Our culture of silence is plain nasty by Peju Akande

Our culture of silence is plain nasty by Peju Akande

We have a nasty culture around here; the kind that stifles the truth; the kind that stops you from voicing any ill just because a few feathers will be ruffled or simply because of shame.


Growing up, I attended an after-school lesson, it was nothing serious, my guess is my parents like many parents just wanted to get us kids engaged in something after school because the alternative would be us rolling old tyres down the streets, playing hopscotch, (suuwe)  or tenten or some childish game we found to fill up the time before national television came on at 4pm.

So, we children in the neighbourhood would assemble in class under the fierce looking teacher down the street, teacher Segun. He was a member of some white garment church because he sometimes wore his sutana to class. Meaning, half the time, he did not wear shorts or trousers under that sutana. For those of us who don’t know sutana, it’s the long white gown worn by members of white garment churches.


So, teacher Segun always came to class with a freshly cut cane to keep us rowdy lot at our best behavior (some 20 or so children). The cane did more than make us behave well during his lessons; it ensured we didn’t speak about his serial abuse of one particular girl amongst us. She was in class two with me, meaning she would have been about 7 or at most 8years old.

You see, our teacher Segun, was always fingering Yinka. Fingering as in put his hand under her dress and keep it there for the whole of the time he was taking us through our times table! Those periods were long and difficult periods.

The other hand, of course wielded the freshly cut cane. So Yinka would always be seated in front, on a bench and teacher would sit on the other bench meant to serve as table and have his hand permanently under her dress. And we all would watch from teacher to Yinka, not sure what we were seeing, yet knowing it was so wrong and of course, this made it all the more difficult to memorize the times table.

Did we report when we got home?


Dem no born us well to report to our parents! Neither did Yinka, because the abuse  didn’t stop until my mother discovered I wasn’t leaning anything at the lesson and pulled me out of that class.

There are many Yinkas out there, too many to count. And there are many like me, who witnessed it and lost their tongues from fear of being disbelieved and beaten black and blue for lying against an adult, (as if he would ever admit to it)

Adults always speak the truth in our culture and children lie, in fact, among the Yorubas, you daren’t call an elder a liar, it’s a taboo! So how would a child dare call attention to abuse from the so called elder?

So, many people like teacher Segun are getting away with abusing kids under their care. And from the looks of things, the police isn’t helping matters. Last week, I read in a national publication of a woman whose 11year old daughter had been repeatedly raped by one Imam. The girl was sworn to silence with a threat of bodily harm to her mother, who is a single parent. Of course the distraught mother reported the matter to the Police after she finally got her daughter to confess. Unfortunately, it was the little girl’s word against the ‘revered imam’, who was released on bail, ‘for lack of real evidence’. And guess who got the blame, shame and scorn? The mother, for being careless and then the girl, for being an evil child who enjoyed the sexual acts not once or twice but three times over!

And the stories are endless; many adults who are now recounting tales of abuse from relatives, kids suddenly withdrawing, scared of opening up; parents frustrated and often worried about exposing their ward’s abuse to the general public.

Until we expose these culprits and punish them for their acts, this culture of silence will continue and this will embolden perpetrators who go from conquest to conquest while their victims get no closure, but instead are made to relive the pain over and over again.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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  1. Anthonia

    Child sexual abuse is really rampant in Nigeria now. I was sexually abused by my uncle at the age of 12.l couldn’t report because my parents wont believe me as they attended Deeper church and l was actually living with my uncle then. The effect was very traumatic for me.l am healing now but it was not an easy journey l must say

  2. Tara

    Hmmmmm my dear you have opened Pandora box here. I was never abused though cos i was too wise. I had an uncle who wanted to, he actually strpped himself naked ( we were together in the room , only the 2 of us were in the house) and he bid me come. Me wey i don dey see my uncle sleep with women in the house ( by peeping thru the key hole) knew what he wanted to do and ran out . I never went back into the house until someone came back. But my sista was abused by the silly guy and that right under our home


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