[432] The Gatekeeper and the Security Guard

“Why you allow armed robbers enter?” I heard someone ask another, one time, way long ago.

Because I couldn’t help it, I excused the circumstance surrounding that question and chuckled. The middle aged man asked the gatekeeper why he let armed robbers “…enter the compound”. Keyword: gatekeeper. Second keyword: armed robbers.


This scenario plays out in our region, on a conscious and subconscious level. I dare say subconscious because I doubt we know exactly what we mean when we ask a question like that, rephrased or paraphrased.

How on earth do you expect a gatekeeper [definitely unarmed, except perhaps armed with a bread knife or blunt machete] to protect you from armed robbers?


What we have here in Lagos — mostly Northerners in my locality — are gatekeepers that we often term gate-man and he probably, in addition to keeping/tending the gate [your gate], mends shoes, polishes shoes or sells biscuits, sweets and detergents in front of your compound.

We hardly have security guards safeguarding our houses, except perhaps in some estates — a general security patrol for everyone — or in few homes.


I’m not saying the question isn’t correct, but it’s almost always asked to the wrong person; there’s a difference in one being a gatekeeper and another being a security guard. Perhaps, a thin line runs across both.

A gatekeeper keeps your gate — opens and closes to let cars in/out and decides who passes through [there’s an exception to this which is the ‘under duress’ exception]. The security guard protects lives and properties and is often armed with guns, tasers, etc.

Gatekeepers abound almost everywhere in Lagos, Nigeria: houses, banks, companies, et al. I rarely see security guards protecting lives and properties; I see in companies.

I decided to put this out here because on and on, when I hear questions like, “Why you allow armed robbers enter?” I can’t help but ask these questions:

1] Do you take a knife to a gunfight?

2] How do you expect an untrained man to guard your life and property?

3] How do you expect someone you pay not much to risk his life for you? Hian! Are you well at all?

Questions like these, I ask, to help me out of the confusion. Perhaps, someone here has a different experience/perspective about this.

Image Credit: MidstateAgency.com