Yesterday, I shared a “Celebrities Behaving Badly” story with you all and asked who you thought behaved badly. For those unfamiliar with the category on Africa Music Law (AML), it actually began when the late Fela Kuti’s son, Seun Kuti, took to twitter April of 2012 and just cursed out Storm Executive, Obi Asika. I decided I was done with the “show me your yansh” approach that we Nigerians have in resolving our issues, in public, and decided to highlight celebrities who did that. Little did I know it would be one of the most visited categories on AML. Here we are.
Back to the story. I posted the question on who you thought behaved badly between Linda Ikeji, a celebrity blogger and Eva Alordiah, a musician. Ikeji heard Eva briefly mention, on national radio, the fact that she was molested by her Uncle as a child; in the context of her stance against underage marriage i.e. childnotbride protests. Ikeji felt the story was newsworthy and shared it with her audience, quoting Eva’s exact words.
When Eva heard and saw the post, she was upset with Ikeji and a heated, albeit brief exchange, took place on twitter.
In response to my inquiry on who behaved badly, AML reader Murewa Todera Omoba, the CEO & Founder of The Single Story Foundation, had the following, in pertinent part, to say on Facebook:
“I am going to go with Linda Ikeji, as being in the wrong. I am biased, I confess. But stories like that are personal and it’s blogger ethics . . . to reach out to the individual. Like Eva said, it’s her story. She should be able to disseminate such info the way she pleases, especially a sensitive story like child molestation. I don’t believe because she said it on air, it’s fair game.”
I thought her statement made a whole lot of sense and actually found myself thinking about her response. Today, I saw a syndicated article written by Eva where she essentially affirmed Murewa’s statement.
For me, I know how frightening it was to even let anyone know I was raped. I had carried it my whole childhood into adulthood and not even my family knew. When I finally had the courage to share, about five years ago, I did it with someone I felt I could be safe with to share such traumatic experience. I can’t imagine, especially at that initial stage of getting to a place where you can share it publicly, having someone, bloggers/media for that matter, tell my story without allowing me the room to do so myself.
So, I think I get Murewa and Eva’s position. However, my communications (B.A) and journalism background has that voice in my head that keeps saying, but if I go on national tv, radio etc. and share such story, what is wrong with a blogger who is clear she advocates for women’s causes; and has been instrumental in giving a voice to the voiceless, sharing my story on her blog to encourage others? Is it a crime? Is not like she was actually telling what happened to me years ago. She just quoted my statement that I made on national radio?
I ultimately concluded that this is just an uncomfortable subject and place to be whether as a blogger, journalist or the victim who has been traumatized. Therefore, I think the correct result is probably what Murewa says, given the sensitivity of the subject matter. In fact here in the West, society, the legal justice system and Western media are tuned into this fact and I would presume the same holds, to some extent, in Nigeria since it is such a taboo topic to begin with.
For Eva, I encourage you to embrace the journey towards total healing and just being uniquely you, now that the cat is out of the bag. I promise the destination you will arrive will be worth it. You will find yourself asking why you didn’t have the courage to do it sooner. Chin and head up, walk tall. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
(p.s. Nigeria launched a rape hotline in 2011. I am unsure if this hotline is still active. Please click here for more details on the hotline.)
It’s Child Abuse, Not Child’s Play (My Words, My Story) by Eva Alordiah
“It is some months before August, the dates running all theway back into the calendars of the early 90s. In a few months from this day, she will turn 7 years old, maybe even have a big school party like her friend Aisha had weeks back. But today, while she’s still 6 years old and counting.
He will satisfy the incessant needs of his groins. He will have her to himself and make her feel like he was right and she was wrong to refuse him. So he towers his tall lean frame above her, looking down on her as he intimidates her with his size.
She’s scared, confused and lost all at the same time.
‘This is Uncle Emeka,’ she reminds her poor little head. ‘Uncle’. Not by blood or family ties, no. But Uncle, cause he is friends with Dad and Mom.
He picks her up from the floor and props her on his chest, all the time saying,
“You know I’d buy you some more buiscuits when I come tomorrow eh? Did you like the ones I brought today?”
She nods. Barely knowing what else to do but nod in fear.Not too far off from the house just outside, she can hear her brothers playing in the yard. The maid is out on an errand and she is here by herself… With Uncle Emeka, who said he had come to see Mommy.
She feels his finger as they begin to find room big enough to fit,in the wells beyond the cotton lining of her baby panties.She yelps in pain.
He closes her mouth with his, swallowing her screams down his throat as he kisses her without shame, his finger still gliding in and out of her.
It is painful. It burns like hot coals of fire. She lets the tears roll. He tells her it is right.
“Am I not your best Uncle?” he asks with a smile that curves his bushy moustache into an awkward arch.
She was only 6 years old. But this was to happen again three more times before her 7th birthday, each occurrence bringing with it several wraps of biscuits and candies. “Don’t ever tell your Mommy,” he’d say. “She’d beat you very hard. Do you want her to do that?”
It’s many years ago. But I write this now and I tell you, that little girl was me.
Was. Because with time I overcame that. I found the strength to walk away from it and not feel like such a dirty, good-for-nothing girl as I felt everytime it happened.
For a couple of years after that, I asked myself several questions I was not to find answers to if I didn’t seek help. So I did! And I let it all go.
But not until I made sure I didn’t feel like such a whimp of a girl who couldn’t defend herself.
And so I grew up into a tough, smug, tomboy of a girl. I hated boys, but I had them as best friends. My playmates were the biggest boys in the class. My toys were water-guns and toy soldiers. I wanted to be tough. I wanted to be able to defend myself.
I was involved in sports, and every other thing the little girls in my peer group thought was too dirty to do. I didn’t care about dresses, and skirts. I hated them. So I wanted to be dressed like my brothers, and look like a boy.
For years I let myself believe -“If he was ever giving me anything, he wanted something in return.” This was the logic with Uncle Emeka, wasn’t it? Every time I got a present, or cookies and candies, it was because he wanted me to keep my mouth shut about everything, because he wanted me to be happy, because he wanted to come right back to prop me up on a wall and give me pain.
So I learned to get mine. I wanted to have what I needed on my own terms. I was never to ask for help from any boy, I was never to accept gifts, I didn’t want anything if I couldn’t get it myself.
I don’t exactly come from one of the richest homes. I have parents who made sure we had what we needed, and on time. I watched my dad and mom put in work, from morning till nightime tirelessly just to make sure we were okay. It began to dawn on me very early in life, if I didn’t start getting it myself now, I might never have the chance to when I am older and I might have to depend on taking from boys.
I didn’t want that!
It reminded me too much of Uncle Emeka. It brought all the pain from the past right back with hot burning tears each time I thought of it.
I wanted to work. I wanted my own. I loved school, I excelled at school bringing my parents much needed joy for all their hard earned money.
But school wasn’t to be over so soon. I had two more years to be done with secondary school and then to face another four after that for university.
I couldn’t wait.
At age 13 I realised I loved to read and write, So I began to write… and write even more! My dad applauded my stories, said I’d make a great writer and tried to get me published. But that was tossed in the wind as I fell in love with Eminem and focused my writing on Rap music.
I took my first job as a photography model at age 15. It wasn’t much of a job but it was a period in my life where I got to know much about business first hand. I didn’t take anything for granted. I had the sharpest, piercing stare ready for any guy who dared look at me like he wanted something!
“I’m not here for rubbish, I don’t have anything to give you, I don’t want your ‘gifts’, I will get mine.” I repeatedly told myself.
At age 16 I had auditioned for 2 movie roles and was successfully cast to act in them.
On my first day on set to shoot, the director told me he loved me and tried to touch my young tender breasts. Wasn’t that the same thing ‘Uncle Emeka’ said many years ago?
I got up, fired him my ‘I’d kill you if you ever try that shit with me” stare and walked away from location never to face my acting dreams again.
By the time I turned 18, I had taught myself makeup artistry. I had also learned how to sew clothes from watching my mom sew in the house late at night after a long day at work. I was at university to study Computer Science at the time and I was by now a full time business woman. There I was, investing my N20,000 pocket money on bend-down select clothes from Yaba to sell in school and making over 400% profits each time.
I was finally beginning to get mine.
It was “Work Eva, Work!”
I would hate to take you on a journey through a long post reading all about my experience to where I am now as a rapper/entertainer, so I will stop here.
Look at me. I have strived hard to get to where I am today. I did not happen overnight. I am hardly where I want to be, but God is ever faithful. I have done just about anything to make sure I never had to feel like a whimp. To never feel like I had to give myself up to get anything. To never feel like all I was good for was satisfying a man’s needs down-south for a gift in return.
Now, I’d tell you – I never granted an interview to anyone with the aim of revealing the fact that I was molested as a child. There’s no pride whatsoever in that. I was put in a tight situation, asked my opinion on “Child Not Bride” – and I apologise for not being able to control my emotions while I let my answers spiral out of my small mouth. We are talking about underaged girls being married off and having it right by law!
How do you think I feel about that having read my story now? This is rather too much of an emotional and delicate subject matter for me and I couldn’t help but relate to these young girls. And so I did say in passing without making that my focus – “Hey! I can relate, I had bad things happen to me as a child and I was molested.”
If you are going to find a punchline to draw attention to your blog, on a matter such as this, as a writer – how much effort would it have been to relay the emotions under which I said it in your post? Instead you chose to make me out to look like I was mouthing off and being proud about being molested as a young 6 year old child!
Is it just me or wasn’t that pushing a little too hard for the negative attention?
I’m not asking that you care about me. I’m asking that you care about the situation, I’m asking that a woman be a woman for another woman. In an attempt to drive traffic to your site, do not portray my story for me like I was out to brag about it. In an attempt to “not care” and just be a gossip poster at least be a woman for another and not make my own story look like a cheap attempt at quotations for fame.
But who am I to talk here right?
I was molested! I had my 6 year old vagina prickled with fingers and nails that left sores for days! I felt like a total loser of a girl. I was traumatised for a long time.
There are probably thousands of children in Nigeria, molested everyday. By their teachers, house maids, uncles, aunties- even their own parents! This is a serious issue, not just for the family but the society at large. I have kept this to myself for many years and never expected I’d break down emotionally and let it out in passing to express my opinion on #ChildNotBride.
I almost died weeks ago in an auto crash. But I am here. Alive. I did not intend to put my sad story out like this, but it is here now and I refuse to run away from it. So while I am alive now and can use my story to hopefully inspire one person, I stand for every young girl who has gone through even a tiny bit of what I have.
Talk to somebody. Anybody. Don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to your parents about it. Don’t feel bad about yourself. You must remember that you are beautiful, very beautiful. You must see yourself in the purest of forms. Everyday.
To every parent out there, I implore you please, guard your beautiful children under your wings like the mother hen. You might not be able to do that 24/7 because you must go out to work and fend for them, but you must, I beg of you, be ready to ask and be there to listen.
I am here. You are there, reading this.
I don’t know what you have been through, but I have talked to a great many people who were molested as kids. Boys. Girls.
So I do know that I am not here alone, and you aren’t either. What I went through was disgusting, but it propelled me daily to where I am now.
I am not traumatized anymore. I did not let this consume me. I am asking you now not to let it consume you. We sometimes think everyone else is perfect until we hear their stories. I have no idea what yours is, but this is mine.
This is not something I’d ever wish on any child. It is not anything to be happy about. I was molested, I am not proud about it, I am proud that I rose above.
I apologise for making you read such a long post. I couldn’t contain myself.