“We Protest Every Month In Senegal” – Abroad Life

March 12, 2021

The Nigerian experience is physical, emotional and sometimes international. No one knows it better than our features on #TheAbroadLife, a series where we detail and explore Nigerian experiences while living abroad.



Today’s subject on Abroad Life moved to Ethiopia in 2019. After almost getting stranded there due to airport restrictions, he finally came back to Nigeria during the #EndSARS protests. He talks about moving from Nigeria to Senegal in 2020, overcoming the language barrier, and witnessing protests every month. #FreeSenegal though, is the biggest he’s witnessed. 

How long have you been in Senegal? 

I came here in 2020 after I nearly got stranded in Addis Ababa. In 2019, I was selected for the AU program, so I was in Ethiopia for some time. When the program ended, it was time to go back to Nigeria, but COVID hit and one day, it was announced that the airports were getting closed the next day.  The other Nigerians who were there with me bought their tickets to travel home that same day, but I didn’t have that type of money, so I just stayed. Ethiopia is not a place you want to stay as a foreigner. 

Why?

Apart from the cold weather, Ethiopia is very similar to Nigeria on issues like government competence and social amenities, so the people there protest a lot. That’s not an environment you want to be in.

When did you leave?

Thankfully, because of the pandemic, they kept extending the deadline for airports to close, so I was able to get some money to leave. I went back to Nigeria during the EndSARS protests for two weeks, and then I got a Senegal job and left.

How were the EndSARS protests for you?

Before I left Ethiopia, I didn’t understand what people were clamouring about. My friend had to explain the gravity of the issues and so I started protesting online.

My younger brothers were also protesting in Nigeria, and that was scary. I was worried about their safety. It was shortly after the Lekki Massacre happened that my friend and I arrived in Nigeria. Even from the airports, it was scary.

What happened?

I arrived in Abuja, and he arrived in Lagos. We had totally different experiences. In Abuja, the security guys kept asking why I was coming back to Nigeria at such a time as that. I don’t know if they were doing their jobs as security guards, or they were just confused about why anyone would come into a country that was going through hell. But I moved past it. 

My friend, however, had a totally different experience. Lagos was on lockdown, but they let him leave the airport. When he got out, he encountered police roadblocks. They would tell him he couldn’t pass and that he had to find a different route to get to his destination. On the different route, he would meet another police roadblock, and the officers there would tell him the same thing. At some point, he ran into thugs. He had to go back to a police roadblock to beg them to allow him to pass. He showed his passport and all that. Even when he found a route to pass, he still encountered thugs. I couldn’t reach him for days. It was really scary, but I’m glad he was okay. 

And then you moved to Senegal. 

The language barrier was the first problem I faced when I got there, so I had to quickly learn some french phrases to get me around. I also started a French course that took two hours from my working hours every day, and it wasn’t remote. I would take a break from work to go to school every day. It got stressful, so I dropped out after two months. 

Another potential problem was accommodation, but I quickly got an Airbnb. I shared an apartment with an Italian couple for a while before I found my own place.

It wasn’t long after I got to Senegal that I noticed the protest culture. But they don’t call it protesting. They call it “manifestation”.

Why do the people manifest?

For different reasons. One day, I was on my way back from French class when I saw stones and glass all over the roads where I’d passed only a few hours ago. I was so confused. Apparently, there’s a system where students are paid to go to school here. When the government delays the money, they protest.

I heard gunshots, and I had to wear my headphones and walk through the chaos. It was super scary. I couldn’t go back to work that day. That was in December. There has been at least one big protest every month ever since. 

This recent one was for something else.

How so?

In my opinion, these protests critically underlie the bigger problems in Senegal: the people are frustrated with leadership. The ongoing protest feels bigger than everything I’ve ever witnessed. I haven’t been able to go to work since the protests started. I’ve been holed up at home. The protesters came to my area, and I had to stay low in my house just to keep safe.

There have been killings and people have been heavily looting, but after Ousman Sonko’s arrest, you can tell that the people want a change of governance. I hope people get what they want. 

Do you see yourself staying in Senegal?

I see myself staying for the next four to five years depending on how well I do at my job. It’s a really nice place to live. The people are free. 

What do you mean free?

Senegal is a Muslim country, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just by being here. It’s a very progressive place. People don’t let religion hold them back from doing what they want to do or from expressing themselves the way they want. They party, they smoke, they drink, and they do these things in the open.  

Nigerians are not like that. We’re more conservative in the open because of our beliefs and then we do the things we really want to do in the secret. 

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 12, 2020

On Sunday, October 11 2020, the Inspector General of Police announced the dissolution of SARS. However, these officers are still on the road and harassing peaceful protesters. Earlier today, Police officers opened fire on another set of protesters at Surulere, Lagos. Recall that Jimoh Isiaq was also killed in a protest at Ogbomosho, Oyo State […]

August 26, 2021

Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves. So you’ve probably seen members of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in action. Usually sporting their white and green uniforms, they are the independent union behind the drivers of commercial buses, tricycles and motorcycles — […]

October 28, 2019

Here’s to new lows. View this email in your browser 4- 7 – 2019 This is Zikoko’s Game of Votes Weekly Dispatch. We share the most important things that happen in Nigeria every week. 5pm Thursdays. Stay woke.  PIN THE TAIL ON THE ASSAULTERS. In the last 7 days, while many Nigerians were making headlines, populating the […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

November 30, 2019

With No Nut November FINALLY coming to an end, we’ve decided to mark the torturous month with some more horny content. After quizzes that guessed how many people you’ve slept with, how good you are in bed and who you’ll sleep with next, this one will guess when next you’ll get lucky. Take it to […]

April 3, 2020

While the rest of the world loves to treat our continent like a country, there are actually 54 African countries. So, in a bid to test your knowledge (and educate you), we’ve created a quiz to see how many of their capitals you can correctly name. Go ahead:

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

November 19, 2019

Regardless of what society has tried to tell us, enjoying sex is not something to be ashamed of. So, in a bid to celebrate our generation’s sexual agency, we’ve created a quiz that will accurately (again, keep your complaints to yourself) infer how many people you’ve spelt with. Try it out: 11 Quizzes For The […]

September 1, 2021

August is over, and here are some of our best quizzes from August. Enjoy: 1. QUIZ: Only Ajebutters Can Get 10/21 On This Quiz Some people like to form ajepako when they’re really ajebutter. Are you one of them? Let’s find out. 2. QUIZ: Sorry, If You’re Under 25 There’s No Way You Can Pass […]

More from Citizen

December 24, 2021

Abroad Life tells the stories of Nigerians who japa’d, but many times, the stories have a shocking twist.

From jaw-dropping stories of grand-scale internet fraud to heartbreaking stories of family betrayal, these are the top 10 most-read Abroad Life stories of 2021.

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X