Busola Dakolo, Biodun Fatoyinbo, and the Role of The Church in Sexual Assault #Churchtoo

I should preface this post with the disclaimer that I am pissed! Normally, I would take some time to reflect on an issue before writing about it, but I deliberately want to write this post while I'm still feeling very angry. So if you are Nigerian or somehow you have found your way to Nigerian Twitter then you must have heard of Busola Dakolo who bravely and courageously shared her story earlier yesterday. What is this story, you ask? She gave an exclusive interview detailing her alleged raped by COZA's Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo. She alleges in painstaking detail how Fatoyinbo found his way into her life, groomed her, and when the time was right walked right into her house and raped her. She was only about 17. There is a lot to dissect on this issue, mostly because this is a problem that is a symptom of a much larger problem we are facing today. Generally speaking, the Church as an institution has been notorious for protecting rapists and other predators. And I am SICK of Christians turning a blind eye to this. I am also sick of pastors and the likes being conspicuously silent on the issue of rape and sexual abuse in the Church. Most of all, I am sick of enablers who continue to worship these so-called men of God who are predators.

Let's start with this specific case. Ordinarily, any allegation of rape or sexual assault is enough to make any sane person angry. But this is far worse. In 2013, Ese Walters, then media personality narrated her ordeal with this man and how he allegedly sexually assaulted her in his hotel; how he took advantage and manipulated her; and worse, how he has done this to a slew of other girls. He went unpunished.  His response was that he would give a "robust response". He never did. For years, whispers have been circulating of how this man used his position and charisma as a "man of God" to lure girls, convince them that he was their "spiritual father", and when they were completely vulnerable, would rape them or sexually assault them in one form or another. The unfortunate part is this man has never once been held accountable. His church has been growing. If anything, he kept on being ostentatious: he would throw fancy yacht parties in Dubai, and he would throw banquets to welcome dignitaries and pastors from America. For lack of a better word, the man is tacky. I have read my Bible enough to know that that kind of greed and excessiveness is not of God. And since by their fruits you shall know them, I knew something had to be up with him and frankly, that specific church. This man is so audacious that when he would finally respond to Busola Dakolo's accusations yesterday, homeboy basically equated himself to the Church. As far as he is concerned, an attack on him is an attack on the church. I can't even. I really can not.

Secondly, churches in Nigeria are too powerful. There is no oversight of any kind, no regulations, so they do what they want and when they want to. Now because Nigerian Christians worship their pastors a little to much, you can see the problem. People, develop your own personal relationship with God. Yes Christ really implored us to find a community of like-minded people to worship with and that will always make it necessary to be a part of a Bible-believing church. But no man is your spiritual leader, your pastor is not your "daddy".  Jesus died and rose on third day, and then left us with the holy spirit for direct access to God. Most of all, we are charged to call out BS in the Church. When Jesus was here in human form, He did not suffer fools gladly at all. Over and over and over again, we see how the Church in the Bible brought issues to the forefront and dealt with it.  Not cover it up and hope that by some magic it disappears.  We need churches [all over the world] to maintain this same energy. When there is evil in the church, call it out and when necessary hand the guilty parties to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Protect victims and fight for victims.

If you are privy to atrocities committed by your pastor or by your church, and you don't speak out or if you still go and worship in that church (COZA, in this case), you are complicit. You are not a person I want to know  because light has no business with darkness. And if you stand for evil and injustice, we have nothing to do with each other. My loyalty is not to any man of God or any church. my loyalty is first of all to God. I can wake up and leave my church today. Hell, I have done it before. I don't understand the silence of other Nigerian pastors on this matter. I don't understand how those Instagram pastors whose voice are normally loud and vocal when it's time to say feminists are going to hell fire, I don't understand how and why they are quiet now. I do not understand how those "mommy pastors" and "mommy GOs" who know how to condemn women for wearing short skirts or not being virgins, why can't we hear from them? Anyway, the rest of us will speak up for them.

The part that scares me is the amount of Nigerian parents that have subjected their kids to abuse in the hands of pastors or so called respected people in the society, only for those kids to be sexually assaulted. When they dare speak up, they are accused of one thing or another. I have never really understood what it feels like to suck up to a pastor. I have never even had a personal relationship with any pastor in any church I have attended.  This is largely due to my upbringing. First of all, we went to a church where the pastor could get audited. So accountability is at my core. But second, my parents were never those weirdos who would send their kids to the pastor's house to do chores or some nonsense. Olorun maje.  I want to emphasize that I do not think Busola's parents were like this. In fact, her mom was initially skeptical of the man, so props to them.

But this is a larger issue in Nigeria. Too many Nigerian women have been sexually assaulted and mostly by people they know and people their parents trusted. Women have been sharing their stories since yesterday and it's disheartening. It is also not an exaggeration to assume that about 80% of Nigerian women (in my generation) have been assaulted at one time or another. This is why I always implore men [and women too, of course] to watch how they react when stories like this come out because some of your loved ones who have been victims are watching you to see if you can be trusted to listen when they eventually share their stories.  And I promise you, I am certain you know someone who has been assaulted even if they still cannot share their stories because of fear of stigma or shame. And if someone reading this is one of those people, you still do not have to share your story if you don't want to.  Many people are also wondering why Busola is only just coming out with her story. The Igbos have a saying, whenever you wake up is your morning. This is Busola's morning. I will also say Nigerians are an interesting bunch. How is someone supposed to report rape when your lawyer, your first point of defense is already judging you? We see them on Twitter, we see how they talk about victims. Or when the police is acting as a mediator and begging your parents to just forget about reporting.

Let me make this clear, even if Busola was a full blown prostitute, she did not deserve to be raped. But Busola was a seventeen year old girl whose naiveté was taken advantage of and who was violently raped by a man who told her to be grateful that a man of God raped her. Pause. I need to breathe. Nigeria is an interesting place because there is a faux morality everywhere. So Busola was a perfect victim, if there ever was one. She is married to a successful and famous musician, she is a Christian, a businesswoman: the point is she needed to be perfect before she could be believed. If she was single, or if she smoked and drank, or had piercings and tattoos, well, I guess you can guess what comes next.  So I want to commend Busola's bravery and courage for doing this. Busola, we see you. We stand by you. We support you. Most of all, we believe you. We also need to do better for every person that has been a survivor of rape and sexual assault. You do not need to be perfect to tell your story. For every Busola out there, we need to do better by them.

One more thing. When a Muslim does something bad, y'all start disturbing other Muslims to "denounce" that Muslim. This is nonsense by the way, because when one White man shoots up a school because mommy hurt him as a kid, I don't automatically think of all White men as shooters, neither do I automatically make it the burden of all White men to criticize him. I will make an exception this time around: y'all, DRAG us Christians. Call out the BS and make sure that every Christian you know denounces this man and this act. Because if they don't then they are complicit so CALL THEM OUT. If you are quiet about your pastor’s rape, you are complicit. If he continues to be your pastor, then you’re just weird at that point.

People are asking him to step down from his position, that's his life's problem. I want the law to take effect. I want a world where rapists and sexual assaulters are tried, prosecuted, and sent to jail. I want justice. And I want victims to be protected at all cost. I want a system where people are not raped, but if it does happen I want a system that does not fault the victim for the actions of the perpetrator.

Love, and some justice,


Book of the Month: The Sun and Her Flowers

Hayy book of the month, my favorite! I missed it last month and may overcompensate by having two books this month. Let's see. The book featured today is by Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers.  It's a collection of poems divided into five chapters: Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, and Blooming. It has themes of love, loss, immigration, motherhood, heartbreak, trauma, equality, sexual assault. Yes, all of it.

Some people might find the book too all over the place, but that's what makes it endearing in my opinion. It's a very emotional book because I think the author really digs deep to write the poems. But isn't that the problem with poetry sometimes? That it can too easily come off as corny or as trying too hard. Honestly though I didn't feel that way with this book.  I think it's smooth and the author is quite talented. Some words jump out to me and I will emphasize them in this post of course. Know that this is also a very, very easy book to read, and you can be done in days even if you're the slowest reader ever. Some of the poems, you gotta pause and think. Many others, you just keep flipping through. I posted a lot of the words on Instagram. Speaking of Instagram, follow the blog(!!). I really have been posting a lot there these days.

Oh I forgot, it has nice drawings that accompany the poems too, which make them really artistic. And I think I'm supposed to warn that some of the content were a little bit too much; too graphic and I would certainly not recommend the book to a minor or frankly, neither would I recommend it to an adult struggling through emotional and mental issues. It requires a LOT of trigger warnings so just be aware of that. The interesting part is I'm told it is with this collection she demonstrates self-love and growth. Apparently, previous collections were even darker so LOL.

The above was definitely one of my favorite poems in the book. I think a lot of people (particularly immigrants from parts of Africa and perhaps Asia) are not raised to be assertive the way our American (ahem white) counterparts were. She raises a very valid point: how can a person verbalize consent as an adult if they were never taught as a child. If a child was always told they had no say; if a child was never allowed to partake in conversations because "adults are talking"; if a child was never allowed to have debates and challenge the positions of the "adults"; how can they be expected to embody any of these skills? They will always view people in authority as demigods. And the facts have it: many immigrants are never able to speak up in class to contribute; they find it hard to negotiate salaries, and are usually less assertive.

Another important theme was immigration.

A third theme I was absolutely in love with was feminism. She tackles matters of equality and womanhood in a way that made you embrace your femininity, yet embrace your power and agency.

In a nutshell, she was very raw, honest, and open, and it certainly made for better poems. Oh also, shout out to my lovely friend R, who gave me this as a birthday gift. Thanks girl!



On the Joy of Really Living

I was going to tweet this—I'm pretty sure I still will (I did eventually tweet this). But here goes for the blog too! It's Sunday morning, and knowing me, I won't hit publish till days later (I was right...exactly two weeks later and I'm only just publishing haha). Anyway, I am in London. I may or may not write an entire post about visiting England and the fun time that was had. Anyway, I'm feeling very introspective (even more than usual). I just read a money diary of 31 year-old dying of cancer. She has just six months to live. I'm thinking dang. She's also handling it very gracefully. I'm pissed about the people telling her to just pray and find God because then the cancer would disappear. Such baloney. Anyway, she's handling it well. She's anxious and worried, like any sane person would be but she's handling it well. Yet it caused somewhat of an unrest in me, you know? I started to think about how many of us are passing through the motions instead of living.

London also means I got to hang with  my amazing cousins. And I was truly  inspired by how creative they are, but not just that. They seem to be pursuing their interests, and they have sooo many: dancing, singing, drawing, designing, acting etc. Even their coursework in school; they don't do stuff because it's what they are supposed to do, they do because they love it. I especially love that. And yes, I found it very inspiring. I'm not naive, so I know not everyone can afford to this this. I know some people just need to survive, and that's fine. You gotta do what you gotta do.

The rest of us though... Me for instance, I have decided to pursue things I'm interested in, and let me tell you they are many. Ha. I have been too laser-focused on ONE thing for like five years now, at the expense of others. And to be honest, I don't even know if it still brings me any joy. For sure, it has taken more than it has given. Look, my sister had to practically beg me to take this trip, and even at that, I barely slept because I would do touristy stuff during the day, and work all night. So yeah. I'm now interested in LIVING. Making memories, taking adventures, loving more, spending even more time with my family (my favorite thing to do in this life LOL), laughing with said family and friends of course, and doing things I love, especially writing for fun and telling stories through writing. Fin.

End of emotional, but necessary rant. I'm not going to lie, I am BLESSED to have the kind of life where I can even afford to do this. Hashtag blessed (you know I never pass up the chance to take a dig at instagram influencers lmao). Seriously though, I don't think I have any regrets at all. I think I have a great life with a good balance of the good and the bad as it should be. But man, I want to experience them not chase the next high of making another deadline or getting another fellowship or passing another hurdle. nah.

Okay for real now, fin!



Friday Reflections

1.) As a Grey's fan, here are nine monologues by Miranda Bailey everyone needs to hear.

2.) Chimamanda's striking essay on Lagos.

3.) Why you will marry the wrong person.

4.) The Showrunner SHONDA RHIMES: First woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each.

5.) Why you will marry the wrong person. Lol marriage is such a gamble.

6.)  Chimamanda Adichie is such a profound human being. Check out her BRILLIANT commencement speech at Yale and then the one at American University.  No seriously, the one at Yale is really, really good.

7.) Be careful. Your dream job might in fact be  a nightmare.

8.) Three women on what following your dream looks like. ooooh another reason I alway say I don't have a dream job. Look, things are pretty attractive when you are only dreaming about them. The nitty gritty of anything can be very daunting. No matter how sexy or aspirational a thing is, it is still a JOB.

9.) "Follow your passion" is bad advice.

10.) Y'ALL. A white woman with no college degree turned herself to a savior, travelled to Uganda and has been practicing medicine on CHILDREN under the guise of an NGO. The caucasity yooooo. As in, practiced high level medicine on kids (some of whom have in fact died now)...I actually CAN NOT.

11.) Soooo except you're under the rock, you must have heard of the new Netflix series shedding some light on the Central Park jogger case and the five boys who were wrongly charged. Okay, now read this chilling article on the other women whose lives were forever changed because the actual perpetrator in the Central Park case was not arrested on time. The consequences of injustice reverberates, I tell ya.

12.) And goodness, NYC was something in the late 80s/early 90s. It's really hard to be a woman in this world, I say as I double check to make sure my door is securely locked. This world is too insecure.

When They See Us, The Heartbreaking Story of the Exonerated Five.

When I first heard of Ava Duvernay's latest film/mini-series/documentary, When They See Us, I knew it was something I needed to watch, but I also wasn't sure I wanted to watch it. I wasn't sure I had the emotional capacity to watch it. I am after all the person who refuses to watch slave movies, because hashtag self care. Even more, I am actively staying away from what I like to call sad porn: motion pictures that are specifically engineered to make people sad. I remember stumbling on one episode of Station 19 (not even a show I watch), and somehow, they made a main character and love interest of another main character pass away senselessly, and he was about to die and was saying last words to his lover. That was already a particularly hard weekend for me, I was like nope, nope. Not today, satan. Real life is hard enough as it is.

But When They See Us isn't fiction or a carefully curated piece to get y'all weeping for no reason. When They See Us is real life. So I knew I would watch it. I had to. When I started watching, and just about twenty minutes into the first episode, I was FURIOUS. I needed something to scream into. I was mad. I thought, for the sake of my mental health I better not complete this. Boy, I'm so glad I wasn't that foolish. I'm so glad I did in fact watch all four parts. If those little boys could go through that injustice, if they could LIVE it, then the least they deserve is that we ALL watch it and learn. Because as a society, this country and the justice system failed those boys. They were robbed of their innocence and childhood. And we need to do better.

"In the movies, courage can be loud. In life, courage is something different. It's quiet. Courage means strength of heart. Courage makes it possible for a man to suffer adversity; to persevere; to prevail." - Michael B. Jordan

When They See Us is a mini-series by Ava Duvernay  based on the 1989 Central Park jogger case, in which a 28 year old female investment banker was brutally assaulted, raped, and left for dead in New York's Central Park. Five young boys (now men) Antron, Kevin, Yusef, Raymond, and Korey were accused, arrested, and and wrongly convicted of the crimes. The convictions were eventually vacated in 2002. So this mini-series shows us how these boys were brutalized by the media and our sick, twisted criminal justice system. We also get to explore how our criminal justice system works, especially how it was used against brown and black boys. We see how they were coerced to give false confessions after being held for 48 hours without food. We also see how they were interviewed without legal guardians, and how they subsequently were treated like animals by police.

The part that stung the most was that the minute the prosecutor decided those boys were responsible for the crimes, there was nothing else that could have changed her mind. Not the fact that DNA evidence revealed these boys weren't at the crime scene; not the fact that these boys did NOT know each other before the incidence (so how could they be a pack?); not the fact that these boys said over and over that they were innocent. Nothing. These boys were victims of a system that brutalizes the poor, the marginalized, and people of color. The media also painted these boys as victims even when there was no single evidence tying them to the crime. Ninety percent of the media coverage at the time of the crime never used "alleged" in describing these boys. Everyone just concluded they did it; they believed what the state said and took it as fact, even barely two weeks after the incident.  Our current president took out full page ads calling for these poor babies to be sentenced to death. No one person can explain or fully understand the trauma and terror these boys experienced, and at such young ages.

I really implore you to watch this mini-series no matter how hard it seems at first. In the words of Korey Wise, one of the EXONERATED Five (because yes "The Central park five" is a political moniker for the purpose of further victimizing these boys), "this is not a tragedy, this is a celebration of life". Korey Wise. Korey Korey. Oh please, just watch this film to understand how this boy specifically suffered soooo badly. His was the worst of it. And his words are what surprise me. I have been poring over the lives of Yusef, Kevin, Raymond, Antron, and Korey since watching the show. I gotta tell you, I don't know how people who went through hell, who were so viciously hated, and who suffered that much trauma (beginning at ages 14 to 16) can still be so positive. Yet, somehow they are. They are committed to changing the system and making sure that the innocent does not suffer the way they did.

As I was watching the show, I kept thinking why. Why, God? Why did innocent boys have to go through this hell? And what kind of world are we that allows that sort of injustice and wickedness? What kind of people are we? What type of injustice is this? I also can't imagine how those detectives, prosecutors, district attorneys and everyone else involved in this cover up...how do they sleep at night? How are they okay with themselves?

This already happened and I think moving forward as a society, we need to really ponder on our values, our moral fabric, and who we are. It means no matter where you are or what slice of this world you find yourself, day in, day out, you better remain committed to doing good. To treating people fairly and fighting for justice and fairness and equity. You better examine your prejudices very very carefully.

In thinking about this case, we tend to [rightfully] focus on the men, but what many people don't see are the families. The families of these boys that probably lost their jobs, suffered the stigma and shame, went bankrupt hiring lawyers, and so much more struggles. SO MUCH STRUGGLES.  The despair, the loss, the heartbreak, the confusion because a couple of people got together and decided that these boys (largely based on the color of their skin) were guilty of a crime they were probably too young to even comprehend. Just watch this show. If for nothing, just so you can feel that fiery, burning anger. Just so you can be unsettled. Because chileeee, we must never get complacent or comfortable. That anger should cause us to do better.

I am really thankful for Ava and to Ava for telling this story. I am also thankful for these men somehow finding the courage to turn their pain into something so strong and so powerful; for the willingness to share their stories.

Love, and some justice,