These have been the darkest days thus far in my life. Everything and nothing in particular made me cry. I wished I was home with my loved ones. I wanted tight warm hugs. I needed to snuggle up with someone. I was desperate for cuddles and piggybacks. Above all, I didn’t want to be alone. As much as I hate to admit it, I wished I was married. I thought that would at least mean I wasn’t holed up myself in my room with no one to whisper words of comfort into my ears while rocking me gently in their arms.
Thank God for the few friends and family members who rallied round me in spite of the distance between us. I had to leave social media for the sake of my sanity.
How did I get here? Let’s rewind the tape to a few weeks ago.
Thursday, 8th October, 2020
Today, I was on my way back home from the 2-Day MAIN training for bloggers and journalists organized by UNESCO when I saw a group of youth standing in front of the High Court (not sure) at Ikeja.
I had no idea who they were or why they were there. But as I proceeded towards Ikeja Underbridge, I saw a larger group of equally young people, carrying placards and chanting #EndSARS. There weren’t many of them, but their chants were loud enough to draw the attention of passersby.
Friday, 9th October, 2020
Today, my close friend went out on the street to join the #EndSARS protest. My phone had been faulty so I wasn’t much in the know of what the protest was all about. I had just gotten back online and everyone seemed to be talking about #EndSARS but me. I took my time, followed the thread and read countless police brutality tales. They made be sad, and angry. I had my tales too. Many actually, but I didn’t feel comfortable recounting any of mine. After all, I was raised by a police officer, and I knew not how to tell my own story without mentioning that fact to the world. So, I ignored.
Sunday, 11th October, 2020
Today, I couldn’t ignore anymore. I was too vexed in my spirit. It’s been the same modus operandi for decades, how dare I keep quiet?
At the risk of being disowned by my father, I shared a glimpse of what growing up as a Nigerian Police Officer’s daughter was like for me. Trust me, this doesn’t even scratch the surface. Stars, you have not the slightest idea how rotten the system is. If I start to talk ehn…
Monday, 12th October, 2020
Today, I was ready to join other protesters on the streets, but I woke up with a severe pain on the lower left side of my back – kidney infection. Incapacitated by the pain, I had no other choice than to join the online protest.
Tuesday, 13th October, 2020
Today, I got accepted into a film school. As excited as I was, I couldn’t share the news with my #Galaxy, it didn’t feel right. Not while my mates were out there fighting for a better Nigeria. I kept the good news to myself. The pain on my left side hadn’t subsided.
Friday, 16th October, 2020
Today, I finally joined the live protest. Oh, what a happy day it was! The hope I felt was so real, I could almost touch it. The level of focus, togetherness, coordination and organization I saw at the protest ground can’t be described to you. You must experience it to fully grasp it. My goodness!
My heart was swollen with pride all day long. My generation made me proud.
The songs played were carefully selected to keep our minds focused on the fight. The orderliness displayed! Who would have thought that Nigerians could be that orderly on their own accord? My God, we are quite a generation! This is the true Vision 2020
Sunday, 18th October, 2020
Today, I had a shoot somewhere in Ogun State but due to the ongoing protest, I was forced to trek a long while going and on my way back. But boy, trekking had never given me more joy. If I wasn’t fagged out, I would have stayed with the protesters overnight.
Tuesday, 20th October, 2020
Today, I jumped on an #EndSARSMonologueChallenge which took me more than two hours to record because I couldn’t get angry. I mean, I was angry, I just couldn’t express it facially. My inability to physically express anger can be a blessing and perhaps, now a burden. My directors and I would have to find a way to make this work.
Later in the evening, I would watch in horror on DJ Switch’s Instagram live as a peaceful protest turned into a Black Tuesday. The hope I had was snatched away from me by my government and its military. Elements of fake news flying around only added fuel to the fire.
Ibukun called me and as soon as I picked her call, my defense crashed and the floodgate of tears was opened.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I was changing gears as I wept for my country and for the lives lost. I curated a playlist of songs like Kore’s ‘Your Peace’, and Benita Okorie’s ‘Vae’ and played on repeat as I cried my heart out to God asking how this could have happened.
Wednesday, 21st October, 2020
I had to record a monologue for my film class with a script that required me to cry. That should be easy, I thought. Haven’t I been crying since last night! However, each time I switched on my camera to record, I wouldn’t find the tears. And as soon as the camera was off, I would start to cry, unprovoked. It was crazy!
“Why are you crying about a man who isn’t real when men just died for you”, a voice kept accusing me.
Jeez! I was mentally fucked. I felt like a hypocrite trying to advance her career while people were out there mourning the loss of their family members and friends. A part of me wished I was one of those killed at Lekki that night.
I was afraid that we may have lost this battle to the government. Why were the hoodlums destroying properties, giving these people more reasons to call for an end to what had been a peaceful protest? I was mad at everybody; our leaders, the hoodlums, the soldiers, the police, the protesters and myself. Heck! I was even mad at those who have died in this fight.
My anger didn’t make sense, and that only frustrated me the more.
Today, I froze my social media apps.
Thursday, 22nd October, 2020
All I did today was to cry and cry and cry some more. I felt defeated.
Friday, 23rd October, 2020
Today, I made progress as I only cried once when my Precious was praying for me.
I thought I had cried enough. I shouldn’t let the government that doesn’t care about me douse my spirit and rob me and my generation of what could be if we keep fighting.
Today, I realized that to continue this fight, I need strength as I can only be so strong on my own. Therefore, I left my house in search of a company.
Saturday, 24th October, 2020
Today, I smiled.
Today, I haven’t shed a tear
Today, I sneaked back online
Today, I laughed.
Today, I feel much better.
Today we rest…
…We’ll resume this fight!✊✊✊
We’ve tasted what it’s like to have a voice and use it. I mean, look at all the hoarded palliatives we discovered, look at the forces we gathered, look how we shook them!
The assumption that we are tough people, hence we can weather any storm unscathed is preposterous. We have become experts at masking our true feelings and suppressing them until they eat us up like cancer, and oh, we explain it away by blaming it on black magic or village people. Africans still have a long way to go as regards mental health education.
My friend seemed genuinely shocked when I told him I have been traumatized by the alleged #LekkiTollGateMassacre. He laughed it off with, “You, Gelax, how now?”
Yesterday, an older friend didn’t get why I’d been crying for days.
“Why have you been crying? Did you know any of the people who died?”
Really though, do I need to know any of the victims personally to be affected?
Dearest, cry, scream, scratch, talk to someone, take a break, do whatever you have to do for your sanity. It is okay to admit that you are not as strong as Africa expects you to be. Biko, soro soke, no let shame kill you.
For the sake of the lives lost in this fight, please, get your PVC and come 2023, vote for someone you strongly believe has y/our interest at heart. They promised us change, but now we know we are the ones with the power to bring about that change, not them. Let us not sell our votes so our children won’t have to suffer like we are.
It is time to #EndBadGovernance✊
UPDATE (25-10-2020, 10:30am)
I just finished going through the #EndAnglophoneCrisis and #CongoIsBleeding threads on Twitter and my goodness!😭😭😭 My head hurts real bad. What is going on, Africa?!