On the 2nd of January 2015, I packed my bag and baggage for a trip to Ten (10)states in the North,East, Westand South of Nigeria. It was a project for an organisation; Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism; but itbecame ajourney that will change the course/cause of my life's journey forever. I returned home on the 28th of January, fully packed and ready to share the stories of the preferred ignored women in rural Nigeria.
In this journey do I find another Journey for my life.
The aim of the trip was to dig into the issues of women in rural villages across Nigeria. The issues are that of women abuse and women's access to basic things of life. It is a DOCUMENTARY that will be made available to the whole wide world very soon.
I accepted the challenge because I love women and girls therefore, closed my eye to the fact that some states are volatile to violenceyet,I decided to walk and work with women wherever I find myself. For several nights and days,I walked through villages, travelling by car, boats, motor bike and by foot. I wasmeeting and discussing with women and men who are working with women, opinion leaders and rural women; who are the custodian of knowledge in this world that refused to listen to the cry of women.
The journey was a long one, the pain was a deep one, and for many days, I lost my appetite because the stories of women robbed me of it. I remain dehydrated throughout the journey because the stories of these women brought only teas to my eyes and not food for my soul.
The stories made me sick and tired of living.
How did I begin? because I knew thatI could not do it alone, therefore, I came online both facebook and on World Pulse, I searched for other sisters in Nigeria who are using the social media and our World Pulse platforms ro raise their voices.
With the internet, we have become close-knitted family. I selected active sisters and I contacted them, In Northern Nigeria, it is very risky, I worked with two men, I have never met them before but we are together online, they were very good lead persons.
In Abuja, the federal capital territory, where I found a village with no water and where there is a river, both animals and human beings drink from the same river; my sister Aanu Rotimi on World Pulse accommodated me for four days and night. We did not sleep at night, wediscussed all through the nights.
We had stories to share, too many stories.
In the South-South of Nigeria, My World Pulse sister, Florence Keronga, when contacted, within a few mineutes, she responded to me, that she lives in Cross River and she would love to discuss the secrecy of Female Genital Mutilation with me, that is awesome. Many sisters are denying the existence of such practice. Alas, it is thriving in their backyard.
In Enugu state, My sister Gozie gave me an assurance that she works with widows and very very financially disadvantaged women, therefore, their stories of survival must be heard. My tears was unending in Enugu-State. The world is wicked to widows in this area. Nobody is a Methuselah was the new phrase that I learned in Enugu.
In Edo State Nigeria, my World Pulse sister, Ronke Ojeikere Ikoro, the founder of SOTHAWACA works on Rape and child sexual abuse, she had already manured the land, she was ready to welcome me with open arms. I felt alright immediately, this is a place where 12 year old girls are groomed for child prostitution in Italy.
In Osun-Ife, my sister Busayo Obisakin, who has been a very closed sister since 2009, told me that she works with widows, domestic abuse victims/survivors and raped victims, she sent a mail to me that her house is my house; which meant that I am highly and most welcome.
Therefore, on the 2nd of January, very early in the morning, my two daughtersand their father bade me farewell and Ibegan my journey into the unknown world by first, looking into the issue of female genital mutilation in my own State; Ondo state,because it was believed that it is no more in existence.
In my State, I was warned by elderly women to desist from encouraging anyone from stopping female genital mutilation, because according to these women; it is a fight against GOD. God instructed his creature to circumsicise male children and mutilate female children.
What I found was alrming and brought goose pimples constantly all over my body. The available misinformation can enable a woman to mutilate herself, if she had once escaped the horror. At Ibadab, in Western Nigeria, I witnessed the cutting of three girls aged 6 months to 7 years and was opportunued to see a village in River state where only women are circumcised, especially pregnant women.
My journey took me straight to Nothern Nigeria after leaving Ibadan, there I met women who were abducted by Boko Haram but fled in the night, i saw women who walked without food or water for 3 days non stop. It was in the displaced women's camp that I learned that when you see soldiers running like a monkey in Northern Nigeria, you would know that they have seen Boko Harams approaching and every villager will flee like someone being pursued by a mad man sho has a matchet.
I was in Northern Nigeria for a week and it gave me a deep insight into the experiences of these women and girls whose new dreams was to be united with their loved ones; alas, these are dead people rotting away somewhere in the fields in Northern Nigeria.
Do you know that the leadership of the Federal Republic of Nigeria do not have any plan to end insurgency of Boko Harams in Northern Nigeria??? If they do, tell them to unfold this plan to these hopeless women who are living in agony in this part of the world. One of the women told me that, we who live in Nigeria will never understand what the people who live under the Boko Haram regime are facing; night and day.
Are you aware that the government of Nigeria do not have any useful statistics about the lives lost and property burnt by Boko Haram? If they do; will you please tell them to tender this before the public. When did insurgency start in Northern Nigeria? How many souls have been sacrificed??? No one has any useful record because nobody cares.
In Northern Nigeria, I was opportune to discuss with aged women, whose means of livelihood was breaking rocks with bare hands, using hammer and chisels. My tears pour for these women. On of the women told me that there is nothing called life; everything is gone. Her seven children have died and she is now left with 4 grandchildren. I promised to tell her story to the world.
In Jos, Plateau state, I discovered that there are some underground war going on, this is not the war of Bombing (Boko boom boom) by Boko Haram alone; Nay. There is a deep deated animosity and deep death war between the Moslems and Christians. You will think that is all, No it is not, there isalso, thepolitical war going on in Jos, and Iknow of somepeople; who have been gunned down, abducted, and those who were burnt down by fire. My brother, who is a gatekeeper in one of the Moslem communities is ready to speak out on this issue.
Many people walk on the streets, sometimes smiling too,but with deep seated hatred towards their neighboursand they are ready to revenge whenever the opportunity arises. These people are called tickling time bomb while some people are referred to as "coming in dead" they are ready to die and also ready to die with other innocent Nigerians.
In the Plateau, Northern Nigeria; let there be meditation and reconciliation, just as we had in South Africa.
Inthe course of my journey, I met girls who were married as early as 13 years and are now widows with several mouths to feed, their only source of income is menial jobs. This disposes them to rape, sexual harrassment and untimely death.
I am ready to workI Northern Nigeria, to help women who are still alive and to support NGO who are working with displaced women and children, are you ready to work with NGO who are passionately working on ground in Northern Nigeria????
This is just the begining of my Story........
Watch out forMy Discoveries........ Part 2