Founder of Jewel Hive Initiative, Oluwatoyin Falaiye sits with Chude Jideonwo host of #WithChude to discuss dealing with and surviving adversities and her new book, ‘Diamond in the Rough’.
In this episode, she recounted leaving her village in Akure to visit her aunt in Lagos, who later adopted her. After the visit, she insisted she wanted to stay back in Lagos, being fascinated by the new sights and experiences she had. “At the age of 10, I was raped by a neighbour’s son. As a young girl who had just left her village and was new to the ways of the city, I had no understanding of what it meant to be a virgin or to experience bleeding as a result of rape. I just felt a boy had injured me. After the incident, the neighbor scolded the boy and sent him away. The neighbour then cleaned me up and warned me not to tell anyone about what happened. I wish my story ended there. However, two years later, my adopted father began to molest me, and that went on for seven years – night after night. It’s almost always unbelievable to explain to people that there was someone who came for your body for seven years. The days I escaped being abused were the days when I started menstruating, those were my days off from abuse. I’ve also had questions like, “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” – Well, I was threatened not to tell anyone, and that if I did, I would be sent back to the village and would die after seven days. I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want to go back to the village. Furthermore, despite attending a public school in Festac town, Lagos, I was already the bright student in my class. I always used to say, sexual abuse was the price I had to pay to get an education”
She also shared that dealing with abuse for seven years made her attempt suicide. “The abuse went on for seven long years and was killing me – I was dying slowly. I attempted my first suicide at the age of fifteen, I remember that day vividly. It was the day of the Ikeja cantonment bomb and mummy (my aunt) wasn’t coming back that night. She had gone out and then there was news of the bomb blast, and she wasn’t coming back. It was just Daddy and me at home and the neighbors came around to assure us that she would be back the following morning. GSM wasn’t popular at that time so there wasn’t any way to reach her. That night, as soon as everyone left, I knew it was going to be doom’s day because this time it was just going to be Daddy and me and he was going to have a field day. And he did have a field day, this time on their matrimonial bed. The next morning when my mother miraculously returned, this man was the first person to rush to the door, give her a kiss, and hug her. I was shattered inside. Wondering how this person did a double role, I went into the kitchen and picked up a knife. I didn’t know what to do with it. One part of my mind said, “Stab yourself” while another part of it said, “Go and stab him”. I was still trying to make the decision and I started slitting my wrist when my mum entered the kitchen. I quickly dropped the knife and told her that I was trying to arrange the plates I washed earlier. That was the day I could define depression because I didn’t know I can die slowly. It continued until I was seventeen”.
Toyin also shared about her memoir, “The book, Diamond in the rough, like I say, when you read it, you will cry for me, you will laugh because I try to not make it gloomy, then you will weep”. She believes that the adversity she has faced has taught lessons. “The greatest lesson life has taught me is that life will never be fair and that God loves us in spite of all we ever go through. God knows all of it and at the end of it, it’s for a beautiful life and a higher calling. Life has also taught me that if you are a foreigner it’s going to give you a lemon and you could make lemonades from it but if you are African, it will give you bitter leaves and you better make ‘ofeonugbu’ soup”.
Watch the excerpt here: