I stopped by a friend’s house the other weekend because I was in her area. As acceptable practice in our tradition, I did not give prior notice and assumed that she would be in and would not mind my stopping by.
She was not in the house when I got there. Her houseboy attended to me. He did not remember me when I asked him even though he thought I looked familiar. He went ahead and volunteered information on the whereabouts of my friend to the extent of telling me when she would be back home. I had a similar experience when I went to my dressmaker. She was out of the country and one of her girls told me exactly where she had travelled to and when she was expected back.
Such are some of the security gaps we have around us. They may look petty but they tell a lot about one’s understanding of and how easily one could compromise the safety and security of those around them. to some of us it looks like security is the extent we go to protect our homes, secure them with all kinds of gadgets and appliances which end up trapping us inside and making us more of prisoners in our supposed comfort zones. We forget that our safety and security could be compromised through gaping holes left under our supervision.
And so for weeks now, one of the critical agenda set up for us by the media, particularly social media and which we are discussing publicly and privately is security. This has been so in view of the Jihadist attacks in neighbouring Burkina Faso and similar trends in other parts of the globe in recent months. The cry is particularly for the government, churches, hotels and any such publicly accessed premises to promote more security awareness and protection.
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While we are asking for the bigger picture to be fixed, we probably would want to look inward to see how conscious or up to date we are with safety and security in our own backyard and which sometimes could compound the larger picture.
The bigger problem is that we lack the eyes to spot hazards or that we do not care much because we think our security when out there is someone else’s job. In some jurisdictions, safety and security spotting come naturally to citizens. It is not so with us.
We must accept now that the minute we moved away from those times of community care to individualistic lives in the name of modernity and from being each other’s keeper in our neighbourhoods to segregated families, raising fence walls up to the skies and topping them up with barbed or electric wires, we accepted concurrently that we live in a world of heightened insecurity.
Even though this generation has seen more protective gadgets and appliances, with up-to-the- minute information on safety, we still feel more insecure. The simple truth is that, the gadgets may provide protection to a certain extent but to a greater extent, a lot depends on us. This includes how much we, as individuals, are ready to spot hazards, have adequate knowledge to deal with them even before they escalate to full-blown threats.
Recently I was in a bank to transact business. At the area where they display related literature and forms, I spotted a half empty bottle of water on the shelf though there was no customer in the area. There were a few seated to be served. After some fifteen minutes when I was done, a few people came in and some left but the bottle of water was still sitting there. I drew the attention of the private security man who was inside the hall to the water and pointed out that it could be a security threat and that he should remove it and dispose of it outside the bank’s premises. He told me it could be for a customer so he would leave it for now. Is that security man trained to spot potential hazards?
Safety and security are part of our everyday lives in a world of heightened insecurity. We cannot afford to pretend that all is well. No, not even in the church sanctuary or the mosque where in times of conflict, people would run for cover. If for anything at all, we should not forget that it was not long ago that someone went into a church one Sunday and attempted to shoot the then President who was there to worship.
We need to be security conscious as individuals at all times. Our children, house helps, employees, church worshippers, all need to be taught and trained with security and safety in mind. We live in trying times.