My brothers told me I had always been a precocious toddler and that i loved to dance to Kool And The Gang even though I didn’t quite understood what they were singing at the time. How time flies!!
I still love classics like those songs and that’s why my phone radio is permanently tuned to Classic FM 97.3, a radio station in Lagos that plays EVERY song you know like they rightly claim which is true. Last night I was watching the soulful rendition of ‘Till It Happens To You by Lady Gaga ( a soundtrack she penned for the movie The Hunting Ground) during the recent 88th Oscars ceremony and it just dawned on me that you can never really walk in the shoes of a child who has been sexually abused till it happens to you as she sang. It’s not like I would wish that on anyone, not even my enemy but this is a subject that has gained traction on social media as it seemed like it was going out of hand considering that these so-called abusers and paedophiles are close family members of the abused child in most cases.
Today’s narrative will focus on my growing up in the commercial city of Kano and how my neighbour and childhood best friend Mamie was constantly being abused by her uncle but I was too childish, innocent and naive to see the signs of her sudden withdrawal from our usual childish cooking class (with those TOMAPEP empty tins and broomsticks as soup spoons..early signs of a world-class chef you would say) and then the bubble burst with her being diagnosed with gonorrhoea at age 7! Now what happened to the lecherous and randy uncle, you would ask, and the answer was NOTHING!!
Instead, my friend was scolded for accusing a family member of abusing her and then the psychological trauma started till it got out of control in her adulthood. Now, Mamie has had three children from two failed marriages and she is broken because she blames herself for not speaking up sooner. Apparently, our dear uncle had threatened her and swore her to a vow of silence or else he would kill her.
That was until it almost happened with me but my brothers luckily had placed him under close watch and so he couldn’t lure me in with sweets and possibly rape me and then who knows what would have happened to me or if I would be a sane adult. Even though that experience is Pandora’s box I would rather not open, the Lady Gaga song wrung it out of me…
Don’t wait ‘Till It Happens To You’ or your niece or nephew or child before you speak up about it.
*heaves a sigh of relief