The cozy atmosphere inside the little library at Terra Kulture was charged as the conversations began around the issues raised in the collection of five short stories titled, “Disowned’’. Set as a book reading, the event was a small gathering of big giants in Nollywood which had as host, seasoned actor, Richard Mofe Damijo.
Written by an actress, Nina Iphechukwude Anyianuka, Disowned was conceived in an unexpected circumstance. The author was waiting for her flight at an airport which had been delayed for two hours. To kill time, she decided to write a story. A friend, Papa, stumbled upon the story and encouraged her to write more. She later met with a non-governmental organization in the course of developing plots for the story and discovered real-life shocking episodes of girls who have been sexually abused at tender ages by their relatives, domestic staff or law enforcement agents.
Mofe Damijo decided to make the book a public knowledge. Damijo expressed his concern on the rising trend of sexual abuse of young children.
“These are very frightening times. It’s very disturbing. I was talking to a gynecologist who is called in to repair the damage. Children as little as two and three months are getting abused,’’ he said.
The book addresses issues such as prostitution, childlessness, widowhood, sexual abuse and child molestation. Excerpts from the book were read by Tope Oshin, Bola Atta, Biola Alabi, Michelle Dede and Adesuwa Onyenokwe. Tope Oshin, a movie director, described the stories in the book as “dark’’ and promised to use a video production to tell similar dark stories, defying popular cinema thirst for comedy.
Bola Atta, a frequent traveler, had thought reading to be a luxury until she got a copy of Disowned. She found the stories “extremely powerful.’’ The room went silent as movie director, Biola Alabi read another moving story in the book.
The founder of the NGO that gave Nina some of the raw material for her creative fiction, Mercy Makinde, recounted her personal story that led to the establishment of “Touch Me Not Campaign’’.
“My father gave me away at 18 to a man older than himself. I couldn’t have friends. Sex was always forced. I was married for 11 years. I started the NGO because I didn’t want anyone to go through what I went through. It was a life of misery. I couldn’t visit relatives or shop on my own. He was a pilot and earned salaries in dollars,’’ she recounted.
Later, she ran away from the unhappy marriage. She remarried and as a therapy of sorts, she started the NGO to spread awareness on the dangers of domestic abuse.
“There are lots of sick people everywhere. When we started last year on March 8, I cried the life out of me. It’s been an eye opener. I didn’t know what I was going into. We are now in 16 states and we have growing number of volunteers. It’s hard for me to call this book a work of fiction because it is true. I have seen girls that their fathers are sleeping with them and their mothers keep mum about it. I have left my business and I am more involved in this advocacy,’’ she said.
One of the abused girls that she encountered when she started a television series titled, “Break the Silence’’ was invited to recount her true story of how she grew up in a dysfunctional household where she was abused by her father, step mother’s sister, teachers and how her father shut the mouths of the elders in the family with good money.
The impunity and culture of silence that accompanies sexual abuse were highlighted during the panelists’ session that succeeded the reading sessions. Anchored by Joke Silva, the panelists agreed that parents should set useful priorities, teach their children defenses against abusers and contact NGOs that can help in case of abuse.
The publisher, Book Kraft Africa, Bankole Olayebi in his remarks described the book as an “incredibly passionate story.’’