Is it safe in Africa?

One of the major concerns, which might cross your mind when traveling to a different country and planning to stay there for a while is  – can I feel and be safe there? Especially when it is a different continent with different culture, backgrounds, history and habits.

In my case it is Kenya. Before coming here I had no clue about the safety in this country or what so ever. I didn’t know anything. By some people I was told that they feel much safer here than in Europe and by others that Africa is the safest place on the Earth. But what does the word ‘safe’ means?  Is it the guard who spends uncountable hours every day by standing at the gate to your house? Is it the electricity fence and security cameras around your building? Or is it the people you are surrounded by and just the way you feel? Everyone’s perception of this word or feeling might be different.

Back home I was told and advised that it is not allowed to go anywhere alone and when it is gets dark it is not allowed to go out of the house at all. But why? Why if it is so safe down here? The answer I found out by myself was that there are stupid people not only in the Europe, but Africa as well. And that makes me to question these ‘stupid’ people backgrounds.

One night, a guy tried to steal our phone through the taxi’s window when it was only about 5 cm open. Why would he do that? It probably wasn’t because has was bored and didn’t know what else to do in the late evening. And probably not because he has been watching too many crime series on the TV. Maybe he doesn’t even have a TV at home. Maybe he doesn’t even have a home. Or food, or anything else I am taking for granted. No one can blame these people (and they are many) who know no better and just trying to survive from day to day. The gap between rich and poor here in this country is huge, and during this night the lesson for me was learned – you are ‘safe’ when the windows are closed.

Another thing which seemed very weird for me in the beginning  – there are security guards everywhere. Not only in the shopping malls where you have to go through the body scan and show the content of your bag, but also on the streets, trains, cafes etc. Why is it like that? Is it because people don’t trust each other? After a talk with some locals I found out that there have been several terror attacks in the malls and schools, and not looking far back in the past – post-election 2007-08. This made me realise – better safe than sorry. You cannot blame people for being careful and worried when they are learning from the mistakes and incidents regarding the events in the past. As long as you know you are checked by the security and hundreds of others around you as well – you are safe.

Right know elections are on again and there are some demonstrations going on in the city, but I haven’t felt any difference from how it was before. Maybe because of the area I live or maybe because I am not taking it into consideration and worrying about it that much. But still you have to think twice.

For me ‘safety’ it is more of a feeling that I don’t have to follow each and every step of my own, that I don’t have to look behind my shoulder after every move I do. But once again, this is a different country with different history and people living here. All you have to do is to be smart (or smarter) with your actions, adapt to the environment, listen to the given advises and think three steps ahead. So far nothing ‘dangerous’ has happened to me and even if it will let’s Google ‘thefts and crime’ in London, Brussels, Berlin (or any other city) and compare. So… Do you still feel safe?

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