road. One of my biggest fears, as silly as it might sound, is crossing the road in Nigeria. This is a legitimate fear however, as I don’t live in a pedestrian friendly country. I vowed never to cross any road in Nigeria after an incident that occurred sometime in 2008. I don’t remember where I was going but I had to cross a slightly busy road to get there. I obviously was not prepared for this and there was no adult for me to hold on to. After some minutes of deliberation, trying to decide whether to continue on this journey or head back home, I said a short prayer and proceeded to cross to the other side. It was going well until I saw a car coming towards me from the corner of my eye. Luckily, the car stopped and I quickly ran to the other side. The driver looked angry and for a second, it seemed like he was going to come down and beat me up for almost getting myself killed and the trouble I would have gotten him into if I got hit. He didn’t however and drove off while I whispered how sorry I was. While I was still recovering from this incident and thanking the gods for saving my life, a woman who was an onlooker, came up to me and started to shout. “You dey mad? Na your papa get this road? See how you for just put innocent person for trouble now.” I was confused. Who was this woman and where did she come from? Why was she asking me stupid questions? How could my father possibly own the road? Besides, the driver had not complained and I was the one that almost died. Perhaps she was the mad one.
I didn’t know what this woman wanted from me or what she expected me to say, so I told her I was sorry for almost getting killed and walked away. I could still hear her shouting behind me but there was no point looking back. This was when I made the decision never to cross a road again. I changed my mind however and decided to study the skill of crossing the road with the hopes of one-day becoming a skilled road-crosser. I observed the Big Boy Road-Crossers [BBRC] (these are the people that cross the busy highways) and had started to get some tips. I now knew when to begin crossing and the points where you had to stop. I was feeling confident but my mum dashed my hopes when she came home one day from work and told me how a woman got hit by a car when she had stopped to pick up her glasses when they fell on the road. That was the end of my dream of becoming a BBRC. Also, I have started wearing contact lenses.
The last time I crossed a road, my mum had to hold my hand, as crossing the road remains the most dangerous activity in Nigeria. This was some weeks ago. All I could think of was all the street cred I was losing. At the risk of sounding like I’m writing a secondary school essay asking you for recommendations on how to improve safety on Nigeria roads, I strongly believe that the safety of pedestrians needs to be given more attention in Nigeria. More Pedestrian Crossings need to me made available and drivers need to stop seeing zebra crossings as merely white stains on the road.
Till this happens,
regular blog posts.