After my interview was published in the most popular Serbian women’s magazine “Blic Zena”, I have received many positive messages and comments. However, I have also received a lot of questions concerning security and safety issues in Nigeria. One person even accused me of “beautifying the reality”. Those questions and comments inspired me to write something on the topic of security.
First of all, I wish to emphasize that I am aware that all people are different. I also know that each one of us sees the world in our own special perspective. All my stories are written from my personal experience in Nigeria as well as the world. I understand, as others should understand, that some people do not have the same perception of the world as I do.
IS NIGERIA SAFE?
I am trying to answer this question, but more questions keep on coming up in my head instead. What is a safety? Are we ever safe? Am I safe while I walk down the streets of my hometown? Did the people in the mosque in New Zealand think they were safe while they were peacefully praying to their God? Could the happy tourists and Strasbourg residents at the Christmas market ever imagine what would happen to them?
I often travel for work to Dallas, Texas, one of the safest places in America. And I find it incredible that each time I’m there, at least once a week I get something they call “Amber Alert”. All phones in that area begin to ring at the same time, and a message appears on the screen that a person is missing and the details of the disappearance.
I never look at a country as a whole when I question safety. There is no country in the world where one is completely safe. My view is that there are only two types of people in the world – the good people and the bad people. And every country in the world is inhabited with both good people and the bad ones. Safety is a mixture of luck, education, and being at the right place at the right time.
Therefore, as in all countries of the world, so is in Nigeria- there are places where you are safe and the places where you are not. I drive by myself in Abuja. Do I drive alone in every part of Abuja? No. Security depends, as I said before, on personal education. My advice for everyone that is going to a foreign country is to inquire on the Internet and above all from the country’s locals about things and places to avoid.
I never had a bad situation or experience in Nigeria. However, before I go somewhere new, I make sure to ask locals whether it’s safe to go to that place. If they say that it is not- I will not go to that place! I love adventures, but I have to be alive to have adventures, right? In one part of Nigeria, there is a beautiful Safari and hot springs that I constantly watch on the Internet and I really want to go there.
Every time I ask a Nigerian about the place, everyone says that it is not safe for me to go. Will I go? Of course not. When I was in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, I planned to take a rent-a-car and drive one day to Santo Domingo. When I asked the locals what they thought of my idea, they told me it was not safe to do it, and that it was smarter to pay a tour with the guide. I listened. Did I have any problem in the Dominican Republic? No. Beautiful country, with beautiful people.
I have many more alike situations from different countries to tell about, but you get the point.
WHY THEN WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT KIDNAPPING IN NIGERIA?
It is crucial to stress that bad people do not kidnap only foreigners, but also their own people. Secondly, you will not believe how negligent and unwise when it comes to safety foreigners can be! When people come to the larger cities in Nigeria and see that everything is “nice and safe”, they relax too much. And no matter how much you tell them: “do not go to that part of town,” and “do not drive alone at 4 in the morning” and “do not go to that lake,” they still do it! I will not talk too much about it because I think I made it clear.
Always have one thing in mind, no matter where you are, safety is mostly your personal responsibility! The rest in some higher hands and out of your control.
Do not let yourself kill your own dreams, because fear is killing you from the inside!
AM I BEAUTIFYING THE REALITY?
Probably. From some people’s perspective.
I call it – focusing on the positive.
There’s no place in the world where life is perfect. Everything has its own good and bad sides. And so does Nigeria. Whether you are happy in life or not depends on whether you focus on the positive things in it or negative.
I always choose to be happy. I could complain about not having steady electricity in Nigeria, slow internet, dirty water and so on. Likewise, if I lived in Belgrade, I could whine about small salaries, injustice, main bridge renovation, terrible traffic and so on. There is something to complain about no matter where you are.
But one thing I learned in life is- complaining is a recipe for an unsuccessful and unhappy life. Do you want to live an unsuccessful and unhappy life? I don’t.
The first time I moved abroad was to Chicago when I was 17 years old. It was a very difficult time for me, I was young and I was a true expert in finding excuses for my failures! “The winter is cruel in Chicago”, “people are different”, “the system is different”, “nowhere like in Serbia!”… It is incredible how many excuses can one find for their failures! I’ve been so focused on the negative sides of living in Chicago, that I convinced myself and others that it was really hell.
I visited my relatives in Chicago last Christmas, and I can tell you- it is a beautiful city! Thank God that I grew up and matured and learned to asses myself first before I start blaming everything else for my bad life. Unfortunately, many never succeed in doing so.
Life is incredibly good when you learn to “beautify the reality”, or to focus on positive things about everything in your life and take responsibility for your future.
Happiness and success are, in fact, a matter of choice! I always choose happiness! I choose my “pink shades”, I choose good people, I choose success, I choose laughter!
What do you choose?