Without a doubt, Lagos state is one of the most vibrant and interesting states in the country. More than just a state, Lagos is a melting pot of culture and a canvas for diversity. It is a city that daily pulsates with so much infectious life and energy. But don’t be hoodwinked by the beauty of it, it’s also a jungle on the streets of Lagos. Yes, it’s beautiful, it’s vibrant, it’s interesting, but it is also a jungle at the same time. Surviving on the streets of Lagos requires putting more than just your basic survival instincts to work. Relying solely on that would be issuing an open invitation to the predators to come feast freely. To really survive the streets of Lagos, you will need all your senses enhanced. You need them enhanced to a point of undue suspicion, a point of paranoia.
I love how the Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word paranoia. It defines it as “a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others.” Under completely normal circumstances, paranoia would be something a lot of us would not want to associate ourselves with. In the medical parlance, paranoia is considered a ‘serious mental illness.’ But, that’s not the case on the streets of Lagos. I have lived it and can attest to paranoia being one of the greatest survival tools on the streets of Lagos. The streets of Lagos provide those totally rare circumstances where paranoia functions as an asset, an unlikely sidekick. As much as we would hate to admit it, the bulk of we Lagosians are thriving paranoiacs.
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The streets of Lagos are meant to be walked like the literal valley of the shadow of death. It is in your best interest to be distrustful and quick to assume that every stranger is trouble. In reality, that is not the truth. Of course, there are awesome people, plenty of them actually, on the streets of Lagos. I’ve met a couple of such people myself. But, as a rule of thumb, until you can prove the authenticity of a person’s intentions, it just safe to assume they are trouble. These sorts of assumptions will repeatedly save your life. Paranoid assumptions are a safety measure you can’t afford not employing if you hope to survive these streets unscathed. They are one of the greatest survival tools you can boast in your arsenal.
The wolves on these streets are actually masters of disguise, you will never see them coming. This is the more reason you can’t afford to lower your guard, even for as little as a minute. You always have to be at alert. The seemingly harmless scenarios are the perfect ones for wrecking havoc. That is why, for safety sake, it is important to access some situations through a paranoic lens. A stranger glancing at you in the real world might be no cause to fret. But, on these streets, that might be your cue to move, as said stranger might just be sizing you up. Also, friendly gestures are not necessarily a good thing out here on these streets. Such gestures might just be a ploy to hoodwink you into lowering your guard.
It’s Lagos, it beautiful, it’s vibrant, it’s interesting, but, always remember, it is also a jungle.