For the past week, there has been an uproar on the streets of Nigerian cities as well as on online platforms.
The Nigerian youths have joined voices to call out the oppression of a police unit- Special Antirobbery Squad, SARS.
This unit has over the years engaged in profile-based harassment, extortion and assault of the youths. This profiling is appearance-based and people have been allegedly brutalised by men of this unit for items such as Nike sneakers, durags, AirPods, a laptop bag, dreadlocks, tattoos among others. Several people have also been imprisoned and killed for refusing to unlock their iPhones.
If you are going for a physical End Sars protest, here’s what to wear;
1. A Hat:
This should be a face cap or bucket hat. A bucket hat, however, is preferable as they are made mainly from fabric and are highly foldable and portable while offering full-face coverage.
2. Sunshades with UV protection
Some sunshades are just eyewear that do not adequately protect your eyes from the sun rays. These are not the types to bring to a protest. You need to bring along the darkest pair of shades you can find to protect your eyes because you will be out in the sun for an extended period.
3. Minimal or no Jewellery:
Large earrings and necklaces can prove injurious to yourself and other protesters in a situation where things get restive. The less jewellery you have on, the better.
4. A Crossbody Bag:
We all now have the image of frontline activist, Aisha Yesufu branded in our minds but did you notice she had a crossbody bag on?
Backpacks can be clumsy to reach and can be used in dragging you whereas crossbody/sling bags are easy to reach and cause less lag. If you must carry a backpack, this should preferably be a drawstring/polythene bag, nothing too bulky.
5. Comfortable clothing in Dark/Neutral Colours:
While it has been advised that we do not head for a protest dressed in all black, as this might draw the attention of men of the police force to you if in a secluded place, it is also advised that you do not go in flashy colours. It is better to blend in than to stand out at a protest.
6. A T-shirt:
The t-shirt should be large enough to be used as a balaclava to cover your face in case tear gas is thrown amidst protesters.
7. Comfortable underwear:
This way, if you have to use your t-shirt as a balaclava, you would not be topless or stranded for options.
8. Joggers or Comfortable/Loose-fitting Pants:
You will be walking a lot in a protest, so you need to ensure that whatever you are wearing is not too tight, as this could affect blood circulation. A pair of joggers, shorts or loose-fitting pants will do.
9. A Bandana or Handkerchief:
This will come in handy in case you need to cover your face immediately, sit on the ground, or stop bleeding.
This is required for additional face-covering options and protection against the COVID-19 virus as well.
11. Comfortable Footwear:
Remember the long walks factor? Yes, wearing sneakers or comfortable slippers or sandals that are not too thin will give you an additional layer of comfort, so you are less tired.
If you are wearing a pair of sneakers or covered shoes with laces, socks are definitely needed for further grip and comfort.
Items to have in your bag:
It is crucial that you only carry essentials to a protest so you are not unnecessarily weighed down with luggage. Here are items to have in your bag:
- A power bank,
- Hand sanitizer,
- Pen and paper,
- Government-approved ID card,
- Portable umbrella (if you can), and
- Emergency contact lists – this can be written on a slip of paper and stored in between your phone and the case.
Note: Ensure you reinforce your phone with tempered glass and case.
Lastly, when headed to a protest, make sure you do not go alone, and if you must, share your location with trusted friends or leave a digital trail online. Stay safe.
Written by Bamise.