Johnson Babalola
February 4, 2023

Vicarious Versus Environmental Trauma: A Long-Distance Conversation

“Good morning, sir”

“Good morning, AJ. Trust you are good.”

“Good ke? I am not sir. Did you see the videos I sent to you on WhatsApp?”

“Yes, I saw them and others.”

“You saw the woman that stripped herself almost naked in a banking hall because of the new Naira scarcity.”

“I saw her. Maybe she has some mental health issues.”

“How about the man that climbed the service counter of the bank and appeared to be in distress?”

“I saw that too. Maybe his village people were responsible for his behavior.”

“Did you see the video of the two men that got into a fight and almost hit each other with some iron bars in a banking hall?”

“Yes, they may be drunk.”

“How about the video of the youths that vandalized a bank’s ATM?”

“They lack manners.”

“And the man that stripped completely naked in a banking hall asking for his money?”

“I was informed that his actions had nothing to do with the narrative that accompanied the video. Mischief makers at work!”

“Are you saying videos can lie?”

“Definitely in some cases. Not sure what to believe any longer.”

“Did you see the one where a container fell off a truck and crushed innocent occupants of another vehicle to death?”

“I saw that. My heart bleeds for the deceased and their loved ones”

“How about the ones where human bodies were being severed?”

“I did not watch those.”

“Why not?”

“Because there is a limit to what I can handle as a human being.”

“Lucky you sir. Here, we are exposed to all kinds of dangers daily. I hardly sleep due to all kinds of fears”

“Hmmnnnn. Sadly, many of us here don’t sleep well too because we are concerned about the dangers you are exposed to in Naija”

“Life is tough here sir.”


“As you know sir, I have no employment, my wife has no employment. Our only child is forced to attend a public school with no windows and other infrastructures. We are only able to pay our rent because of your help.”

“I understand”

“I hope so sir, but we are here and you are not. Last week, my wife was ill but we could not take her to the hospital for lack of funds. We settled for natural herbs and prayers.”

“Natural healing can be better.”

“Sir? I called you many times, but you did not respond”

“My apology. I must have missed the calls.”

“It is ok sir. You have been there for us many times. May God continue to bless you.”


“As I speak sir, we have no food, no access to electricity, internet and other basic things of life. I am using my friend’s credit to call you presently.”

“Thank God for good friends.”

“Sir, I am very traumatized about everything in this country. I honestly can understand why some people would exhibit some behaviours that would make us question their states of mind”

“Trauma is real, but we must all avoid criminal acts.”

“I agree sir. My friend calls it environmental trauma. Everything about the environment is causing me trauma. You are lucky. You are removed from this madness.”

“Very true except for what my friend calls vicarious trauma that I am exposed to daily too”


“Well, let’s start with the fact that I was forced to leave my home country for another place where I had to learn their culture, exposed to racism and where my heart still yearns for the best for the same home country that I thought I left behind.”

“You still think about Naija? You should not. I wouldn’t”

“So, I should forget about you, my friends, parents, and others? I should just erase them from my mind?’

“Maybe not entirely sir. At least you will still send us money”

“How about the trauma the mismanagement of the money I sent to you and others had caused me?”

“We have learnt our lessons sir.”

“How about the trauma I experience as a result of the negative videos and news I get exposed to daily from you and others about our dear nation, Naija?”

“Maybe you should not open or read all of them sir.”

“How about the trauma caused by my fear for your safety? Every phone call from home makes my heart jump!.”

“Ah! I did not know that could cause you trauma too sir.”

“How about the trauma I get exposed to on social media where fellow Naijarians focus on hurling abuses at each other rather than on issues that will move the nation forward”

“Maybe you should not be on social media sir”

“How about the trauma and aches from unfulfilled hope for our nation and the citizens, combined with the trauma of having to survive in another country?”

“I am sorry sir. I did not know you also go through some trauma where you are. Now I know the situation here affects you too. May your trauma not be as big as mine”

“Naijarians face multiple traumas from abuses of all sorts, resulting in all kinds of outpouring of emotions and behaviours. The traumas we all face are already big, oppressive, and dehumanizing.”

“It is well sir. I will call you next week for financial support. Today seems not to be a good day. I will manage my environmental trauma for now sir”

Johnson Babalola, a Canada and Nigeria based lawyer, leadership consultant, storyteller and corporate emcee, is a public affairs analyst. Follow him for discussions on real life issues that affect us all.

You can obtain a copy of his newly released book, REJECTED on Amazon, FriesenPress, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Apple Books, Nook Store etc.