The things we do to our children – Peju Akande

The things we do to our children – Peju Akande


Two children were missing in an estate in Lagos. They were siblings; one eight years old, the other ten.  They were declared missing in an estate that prides itself on safety and security.


Yes, isn’t that what these new estates promise prospective tenants and landlords?


Your children can grow in a safe and secure environment. Armed security guards on standby. 24/7 electricity…And we all rush there because if you live in a country where you have to provide your own security, sometimes, a little help from a bigger authority is just too good to ignore.


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Anyway, the children were said to have been biking around the estate. Here were their bikes but lo and behold, the children were gone.


Every adult was summoned. Those who returned late from work wondered at the crowd within the gates. As soon as they were told children were missing, a few made frantic calls to be sure their children were not the missing kids. Assured, they climbed down to join the search.



The things we do to our children - Peju Akande


Everyone who imagined the missing kids could be theirs joined in. Everyone who suddenly feared that their personal security was threatened by the case of the missing children joined. There was palpable fear among residents because if the words of the security men at the gates was anything to go by – the children did not pass through the gates – then there was a Judas in their midst.


The surrounding areas were scoured by residents. Further, the police had been invited into the matter. Incomplete buildings were searched. Nearby bushes, bachelor pads…no kids were found.


The parents of the children were at first bewildered. Then they got scared. Next, they broke into loud wails as minutes ticked into hours and hours became dusk and gave way to midnight. It worsened as the volunteers dwindled while promising to pray for the children’s return.


As everyone tried to get some sleep, the parents wouldn’t stop searching the wide estate occupied by more than five thousand souls: men, women and children.


The mother of the children was a pitiable sight as sympathizers thronged their home. The majority came to inquire if word was got overnight concerning the children’s whereabouts.


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No word.


Then the rumour began. The woman who was thought to be the mother of the children wasn’t really their mother. She is their step mother, the rumour claimed.


Who knew?


Could she be responsible for the children’s disappearance?


The rumour gained weight when it was even suggested the father may have hidden the children to spite the real mother of the children who had been agitating to have her kids over since she divorced the man some five years before.


Come first, where did all this spring from?


Suddenly, the woman thought to be the loving mother of the kids in the estate was now a harridan. This was in spite of the fact that she was wailing like a real mother should.


Who knows the hearts of men…women included.


…and the father?


A wicked soul!


So what did we learn? The real mother of the children had been begging the man for years to let her have visitation rights but the man refused. Instead, he vowed she would never be let near the children, ever again. No one was willing to go into the details of what caused the bitter divorce. But many were suggesting the mother of the children had to be told her children were missing.


‘It will kill her’, some said, ‘please let’s not inform her just yet. She hasn’t been allowed to see them for years and now she will be told they were kidnapped?


Yes, kidnapped. That was the word being bandied around. The children had to have been kidnapped. But by who? When? How?


No one had answers.


Others who thought the best solution would be to tell the mother argued, ‘Why not? The earlier she knows, the better…’


This argument went on for some time until late the following day, after volunteers returned empty handed from scouring outside the estate. Some close friends of the couple decided to ‘brave it’, find the mother. Then tell her that her children were missing.


This was no phone matter. She was located somewhere in Sango. A delegation went to meet her with the bad news.


She opened the door and behold! the children. They had been ‘kidnapped’ alright by their mother and a spy from within the estate.


The neighbours were right about a Judas.


This neighbor/Judas had lured the children into her car. They knew her as a friend of the family. Maybe she offered them pizza or ice cream or whatever. Who knows what these children respond to these days. But she got them into her car and drove out of the estate with them.


My guess is, the security men at the gate were busy saluting a resident, not knowing she was taking other people’s children away…Thankfully, she was only taking them to their mother. But she could easily have been taking them somewhere far from their parents. She could easily have been a member of a kidnapping ring or anyone other than someone trying to help their mother get them back.


Thankfully, the children are back to their father. And yes, they witnessed first-hand the curses, the bitterness, the fight that erupted when the father came after he was called to come for them. They saw their mother screaming. They saw her flung to the floor by an angry father for the heartache she caused him by taking the children without notice.


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Amidst the commotion, they cried. Trying to hold onto their mother as she struggled to pull them as their father dragged them towards his car. It was a very emotional scene that the two adults could have avoided.


I do know the kids are scarred. I suspect this may not be the first time they have witnessed their parents fight.


We judged the parents, we the witnesses. We wondered why they couldn’t have kept their issues away from their children. Indeed, we forgot some parents want their children to take sides with them in a war that is not even theirs.


We wondered why the woman had to forcefully snatch them from their father. Unfortunately, we forgot how desperate she was, longing for her children for so long.


We despised the father, calling him selfish enough to deprive the children of their mother. Yet, we had no idea what drove him to do this.


So we judged them like people who have no fault of their own.


But I hear the case is in court now. Let the judges do their work. I’m done here.


Lilian Osigwe

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.
Lilian Osigwe

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