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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A WORD OF COUNSEL

The trauma seeps through her pores, one look at her and you can just see it, she was like a much beaten animal cornered by its tormentor who is holding a pepper-doused horsewhip up in the air. Can you picture the chilling mixture of palpable fear and the empty nothingness of hopelessness in the eyes?

She came to me through a letter, a letter, which expressed, as though in blood the years of pain, abuse, anguish and instability. I had to meet her. On the day, she was with a crowd of people but I spotted her immediately. She has to be that lone figure slightly separated from the others, almost crouching as though trying to find a comforting hole to crawl into in the harsh glare of the bright afternoon sun.

I walked up to her and noticed the scars on her body; her fair skin, which in other circumstances would have glowed in the sun, was curiously pale with the pallor broken only by the sickly blues, blacks and greens of wounds, old and new.
A tall, slim, rather shadowy figure, she spoke haltingly and inaudibly so I stopped her, put her in my and took her to lunch.

I took her around with me for most of the day and slowly she jumped less at every sound and color returned to her face. She never smiled; in fact, I did not see that long face break a smile until a week after.

The next day she came back and slowly the story came out. She was only twenty-two years old (she looked forty-two) and was from Kwara State.

A product of a polygamous home, her sex, position in the family and the economy conspired to deny her of any education beyond the compulsory and free primary education. Hoping to escape a life of penury, she made her way to the city of “golden lights” and even more “golden opportunities”.

So she came to Lagos to join her half sister who was working as a house-help in some home in Lagos. She arrived at the said home only to discover that the family had moved away and her sister was only squatting with a maiguard whose shed doubled as a security post and mini supermarket.

She joined the sister at the maiguard’s shed until someone introduced her to a family who needed a house girl. As usually occurs in such circumstances, the lady of the house did not feel too comfortable with a blossoming sixteen year old under her roof. The woman then proceeded to pass her to another family where the man of the house proceeded to rape her one night whilst his wife was out of town. To cover his insanity, he sent the girl out of the house before the return of madam.

By now, the girl had lost track of her sister and had no money to return to her village. She began to wander the streets until an older man who promised to help her find her sister and return home accosted her. The good “Samaritan” then offers to take her home to feed her and give her clean clothes to wear. At his home, he pounced on her and raped her, over and over again. He keeps her in his home as a sex slave, beating, feeding and raping her for months.

Eventually she became pregnant and he began to pass her off as his wife, amazingly, no one questioned him. She continued to live with him and bore the child, which was taken from her by his family. Unbelievably this situation continued for five years.

At this point in the story telling, my mind recoiled. Five what? Are you insane? Why did you not go to the police (am I the insane one? In Nigeria, which policeman would take her word against his when he claims she is his wife, bore a child and lived with him?).

Then she told me that she accepted the situation as her lot in life! For fear of sounding obtuse, I asked her why. To which question she told me how she became born again, a prayer warrior of a church noted for its powerful earth shaking prayers and demon ejecting sessions.

She said that after the birth of the child, she went to the church and sought counseling from the resident pastor, telling him all that had happened to her.

So what happened? My mind roared. Surely, the church had the man arrested or something. To my utter shock, she told me that she was told that she was the problem. According to the pastor, all of these happened to her because she had been afflicted by the spirit of hatred!

Why are you asking me what that means, I was as shocked as I hope you are reading this now, that is unless of course I am the only one who thinks there is something ever so slightly CRAZEEE in that counsel.

So she was told she had the spirit of hatred, (obviously a medical affliction not yet recorded in modern medicine) and the solution was that she had to have the afflicting demon cast out of her soul.

So, for the past few years she had been going for prayers and deliverance to cast out this demon of hatred even as she returned day after day to the other demon at home who abuses her body and soul.
Though reluctant to get involved in the affairs of religion, spirits and other such matters, I patiently explained to her that what has happened to her cannot be her fault, she is the victim and she needs to get help to heal her body and her mind, also she must find her family.

For weeks after we met up and discussed strategy, things began to look up until I got a text message one day. She informed me that she had gone on “spiritual attachment” to another state and I could contact her through that number but she would see me when she returned. I did call the number but there was no one at the other end. As regards her getting in touch with me, I am still waiting.

I remembered all of these recently when I read a news story in Saturday PUNCH a few weeks ago. It was some respected Christian clergy body warning pastors to beware of demon women who lead pastors to sin through counseling requests.

If the above is the sort of counseling for which a troubled woman would be labeled a demon then I think the pastor can roll it up and stick it up his holy sinning bollocks!

Since when have men of God become weak, whining, pathetic creatures that hide their own weakness and search of sexual nirvana under the same tired old demon argument? Sounds eerily like the priests who had women burnt as witches in the inquisition. History shows that most of such women were quite attractive. Were they being punished for being witches or for their femininity? Women have breasts and when they are young or have had it surgically enhanced, these are pert and firm, it is the way it is meant to be. So get over it! If a man cannot behold a young (all the swearing no be for old women whose breasts are racing to their feet) nubile female without confusion in his head (whichever one he thinks with) that is his problem, let him deal with it, especially if he is a man of God. That is how to prove the calling, ability to rise above our baser instincts.

If a woman seeking counseling is out of order in her conduct, is it not only right for the man of God to firmly put her in her place? Why castigate womanhood for it, why protest so loudly if e no get as he be?

6 comments:

Adeolu Akinyemi said...

Hello Funmi,

Wow, I knew you could facilitate and speak, didn't know the writing side of Funmi Iyanda! Little word of counsel though, you might need to split your articles into two to elisit more readership, i.e. rather than post it all once, split it into two. Our peoples reading culture is just beginning to grow.

I've been watching you from the sidelines, I believe that you are a role model for many Nigerians. Its so interesting that what I am about to request is what you usually request, but I'll like to interview you. Don't worry, we don't need to see face to face to do it, I interview people over yahoo messenger or skype. You can check out my website for samples of my interviews. I average 270,000 hits a month, let me hear from you. You are an inspiration to many in this generation. You can contact me directly on my site.

My Talking Beginnings said...

Hi FI, its your aburo here! you know the art aura one(we wont mention any names haha). I'm glad you are writing, i will link your blog to mine and spread the word that you are back!!!

gb xxx

Anonymous said...

Hello Funmi,
I must say that you are truly an inspiration to this generation. You are a true role model. I listened to you give a talk at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Ikeja sometime ago and I knew that the best is yet to come from you.

You are a role model to me and I wish to meet you soon.

Anonymous said...

hey sha pitied the woman but try contacting her.
thets wat comes wit the time,flemsy excuses for their inabilty to control themselves god have mercyon the womrn the victims

Angie said...

Hi funmi, i am a fan of ur show although its been a while i have watched it. Used to watch it a lot wen i was a student. Wonderful write up.
Reading this story almost made me weep.....i cant believe a pastor will tell her all that, ave they forgotten that Jesus did not condem the prostitute in the bible? its soooo sad that this still happens in our society today. all those rapist shold be cas******

bolaji said...

Beautiful writings you have here,told everybody in my office about it.
Well the matter is most unfortunate,but then people should get things right anything that is not in the Bible is not the truth. Where did the "spirit of hatred" come from, where was it recorded among the jews or gentiles.
This is just to show the decadence of the society. I wish her all the best.