THE SILENT TEARS OF THE NIGERIAN CHILD
Here comes another children’s day celebration season, one day of the year that is fully dedicated to me. But unlike other years, I have decided not to celebrate this year because I have carefully asked myself if there’s anything worth celebrating at all?
I am a child no doubt and a Nigerian child for that matter, but no one listens to me. I have not been happy at the happenings in our polity that I have asked myself if there is actually hope for me. It is a season that should call for sober reflection because of the spate of abuse and abduction of our Chibok girls whose return we still await as I write this.
Why should I celebrate children’s day when the entire populace doesn’t even recognize the fact that I am not a child after all and there is hardly any child anywhere in any part of this country? The last time there was a boy-child was the last time a kite was flown in any part of the country. The last time there was a girl-child was the last time 10-10 was played in any part of the country. Have they ever wondered what I have been doing in the absence of these?
Who cares about me and why should I celebrate when no one cares about the fact that I also appreciate music and adult music is forced down my throat from birth, even during my naming ceremony. Why should I celebrate when Nollywood doesn’t even care about the fact that I exist and every movie they shoot comes with a 16+ rating. With no content for me, adult movies are forced down my throat on a daily basis and I see ‘bedmatics’ and they still think I am a child. Why should I celebrate when every CD store I go to; from Ojuelegba to Aba, I see nude pictures being displayed for sale and because they are very cheap, I have even bought some to watch at home. Why should I celebrate when my innocence has been stolen by the predator trapped in the body of uncles, teachers, guardians and even my relatives? Am I still a child when all I want to do is play adult’s play? Why would uncle rape me out of several other people? Should I roll out drums to celebrate when nobody cares about my rights and protection? Do they know how many of my friends are living with HIV at the moment?
Should I show adults in Nigeria statistics from other African countries for them to know how many of my friends have been victims of child sexual abuse and rape, not to talk of my friends killed during political crisis or even war?
The most painful one has to do with all my friends who have gone missing as a result of ritual killing and none of the perpetrators has been brought to book. I have been violated many times by many close family members, but I am a survivor. Many of my friends were not that lucky and I have decided to make it low key as I think about them.
Do I tell you about my8 year-old big sister, Yinka who was severally raped by big bros in our compound only to be discovered that the man was HIV positive?
Do I tell you about my 3 year-old kid sister who was raped by my uncle or do I tell you about my friend, Chidi who was sodomized by a house-help?
Why should I even celebrate when all my parents care about is money? While they chase money, I have been thrown into a state of mourning by the house helps they have gone to hire to look after me.
Do they even bother to do HIV test for these house helps they hire? Because many of my friends are being infected with HIV at the moment by these house helps. I am a Nigerian child and I deserve some respect. They keep thinking I am not old enough at 7 to be taught anything about sex, not knowing I was already raped at 4, violated at 5 and exposed to all sorts of pornographic materials at 6. Yes! I look so innocent, but inside my little body is the feeling of an adult because something was stirred in me at the wrong time. What is the hope for me? They see me as the leader of tomorrow without any policy or effort to safeguard my present. If many of my friends are already carrying the HIV virus, what does the future hold for me? Until my rights are protected and my assailants prosecuted; until my parents personally take responsibility for bringing me up and teach me all I need to know about protecting myself. Until my leaders pay attention to my tears and my teachers look for the right materials for my education, I choose not to celebrate any day until my rights are protected and we are able to finally kick out child sexual abuse. I hope someone somewhere listens this time round.
NB: First published May 2014
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