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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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Monday, December 03, 2007

This is not the news

Friday Nov 29th, 5.20am, I pick Tony up at Oworonsoki bridge and swing the strawberry unto the 3rd mainland bridge, we put the radio on Unity FM 102.3. I had recently discovered an early morning show anchored by someone without an American accent real or acquired. The anchor who calls himself area father stutters a little but only because he is trying to “tush” up his speech with a weird mixture of Jamaica patois and hip hop slang. I often feel like shaking him and telling him to just focus on his elocution and speak clearly because he is good the way he is and would be great when he lets himself be himself. What I like most about him is the determination to find the hottest new Nigerian music and play them, I also find engaging his efforts at motivational speak which comes off as pop psychology. I blame the new army of motivational speakers some of whom should have their mouths wired shut with steel threads.

The area father came on sans lingo and stutter to clearly state that he was putting a certain Segun from the female hostel of a college in Ijebu Ode on air to give an eye witness report. Segun came on and started to tell how cultists had invaded the hostel at midnight and proceeded to rob and rape the girls. He told of how the electricity went off so the boys could not help the girls thus he decided to call the police… we were listening with rapt attention when the caller’s phone went dead. Tony and I looked at each other and knew that the boy must have run out of credit. Area father makes some comment about staying tuned and puts some music on, 3 minute later Segun is back on phone and on air. The presenter had called him back and sent him credit for his phone. So Segun continues narrating how he personally called the only police number he had and it happened to have been the Ikeja command’s number only to be told by the policeman at the receiving end that Ijebu Ode wasn’t their jurisdiction before hanging up on him.
We then waited to hear details of exactly what happened, what state the girls are in, what the authorities said and so on but all this did not come perhaps because the presenter must be aware of the draconian broadcast regulators’ rules (invented and interpreted to suit any government in power) about maintaining public peace.
Rather telling, was the deep gratitude in Segun’s voice as he thanked the presenter over and again for the credit sent to him.
I know the girls will not report for fear of stigma and the school authority will try to squash the story for fear of recrimination. By the time the journalists get there everyone would have clammed up, Segun’s phone will probably be switched off for a while, the story may make it into the odd paper but not into the deodorized papers the people who have the position to make a difference read. Who then will do something abut those girls and the bring the criminals to book? Who am I kidding, who did something about the girls in the secondary school reported two years ago, the girls in Niger and all the other places where this is becoming a norm.

These are the thoughts racing through my mind when I saw the wheel cover slicing through the air headed in my direction. I intuitive steeled myself and simply ran into it and continued speeding down the bridge. I know it was armed robbers, if I panicked and stopped or swerved and get run off the road or just find myself slowed down for any reason, we would be robbed at gun point or murdered right there and then. I and a friend had once had a flat at about 10pm and simply just kept driving down the bridge the torn tire flapping, the rim grating and screeching along the road accompanied by sparks even as we silently prayed they don’t come after us on okadas.

As we drove into Onikan’s dawn chaos, I marvel that my hands are not shaking, I am calm, perhaps it is numbness, perhaps it is just a conditioning that comes from living in the city of god.


Anonymous said...

It sickens me that these girls have been attacked and knowing what Nigeria is like the criminals will not be brought to justice. It is almost as if rapes are allowed to happen. There is no deterrence factor - no tough prison sentences, no threats of castration (physical or chemical)- absolutely nothing. Something has to be done about these situations. Really.

Ms. Catwalq said...

This post made me think and think and think.
Somehow, we have allowed animals to be raised and given them the names of humans. Our leaders do not care, they themselves are butchering the country, so they identify with the animals whose existence gives them theirs and vice versa.

Thank God, you are safe. Images flashed through my mind of a time when it will be safe to simply exist in our country. My imagination can sometimes hurt to experience

Sherri said...

thank God for ur safety!

what a horrible shame.
i hope that at least one of those girls will have the courage to demand justice.

Anonymous said...

Thank God you are well..... Reading "Everyday is for the thief" and i am wondering when the city of God will be completely safe to live in... I dnt know but i believe it will happen...

As for the girls, its really pathetic this is the reality of times we live in, and couldn't the ikeja police have contacted the Ijebu ode Area command, isn't some kind of network available or this purpose...

Ki olorun ma sowa

Unknown said...

The solution to this problem has to start from within, We as individual need to start making it a issue, for example there was a point in the story that i actually forgot about the rape for one second because i started thinking about the robbery that could have happened.
I know it is not a easy task but there should be a system built that makes it a issue that being rape is not a NORM, they have to understand the (vitims) consiquences of being rape, all i can think of right now is that one of them is pregnant another with STD and pls God forgive HIV.. Pls Lord save ur kids......

Eni + Anu said...

I felt like crying just reading this. It is quite unfortunate that this is what our country is. And as you rightly mentioned, these girls will keep mute for fear of being ostracized.

Nigeria is truly an every-man-for-himself-and-God-for-all country.


Eunice said...

The rape incidence reminds me of a show u did i think 7yrs ago about rape n 1 of d guest...a matron said "it takes 2 to tango!"...ur lines were buzzing dt morning n i couldn't get thru bcos i was inflammed by dt statement. Dr is no excuse for that kind of behaviour whatsoever. End of.

It's quite sad because d victims get victimised again by authorities, well meaning (or not) parents e.t.c. n they all make sure dr is no proper reporting...

A lot of pple get away with ds kind of behaviour even in homes. people don't believe dt dr's such a thing as a husband raping d wife or otherwise (lol. i'm just imagining this scenario). And the typical nigerian female doesn't know (or is not taught) to say NO. And wr dy even assert dmselves, it's usually a case of NO means YES.

D war will be won 1 day wen the proper authorities start implementing d laws dy've passed.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@all, sometimes l self censor and don't want to tell some of these stories as they are not the total picture. However they are a large picture and my vision of myself as a story teller is to perhaps incite a new generation to action. On my part, l am determined over the next four years to sponsor a bill on stiffer penalties against child sex offenders and rapists as well as build a rape crisis centre, both in Lagos. l am working quietly and strategically, l know a few of you bloggers know about this and are prepared to help. It is going to be tough going hence the need for knowledge, strategy and coalition building. The most important driving reason for me in my job is to acquire enough resources and influence to make these sort of changes, in the interim l continue with the direct but unorthodox intervention. No use waiting for the perfect circumstance, who knows what life has in store for one.

Eunice said...

I get wr u r coming from Funmi...but do u think our problem is dt we dnt have enuf laws or d fact is that dy r not being implemented. I will go with d later...

hving said dat...i would luv 2 be involved with the crisis centre in any capacity I can. Pls mail info.


Anonymous said...

I think that we have a long way to go with this. I think that the laws we have are outdated, even if they were recent, they are not well implemented.

We need to be able to send a LOUD message out to pple that sexual offences no matter the degree are intolerable and that there are harsh penalties for the attackers and those harsh penalties WILL be enforced.

Im ready to support you in this! Something needs to be done!

Iyaeto said...

Nna omo u brave o! I think the idea of having a state polic eis a good idea. Then the Nigeria police force should be scrapped.

laspapi said...

The City Of God...A city where only the paranoid survive.
Where women get raped and have to stay silent because there is no justice.
You did the best thing driving the car even with the tyre down. Security consultants say your car's usually the best place to stay in.