A Week In The Life Of A Journalist Covering The SARS Protest

October 13, 2020

“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.


The subject of today is Femi, a writer at Zikoko. He talks about his experience covering the #Endsars protest in Lagos, how the protest is affecting relationships, and why every Nigerian should support the protest.

FRIDAY:

Today is a big day because I’m covering the #EndSARS protests in Lagos. I’m happy because lowkey, I’ve been annoyed about Nigerians not speaking up for their rights. So, seeing young people come together to stage a peaceful protest makes me proud of them. Of us. And that has gingered me to document the protest. As a journalist, it’s my duty to ensure that society works the way it’s supposed to. That’s why I’m up two hours earlier than I’d normally wake up to complete my tasks for the day. 

My tasks include covering how protesters in Lagos have been harassed by the police. I’m also reporting the demands of the protesters in clear terms. By the time I’m done, I have renewed ginger to take to the protest ground.

11 am:

I left my house by 10 am, but I didn’t get to the protest venue [Alausa] until 11 am. There was a bit of traffic caused by the protesters. It’s easy to get carried away by protest frenzy, so I have to remind myself that I’m here in an official capacity. That means before I react to anything, my camera should be rolling. 

12 noon:

A thug tried to snatch my phone while I was recording videos. He was surprised that I didn’t let go of my phone easily. I even got a punch in the mouth for struggling. Thankfully, people surrounded us and pushed him away. It’s funny how he just kept on walking like he didn’t just try to steal from me. I’ve texted my friend safety tips for when he’s coming to join me: “Come along with water, snacks, ID cards, cash, comfortable clothes and no jewellery.”

1 pm:

The protest has been peaceful so far. We have people volunteering to clean up after people littering. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has offered me snacks and water. There are people here distributing facemasks for protesters. Everything is just so orderly. The one time we had an agitated person, we took them aside to ensure that the protest didn’t turn violent. I’m so proud of everyone here who showed up. 

1:30 pm:

I’m a bit worried. There are a lot of policemen stationed outside the house of assembly where we’re protesting. Even though it’s a peaceful protest, there’s that underneath fear that anything can happen. The police say they’re here to observe. I’ll soon go on IG live for work. Let me show the people at home how it’s going and that we’re safe. 

2:00 pm:

At some point, some agbayas with berets attempted to make themselves the centre of the protest. We promptly shouted them down and didn’t allow them to speak because we don’t want political affiliations with our protest. One of the ways we’re keeping the protest anonymous is to have everyone on equal standing. There’s no one person handling the crowd. There’s no one person talking all the time. The megaphone passes to different people so everyone has a chance to say something at any given time. There’s no central figure, and that’s good because the government can’t pick one person to either harass, bribe or use as a stumbling block to the protests. I think that’s one of the reasons why the protest has gathered momentum. 

2:30 pm:

At this protest, there are two types of people. People who urinate in a large drainage near the Lagos state house of assembly, and people who walk the distance to the city mall to use their toilets. Do with this information what you will. 

3:00pm:

Some people suggested that we block the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Their reasoning is that we’re not making enough impact at the house of assembly as the traditional media is still ignoring us. 

We’ve blocked the traffic lanes on the express, and traffic is stretching as far as the eye can see. There are convoys, bullion vans, army and policemen in the traffic. I’m scared of an altercation, but I also understand the importance of this cause. 

Some people came to negotiate, so we left one lane open for traffic on both sides. Instead of a total shut down, it’s now go-slow. I hope the government is paying attention. 

4 pm – 6 pm:

I was worried that morale would drop in the evening.  Apparently, someone has booked a DJ. Another person rented a generator. Someone else has gotten canopies, so there’s ginger at the protest ground. The first song the DJ plays is Fem by Davido, and the crowd loses it. Why everybody just dey para for us? 

10 pm:

Some people are hell-bent on passing the night at Alausa. However, I’m going home to sleep. Seeing all these people coming out to air their grievances gives me an overwhelming sense of pride. For the first time in this generation’s memory, we’ve decided to let our displeasure be known to the government. 

I’m proud, tired, and I can’t wait to hit my bed. 

SATURDAY:

I’m up early. Again. 

Today’s protest starts by 8:00 am, so I have to get there early. I’m thinking about the fact that Nigeria is notorious for human rights abuse, therefore protests require courage.  Every time you attend a protest, you don’t know if you’re going to be bundled away. Summoning bravery is the first barrier many Nigerians have to overcome before deciding whether they want to make their voices heard or not.

I really don’t blame anyone that doesn’t come out to protest. If you can’t attend physically, you can still help by either donating or aggressively amplifying on social media. 

I think protesters need to know that in addition to wearing correct gear, they shouldn’t incite violence. If any faction is becoming violent and destroying properties, they should immediately leave the area. It’s also crucial to have a protest partner who knows your full name, address and emergency contact. In case anything happens. I recommend as many protest partners as possible because the more the better. The more details people have, the better chance you stand if anything happens. 

I’m running late with all this thinking. I need to get up and get going.

They [government] must not take us for idiot.

SUNDAY:

I woke up tired today. Standing and walking around Lagos takes a toll on your body, but my eye is on the prize — our voices must be heard. I know that effort is not wasted, so that’s encouraging. We must keep gathering. We must keep pushing. If we don’t support the protests by our physical presence, we’ll donate. If we don’t have money, we’ll amplify on social media. 

It’s been tiring, and I’ve had less sleep in the past few days than I should, but it’s for a worthy cause. We’re all fighting for a Nigeria we can be proud of. 

The most surprising thing for me has been seeing the middle class come out to protest. I think that has given a lot of humanity to the protest. You see people who look like you, went to the same school as you. People who talk like you. And they’re putting themselves on the line. I didn’t think I was going to see Nigerians from different backgrounds protest together. At least, not anytime soon.

Another thing from this protest is hearing how it’s affecting relationships. A friend called to tell me that he hasn’t spent as much time with his girlfriend in a while. Another friend had a similar complaint. After reminding ourselves why we’re protesting, we came to a conclusion: na person wey dey alive go fuck. 

MONDAY:

My biggest fears are coming to fruition. Two people in Lagos were shot by the police today. I was afraid of people losing their lives during this protest because people lose hope when the shootings start. However, it seems like the more they kill us, the more young people are ready to push for basic human rights. I’m concerned the protests will become a full-scale riot, and I hope that we don’t get there. 

For me, this is bigger than a SARS Protest. We are at the point where Nigerians are finally fighting for what they believe in. We finally have a voice and can demand better.

We’ve proven to govt and international bodies that Nigerian people will no longer be pushed around. That’s a major win for me even if the protest doesn’t meet its objective of ending Sars. 

I have to work today, so I’ll support the cause on social media. Tomorrow, I go again. I’m pulling up with my guys physically to make sure that our voices are heard. Or I will stay back to document that we spoke, and the government was silent while we died.


Check back every Tuesday by 9 am for more “A Week In The Life ” goodness, and if you would like to be featured or you know anyone who fits the profile, fill this form.

Hassan Yahaya

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

January 15, 2020

1) Not dropping offering money so you can buy ice cream after church. 2) Your parents offering to help you “save” the money visitors dash you. 3) Keeping the change when you run an errand. 4) Greeting the visitor over and over again so they will drop money. 5) Slightly inflating the price of textbooks. […]

October 15, 2020

When the Nigeria Police Force stated that it had dissolved SARS, it listed 5 action points. Read: Now That The IGP Has Dissolved SARS, What Next? The IGP stated that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad was dissolved across the Thirty-Six (36) State Commands and the Federal Capital Territory with immediate effect. He also stated that all […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

December 4, 2020

Lawal Adijat Opeyemi of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) will be contesting in the Lagos East Senatorial by-elections which is scheduled to hold this Saturday, December 5, 2020. The by-election became a necessity after the death of Senator Bayo Osinowo earlier this year, who represented Lagos East Senatorial district, following a brief illness. A […]

December 4, 2020

If your friends are bugging you to join them for outings this month, we have the perfect harmattan excuses to help you stay indoors. You’re welcome. 1. “The sun is too hot” This one isn’t even an excuse. It’s a fact. The sun these days can make somebody run mad. Just stay inside your house. […]

Recommended Quizzes

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

November 4, 2019

After successfully predicting when y’all are getting married (please, email any complaints to noneofourbusiness@nayousabi.com), we are back to tell you how much is currently in your account. How, you might ask? By using your taste in Nollywood, of course. Shhh. No questions. Just take it already:

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

More from Money

December 1, 2020

“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week. The subject of today’s “A Week In The Life” is a twenty-six-year-old fish specialist. […]

November 30, 2020

If you read today’s Naira Life, you’ve probably been triggered. However, there is hope. We’ve put together a guide for you to figure out how to get your money up. And the first step is to find out if you are underpaid by your employer. Come along on this journey: 1) You’re not earning in […]

November 30, 2020

This is #NairaLife, episode 96. What’s your oldest memory of money? I’d say not having a lot of it. My dad had money, but it did not seem that way. I felt we were poor. I remember back in secondary school, I had to wear worn-out shoes and bags, my uniforms were not anything to […]

November 26, 2020

2020 is the year of rings. Therefore, we decided to create a guide for men seeking to become members of the sacred ring issuing institution. Here are a few tips that may be useful for men in choosing their partners: 7) Test her with money Give her ₦200 to make soup. If she fails, she […]

November 23, 2020

What’s the first thing you ever did for money? I was writing my guy’s notes in secondary school. I didn’t even have complete notes for myself.  Haha. What were your going rates?  About ₦250 for the day’s notes, which was about six or so hours of classes.  Why did you do it?  I wanted more […]

November 17, 2020

“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week. The subject for today’s “A Week In The Life” is *Tola. He collects […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

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.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.

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