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MEMOIR OF AN AFRICAN GIRL; My first ever memory [Part 3].

It is February 14th again, the Uefa Champions League is back….. Oooops I forgot Lent also started today, Very special day with wonderful activities!! Someone just tapped me now that Valentine is also today… Okay! I get it; It is also Valentines day don’t mind me lol. Today we read the concluding part of Tomi, she has inspired us with her write up confronting her demons and letting the world know that though life tried to pull her down, she will make a conscious effort to rise from the harshes of life and become a symbol of hope for everyone and anyone fighting a personal struggle or facing a demon. You can overcome, You will overcome never ever give up or give in..

MEMOIR OF AN AFRICAN GIRL; My first ever memory [Part 3].

valentinesday

Again, Let me take you briefly through my university school days. I attended Nigeria’s 1st Choice University [#proudlikedhat] for a degree in Social Work and as I said earlier, there were 76 students in my class. However, one girl stood out and made a lasting impression on me. Her name is Mariam [#Angelwalkingtheearth].

I can say with all honesty she is the most kind-hearted, angelic person I have ever met [even till date]. Mariam is a girl [now, a woman with 2 beautiful kids] that lives for the present. This is to say, one minute ago no longer matter as far as Mariam was concerned. You will never hear her refer to any past incidence and nobody ever annoyed her viz-a-viz she always rationalized offenses against her or anybody in such a way that a raging bull will not only stop amidst charge, but hiss and walk away.

Truth is, Mariam was initially not my friend, I just observed her and her ‘weird’ approach to life from afar and amazed at how a person could live above bitterness, malice, hurt and anger. I initially saw her as a mumu. Get it straight, she is not a forgiver, No, she just isn’t capable of feeling hurt or sensing negativity [#strange girl still does not believe she was wrongfully induced into labor by an over zealous student doctor at Saint Nicholas Hospital. She was at death’s door for 3 days. The doctor was fired over the incident by the hospital administration. But she just feels she did not dilate enough for the baby to ‘come out’ despite induction because she did not have wide hips #mscheew #radarada].

It was this girl and her happy attitude that made me want to ‘try’ to have another look at life. I was alone and abandoned by all because of the numb/dry vibe I had around me. People were not scared [i’m sure because I had, at the time learned to chain my demon], but they were not comfortable approaching me either. Yet, even in my ‘Even If I’m Weird, I like My Life’ life, I still long for the caucus they had. They went to eat together, share notes, keep seats for one another, wrote attendance for missing members of the group, do photocopies together, visit the library together, window shop in the boutiques on campus together, go home together, share jokes and snicker and funny enough, even failed together [believe me, since it was a group failure, it was not a problem. I still see them sombre but happy as they walk away from the bulletin board where our results were pasted. I was angry when a lecturer ‘gave’ me B in Research Methodology that dropped my GPA to 4.6 throughout my stay #thunderfirethatman]. There was a time I even heard them talking about various birth control pills in the market and the next day, I saw them sharing, what they believed was the better pill. Hey!!! I want in on these. Here I am, an all but sexually molested virgin thinking about death and the quickest method to end my life without chances of fail, and my peers are busy enjoying sex and exploring methods that will ensure they keep ‘eating their cakes and having the cake’.

Okay! It sure is time for some change. The question now is, how do I go about my inclusiveness?

I started by writing fast and neat notes during lectures that people could borrow after class. The lecturers dictating the notes observed I was matching their pace and refused to slow down, asking the class to consult me for the blanks in their notes. This made people talk to me and I talked back to them [#Truth, when I actually listened, I found out people were not as ‘simple’ minded as I had believed. #Hate]. Then with a 4.6GPA, I assisted people with tutorials tailored to suit their assimilation and IQ viz-a-viz I did not hold tutorials the traditional way but translated it in Yoruba and pidgin english to suit people [It did wonders for my knowledge as well. I excelled at all course, at least, those that did not involve figures #thunderfirethecreatorofmathematics]. It worked wonders for their GPAs and suddenly I had friends [or rather people who knew I exist]. They sat around me and cracked jokes about everything and nothing, I started listening and hearing about the ‘happenings of the world’ viz-a-viz boys and their ‘toasting techniques’; girls and their flirting techniques etc [#LOL].

All in all, I adopted Mariam as a friend and my approach to situations was kinda like a #whatwillMariamdo?. I modeled my behavior after hers, I trained myself to see other sides of comments and actions without necessarily focusing on the negatives [this further put a control seal on my already chained demon]. I schooled myself to respect people’s opinions without necessarily loosing my cool, otherwise known as ‘slapping the nonsense out of their mouths’.

Mariam is also someone who dresses beautifully, not expensive though, but nice. I observed her colors were not too bright or sunny [or to me, nostalgic] but she still managed to look graceful. I decided to emulate. Through her, I discovered there were other colors asides from black, dirt green, chocolate-brown etc. I discovered Noir, Navy Blue, Leaf Green, Ash, off White aka cream, Purple, Wine, Burgundy and the likes [I know these colors might still be sombre to some people, but hey! Progress!!!].

All these change ricocheted to my home life. I started sitting in the family room when everybody were there [especially my mum], I started smiling at their jokes and even contributing some of the things I found funny in school or during my commute. All in all, I changed my response to hearing my name being called from ‘WHAT?!!!!’.

My mum believes its her many many [#eyesrolling] many prayers that worked [the woman made me drink a glass of water with a cube of sugar in it placed in the open at night to collect dew every morning before I spoke with anyone for 3 years straight. This remedy is believed to calm a temperamental/feisty/angry person. For me, she deserved the punishment of rising everyday before 5am to collect the cup of water and bring it to me to drink]. Funny story, her waking me at that hour to drink the ‘concoction’ when sleep was just starting to be ‘sweet’ pissed me off to no end and as usual, I ‘showed’ myself [hehehe].

Youth service was better. I had learned a lot about self-control and I was no longer struggling with my demon. Like Naruto [#greatestANIMEever!!!], I had my demon sealed inside me and will only let it out when I want it to receive fresh air [Never!!!!] and not the other way round. At camp and my place of primary assignment, I was nice, helpful and pleasant to everyone but avoided company. People interpreted it as a ‘UNILAG’ thing….if only they knew.

MEMOIR OF AN AFRICAN GIRL; My first ever memory [Conclusion]……

 

                                                      Akon “Sunny Day”

Who’d ever thought that I would see this day….
Where I would see my ghetto life fade away…
Cause I was lost and couldn’t find a way…
And now I look forward to every day….(welcome to my sunny day)…

 

Block don’t stop, always stay hot
No matter how the season scorch
I still remember when they took me away
Kept it on lock, then I got popped
Realized I had to stop
Then I took time to explore a better way

Search high and low, so close, yet so far to go
I just know there’s a sunny day……..
This song may be old, but it was a song Akon wrote with me in mind. Please listen to it for me, Tomilola.

Now Lets get serious, some of you readers might have found some parts of my story amusing, entertaining or saddening [believe me, I went through these emotions, and more, while writing my story because I actually re-lived the experience with every word penned or typed as the case is]. I still struggle with myself about writing some parts of this story [maybe I still will. Writing is partially confronting those demons and it’s not easy] but truth is Sexual Molestation is a very serious issue that is not only horrible on the victim but very damaging. It is a scar for life.

I wish it never happened to me. What a life I would have had [I even chart the various channels my life could have taken if I hadn’t been molested in my mind. It all seemed better than what it is]. But it did and I can only live with it, rise above it, prevent people around me from experiencing it and add my voice to the many voices telling the world about it.

I am an unhappy lady that cannot attempt or engage a relationship. I never for once have in my life despite being in my 30s. My dear friend Onyinye says I have trust issues. Another dear friend, Damilola, corroborates it. I enjoy company but I always want to be left alone to myself afterward. Onyinye once asked me about my holiday fantasy and I told her ‘an all expense paid trip to Cabo in a 5 star hotel by myself and good books for relaxation’. She shook her head and told me to seek help because no one goes on a vacation, especially to Cabo, by oneself [#dontmindherjare. Girl Crazy too!!!!]. Anyway, that is my reality. I cannot go near colors yellow or pink and I still feel too dirty for white. I still feel the need to be invisible and cannot do colors that will have me spotted from far off. All because an adult who is supposed to be wise thought it wise to use me over and over again till my mind broke.

I tried sex a few times, and it was not only disgusting and meaningless to me [I actually vomited], it was also EXTREMELY painful [I tried again because I read it was pleasure/pain. But naaaaah!!! #shitispainful #amadowithoutit #thankmeverymuch]. WebMD says it’s probably post-traumatic pain/effect. I agree, because I visited the doctor to check I do not have infections or any diseases down there. This again is my reality. If I ever get married, I have to learn to tolerate my partner and ‘fake it’ [#NotFair!!!].

I have 2 first degrees [Social Work and Sociology], 2 master degrees [Criminology and Sociology] and I already began my doctorate degree [Social-Criminology with specialization in Human Trafficking as a tool of Terrorism] and was a teaching assistant too. Funny, yes? My academic history leans towards understanding society, crime, crime against humanity, mind of the criminal and helping vulnerable people. This was not planned, at least, at the level of my first degrees. My JAMB spiritual guardian charted the course for me [I have always preached to aspiring university students to try to embrace whatever course JAMB charts for them. Sometimes it might be the right course. They never listen though, they always want what their ‘friends’ have #eyesrolling].

Anyway, in 2016, I abandoned my academic pursuit and went in search of a circular job. This need was not only born from the comment of Morenike, a coursemate during my Criminology master degree year, when she came to school to collect a document and saw me with a bunch of term papers to be graded [she said ‘iwo omo yii, o shi wa ni school lati ojo yii? She o ma ever ra range rover laye e sha? Translation: You this girl, you are still in school after all these years! Will you ever buy a Range Rover in your life?], but a need to fess up to people and get used to them. You see, her comment ‘you are still in school after all these years’ made me realize one thing, I was hiding from the world in school and since people do not care for books or prints, they do not care for the person sitting behind the pages. It was the perfect place for me to hide. I need not tell you academics is easy for me, It is the only thing I know. It comes naturally. Maybe it’s because of the many lessons my mum engaged me with when I was younger, I just know I cannot go a day without reading, at least, a page or 2 from an e-book on my phone before I sleep.

Like I earlier said, I got a job in hospitality [through the help of same Morenike] and have worked either as part of a team or headed one. I cannot do my job in isolation and that is good for me. I even try further by requesting jobs that require face-to-face meetings with company partners and free-lance teams just so that I can get over my phobia for people and my daily fear of my demon breaking loose. I kinda like the people around me and I have met really great ones in my quest. Its, a struggle but hey! Who says life has to be easy like academics ehn? [#hehehehe].

I have been through 3 superiors at work [the 3rd is still active] and they all always referred to my personality dearth but at least they advise me on how to better relate and I use their assessment and appraisal to better myself.

I have learned to understand the world [at least, better than how I started out] and fit to it, I can hold a conversation, joke, make people laugh without having thought it out first [a colleague once told me to go into entertainment, that I was like #HelenPaul] but that’s how far I can go……when I retire for the night and I switch off the lights, I always feel a sense of melancholy wash over me. I recently read a book titled Blackass by Igoni Barrett [Hey! I recently discovered African writings and writers and I am liiiiikkkkiiiinnnnggg it!!!]. The book is about a young man, Furo Wariboko, who woke up to discover life had given him a rear opportunity. He took the fresh path charted for him during the night and left everything behind, including his family, to start afresh and live for himself. Selfish? Well, read the book before you conclude. Anyway, Like Furo, when all lights are out and I can no longer ignore my thoughts, I wish I could leave everything behind to start afresh. [Maybe I will]

Taking you through my life is not to bore or entertain you, but to explicate my daily struggle and inner turmoil as a victim of Sexual Molestation. Its negative effects ripple through ones life an entire lifetime. Some victims, like me, are afraid to live; some live too much by becoming party girls, prostitutes, ‘aristos’, even human traffickers; some opt for suicide as a way to start afresh; some repress the memory and pain and live ‘normal’ lives until same or similar event happen to their child and they snap by killing the perpetrator and spending their lives in jail. Many channels abound.

It’s no news that the wealth of Nigeria, and by extension Africa, is unevenly distributed. It has always been so and will always be but with the emergence of the world into a global village with the help of the internet, people now know the extent of this uneven distribution and quest for materials. They struggle hard to achieve these but are frustrated by the corrupt system, which  not only recognize bourgeoisie and proletariat dichotomy, but either does not reward them fairly or end up costing them their source of livelihood. With little or no electricity and no or emasculating jobs, people are then forced back to the medieval era when life was simple and sex was the only entertainment [idle hands/minds do the devil’s work, they say]. Sexual fantasies are running wild.

Even at that, women have joined the struggle for survival. Survival through any means; brain, physical strength or skin. They are no longer gullible and available to men at the snap of a finger even under the title ‘marriage’ or ‘relationship’ and where they are, they require ‘material benefits’ viz-a-viz women are no longer cheap. It is no surprise that the men folk turn to the cheapest means of sexual gratification they can get, CHILDREN. I will not use the term ‘vulnerable’ here because ALL CHILDREN ARE VULNERABLE!!!!.

Trust me, I am not saying men are the only perpetrators of sexual molestation, but they have a higher figure recorded and reported. Women have been reported to lure children for men to molest, mothers have been reported to give their children to their husbands and use them [children] as defense against domestic violence; some mothers have even bartered their child’s innocence in exchange for favors. Concern is, there is a DEMAND before the supply.

Whether you are a parent or not; be the child male or female; be it your child or not; whether you are charged with the child or not;…..YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY CHILD. Watch them at play, watch them on errands for adults, call them away from ‘dangerous’ situations. SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.

My name is Tomilola, and this is my story.

PS: DO YOU KNOW;

Your husband can sexually molest your child; your brother can sexually molest your child; your father can sexually molest your child; your boyfriend or fiance can sexually molest your child; your domestic help can sexually molest your child; that neighbor you leave your child with to go run errands can sexually molest your child; your child can be sexually molested in that house he/she goes to play with friends; your child’s teacher can sexually molest him/her; your God-fearing security guard can sexually molest your child; your pastor can sexually molest your child; that brilliant, well-behaved, soft spoken brother you want your child to model after can be a child molester; that SU brother can sexually abuse your child; that elderly, fatherly figure around you can sexually abuse your child if given the opportunity.

 

 

 

Advise: Are you a victim of a social abuse? Do you have a secret burning a hole in your heart? Are you bearing a burden weighing you down or drawing you back from life?….whatever it is….why don’t you try to write it down. Telling people your story physically might be hard and where it isn’t, you might only be able to tell it in fragments at a time. Writing is hard but it is a means of confronting your past and a means of loosing its hold on you.  For me, the writing isn’t as hard as sharing this story with people.  TRY IT!….WRITE IT DOWN!….and SHARE IT!!!

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