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Toni Kan 

Apparently blogging has become a hazard in Lagos. How do you make sure that your face is not the one on the newspaper with the headline: “Lagos Blogger Kidnapped?” Nigerian novelist and PR executive, Toni Kan, shares a few words of advice. 

It was a hot and somnolent afternoon. I had taken the day off work to catch my breath and two friends were keeping me company at home when the message came in. It was from my wife – “Call Nnenna. She was kidnapped.”

That was my wake-up call.

I have heard talk about people being kidnapped and huge sums being paid as ransom. There had been high profile cases. The Okonjo; the Nkiru Sylvanus and the Bamigbetan cases, to name just two recent ones. But newspaper stories are usually no more than that; newspaper stories. The characters and personalities and personages are far removed. They are not our friends or brothers or sisters. They are subjects, people that certain things happened to. We may empathise but we do not lose sleep over it so much. “Oh, na big man dem!” You will hear people say.

But it took that text message to put me on notice that the next person that is kidnapped could very well be me or you for that matter. The kidnapping menace now presents a clear and present danger to all of us whether we have money or not, whether we live in the city or in the suburbs.

Nnenna is a banker friend. Pretty and fair complexioned; she is always well-dressed and likes her jewellery. She drives a modest car and lives in a modest neighbourhood. Compared to me and my family, one would say we are fairly well off on account of where we live and those other indicators of social standing.

Nnenna doesn’t do the club scene. Her routine is pretty simple; work, church, the usual weddings weekends. Unlike me who, because of my engagements as a writer, journalist and public relations practitioner, is constantly on the move with a million events to attend and most of those at night. I would say that compared to Nnenna, I am more often in harm’s way and that is what makes this particularly scary:  You cannot tell who is a target. Everyone is now a potential kidnappers’ target. Continue…

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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