By Munyale Kwabe
It has taken me a long time to get to this point where I can share my story. It never an easy thing having to relive the painful experience but I have learnt over the years that talking about what I have been through makes it a little better.
My name is Lisa and I am 32. I grew up with my mum. She was always so reserved and never talked too much to me. All she did was give me commands and as a good child, I obeyed. Whenever I asked about my dad, she always gave me this cold look before telling me the story. The story of how she met my dad and how they seperated always changed.
I grew up in the barracks and everyone that knows how the barracks is set up would know that my mother, who was a single woman, had no business being in the barracks. She wasn’t married to a soldier or officer, therefore did not warrant an accommodation there. This led to a lot of gossip within the barracks. The common narrative was that my mother was a whore to several military officers so they gave her the place to stay. This wasn’t so hard to believe, mostly because there was a different military officer in my house. They were so many that I can not remember all of them. However, I will never forget Oga Dan.
Oga Dan was my mum’s favourite. I knew because she cooked and made the bed whenever he was coming over. I understood why she liked him. He always brought gifts, he smelled nice and most of all, he wasn’t married. She had hopes that she was going be his wife one day. I heard her say to him once ‘I’ll send her to the village to live with my mum, she won’t be a problem to us anymore.’ That was my mum, talking about me to her ‘lover”.
One day I got home from school and as usual my mum wasn’t bak from only god knows where. I got the keys of the house from the neighbor and entered. After 5 minutes, someone was knocking on the and when I opened to answer I saw Oga Dan. I let him in because he was a familiar face. He sat close to me on the couch while I was watching TV. He asked me how school went and I told him. He asked me to sit on his lap and tell him more stories and I did. While I was talking, his hands began to find different parts of my body, he touch my breasts and then put his hands in my pant. Before I could say anything he covered my mouth and started to take off his trouser. I began to cry and he warned me to keep quiet if not he would tell my mum that I was a bad girl. Then he raped me. I was 10 and he raped me.
When my mum came back later that night she was so happy. She kept singing and dancing. I was about to tell her what happened but before I could say anything she told me Oga Dan asked her to marry him. I was so shocked. All I could think of was that “this man” raped me then asked my mum to marry me. I tried to tell my mum what happened but she said I was just trying to steal her joy.
At the end of the team, she shipped me off to the village to live with my grandparents. This was the last I heard from my mother till I turned 23. I was in YABATECH at the time. She just showed up at my school. I was shocked to see her. She narrated how Oga Dan forced her to never see or call me. She told me how he used to physically abuse her. She told me that he told soldiers to beat her up once when he thought she was cheating on him. But the worst part, he was also abusing their 11 year old daughter. She apologised for not fighting for me even though she knew I wasn’t lying. She apologised for not being a good mother to me and she finally told me about my dad.
I didn’t forgive her right there, it took some years and to be honest i’m still working on it. Until I shared my story, I didn’t know a lot of people actually go through the same thing. So if you are reading this, I want you to know you are not alone and if I can overcome it, you can too. Know that an abuse is never your fault. You were a victim of a horrible crime and when we share our stories we raise awareness.
Looking past all this, one thing that still gets me upset is the Oga Dan is out there walking free. Despite the crimes he has committed. His freedom is still what keeps me up at night.
Photocred: The Humorists