Last month, the three-year-old son of Afrobeats musician Davido drowned in the swimming pool at his house in Lagos, bringing attention to the safety of swimmers in Nigeria. Ifeanyi Adeleke’s death occurred four years after the loss of D’Banj’s son, also a Nigerian musician, at the age of one.
Knowing how to swim and practicing basic water safety procedures might be lifesaving in a country like Nigeria, where access to swimming pools is uncommon and usually only available to the rich.
Many Lagosians can’t swim despite the city’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its many lagoons and rivers.
According to Bolanle Edwards of the Lagos-based Strap and Safe Child Foundation, “this is one death too many” in reference to Davido’s baby. For over a decade, she has advocated for stricter regulations regarding the safety of children using public pools.
She continues, “This has been happening consecutively from 2018 to 2022… at hotels, beaches, and private residences as well. “After the tragic drowning of Davido’s kid, there has been renewed interest in water safety.
These facts were not lost on visitors to one of Lagos’ stunning beaches.
While their children played in the frothy waves of Landmark Beach, parents pondered the news of Davido’s son.
Femi Nedd, whose three children were enrolled in swimming sessions before they could even walk, said, “I felt incredibly sorry because it’s not something you want on anyone.”
You never know when you’ll need to be able to swim, therefore learning how to do so is not a luxury but rather a necessity.
Even though her kids have been swimming independently since they were four, she still finds comfort in the fact that there are qualified lifeguards on duty at the public beaches they frequent.
According to Adeola Folivi, her daughter, a 12-year-old Davido fan, was upset after hearing about what happened to the singer’s kid, which, she said, underscored the significance of taking swimming lessons.
As long as it is done in a safe atmosphere, with the right measures taken, and with the right safety gadgets, she says, “I urge my nieces and nephews and friend’s children [to enroll in swimming classes].
The private beaches in Lagos, Nigeria, have implemented safety precautions.
Private pool owners have also been affected by the drowning tragedy.
Adekunle Akanbi, whose southwestern Nigerian city of Ibadan has a communal pool he uses with his neighbor, was troubled by news of the Davido tragedy.
He assured the BBC that he would be keeping a closer eye on the kids in his complex in the pool area now that he knew how to do so: “They can swim wonderfully but still under proper supervision.”
Nora Chukwuma in Port Harcourt, in the southeast, is in the same position.
She assured me that no youngsters would be able to come near her pool without her being there to supervise them. They are “in the process of putting up a barricade around the pool,” she said.
Statistics on drowning in Nigeria are difficult to come by, but safety activist Ms. Edwards claims that 18 people have drowned in swimming pools during the past four years. This year alone we’ve seen eight of these occur.
Drowning is the third most common accidental cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is said that around 236,000 individuals each year lose their lives due to drowning. Ninety percent of these deaths take place in middle and low-income nations like Nigeria.
The administration of Lagos state issued a statement in September urging swimming pool and beach owners to increase safety measures in the wake of a spate of recent drowning incidents.
It intended to prohibit the provision of swimming pool services without a license and a lifeguard in effect in 2017 by introducing state-wide safety laws. However, without adequate prosecution, these are typically disregarded.
According to Ms. Edwards, private beaches in Lagos are safer now that they employ professional lifeguards.
However, other portions of the country include very few states with comparable laws.
Swimming skills and awareness of water hazards are under-appreciated.
Tough Atelemo, a teacher, insists that swimming is a necessary survival skill.
After determining that many of its members were not proficient swimmers, the Nigerian navy announced in 2014 that it would require all officers to take swimming training.
Swimming is a life skill that should be prioritized by parents, says Tough Atelemo, who has spent the previous two decades teaching hundreds of children (the youngest of whom he taught was six months old) how to swim.
She explains that survival skills are essential while raising a child.
She does concede, though, that at around $220 (£200) for 10 classes, they are too expensive for the majority of Nigerians.
The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees with her, and she argues that teaching it to toddlers and preschoolers is an absolute must.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), installing guardrails, covering pools, fencing in swimming pools, and keeping children in playpens while they are near the water are all realistic steps that might lessen the dangers surrounding water.
Ms. Edwards agrees, stating that a fence should be built around pools to keep children and pets safe.
Architect Daniel Ette argues that technology like motion-activated lights and CCTV can reduce the likelihood of drowning for individuals, especially children.
In any case, “nothing totally replaces physical boundaries and adult supervision,” he stresses.
The level of security at Davido’s house is unknown.
His kid drowned, according to the results of a police autopsy, albeit the case is still being looked into. They have taken Davido’s nanny and cook into custody and are checking the home’s surveillance footage.