Finding Her Voice; Finding happiness.

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‘When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream’  Psalm 126:1

From the look of awe on their faces, from the exultant chants on their lips, I could comfortably associate the above Bible verse with the people of Ogboinbiri community. No, the entire community did not win a lottery but I guess this feat is way cooler than lottery.

My last post concerning Ogboinbiri communityabout a year ago was filled with rancor and complaints on behalf of the shortchanged community. Today, the story is different and I am super happy to be the harbinger of good news.

Ogboinbiri community is an oil-producing community in the Niger Delta, rich in oil, poor in wealth and infrastructure to the point of lacking necessities as basic as health center. But alas, Agip Oil Company has remembered Ogboinbiri community, the prayers of the community answered, at least to an extent.

The four engineers from the community that were offered contract jobs without assigning them to any job nor salary, like Ministers without  portfolio,  have finally resumed duties at various Agip locations. That’s a good start; we hope they would do more in the nearest future and employ many more of the teeming youths in various capacities. There are many qualified graduates in the community that are in dire need of these jobs.

The superlative news however, is that the one dilapidated health center in Ogboinbiri community has been revamped in a manner beyond all our expectations. This health center had dilapidated structures and zero amenities as shown in the previous post. But as I write this, it is wearing a completely new look. The last time I saw it, it was in shambles, abandoned; now it is a world class health facility equipped with modern facilities.

If you can take a look at the previous post and then compare it with the pictures here, I bet you will marvel at the difference.

The former CDC Chairman, Mr. Eseimokumo Ben-Okosughe will forever be remembered for successfully championing this cause to fruition. It was through his innumerable daring attacks and solicitations that a mission hitherto thought impossible became mission accomplished.
He laid his life, career and future on the line to make this possible. I am sure that wherever he is today, he will be standing tall and hopefully receiving the accolade he deserves.

Not only did he agitate for this health center for his community, he also fought for the employment of Ogboinbiri youths by Agip. If you ask me, this is the stuff great leaders are and should be made of. I hope his people realize what a gem they have in this man.

These two great accomplishments aside, there are still countless areas that Ogboinbiri community, along with all other oil producing communities of the Niger Delta need dire assistance. There are educational facilities to provide, environmental degradation to correct and many other lacks that should not be there any longer.

Agip and the other Multi-National Oil Companies have so much they can do for these communities to make their lives easier. It should be a symbiotic relationship rather than a predator one.

Now, Ogboinbiri community, our eyes are on you to see what you can make of these feats, will you let them go to waste due to mismanagement, greed and looting, or will you perpetuate the good works? I hope the latter will be the case considering how long you have been in the dark ages and how hard you fought for this.

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Sexual abuse and molestation in Nigeria is something we are all used to as females. A guy can boldly and shamelessly share the story of how he forcefully had sex with a number of girls to a mixed audience of male and female, young and old. Instead of the expected outburst from the audience, especially the female ones, don’t be surprised when you get nothing but  boisterous laughter and such comments as ‘serves the bitch right’, ‘what was she even doing alone with you?’, ‘if they won’t give you freely, you take by force, after all, you are the man’ and that ends that.

Rape in Nigeria is often the fault of the victim and therefore there is nothing to discuss or fight for, they ask for it. And so the culture of silence continues, we feed it and nurture it, all of us. We nurture it by not speaking up, by not supporting the victims, by shaming the victims, by pretending and accepting it as a norm.

I searched for #MeToo Nigeria on twitter and I came up with mostly lamentations of how it just cannot work in Nigeria – which is probably true, but can’t we just try a bit?
No, I have never been abused by a celebrity of any sort, but yes, I have suffered sexual molestation. In fulfillment of my promise in my last post, here goes…

My first gory experience with rape was after my university when I was looking for a better job than the one I had. He was my school mate in elementary school, I met him again as a course mate and the president of my departmental students’ Union in the university. He became my friend and the brother I didn’t have. This relationship continued even after school and we graduated into family friends.

My crime however, was that I pleaded with him to assist me in getting a better job, nearer home to which he gladly agreed. And when we met to discuss this issue, Buli, my friend felt that if he should help me, then I must have sex with him and when I said NO, he saw no other alternative than to forcefully have his way. He was a married man at the time, still is, with kids he adore, he is a church minister’s son. He was my friend, my brother from another mother, and he raped me and I did nothing about it aside feel sorry for myself and angry at him and myself in addition to dealing with the guilt.

My second experience with rape was just a couple of years back; you would think I would have been smarter by then. Ben used to share a shop with his brother in my cousin’s compound and my cousin’s house happened to be my second home. He was a likeable and trustworthy guy whom my cousin could entrust her shop and home to any time. He asked me out countless times and I politely declined each time. When I moved far away from home, we stopped communicating and I felt he was fed up with me.  But when I relocated back home, he became a regular visitor in my mum’s home.
He invited me to his apartment several times and I declined but my cousin told me that since he was a nice person whom we all knew, that there was nothing untoward in going to his apartment. I visited him one afternoon. After the pleasantries, Ben began to list my sins for me, how I had declined his advances for so many years, how he had loved me for ages without my reciprocating. I apologized and explained to him again that I declined because I did not love him and we began to argue back and forth.  Then he gave me the verdict that I cannot leave his apartment till I had given him sex. I guess that was my punishment and payment for all my atrocities. He locked his doors and took the keys, telling me that even the shouting spree I wanted to embark on would not help me as no one was around to hear me. After all the drama, Ben succeeded in sexually abusing me.

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Maybe this would have helped. I think I need some lessons in taekwando.
#MeToo.

#NomeansNo
Say No to Sexual abuse


I read somewhere about someone saying that sexual abuse is a western thing and it made me wonder if that is also our view in Nigeria. Maybe there are very few or no case of sexual abuse and predatory in Nigeria? It is possible right? Given that we are one of the most religious people of the world.

In case you don’t quite grasp what the Weinstein effect is all about, allow me to fill you in. 2017 was a year of sex abuse scandals which emanated from the USA, though prior to that, there have been other reported cases but of lesser magnitude. The American mega film producer and co-founder of Miramax films, Harvey Weinstein became the scape goat that created what is now popularly known as the tipping point of sexual scandal. According to Wikipedia, ‘the Weinstein effect is a global trend in which people come forward to accuse famous or powerful men of sexual misconduct’. It went on to say that the term came into use to describe a worldwide wave of these allegations as media outlets reported on numerous sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein.

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Gettyimages

These worldwide waves of allegations seem to exclude Nigeria and I tell you solemnly that it is not for lack of cases of sexual abuse/harassment, No sir! Our country is notorious for bribery and corruption and that includes sexual harassment in high and low places. From schools to offices, to churches, sexual misconduct abound. In fact, it is so pervasive that it seems to have become a norm, describe it as the seam of the Nigerian fabric and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. Students in the Nigerian tertiary institutions are beleaguered with sexual abuses from lecturers, and even non-academic staff for grades, hostel accommodation, or even certificates and of course money. The secondary schools are not left out mind you. The political arena is fraught with cases of sexual misconduct left and right, likewise the various offices, public and private alike. You need to play by their rules in order to get the job/position or get promoted. The churches are supposed to be safe haven for its members but the ministers of the churches hide under the cloak of religion to sexually harass their members in order to ‘rid them of infertility, demons, poverty’ and all what-not.

I have no doubt that almost every Nigerian woman, old or young has a personal history of sexual abuse to share. But unlike the western world, the name and shame thing will definitely backfire here because most of the powerful men are part of the rot. As I read about the Weinstein effect and the Weinstein scandal, I could not help but wish that it could be replicated in Nigeria, but who will bell the cat? For one, corruption is so entrenched into the system that the prey might become the predator if she attempts to name her predator especially without evidence and strong backing. Naming names might expose the victim to threats and dangers beyond her scope.

Let us for one minute dream that the Nigerian victim who was sexually abused by a big name in Nigeria is able to tell her story, will she be heard? Who would believe her and not accuse her of seeking for fame? Most importantly, will she get her justice? Or will she be ridiculed, punished and stigmatized? Some will even term her evil for wanting to expose the abuser, that is how religious we can get.

For three decades Mr. Weinstein harassed and abused women, for thirty years, he used his power to victimize young women. But in 2017, his full cup began to overflow. I was filled with awe when I read of the numerous bodies to which he hitherto had dealings with that not only dissociated themselves from the man, but stripped him of his position, power, honour and prestige in short order. I began to wish that Nigeria could become that courageous and transparent. The reverse would bebthe case here with all the high and mighty groups protecting their own and further victimising the victim.

In the wake of the Weinstein scandal came many other cases of sexual abuse accusations leveled against the powers that be in the world of entertainment, journalism, politics, judiciary, and many other sectors especially in the Western world. More victims, male and female found their voices and began to speak out.

The Weinstein effect has no effect in Nigeria, Nigeria is not even talking about it so how will the effect come about? You only hear or see individual snippets of it from private quarters on the social media. Most of us are scared of the repercussions but I believe there is something we can do here in Nigeria even if it means going anonymous. We can borrow a leaf from the Indian law student, Raya Sarkar

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bengali.oneindia.com
even though she is under fire from rapists and molesters and even feminists for her role in exposing abusers in the academia. Nigerian victims can also open this can of worms here not minding how bloody it can get.

In my next write up on this issue, I will share my own sexual assault experiences in solidarity with the #MeToo tag. I pray I find the courage to tell my story even if I am not able to name names… lolz.

I appreciate the fearless journalists and victims that gave life to the Weinstein effect. They have written their names in the sands of time and in the hearts of men and women of the  world and posterity will  not find them wanting.


>It is another 25th of November. It is another international day for the elimination of violence against women. It is another reminder of the role you can play to put an end to gender based violence.

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Leave no one behind: End violence against women and girls . That is the theme for this year’s celebration and it advocates for the total elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls irrespective of their location or colour.

Gender violence and discrimination occur in developed nations as well as developing nations. The only difference would probably be in the magnitude and penalty.

An experience I had recently taught me that Violence against Women (VAW) does not necessarily mean physical violence. It cuts across emotional and psychological violence.
I dated and loved someone I thought was the best guy there was. Turned out he was not just a chronic womaniser, but he had very little respect for most of these women. I was blind to that part of him because he gave me 100% respect and what I thought was love. But when the chips were down, he made me realise he held little respect for the other women by the way he picked, used and tossed them aside. They were only there to satisfy his sexual desires. Their opinions, rights and feelings di not amount to anything. After all, they are ‘mere women’. As far as I am concerned, he exposed me as well as those other ladies to emotional and psychological violence and it was uncalled for.
I believe every woman, irrespective of job, color or location, has experienced one form of violence or the other. I recently listened to the Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie speaking on feminism and I realised that even the celebrities are not left out of this inequality mindset. Personally, I am getting used to having waiters and waitresses greet and fuss over the man beside me while acting like I am not even there.

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Image courtesy of http://www.chimamanda.com
But when the famous Chimamanda explained how it also happens to her, I could only laugh at our society.

Funny enough, some men believe VAW is a thing of the past while many more others believe the female victims asked for it. They ask, what was she doing in a room alone with a guy? She asked to be raped. Like seriously?

But for me, it is more painful when women themselves think through their anus by joining the men to ask such questions. Or when they spearhead the maltreatment of widows or fail to teach their sons to respect and care for their sisters. Who would blame a guy whose mother taught from childhood, that he is more important than his sister? That he can rough-handle the neighbour’s daughter if she refuses to dance to his tunes?
And what about those women that fold their hands and watch their husbands and sons and brothers, rape their daughters and nieces and cousins? They sacrifice the happiness and future of these young girls on the alter of ‘family name’. They stand and watch mutely lest they bring the family name to shame. Is that one even a family?

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There are more female excisors than males, women who still believe that a woman must be genitally mutilated to please a man and keep the ladies loyal and pure – for the man. Excuse me!

No one deserves to be treated like an animal. No girl, no woman deserves to be violated, for any reason at all. There is absolutely no justification for violenece against women. I mean, how can you justify punching a woman senseless by saying she talks too much or rudely? Who punches you when you misbehave? Is she justified to rape the guy because he visited her?

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Today, all of us, male and female, young and old, white or black, we are being called upon to make a difference,  to help end violence against women and girls.
Will you stand up to be counted?



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