BROKEN MIRRORS

confused man

It took us five years to get pregnant, first two years of our marriage, we spent discovering each other, and making plans, building our home. At first it didn’t bother us, because we thought we had it all planned out, we wanted to be ready before the baby came, so we waited, one year became two years and the three years, and my wife became worried, so did i.

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THEY CAME IN GREEN PT3

wpid-sad_black_woman.jpgBy the time I woke up, it was already late in the morning, and to my surprise I wasn’t tied or thrown into a hole like I had thought, I was just alone in the tent, I touched the side of my head, it didn’t hurt as much, but I still felt the pain, probably from the memory of the blow, I still lay down and stared at the tent ceiling, it was rather hot inside, Continue reading

THEY CAME IN GREEN (PT2)

tearsWe were driven for what seemed like an eternity, the long drive was quiet, quiet not because we were tired, but quiet because we were uncertain of what lay in front of us, the realization that we had been taken sank in very fast, i had heard stories of people being taken captive and never heard from again, many of us had even paid visits to families who had lost loved ones either by way of a stray or intentional bullets, axes or machetes, or being taken away, i would always say the same things over and over again, Continue reading

PARADISE ISLAND PT3

wpid-sad_black_woman.jpgAfter the incident we began to talk and play as kids’ do, I even started to hang out with Obiri and the rest of her friends whenever Aunty Edith was out as she often was. Sometimes I will follow her and Kemta her side kick to kuramo near the motor park on the other end of Paradise to go hustle. We go there to sell ‘Igbo’ weed or stolen phones which had been appropriated from handbags and pockets of careless commuters unlucky enough to have let their guard down while in Paradise Island, my duty was to stand watch near the road by the okada commercial cyclists to watch out for Police or ‘Askari’ as Obiri calls them in street parlance.

Sometimes i will follow them to Audu the Mai-Suya in front of Ghana High for barbeque fish with coke to chase it down, this was a luxury and only happened once in a while. I love coke but could not afford to buy it save the few times we made some money and will treat ourselves to one bottle each or share between us. Sometimes on these trips kemta and the other girls will steal off with the commercial motorcyclists, the okada men going towards the far and dark part where the beach huts faced rumbling waves of the ocean. They would be gone for 15 perhaps 20 minutes and then come back, the okada drivers adjusting his trousers and the girls counting money. I did not understand what they were selling but never asked not once although i never saw Obiri go with them.

Paradise island a complete contrast to its name one of the most deprived and violent ghettos in the city. It stood alone set apart from other areas an island standing aloof as though in defiance of constituted authority, that might be open to debate but most of the inhabitants were certainly in defiance of society. We made our own rules lived by our unwritten commandments. “Thou shalt not steal from residents” or a tire round your neck, a box of matches materialize as if from thin air and the culprit is reduced to cinders all in minutes. You are permitted to steal from outside never in Paradise…  

The Island concealed a rich gaggle of hardened criminals, inexhaustible supply of mild mannered and well-spoken fraudsters alike, I was yet to figure out the most terrifying monsters were not battle hardened villains carrying guns waylaying innocent people, they were those much closer to home sporting the beguiling smiles endearing manners.    

This Friday evening as usual Aunty Edith dressed up to go out only this time she laid out a pretty dress on the bed, she asked me if I liked it and i was extremely thrilled when i realized it was for me.I tried it on and it was a little short and revealing but I did not care so much about that. This does not happen every day so I was happy with my new dress, giggling with childish excitement. After a while we heard a knock and aunty opened the door, as soon as I saw his face my heart sank to the pit of my stomach, not even the excitement of my new dress could remedy the unpleasant mien that had sullied my happy mood, of all Auntie’s friends and customers I resent the man standing in the doorway the most. I constantly felt a strange sense of unease how Uncle Sammy stares and ogles me with those bloodshot eyes of his, piercing eyeballs which seem to bore right through me, searing as though stripping me naked. He is obese and very dark in complexion, always sweaty with a lingering body odor that trailed after him, not unlike mama’s He-goat back in the village.

Once, when Aunty was not looking he grabbed my bottom but I quickly pulled away from him, since then I am always mindful of being near him.   He stepped inside Aunty greeting him and both exchanged fleeting looks I did not understand but dismissed as something adults do. He sat down and like Aunty had tutored me, quickly rushed to our small fridge to fetch the bottle of beer reserved for him as i uncorked it he made a half-hearted effort to grab me and I jumped back alarmed, he laughed heartily as he busied himself filling the glass to the brim and gulping down to the dregs lips smacking in contentment. He must be giving her a lot of money because she never entertains any of the others, not even with ordinary water or biscuit, unless they brought out their own cash. Ah!!! Aunty never jokes with money.

 I sat down in a corner soon lost in my dreams my girlish fantasies though still self-conscious in his presence tried to cover the exposed part of my body due to the revealing dress. Aunty left with him later but instructed me to leave the door unlocked. It must have been no less than 30-45 minutes after I had been in bed I heard a creak in the door, before I could react I felt a massive sweaty palm clamp over my mouth. The overpowering odor the weight on top of me, even in the darkness I instinctively knew it was Uncle Sammy.

 In blind panic i tried struggling free the distinctive odor of cigarette assailing my nostrils but with little success. He was on top of me now breathing heavily noxious scent of beer and whiff of nicotine bellowing out with his every breath, ever present stale sweat as he continued slobbering all over me, while I tried twisting my face away from his terrifying assault. I made an effort to push him off and scream but he had planted his lips directly over mine, almost swallowing my lips and tongue in his slobbery and slimy assault. With his shoulder and part of his chest pinning me down to the bed one of his hands was fumbling and squeezing my immature and barely formed breast, rough and mauling touch really painful mentally more so. It felt like an eternity of his terrifying assault before he briefly paused to undo his belt .Then I saw a fleeting chance to free my right hand, as i grabbed an empty bottle sitting on the side of the bed and smashed it on his bald head as hard as I could with what little strength i had left, the bottle did not break but his yelp of pain as his hands instinctively went up to his head holding and massaging the point of contact was satisfying indeed.  

This created a small window of opportunity to quickly slip out from underneath him as i ran outside the room into the darkened corridor darting out as fast as my legs could carry me. He lumbered outside the bedroom after me cursing loudly and trying to grab hold of me but I was already outside, holding my torn nightie tightly with one hand to my chest and racing towards the main road. I looked around for any sign of Aunty but she was nowhere in sight so crossed over to the other side, and after a quick look to make sure he was not following ducked and hid my small frame on the other side of a disused sand dune. I sighted him after some minutes shuffling out, still massaging his head and smoking as he continued muttering audibly even in the distance. He lurched off into the night the dark already cloaking his dark thoughts and designs with the enveloping anonymity darkness affords the vile and evil.   It was in this state shivering with fright that omoefa had accosted me. She led me back to her own room lending me a shirt to wear over my torn dress, and then gave me her bed to sleep in until the next morning when Aunty will return. The next morning before I left Omoefa warned me not to accept opened drink or food from any of Auntie’s friends. I returned back to our apartment with a new resolve to return back to the village with the little money I have saved going out with Obiri and Kemta. I know mama can use the money to start something and we would have enough at least to feed.

To Be Continued……………………..

By Bunmi olaniyan

Read Part 2 HERE

PARADISE ISLAND PT2

 

wpid-sad_black_woman.jpgToday I turn sixteen years old.  

As I lay there deliberating my friend Omoefa’s coarse and loud voice rang out as she shouted my name from outside startled me out of short lived reverie. I got up from the bed still in my pant and bra holding my head which had subsided a bit, just by sheer will and effort managed to put on a pair of Jeans and tee shirt. I slipped on a pair of slippers and stepped into the slightly darkened corridor crisscrossed with other rooms adjoined leading out to the compound.  

I beheld one of the older girls who also worked in our compound Cindy and friends dancing near the window but ignored them only extending a brief greeting to Deborah one of the girls as I moved on, I heard from Omoefa’s roommate Cindy was from a good home, had even been sent to school a real secondary school but had run off with an older boyfriend her father’s pension safely tucked in her bag. The boyfriend swindled her and traveled out to Spain, leaving her with just a letter I suppose as memento or reminder I don’t know. Some have feet and shoes to wear on them, some have shoes but no feet, others possess neither shoes nor feet I wish, i wonder….  

I met Omoefa sitting in a corner with the girls smoking ‘Igbo’ weed as they all shuffled to the music emanating from the stereo. I went towards them and as soon as they sighted me, they all shouted as if on cue hailing AREA HOW FAR NAH? Happy Birthday!!!

Tinuke Omoefa’s room mate passed me a cup of “Tombo liquor “as I joined them on the bench Omoefa passed me the smouldering wrap of ‘Igbo’ she was smoking. I held it between my thumb and forefinger the embers cackling, sparks emitting from the tiny embers of the seed as i tapped the excess ash off. I put the cup to my lips and swallowed a mouthful of the local gin, my eyes watered slightly as the ethanol hit me full in the chest, oblivious to my pain charting a burning path down my throat traversing relentlessly down, a fiery passageway to the pit of my stomach. I took a long drag of the ‘Igbo’ weed inhaling holding in the smoke as long as I could thankfully, it was not the highly intoxicating kanaku hybrid.

The smoke circulated slowly coursing through internal orifice, oh so soothing…swirling as in creating an artificial smokes screen, cloud-induced interface alongside sudden No stark reality of the life i existed in.   It was all I could do not to lean back in relief my headache slowly receding as though dancing backwards, evaporating into nothingness…air, just like the smoke emanating from my slightly parted lips and nostrils drifting up into oblivion. I watched it all swirling upwards towards a stack heap of forgone memories where earlier introspection, niggling conscience end up never to harm or hold my thought process in a choke hold leaving me free to indulge in my vices, my excesses with no recourse to conscientious thoughts. 

The first time omoefa and I met she had accosted me hiding behind the sand dune crying profusely on a Friday night. I was tucked away in a darkened corner hence did not notice my presence until she nearly stepped on me. Omoefa shouted out in fright jumping back “Blood of Jesus” seeing me clearly her initial fright swiftly morphed into anger. She rounded up in anger asking who I was and my purpose for lurking in the darkness, all the while getting ready to smash her upturned fist in my face. Tears still running down my face intermittently casting furtive glances towards the main gate i had escaped from, she must have realized the extent of my disconcert especially at the sight of my torn clothes as I held tightly to cover my half exposed breasts. Her anger turned to concern, as she asked me what had occurred abandoning all her initial resolve and hostility.  

When I arrived Paradise Island I was still naïve hence was oblivious to what the girls actually did until much later. I only started to enjoy myself after I met Obiri, a girl who lived in a shack next to our compound. She was my age although looked and acted older, that girl was a real tomboy a fire cracker. I often wondered how she came to be living on their own in the ghetto later after becoming firm friends, she confided in me that she ran away from home hiding under a lorry ferrying plantains to Lagos.

She was labelled a witch by a man they called ‘Prophet Zephaniah’ in her village, Prophet’s minions tortured then forced her to drink a concoction made out of water droplets drained from a dead body, declaring the spirit of the dead will compel her into a confession of her deeds even against her will. It seemed one of the strongest demons dwelt in her dark heart as she failed to confess, repeatedly maintaining her innocence. This provoked Prophet’s holy anger as he instructed assistants to hold her down, mouth forced open using his holy staff and concoction poured down her throat. Ensuing stomach cramps triumphant validation for prophet Zephaniah.

She had been accused initially by her father of deploying the powers of witchcraft that strong demonic spirit to drain his destiny causing an inability to feed her 8 siblings, he was a subsistent farmer. Her ropes had been untied in the dead of the night by her mother, who urged her to run away or be killed. Rescuing her mother and siblings from her father’s clutches and giving them a better life has been her motivation for hustling. I will make it in Paradise Island one day you watch and see if I don’t she often said with strong conviction and seriousness.      

Aunty had sent me to buy some Panadol at baba Oyibo’s chemist not very far from our compound. On my way back, one of the boys who hang around our street accosted me snatching Auntie’s change off my hand. I cried out begging him to give me back the money but he laughed taunting me until Obiri walked towards us and faced him. Looking on steadily no expression on her face bellying her true intentions she asked him to return my money, but he didn’t pay her any heed neither did I to be fair. Request repeated again this time firmly resolute as calm as you please, or he would get a beating. He finally paid attention to the irritant quickly surveying her small frame incredulously, unbelieving of the sheer impudence from this tiny runt as he laughed gleefully. Truly Obiri like me was shorter than the boy, by this time his friends had sauntered closer cheering urging him on.

All of a sudden she lunged forward grabbing his neck like a man and raining punches, open mouthed map of disbelief displayed all over my face at the sight “See this small ‘Pelenge’ girl fighting a boy. The fight seemed reminiscent of David and Goliath bored children had begun watching and clapping as the impromptu fight progressed. She landed a quick succession of punches then another slap Ha it’s a miracle!! I stopped counting after nine punches with interjecting slaps, a cut on his thick black lips blood spurted trailing down his jaw line. He was riled seriously angry now, yellow rimmed eyeballs bulging in naked resentment as he wiped excess blood with the hem of his oversize 2pac long sleeve tee shirt, he began pulling up his sleeves. It has gotten much personal no more a random past time but saving face that male ego has to be redeemed forthwith. He deliberately rushed towards Obiri swinging wildly right hand busy, as he made to grab her with his left hand we all gasped in fright but she darted back evading his latest swing, then moved in crouching like Malaika the great wrestler in our village. She grabbed his legs in a seemingly coordinated motion and shoved him backwards. He landed hard on his buttocks the audible grunt of pain sounding like a pig’s grunt. The tides had swiftly turned at this stage everyone turning the boos earlier directed towards the small girl into cheers the now vanquished fighter lying on the ground, smarting from defeat. I watched her beat him back to the ground, even after he unsuccessfully tried to get back up until an old woman drove the crowd away with a long broom.  Caught up in the excitement I had forgotten about my dilemma until I felt my cloth tugged from the back i turned around to see her still looking disheveled from the fight and sporting a small bump on her right cheekbone, without a word she shoved the crumpled change in my palm abruptly walking away.

To Be Continued……………………………

Written By Bunmi olaniyan 

Read Part 1 HERE

AND SOME CAME HOME, BUT……….

20140508-094414

There are questions, oh yes, there are questions that must be asked, and yes I speak for myself, and that is why I write by myself, but I want you to read, and maybe, just maybe you might have the same questions going through your mind.

The nobility, not mobility oh, sorry Mr. mobility I had to clarify that, now where was I, oh yes, the nobility of the cause to bring back the kidnapped Chibok Girls is quite laudable, and admirable, and oh well you get the point, and while there have been demands and cries and appeals and so on, the fact still remains that the girls have not been brought back, and more have been taken, although we have been made to believe, or rather an attempt to convince everyone that no recent kidnaps have been carried out, we know better don’t we?

Anyway, back to the main reason I decided to postpone my pancake breakfast to put these words on virtual paper. For a while now, there have been reports, reports of girls escaping from the clutches of their captors, and I don’t mean 1 or 2, am talking about 40 and most recently 63 girls have escaped, now I rejoiced when I read the news, at least even if those we are asking to bring them back have foot dragged for over 80days, the girls have carried out daring escapes, and have come up, and we give God all the glory, or you give glory to who or whatever it is you worship, well because last time I checked, there was still freedom of religion, or am I wrong?

Anyway, this morning I read on the wire, that 63 girls had escaped, and I immediately decided to scan through the popular social media sites to authenticate the information, but to my surprise, or maybe lack of it, I found no news about the returned girls, correct me if I am wrong, and I am pretty sure lots of people will correct me, but isn’t the return meant to be a good thing? If the return of some of the girls is a good thing, then shouldn’t there be so much noise, that scrolling through preferred social media sites would be so tedious a task, as to drain the batteries of our handheld devices, but alas, as I scrolled through, my battery life dropped from 100% to a mere 96%.

Requests have been made, does it really matter in what order the requests are granted? Or should the granting of the request not be the topmost priority? Whenever some individuals request for visas to visit other countries, and the requests are granted, don’t they rush to their various churches and give testimonies of how they had to walk through the valley of death to acquire said visas, and the story of triumph in the end? So why should the escape of 63 girls and more in the recent past, who have been in the hands of their abductors for over 80 days not be a cause for celebration, press conferences, twitter Hashtags, Facebook likes and even a reason to resurrect My-space, instead all I see are comments of doubt, all I see are comments blaming the government, of fueling a continued illusion, all I see is silence from hearts that should be filled with joy, and all I ask is this, should it be so?

I don’t intend for this write up to be lengthy, mainly because I hate cold pancakes, but in an much as it is right to make demands and keep the #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS campaign alive, wouldn’t it be swell to know that there are waiting arms, open, in the eventuality that they will return, albeit in some unconventional and unexpected manners?

Would it not be heartwarming to see the same energy used in making the demand, to also rejoice with such news, and splash it all over the internet and in the real world?

Would it not be nice to know that, there are plans on ground to ensure the escaped girls receive all the medical and psychological attention they require, after such a harrowing experience?

Yes, I know at this point most readers are itching to comment, and so gladly inform us that there are modalities in place, but they are being kept under wraps, but then I would reply, I am not asking to see the girls, I am not requesting to see their names, all I am asking is that, the same energy used to keep the hashtag alive, the same energy used in giving us updates about the insensitivity of the government and their callous approach to finding the girls and ending the carnage, should also be put into informing eager ears and the numerous disciples on the progress made with the returned girls.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

Well I think I have said enough for now, but before I go, I’ll say this, I am happy, some are coming home, I am happy they were able to escape, and eventually, they will be reunited with their families.

“For they who clamor

Silently Pray

For the Clamor to go unnoticed

So the clamor may continue

And the spotlight remains”

God Bless You, God Bless Me, God Bless The federal Republic Of Nigeria……. Wait that is still our name right?

Written By Arome Ameh (The Priest)

THE HOAX CALLED #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS?

20140508-094414We are all aware of the situations plaguing this nation, and one of such getting direct and immediate attention is that of the terrorist group known as Boko Haram, yes they have unleashed so much terror in our hearts, and it has gotten to the point where we can no longer sit, and say “God will do it”.

They have killed innocent men, women and children, and have done so without any repercussions what so ever, and with that they took their malicious practices one step further, by kidnapping a group of young girls, from an educational institution, late at night, if you say cowards, then yes I will agree with you, and that was what it seems finally broke the proverbial camel’s back. It has caused so much outrage, and so much disgust, that almost everyone around the globe, has joined the #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS train, am pretty sure you are wondering why I say almost everyone, well I’ll tell you, because that’s the main reason why I am writing this.

We heard of the kidnap, long before now, and silently we hoped by some cosmic intervention, we would hear the girls had been found, and for a fleeting moment, we received word that the girls had been rescued by our knights in shiny armor, but that would prove later to be a false piece of information, and this got everyone talking, and the simple question that raged in our minds was, WHY WOULD THEY CHOOSE TO LIE ABOUT SUCH A THING?

We were expected to swallow this lie, and move on, and with time, forget about who was kidnapped, when and where, but alas, the questions refused to go calmly into the night, and suddenly there were more questions, and attention shifted to CHIBOK, BORNO state, the scene of that heinous crime, where more questions were asked, with very little answers, shrouded with a lot of secrecy , we read and watched as different parties played the blame game, but little did they know that this time, the questions would soon turn to demands.

The birth of the hashtag #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS was born, and it quickly gained global recognition, and so did the various questions on the sincerity of the whole kidnap saga, it is worthy to note at this point, that opinions are the sole property and prerogative of the holder, but it becomes difficult to grasp the various sorts of ideologies different people are walking around it, don’t worry I will attempt to expatiate.

A group of girls were kidnapped, and the news broke, we were all appalled at first, then there was fear, then we waited for a reaction from the helm, but to our surprise, the reaction was obviously coming either from china or Australia, because it was taking forever, and soon our fear turned to anger, and anger birthed demands, and during that period, we woke up to the sounds of bombs, killing more innocent citizens, and this was the last straw, it became clear at that point that it would no longer be business as usual, suddenly without being told in a village meeting, we all realized it was our right to demand for protection, for freedom, enough was enough, but while I wanted to believe that we all stood with one voice, the reality was quite clear, that we did not.

When the girls were kidnapped, lots of people demanded answers from the school authorities, at least to know whom we were demanding their release, this was to prove abortive, because a pictorial confirmation of the kidnapped girls was not forth coming, and this began raising doubts and suspicions as to the viability of the claims that the girls were actually kidnapped, but then, we were made privy to a list of the kidnapped girls, and for a moment, we all were beginning to wrap our minds around the fact that this could actually be true, but as usual it only lasted for a moment, and the “Oliver Twist” card was placed on the table, we wanted more, and again the questions began to fly around, “who are the parents of these girls”, the demand to see the parents of these girls, alongside pictures of the missing girls was gathering momentum, and while these questions were being asked, others who were certain these girls were missing, took to the streets, with placards, and chatting the already popular slogan BRING BACK OUR GIRLS, by this time it had already gone global, but even with that, the questions of doubt were still being raised.

It is worthy to note that, before the arrival of the international press, there had been no prior interviews conducted with the parents of the missing girls, but when they arrived, they headed straight for CHIBOK and sought out those parents who were willing to come forward, at this point one would think that, here was enough evidence to put Thomas at ease, but alas, it was not, more questions came up, why are their faces being hidden, it is staged, but those asking the questions simply forgot that these parents were still in CHIBOK, the very place where the group had taken these girls from, those asking the questions failed to realize that the lives of these parents, and that of their loved ones were still at stake.

The questions raged on, and the protests continued, the international community by this time was fully involved, now I won’t bore you with details on that.

The part that baffles me the most is, when you ask certain questions, think, and consider all the factors, before asking, is it fair to assume the whole world would be in on this elaborate hoax, and to what end?

Two videos were released within days of themselves, the first claiming responsibility for the kidnap, and after the first was released, we demanded to see the girls as evidence of the kidnap, and surely enough, another video was released, showing the girls gathered in a group, once again one would safely assume that finally, everything was now out in the open, but alas, again Thomas decided to question the integrity of the video.

I have seen lots of comments on Facebook and on twitter, and some were even bold enough to say, the video showing the girls was a staged fiasco, something created to undermine the Govt of the day, some say the girls were looking to fresh to be kidnapped, and others say it’s a video carved from and Islamic school, and I ask this question again, why would the whole world connive just to undermine one Govt?

It leads me to wonder, after the bomb blasts in Abuja, why were these same questions not asked? Why didn’t Thomas claim that some popular movie directors were invited to stage those blasts, and all the corpses we saw littered everywhere were just props, and the blood and shattered glass was the hand work of highly talented makeup artists, and special effects geniuses.

Why is the kidnap of over 200 girls, a cause for doubt?

I wonder, how some sit in the comfort of wherever it is they are, and claim the kidnap is a big lie, when lives are involved, if the kidnap is a big lie, then you can also go a step further and claim, all those that have been killed in the various attacks over the past years, have all been a lie, and their deaths were staged.

It’s a sad day to realize that we have lost our sense of humanity, simply because Thomas is struggling day and night to be the one to say “I told you so”, but this time, Jesus won’t be around to offer you his hands so you can put your fingers through it and believe.

If you cannot allow yourself, the heart to watch the video, and look into the eyes of that scared girl, as she struggled with her courage to stand there and speak, then I fear hope is gradually being lost, but the hope is still alive, because Thomas is just one out of the twelve, and the eleven left constitute the other Nigerians, who give their time, and the rest of the world who have given their voices in one way or the other, to make a demand to BRING BACK OUR GIRLS.

In closing, whatever your beliefs might be, I say this, out there somewhere, there are a frightened group of girls, without a voice, who need us now more than ever, we should all endeavor to drop the tribal, religious and political sentiments, and demand that they be rescued, and this menace be clipped and disposed of once and for all.

Written By- Arome Ameh (The Priest)