On the 1st of April, I received a distress call from our women' coordinator at our new office at Ibasa riverside community; she said “this is not April fool Olutosin, baba Lucky has wounded mama Lucky with cutlass once again, she was brutally beaten, and has severe wounds on her neck; she survived, but she has been hospitalized” I dropped the phone without any response and swore under my breath, that this time around, I will not remain silent anymore. Mama Lucky will speak out, the world will hear about baba Lucky atrocities.
Mama Lucky is one of our women participants in our ongoing Turn trash to treasure; turn abused women to asset's project in Ibasa; she has suffered severely in silent. During the last battering incident, she had left several cutlass wounds on her face, although neatly stitched by a doctor but the stitch left ugly marks on her body. It was same the same cutlass wounds on her neck and face, again, it is still the same accusation of his infidelity, and this is another near- death experience for Mama Lucky.
How long will violence against women continue to be tolerated in Nigeria communities? I wondered aloud. The solution to this menace kept me awake all night.
The only remedy to violence against women is Voice. The victim must speak out, but in a community where violence against women is normal and accepted, speaking out to the international audience, where violence against women is an abominable act; is the answer.
It worked for me. It will work for my sisters.
I decided there and then, to support the voice of Mama Lucky, she cannot continue to remain in silent, and there is too much death in silence. Speaking out does not only save the victim, it saves every woman in same the situation, in that vicinity; a victim that becomes a victor will become an automatic role model. We live to relive the experience of other people, in most cases.
Yes! Mama Lucky must join other women who are raising their voices online.
Yes, I did it five years ago.
I raised my voice and I have not stopped speaking for women ever since. Why not give Mama Lucky her chance? How can we reach the international audience without visa application? It is through the internet.
Hmn! Such a golden opportunity with other online sisters, my online sisters are blessed with broad shoulders; where other aggrieved sisters can lean on, they have the word that soothes, like the balm of Gilead, it soothes our aggrieved soul, they have the cleansing phrases; that clears every tear drop from our eye, our sisters possess the encouraging words that make us wake up to try once again; that is when we can say, Yes!! tomorrow is another opportunity, I will pick up my broken self and try one more time.
But, how can Mama Lucky collaborate with online sisters when there is no electricity, personal computer, cyber café or internet modem in her community?. How will Mama Lucky in Ibasa access the internet, to raise her voice, heal her heart and become the voice of other women who can neither read nor write in her community? The Million dollar question that has no answer in our community is how can women enjoy uninterrupted internet access here?
The last time they had electricity was 6 years ago, we had not started our intervention in the riverside communities that time. All the same, since we began working in the communities in the last five years, we have not experienced electricity for even a minute. To make the matter worse, there is no cyber café in Ibasa either, how can we raise these voices, how can they add their voices to the voices of women worldwide that are being submitted at the Worldwide summit? The riverside communities do not have any link bridge to the Mainland, if the government has deliberately cut them off, leave them without any bridge, will Ibasa women continually be cut off from the voices of women worldwide?
No sister should be left behind in this online race to freedom of expression.
I could remember my journey into the online world five years ago. It was a journey that catapulted me from my jellyfish- ever- crying battered woman to an enlightened, empowered, enhanced and encouraged world changer. My journey began slowly but steadily, especially with the support of my online sisters on Worldpulse. In togetherness we were able to create our online community that was too formidable to wife batterers to exist, accommodate or progress.
On World pulse, we became our sisters’ keepers.
This reminds me of an adage in Nigeria says, “although, Dada is timid, but she has a courageous sister” this is not only correct but it has also progressed to Dada’s courageous sister has rubbed off her courageous mind on Dada. therefore, Dada is now as courageous as her sister.
Courage is contagious!
Yesterday; April 6th, Mama Lucky resumed at our training centre; after her discharge from the hospital, and I invited her into my office, we sat on the floor, and we began to work on creating beautiful slippers for her. We gathered some Tailor’s waste fabrics to make the slippers and she worked independently. I sat on the floor beside her; she began the narration, the challenge, the beating, the cuts, the shame, the pains and her decision to leave his abuser.
Imagine her tears.
After the tears, I asked her; will you join our online community? She shook her head in the affirmative. I continued; what about access to the internet? How will you browse in a community where there is no internet? (Inviting Mama Lucky to my online community was a bold step for me, because my safety in the community comes first, it is a safe sister that can rescue other sister) mama Lucky had a readymade solution to the internet challenge. She brought out her mobile phone from her jean pocket.
I smiled and said, joining the World pulse community is the magic. World pulse connects.
We tried a journey into World Pulse, using her phone to log on to the site. Our effort was like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle because for more than an hour, we could not log on to www.worldpulse.com When I discovered that it was a futile effort, I, therefore promised to bring my laptop and modem to Ibasa the following morning, with that, we will be able to log on to the website and some other women network.
The tortoise -like- movement - connection which seems like punishment to local internet user is a major challenge to women surfing the web. My experience with slow connection was an enough obstacle but there is no mountain of challenge that could discourage me from using the internet to connect to world pulse, in those days.
Although Mama Lucky is educated, she is not computer literate, therefore she needs someone to direct her while using the internet. This is a major challenge, and it means that she will always need someone to assist her to post on the website. Digital literacy enables women to share their story in secrecy; especially victims of gender based violence. In some instances, we can use a pseudonym, but when a story teller cannot narrate her story without the assistance of anyone working in the cyber cafe; it is dangerous.
Nigeria is waging war against digital illiteracy.
Nigeria is not winning the war because there are so many factors militating against the nation’s efforts. It is like pouring sand to fill the ocean, it is not a day’s job. First and foremost, Nigeria cannot afford to provide computers in the public schools; neither can it provide electricity for its citizens to enjoy the luxury of computer literacy, where we live in Lagos, we hardly enjoy light for thirty minutes in a whole day and in most cases, we go without light for a week and more; there is no explanation or apology to that, and nobody has the gut to challenge the government.
Therefore, many Nigerians have resorted to the notion of fate.
How will Mama Lucky who has lived without electricity for the past six years adjust to any online community without a navigator? That is how it is in most communities in Nigeria. How can a woman who is digitally illiterate be able to safely narrate her story online? How can an impoverished woman, who has stories to tell be able to pay a dollar per hour in a snail-like surfing cyber café? How many webpage will an aggrieved woman access before an hour ticket lapses in these slow surfing cyber? How many experiences will she be able to write about in her journal because she is automatically timed out? Lastly, how many personal secrets of her domestic violence daily experiences will she want to share in an open cyber café????
There are challenges that could be resolved with regulations and policies in Nigeria but an institution that reaps her citizens cannot challenge another foreign corporate organization that is posited to extort ignorant citizens. The challenge is multifaceted; the oppressed must be ready to challenge the status quo. Digital literacy and access to swift internet is supposed to be among the inalienable rights of every Nigerian citizen. Surfing the net is breathing clean air. Surfing the net should be surfing; just what the word surf means.
To me; surfing is everything, digital literacy is developmental literacy and freedom for women worldwide.WWW: Women Weave the Web