COURT IS IN SESSION
A friend invited me once to attend a court session. He was trying to reassure me that there was nothing to be afraid about of our judicial system. I had nothing doing for that day and did not feel like the computer so I walked over from my office to the court which was some walking distance.
It was packed already. A young man was in the dock for killing his mum. His eyes were haunted and strained. You could tell he was under a great strain. His wife and members of his family were sitting huddled together and everyone stared at the judge.
One lady sat quietly. She was not agitated, nor was she crying. She was dressed simply and elegantly almost like the judge herself. She had gray hair and you could tell she was most likely to be in her sixties. I was intrigued by her self- restraint.
I’d seen a couple of white garment prophets outside the church assuring the relatives that they had nothing to worry about. I asked my friend why the boy or actually the young man was being charged with killing his mother. He whispered back that he had deliberately driven his mother over the edge of cliff with the car because he had accused her of witchcraft.
Hmm, who fingered her as a witch?’ I asked my friend amused
He indicated the white garment prophets outside the court premises
I groaned and craned my neck to get a better view of the court. I noticed a few of my journalist friends were intrigued by the story and had come to watch the proceedings. I wondered what the elegant lady was doing so I murmured an excuse to my friend and went over to sit beside her.
She gave me a cursory glance and I had a vision of a very beautiful, graceful old lady. She sat still, calmly watching.
I tried to start a quiet conversation.
You know the young man being charged? I enquired?
‘I think so, just before he was born actually’ she said with a smile at me.
‘I see, you must be feeling bad about this then’ I said
She turned and gave me a calm glance from clear brown eyes, then with a slight graceful nod of her head indicated the young man at the dock.
‘His relatives have been praying and asking that the Almighty come to their aid, but I wonder if He is listening’
I shrugged, ‘I am sorry but I…’
‘Not into religion, I know that’ she finished for me, with a slight smile.
‘Have you ever wondered though why God has never seen fit to kill the Devil? I mean that would save a lot of miseries. The misery of a religion and the bottomless stupidity, we inflict on ourselves’
We were silent as the judge walked in and started reading her judgment. She listened impassively.
The judge had declared the case a non-issue ordering a re-trial for manslaughter.
The court erupted into loud jubilation. My old lady stood up. She was not smiling or upset, just calm.
I commented that at least she would be relieved to know it had come out well for the young man. She simply inclined her head. I was now really interested in talking to her further so I asked if I might call on her sometime. She became really amused at my request.
‘That could be a problem as I have just retired from active duty and I am kind of resting now. Just pay the occasional visit you know’.
I remarked that she seemed to know me and so had the advantage.
She said she had often watched my programmes and thought I was doing okay. I pressed for her name and she smiled and gave me her hand
‘I used to be called justice Anike Williams’ she said and then smiling left.
I went over to my friend and started telling him about the old lady, he listened as we walked out the court but almost crashed the car at the fence when I mentioned the name of the lady I had been talking to.
‘You could have killed us’ I complained
He stared at me
‘Are you sure of the name of the lady you talked to?’ he asked me
‘Yes of course I just told you’. I snapped checking to see if I had any injuries. I went cold however with his next comment
‘Justice Anike Williams is the mother of the young man just acquitted and she died in that accident two years ago. I attended the funeral. Who exactly have you been talking to?’
You can read more short stories on Sunset Tales by Biola Olatunde at IFWGPUBLISHING.COM
The romance of this year is slowly coming to an end and we are beginning to look with dewy eyes at the charms of two-faced Janus.
That is the way I feel these days. I ask myself what has been the experience. As a writer, I keep asking myself that question. I have spent most of this year doing something I enjoyed.
February saw the concluding trilogy of my Numen series. It has been an enduring love story for me. When Numen! finally came home to Nigeria, I was at the peak of an excitement that was difficult to put into words.
Then Gerry gave me something that I have been hard-pressed to put properly into words, my books could be printed in my own country under a special arrangement and friends could buy my books here in Nigeria. That was something.
Blood contract my first cut as a writer with an international imprint. A story about the Niger Delta and my impressions
Numen yeye my first contemporary African fantasy series, and book one of the Numen series. The book helped me to identify myself as African and gave me serious thoughts on my traditional beliefs and concepts.
Rose of Numen, I enjoyed writing because it made me see my gods and goddesses as humans who could go through the emotions of love, confusion and even the garden jealousy that besets us as human beings. Goddesses can fall in love, worry about their future too. It went well with my African concept that we were monotheists with several gods and goddesses as messengers to one Creator.
Then there was the last of the trilogy, Numen! which was more like a political commentary about traditional roles in a fast-evolving modern Nigeria, their relevance and the symbiosis of ritual, tradition and governance.
I have spent the last three months in a school that has brought me out of my rosy-eyed expectation of smiling to the bank, to the brutal and harsh reality of getting book retailers, making them see the necessity of helping a poor author get recognition. I have learnt to smile when I get to a bookseller and find my books have been dropped at the back of the shop. I smile when he hurriedly dusts it and makes the pretence of bringing it to the front of the shop.
I have been awed and humbled when I see a pharmacist, tell me his favourite chapters of the book he has taken time to read and had even bought one for his shop clerk. That made me humble, and feel I have not wasted my time.
I know the problem, we are a nation that only reads to pass an examination and I am not a popular detective writer, nor a romance writer so I am a hard sell. But I know that Blood contract is very popular. Those who have read it tell me so and there have been enquiries on how to render it in another medium
This is November, time to make ready for Christmas and the festivities are picking up.
It is the season to relax, review the year and look for gifts for family, loved ones, those you will like to say hello, thanks, and I love you.
Buy one or more of these collections from the following places:
The Kidz Castle (TKC) opposite Film house, Akure Mall (Shoprite) Akure
GTbank sme market hub
Or visit the website https://biolaephesus.com
Look forward to meeting your enquiries.
There was silence as they stared at each other. They were half-brothers but had remained friends because Babatunde acknowledged he was six months younger in age and that had pleased Tope. When Babatunde graduated, there had been slight tension as Tope had expected that his younger sibling might put on some airs as the educated one, but both their mothers had genuinely acted like he was the senior and congratulated him on becoming a graduate in the family.
Papa had been nice too, always recognizing Tope as the older and head of the house after him. Any rising jealousy had thus been nipped in the bud. Babatunde asked him if he would like a beer and Tope shook his head negatively saying he had taken care to drink some really nice palm wine at the local canteen.
Babatunde took the items to the kitchen and returned to find Tope staring in awe at the full life-size photograph of Ife. The photograph took a whole side of the east wall of Babatunde’s living room. It was obviously taken as she stood by the hill amongst flowers and stream. Babatunde watched his brother and had a small smile on his face as Tope turned round. However, there was real alarm in Tope’s eyes as he pointed to the photo and looked at Babatunde. “Why do you have that here?”
“Why not here? It is mine and I happen to live here.” Tope stared for some long seconds, shook his head and went back to the couch. He seemed irritated all of a sudden and that puzzled Babatunde.
He knew the issue of Ife had always bothered his brother and Babatunde was at a loss how to handle it. In a quiet voice, he spoke to his brother. “Look it is my problem and not yours, so why don’t you simply accept it?”
“Papa wants to know if you have any plans of marrying. Even Joseph got married.”
“Is that why he sent you or has he chosen another bride again?” Babatunde asked, searching his brother’s eyes. His hands were clenched at his sides but his voice was even and steady.
Babatunde saw a strange look come into the eyes of his half-brother. He tried to make light of the almost heavy silence.
“Why are you worrying about me? I have been busy with school but you are even older and should have been married by now anyway so what is holding you back?”
“Papa says that you are wanted back in the town as Ifa is to decide the new king and you are to report to the elders,” Tope announced abruptly.
He gave his brother a look that Babatunde recognized as reluctant respect.
Babatunde had a small frown conveyed in his eyes. ”I hope I can get time off from work, my boss is not around now and the one acting on his behalf could be tricky about giving permission.”
Tope shrugged and announced he would like to turn in for the night as he had had a long drive, was tired and gave a big yawn to prove his point. He said his goodnight and hurried off to the guest bedroom.
Babatunde sat back in the living room contemplating his impossible dream. Would Ife ever love him like he loved her? He wondered how he was going to learn to live with it if she did not.
He did not know what he was going to tell his father who was getting on in years. He had tried to shake himself into the reality of his impossible longing and go on with his life.
Now a pharmacist and employed, he still had been unable to date. Not for lack of offers he reminded himself.
He threw himself fully into his work and that was some relief.
The hair on the back of his head prickled and he knew Sasa was around. He sighed and invited his friend in. Sasa now moved closer to him in the physical plane. He could almost always see Sasa in the misty form.
Sasa had identifiable features—a tall, distinguished but youthful old. He still teased him by calling him Fancy Pants particularly if they were having an argument.
Sasa was looking at the Blue Mountains. No, there were no mountains near his home but each time Sasa visited, he showed him things.
Babatunde learned that it was Sasa’s inner thoughts that beamed to him and when they connected he could experience and see one of Sasa’s homes.
Sasa gave him a wry smile and a look from deep blue eyes. “When you have finished, maybe we can have a decent conversation.”
Babatunde smiled. “Has a king being decided?”
“You tell me, young Lion.”
The holiday season is drawing near. Take a look at Numen yeye and buy a copy for a friend if you already have one yourself.
How did it all start? It might be a good question if we all check why we are here on earth, on terra firma, and see if we had a beginning. The classic argument about what came first, the chicken or the egg. We all have a story to tell and I want to tell you about a lot of things. I have wondered if I should just start from the middle of the story but how do I make you understand who I really am?
How can I penetrate the mists of confusion and the bandages that cloud the inner understanding of our journeys into gross matter?
I could tell you about me when I ventured here, about nights wide awake wondering where the help and understanding were going to come from. I could tell you about being black, being proud and being hungry. I could tell you so much about the times I walked the stairs, my heart in my mouth as I got called all kinds of names and had problems identifying my own name. I could tell you how I had to learn to keep my own counsel. I could also tell you so many other things about me. But where do I start?
Let us begin with my earthly mother, for I knew her before I was born in climes of golden rain and blue sunsets, where the water spoke to you of the journeys it had made from the green-sided mountains when silence and the winds were songs that caressed her heart. But my present earthly mother swayed to a different music and came through bands of light so bright into this realm that we still wonder and are mystified at the speed with which she forgot why she came. We called her Jasmine but she needed lessons and traveled down to earth and got the name Fehintola, which in their language meant ‘she leans on honor’.
visit biolaephesus.com for more details
I have been wondering what I should talk about. I have too many topics all needing a hearing from me. I am still writing about the violence issues. I mean domestic and sexual violence. I got quite a lot of responses and was surprised that the responses were across the sexual divide. A couple of issues came up along those lines. What would be the best vehicle to show these issues? A friend said the medium does not really matter if we keep talking. I watched a television programme in which a popular actress appeared to be interested in promoting the fight against rape and it saddened me. She appeared to have trivialized the issue of rape. I finally understood what Bobby Uttaro meant when he said he was leery of the magic of television.
You can not imagine the horror of being raped, you cannot put yourself in the mindset of someone who has been raped. The first thing is the sense of shame and thereafter is the fear. It has to be handled in such a way as to make you feel able to talk about it. We don’t seem to understand and there lies my own personal frustration with the supposed care providers of rape victims.
Incidentally, rape victims can be male or female, child, adult, and for crying out loud, an old woman being raped by her own son! Don’t gawk, it has happened.I am not going to mention real names here as I have not the slightest intention to embarrass the poor woman
Madam Angelique used to be a lively woman, in her late sixties. She looked after her herself and would be seen in quite fashionable clothes as she went to town. She lived alone except for the occasional visit by her last son who worked outside the town in Lagos. Mama Gelly as neighbors called her would chatter nonstop about this son John and you could tell she was besotted with him.
Suddenly, after one of such visits, it was noticed that Mama Gelly did not go round the neighbors to regale her friends with the last exploits of John. Strangely too, John left abruptly. Mama Gelly’s room was always darkened unlike the bright lights we were all used to. We assumed that she was not home and that was why we saw only the security light on most nights. I had misgivings though as that was not in the nature and style of this lively woman. I decided to be a real nosey parker and went to her front door, knocked but got no answer. I was walking away assuming that the old lady was maybe not in the house but something made me look back, and I was rooted to the spot in complete shock
Mama Gelly was holding, a dirty, bloodied sheets to her chest, her eyes were swollen both from beatings and tears. She swayed on her feet in a strange dance with the horror she was living through. I ran back to her just in time as she folded over like a rag doll in a faint. I led her back to her room and burst into tears. Her room looked like a hurricane just hit it
Three hours later, the story came out in bursts of a tired woman. John had come to visit as usual, but there was something unusual this time about him and his mother sensed it. She asked him if he was having money troubles, but he simply shook his head and would stare at her strangely. Mama was nervous suddenly and kept to her herself thinking if she gave John time he would eventually say what was on his mind
John refused his dinner but kept drinking and she told him she was going to bed. She also asked after Angela his girlfriend and got a snarl in response. Not prepared to put up with such rudeness mama headed for her room.
She must have slept off because she said she woke up to find John’s wandering hands on her person. She talked sharply to him but he was too drunk to reason and a struggle ensued. Mama was quiet and I looked around the room. It was clear, my heart sank and a horror of what she must be feeling shuddered through me.
‘Mama, tell me the worst’ I asked softly, my heart was breaking
‘Can’t you tell? The abomination is complete, you cannot rape your own mother and survive seven days’
We stared at each other, then, she whispered;
‘How do I go on living, after he dies, who will I share my grave with, they can’t bury me next to his father because I am a soiled tainted corpse’
She stared at the clock on the wall. That was the like maybe the hundredth time she had done that. She walked to the front door and looked out again. There was no sign of any car. The road was lonely only the loud ticking of the clock gave an indication that something was happening anywhere. Yes and the very loud thumping of her heart, it was racing and making her sweat. Her throat was dry and she drank water again. Gradually, her heartbeat slowed to a crawl, she pressed her lips together, sat in the chair and closed her eyes. That was when she heard the whimper. The whimper of a distressed infant. Kike opened her eyes and sighed. She wondered if she should go to the room and look again. One thing she was sure about was the fact that she was steadily going mad. It was close to closing time and she knew that her husband would soon be home. That was why she gotten dressed even as she fought her rising anxiety each day. Kike wondered what she could make for dinner because this time she wanted to shoe Deji that she was getting over her loss. That was why she was dressed up and remembered that she sent for dinner from the eatery down the street. She wanted to thank her husband for his patience in these weeks when everything had been just one long blur of pain.
The door opened and she pasted a smile on her face as she turned to say a warm welcome to her husband but was frozen into a stare as she saw nobody. Kike stood up and walked to the open door suddenly terrified. The whimper of the infant suddenly came again and Kike instinctively put her hands to her ears as she moaned. ‘You are a dead baby, back to where you came from, why are you torturing me like this’ A hand touched her and Kike screamed. Deji held her tightly and whispered in her ears telling her it was okay, he was home now. Kike collapsed in tears holding on to her husband.
Minutes later, after washing her face of the carefully applied make up she had put on to welcome Deji, she tiredly told her husband that she really needed to visit her mother in the village
‘You think a visit to the village might help you? Mama left three days ago. Kike, you need to start living again. We can always have another baby’
Yes, we can as soon as this one accepts it is gone. I think the baby is uncomfortable wherever it is right now’
Deji gave his wife a puzzled look, ‘why do you say that it was a stillbirth, it never opened its eyes’
‘They took him’
Deji clamped his lips determined not to be drawn into the conversation that Kike was angling for. He had told his wife he was not buying into any story that there was more to his losing his son than the doctor had told him.
Today, I am talking to Biola Olatunde, author of the book Blood Contract. I was thrilled when I met Biola on a social networking site because she is a writer and a Yoruba writer at that. Because I researched Nigeria and especially the Yoruba culture for my Fahdamin-Ra series, I could tell immediately that she was Yoruba by her name. When we started corresponding back and forth, I found that she is an extremely talented woman with a long list of accomplishments, such as being the producer of a small independent production company, a writer many scripts and a producer for radio and television programs, as well as writing and producing plays, and a published author. She also runs a small concierge service that takes tourists around to interesting places in Nigeria. I don’t think that she ever sleeps!
I was fascinated by her book, Blood Contract, so I quickly acquired it and dove in right away. It is about a man named Kenawari, who lives in Port Harcourt, a city in Nigeria, but not at the Izon village where he came from. He has married a white American woman, started a family, and for fifteen years, he thought that he left his old life far behind. However, Ken ends up being sent home to the Niger Delta to investigate a kidnapping at his home village. The story is an unfolding mystery as the reader learns more about the present day case that Kenawari is involved with, as well as uncovering the secrets of Ken’s past and why he left the Izon, never intending to return. He meets new people in the tribe as well as people from his past, in a mysterious area that is shadowed with old secrets.
Before I read the book, I was unfamiliar with the Izon tribe and life in the Niger Delta swamps, but Biola tells the story so skillfully that I was soon there with Ken, thoroughly absorbed in the plot and characters. I love how she tells a thoughtful story of the turmoil in a man’s life while showing us a people who struggle to survive.
Now, let’s hear from Biola:
What inspired you to write Blood Contract?
That is an interesting question Chaz, I wanted to correct an impression amongst my people that everyone who lived in the Niger Delta was a militant. I had met quite a number of them and found them fiercely devoted to their watery seascape. They are generally hardworking, stoic and taciturn. I had a chance to live amongst a particular tribe of the Niger Delta and learned to respect them. I wanted to present them as the same as every other Nigerian with more reasons to question the rationale of being part of an entity that does not recognize them as equal partners
Your main character, Kenawari, is from one of the 250+ tribes in Nigeria, a different one from your own. How did you become familiar with the Izon tribe of the Niger Delta?
I worked with one of them as a broadcaster. Being of a curious nature I wanted to know his people and at first, he was suspicious but gradually saw I was sincere so he would tell me about his tribe. The Izon makes for the fourth largest tribe in my country and the richest in its resources of oil and gas. It is, however, the most neglected part of the country until recently.
What message in Blood Contract do you want your readers to grasp?
Essentially, the message of Blood Contract is a social commentary of humanity’s failure to recognize fundamental rights of everyone, to dream, and work towards having that dream actualized. The human society is the same everywhere. Being a member of a part of the world that has been stereotyped as backward, it was ironic that we also discriminate against ourselves. I thought it was dumb to do that, human beings have a right to be rational and the demands of the izon and tribes of the Niger Delta was genuine. I also did not want to write a romantic story of the bad guy and the good guy but wanted to show that the society we live in accommodates all. The good, the bad and the ugly.
The difficulties that Ken goes up against – the poverty, the robber barons, and kidnappings that happen in his village – are those problems present in the Izon tribe today?
Of course, those problems still exist not only in my country and in the Niger Delta but in every part of the world I imagine. We have not found Utopia yet anywhere I reckon. Kidnappings have gone on even in other tribes and armed robbers have become really daring, but not as a result of being Izon but as a consequence of the imbalance in the world generally.
You can purchase Blood Contract from my publishers IFWG PUBLISHING.COM
These books of Biola Olatunde are now available in Nigeria.
Rose of Numen
You can also buy them from the following places
KTC @Akure shopping mall Akure.
Sunshine booksellers.com University of Ibadan
Leading bookshops in Akure
Will you please close your eyes for a few seconds, imagine yourself in a jungle somewhere in Africa. Don’t start sweating now, but .. okay, I don’t want to run away or amok with the picture. I am not crazy you know and this is not from some crank.
My name is Biola Olatunde, you have to know that first off because you might be too interested to remember it after you have finished reading. It is okay to laugh now but do go on reading. I write like this on my blog, you guessed right, I am a blogger, an author, a poet and producer. Before you get bored altogether with my crazy introductions let me get to the story.
What does it feel like being an author in my country?
Good question, authors in Nigeria get the shortest end of the stick. You cannot make it a calling, or a profession and definitely cannot live by your earnings from books you publish. One big drawback is the populace. Simply put, we don’t read. Hold it, we are educated, because we read a whole lot so we can pass exams, get a certificate, get a job or start a business. Read for pleasure? You get a blank stare and a change of subject. ..if you are under 40, people within my age bracket remember with nostalgia books they had read, the comics, novels and the poetry.
But those books were written by western authors and gave some of us dreams that we might be able to write. They were not specified literature, but we devoured them, romantic novels, detectives, thrillers, mysteries, even biographies
In the sixties and seventies, being an author might have fetched you the odd change enough to buy you new socks or a few shirts. You learn that even then remuneration from publishers was practically zilch, you wrote then because there was a chance, that some fellow from the education ministry might read your book, and show it to the curriculum fellows at the ministry and if you have been a very good boy, they recommend your book to secondary school or even primary school. You are made then, as your publisher will give you a smile and promptly offer you 10% of the sales. The author never gets the cream off his hard work. Your creativity is something most Nigerians hardly ever think you deserve good recompense. Publishers are generally not keen on your manuscript unless you can assure him that the book will get a government nod. Authors, therefore take the route of self-publishing these days.
Self- publishing for Nigerians who do not have the English language as their first language is fraught with a lot of confusion, more so when in these days, you are wondering if you should opt for American English or British. We can’t tell the difference most times.
What genre of writing should you write that will hold the interest of the public? These days of sci-fi films, noir, erotica and so forth, we do not know one genre from the other. I like to think, the best way forward in that particular territory is to write about what you know best, Those days of my youth when I read a lot of Somerset Maugham, I learned that he would research his story, get a feel of the kind of characters he wanted to portray so he got to know his protagonist pretty well. I used that method always in my writings either as radio plays, or novels. I visited the Niger Delta, stayed in one of the towns, and interviewed a lot of the average Niger Deltan to get a feel of the place before I wrote my first published novel, BLOOD CONTRACT. I was very gratified to receive comments from people in that area thinking I was a native of the place. You need to be able to put such feelings and empathy in your writing. For us, concentrate on writing well.
You should be believable and honest I remember my cousin one day read my television plays and raised puzzled eyes as she asked me if these things I have written were actual events. I replied that they were based on real events. She shook her head and wondered why I want to live by imagining things. She asked me why I did not want to start a trade and earn really good money. For an author in Nigeria like I mentioned earlier, it will take awhile before authors can earn real good money. They are constrained now to do other things and even our Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka had to earn his living through being a lecturer.
Young people are now writing, trends are evolving, and some publishers are also emerging but the essence of writing still remains the same. If you enjoyed writing it, the reader would probably agree with you and pay for that pleasure.
In the next couple of weeks, I hope to make available to anyone interested, the fine points about writing and we will share together.
Once in while I get a writing binge and I like to think might be experiencing a binge for the moment. Let’s share together while the itch is one shall we
He is tall, slim, played a good game of basketball. He was even thinking of going to the states to seek the golden fleece… in basketball. In fact, he is also a good actor and the Film industry was paying him close attention. He is every girl’s dream, however, the joke is akin did not have a girlfriend and I used to wonder.
I felt something was not just right, I even wondered if he was gay, but he didn’t show any mannerism that would indicate he had such tendencies. Akin seemed closed into himself. Always friendly but he subtly resisted being close to anyone in the Rest House.
The Rest House was the place that victims of any form of sexual violence always came to and I am one of the volunteers. Maybe I would tell you how I got to be a volunteer there. I am telling you about Akin today I could break that wall of protection he always had around him until one evening when Mrs. Roberts brought in an eleven-year-old who had been battered by his uncle.
Akin’s eyes opened wide on seeing the boy and he unraveled right before our eyes. He dropped on his knees and held the boy tight as he whispered fiercely if the pastor had done anything else. The two hugged each other and the young boy just wept as he dropped his pants.
We watched in stunned horror as the boy collapsed in tears too. What was going on?
Akin rolled his eyes and bunched his fists. Mrs. Roberts asked me to take Akin to the inner room. Akin followed me, sat and looked at his bunched fists for long seconds obviously fighting for control. Then he spoke in very measured tones. What he told me chilled me.
‘I know that boy, I have been trying to trace his mother because I was worried what the pastor was going to do with him and to him. You see, he is my uncle and I had planned to find a way to castrate him. I have been keeping tabs on him since I learned he had opened a branch here. His wife is the owner of a church while he is the secretary. He does everything she wants as she claims to see visions. It is a crazy and sick circle.’ Akin fell silent looking into a personal hell then he continued in a soft tortured voice.
‘He is a henpecked who is too ashamed to own up to the fact that he is abused by his own wife, so each time his wife either beats him up, he takes it out on the boys in his church. He strips himself and then abuses the boys, re-enacting the abuse he suffers from his wife. I was a victim until I threatened to tell his wife and then ran away.’
The room was silent as Akin stared at his hands. He looked at me then ‘I want to help him but how can I tell him anything? He is abused by his wife sometimes and I knew nobody will ever believe my story. Are there human beings like that? How can he approach the Father almighty? Who will break the circle?’
‘He very rarely washes, he has a bad smell and then he asks you to come and take your punishment, he says. Then I find that he breaks down sometimes and cries that the devil should take his soul’.
I had to make a silent prayer to know what to tell him. I explained to him that he would have to accept that his uncle should seek help and get out of such a horrible situation. I did not have the answers but I explained that Akin himself needed to seek help as much as the young boy that Mrs.Roberts brought in. Now I understood why he was loath to have any type of relationship with girls. When I asked him that question and where his sexual orientation lay, he gave me a startled look. He was quiet for a while, then said he might like girls but how was he going to know she was not going to turn out a terror like his uncle’s wife?
You know we hear talk about violence against women, but there is violence against men too? The shame of confessing to abuse by women may turn a man into something more horrible.
‘It started with the looks, not extraordinary, maybe I was just anticipating it. I was however not mistaken about the quiet anger. It showed in her actions. She was brusque when she talked to me and frowned even when I had a bath.
Gradually the horrifying realization dawned that she was angry. She was not just angry but outraged with…me. I died literarily when I realized that. My mum was angry with me because I had been stupid enough to get raped. he let that slip one time, she said only stupid girls get raped’.
I stared at her in shock, her mother and my friend had asked me to have a talk with her. She didn’t give me details, now I knew why.
‘I am right you see? You are kind of quiet’. She stood up abruptly, about to flee and I had the presence of mind to hold her just in time. The tears came in torrents and my blouse was wet from her tears and mine.
Bimbo was raped two months ago by her boyfriend. She had known him and everybody in their circle was expecting wedding bells anytime. They went to the same church, were in the same choir together. One evening after choir practice, they had gone to his flat and very strangely for Lekan, he had asked her if she truly was a virgin. Bimbo had been shocked by that answer as Lekan was her first real boyfriend.
She answered in the affirmative thinking that was the end of that. He had then said, since they were going to get married anyway, they might as well make love so they would be familiar with each other’s body. Bimbo said no in very firm tones and stood up to leave only to find Lekan had shut the door and had the key in his pocket. She stared at him in shock and asked him if he was feeling unwell because that was so out of character.
Lekan simply smiled and reached for her and she told him to stop fooling around but to open the door as she needed to get dinner ready for her parents who were out. Lekan simply pulled her into an embrace which she resisted. Her resistance gave him some strange strength as he held her in vice grip and dragged her to his bedroom.
Bimbo said she went suddenly still in fright and tried to calm him down. But the devil had gotten into Lekan His eyes were wild as he tore at her clothes, pinned her down, forcibly tried to kiss her and when she opened her mouth to scream for help, Bimbo got a resounding slap. She blacked out from the slap a few seconds recovered in time to sob as Lekan raped her.
Minutes later, Lekan sobbed beside her as she silently tried to staunch the bleeding from Lekan’s rape. He begged, prostrated, wept and said the devil got into him. He said his friends had told him that Bimbo was lying, that a twenty-six-year-old graduate could not possibly be a virgin.
Bimbo borrowed a shirt from his wardrobe and went home in a taxi he got for her. She went into some kind of shock and was running a temperature by the time her parents came home. She was curled tight on the bed in a fetal position shivering. The effects of the bruises were now evident on her.
She was taken to the hospital and the doctor confirmed to the stunned parents that Bimbo was raped. Her mother had instinctively sent for Lekan not thinking that Lekan was the rapist.
Lekan came and prostrated begging for forgiveness, saying he had every intention of marrying Bimbo. Bimbo’s mother had to physically prevent her husband from committing murder that day.
That was two months ago, and according to Bimbo, it has been two months of horror. Her dad had insisted she was to break up the relationship.
As far as Bimbo was concerned, she just wanted to be left alone and then she noticed in horror that her mum blamed her for the rape. For her, that was the last straw and she came to me.
What do you think?
She looked at me puzzled. I stared back in shocked surprise. Elegantly dressed, a lawyer and very incisive in her comments.
‘When you look at me, you assume I have got the best of both worlds right?’
I nodded wondering what was coming and unprepared for her next sentence
‘I wish I have the nerve to kill myself, that is after I have killed him’
I asked her softly why she wanted to kill anybody in the first place including herself
Then she talked.
At nine years old, she was not sure she was going to get an education at all. Her mother was one of three wives and her father had declared that the wives were to look after the girls they had given birth to.
‘He called us apprentice witches who had taken after our mothers’
The women did the best they could either appealing to their own siblings, eking out something from their petty trade. According to Yemi, there wasn’t much to expect from her mum so her uncle was called to help.
‘ the First day on the farm, he asked me to come to the pepper patch I understood what he did then as some form of sexual assault. He had not progressed to actual rape. He said he liked me and if I kept my head, he would ensure I had a fair deal in his house. I was too awed by his big frame and his armpits smelled awful. I slept badly that night.
Next morning, he took me off to the local authority school and registered me in kindergarten one. I was almost 10 years old. The teachers taught I was a joke. Most of my classmates in a kindergarten class could speak better than me. I was the class giraffe, the fool, the errand idiot. They laughed but I was silent. I was finally in school. My mum was over the moon and she thanked her brother over and over again.
‘Two weeks of school, Uncle got drunk and I got my first rape’. Yemi went on talking in a matter of fact voice as if she was giving the facts and potentials of the case she was about to defend in court.
My heart sank as I listened, what was I going to do? Nothing much I realized as I listened to a woman who had learned to keep her own counsel and had in some fashion maybe come to some peace.
As she got older, she was able to run away and come to the city. Yemi read privately as an external student to do her WAEC. She got a job as a cleaner in one of the banks and gradually went for more courses and was able to pay her way to read the law.
She never told her mum about the pepper patch rapes. She said she did not see what good that would serve. It was payment for the opportunity to be able to read and write.
Her mother passed away when she was in 300 level in the university. When she met Bayo, she went through the motions of an excited bride and was relieved when she got pregnant. But still had nightmares of the rapes
She had a perfect excuse to keep the physical side of their relationship to the barest minimum. She had also learned to control her rages
‘I did not like all that romance stuff he was into, did not like undressing, did not want any male looking at my body so I was happy being a born-again wife. However I had developed a crazy mannerism, I would bathe at every opportunity and would perfume my body all over. If Bayo touched me I would go stiff as a board and freak out. At first, Bayo found it amusing and thought I was just shy’
‘You never told him about your uncle’?
‘Are you mad? First, he will not believe me, then that look will come into his eyes and he will watch you every minute, or he will start asking you every tiny detail wondering or teasing that you probably enjoyed even a tiny bit of the rape’.
So what do you want to do? I asked when the silence was beginning to stretch
‘Bayo wants to visit my uncle to thank him for the education, If I lay eyes on that uncle, I will have to kill him and then kill myself to stop the torture of years and misery. Will you get someone to stand for my child?’
Please, what should I say to her?