in Guest post

Sunday, 10 April 2022

On being attacked by Fulani Herdsmen surviving and fleeing Nigeria


Fulani Heardsmen


Some months ago, on my way back from school we were attacked by Fulani Herdsmen. I was in the car with my friend. 


I have written about this experience in so many ways. First I tried writing it as an Op-ed, I wanted a notable newspaper or journal to publish it, so the world can see that Nigeria is an incredibly unsafe place to be. But the feedback I got said I highlighted problems without solutions. I tried again, to write it as a personal essay and there was this pressure to sound like a writer and articulate it properly. I have now decided to write it on my blog because it is the only way I can say exactly what happened without being performative or bearing the pressure of being chronological. Also, forgive the typos in advance, I will type this on a spree and I will not go back to edit, writing it is hard enough. 


Nigeria is starting to look like a sequel for 1000 ways to die because as we are trying to survive, the system is having a swell time making sure we don't. 


While in school with my friend, our parents advised us not to use public transport because they didn't want to hear any horror stories about our trip back from school and they wanted us to be comfortable. To avoid the stress and uncertainty of the public transport system, they sent us a private car from Ebonyi. We attend school in Awka. 


We had reached the expressway in Enugu when we saw that a big vehicle had stopped in the middle of the road. As we got closer, we saw that a Cow was in fact chilling in the trunk of the vehicle. This obviously caused a lot of traffic and every sane car including ours was swerving to avoid hitting this Car and the Cow. A few Fulani men were trying to stop the Cow from fleeing, fastening its legs with tight ropes and yelling. They were beating it and trying to keep it in place. It was a very chaotic sight. Whether their car broke down or not, I don't know. All I know is that a Cow was center stage in an expressway in this big 21st century and they thought it was okay.


As we inched closer, a Fulani man, tall and young, charged at us and used his fist to punch down the glass at the driver's side. The shattered glass splashed into our car and while we were still trying to make sense of what was happening, another Fulani man totally unaware of the situation came and slapped our driver three times. I was seated in that back seat, wide-eyed and scared to my bones, there and then I learnt that these people needed no explanation for violence, violence to them is wildfire, they just need someone kind enough to light a match. I have lost count of the number of slaps our driver collected that day because it was sporadic. He was treated like a slave. 


Fulani Heardsmen

Soon, more Fulani men surrounded us with sticks and the man who broke our glass with his fist went to get a cutlass while shouting, "You dey mad, so you people want to kill me and my cow?" He honestly believed that two Nigerian students and a driver drove from Awka to come and play fetch with potential beef in the hotness of the afternoon? 


Anyway, my friend who was in the front seat noticed she was bleeding, the glasses had dug into her skin, the driver was bleeding on all his fingers and I was looking at my legs amid shattered glass wondering how this was going to be my last day on planet earth. I had never begged for my life before, until that day. We were just inside our car begging our fellow Nigerian not to kill us. 


Attack by the Fulani Heardsmen
This was the only photo we could get. Had I really taken photos of our bodies and the interior of the car, I would have had to put up a content warning before posting.

The Fulani man with the cutlass rose it up and before it could come down at us, an elderly Fulani man came out and stopped him. He said "No worry, leave them, leave them, just leave them!" luckily for us the bloodthirsty Fulani man listened and dropped the cutlass. He was still furious, huffing, puffing and looking at us in fuming anger.


I wish this thing happened in a secluded place because then it might justify why we had no help, but no. It happened in broad daylight and cars continued to pass and mind their business. Nobody stopped to help us or shout or call the police or ask if we were okay. They quickly drove past us, some looking at us with pity, others acting like they were not witnessing an attack firsthand. We were just two young girls and a driver - three innocent people who were about to make the headlines because a Fulani man in the middle of the road got emotional over a cow.


The driver got out of the car and went to meet with them. He knelt and was begging. That was when I found out he could speak their language. Maybe he was Hausa or Fulani, I really don't know. He was clearly not from the same place as me. My friend opened the door and asked that we leave everything and run. I remember she looked at me with fear in her eyes and said, "Roseline, there is nothing in this car that is not replaceable, let's get out of here!" 


Now that I think about it, who was to say they would not have stoned or butchered us before we took our first step. We were just irrational because we needed escape. If I was not in the car I would have assumed the driver did something to them, or ask stupid questions like are you sure you people did not hit them? but I was awake and our car did nothing but stop close to a car with a cow in the trunk, in a bid to beat traffic.


When I read the news that Fulani herdsmen go to villages to butcher people or kill people on the road, all I have is sympathy and wonder. Now, I have experienced firsthand what it means to see your life hanging by a thread and it is the worst thing ever.


As we made to come out and run, the driver came back and said, the Fulani men said we could go. We drove past the Fulani herdsmen and made a stop at the corner of a road to remove the glass from our car and bodies before continuing our journey. It didn't even occur to us to take photographs of the damage until we were done cleaning up. 


Fulani heardsmen attack

It made sense that the driver was able to reason with them in the end, he spoke their language. This did not make me feel safe at all. My guard went up immediately.  I became afraid of him too. Anytime he stopped or took a different route, we panicked. 


Language is not supposed to make you feel unsafe, but after what my friend and I experienced, we were beyond afraid. What if they have asked him to drive us into the bush and butcher us? It didn't help that he made a series of phone calls as we kept going and those calls were not in English. I am sure he was probably just informing his people of what happened, but we felt fear and uncertainty. 


It is sad to admit but anytime I go to a place and all I hear is people speaking Hausa or Fulani, I become afraid. Fulani Herdsmen are becoming the single story for all Fulani people and it is heartbreaking, people are starting to see their culture and existence as a statement of war. I am not one to buy into stereotypes but the herdsmen make it hard for people like me. 


This happened in the east, in our car, in broad daylight, now imagine what is happening to people in the North or less favorable conditions. Awka to Ebonyi is just three hours and in minutes I had the scariest experience of my life. In Nigeria a lot can go wrong in split seconds. The life of the average Nigerian is of less value compared to a cow. 


I became emotional when I got home and told my mum everything and she fell on her face and started wailing to God. She could have lost me because of a cow. This post is already longer than I expected. So I am going to end by saying that my patriotism for this country is now in need of CPR. I do not blame anyone who wants to Japa because every day Nigeria gives us a reason to take flight. The system is failing, every day on the news something awful is happening to an innocent Nigerian somewhere because of failed or non-existent structures and systems. This country needs a leadership overhaul and fast. 


I am well and safe. Just always paranoid from road trips and trying to overcome the PTSD from the attack. I am also grateful because again God has shown me that it is not my time to die. My friend is well too, she tells me she has anxiety about road trips and she is now extremely careful around people she is not familiar with. 


I hope one day, Nigeria can be better. I have no suggestions or solutions for our leaders and their immense love for cattle.  I am just thankful to be alive. And praying that things change, because the brain drain this country is about experience would be second to none. 


Thank you for reading. Please share and tell people to be very careful and alert. Nigeria is not built to keep us Alive. 





Monday, 11 January 2021

ON CREATIVITY, BODY SHAMING, FASHION & PERSONAL STYLE - AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDRA OBOCHI

 

Plus size fashion



Hi, please introduce yourself 


My name is Alexandra Obochi My friends call me Alex or Xandra or pretty much any of the variations they like. I recently graduated from the University of Benin with a bachelor's degree in international studies and diplomacy and I'm currently awaiting NYSC call up. I am a professional makeup artist, a content creator and aspiring creative director. I'm also a curve model, basically what you would call a plus-size model. I am the convener of fashion and curve, a plus size fashion show that had its debut in the city of Benin in 2019. Hopefully, we'll see a 2nd edition soon. I love everything fashion and my style is alte, retro and vintage. 


plus size model cover girl


Have you ever struggled with low self-esteem and at what point did you become very confident in your skin


I've never exactly struggled with low self-esteem for a long period. There have been times in my life however that I've let myself be down on confidence because of what people or family said to me concerning my weight. But ultimately I'm a very confident person so I eventually get back up or come up with ways to do so.



Have you ever been body shamed, how do you handle body shamers both online and offline? 


Lol, the answer to this is a big and resounding YES! All my life I've been body-shamed, from family members to relatives who feel the need to give their opinion even when not asked, down to classmates, friends and even partners in relationships.  Been fat automatically means you're a bit different from others and people will never learn how to accept different.


When handling body Shamers I always put them in their place, I've worked hard on my self-confidence and I don't need anyone to come tearing it down. I've recently been trying to put out more body-positive contents on social media and there's a little backlash especially on Twitter. A lot of times I ignore or block or respond very harshly to these body shamers, they listen to no other thing. Offline however I respond always. It is my life and body so I see no reason why anyone should have an opinion about it. 



bikini for big girls

say no to body shaming


...fuck society's expectations of what we should be or look like. Self-love is hard but it's the most rewarding thing ever. Never be ashamed of how you look...


You are a very experimental makeup artist, you play with colours and create amazing looks. Where did this inspiration to be bold and fearless with your art come from?


Thank you for the compliment. I love colours and love to create looks. The truth is I love being an artist and I have an incredible passion for it. The art of transforming myself or a client is incredibly rewarding to me and I've always loved to see how far I could take it while still looking amazing. I get inspired a lot of times by just thinking of creating or putting ideas together in my head. Other times I'm inspired but amazing artists in my niche and field. 


cover girl make up

make up artist


Been fat automatically means you're a bit different from others and people will never learn how to accept different.

Have you ever had people tell you that you are doing too much, that you should probably tone it down a bit, if yes, how did you handle such opinion?


I've never had such an opinion and if I ever do, you'll see me doing more instead of less. Can't ever let people bring me down and that's on period.


plus sized women

fashion Icon


I love being an artist and I have an incredible passion for it. The art of transforming myself or a client is incredibly rewarding to me

You are a fashion Icon in my opinion, so how long does it take you to style yourself and what do you have to say to people who think plus-sized women should only wear certain types of clothing or outfits 


I'm not a fashion Icon yet, but I like to think I'm on my way. Styling is pretty easy for me once I've paired up the outfits in my head, I always do the pairing before testing. 


To people who think plus-sized women should only wear certain outfits. I think that's rubbish and to my beautiful plus sized gals please wear what you wanna wear, if it's cropped top wear it hunnay! If it is a body con dress wear it and own your curves, own your FUPA, own those rolls baby and love yourself.


own your FUPA

blazer jackets for women


On your Instagram page, you combine patterns and prints and it's very artistic, what does being an African woman mean to you?


Being an African woman is so exhilarating to me. Wearing Patterns and prints brings out the best in me and reminds me that my skin is gold and my ancestry is full of African kings and Queens. I'm so proud to be African and Nigerian at that. And being proud of my culture leads to me imbibe every aspect of my life with culture. 


African prints

african woman



Ankara jacket
Ankara blazer for plus sized women


You have a reasonable following on social media. Do you ever feel pressured to perform or fit into a certain Aesthetic, do you think this idea of perfection in the creative space is harmful?


While I do feel pressured to always put out content, the pressure comes from within myself as I love to push myself to be consistent in anything I do. I feel I have created my aesthetic through my style and creativity and I'm super proud of that. And no, I never feel pressured to fit into a certain aesthetic because I have tried all my possible best to create my aesthetic and make it a lifestyle. So it's not that hard to do especially when you get  used it 


I think perfection is overrated. Nobody is perfect. Even on Instagram. And the idea of it is harmful. To an extent even I have experienced the bad side of thinking you can be perfect on Instagram. Through pressuring myself to try and be like other people or wear what they wear or do what they do. It didn't help me in any way and I had to learn to curb that need to be perfect or create perfect content like some influencer we see.  


curvy model

When handling body Shamers I always put them in their place, I've worked hard on my self-confidence and I don't need anyone to come tearing it down.

Have influencers, celebrities or Instagram models ever caused you to think about your body image and was it negatively or positively?


Like I said it's very easy to be affected and think negatively about yourself especially when everyone around you seems to be close to perfect. However, I learnt to not compare myself to people I see on the gram. And to love me a little more every time I feel pressured to be like someone else. 


I find your younger brother very cool and handsome. Do you style him too and how important is it to educate children on body image and self-confidence.


Thank you so much. Yes, I style most of his outfits, he manages to pull them off with his insane charisma and model poses. 

I wish someone has taken the time to educate me on body confidence when I was little. Knowing that there's nothing wrong with our bodies and with how we looked at that age would have been freeing. I think it's very important to educate children so that they'd know early on how important it is to love their bodies and selves. 


fashion for kids

face art for kids

cool kid on the telephone

kid celebrities

coolest kid on the block

locations for childrens photoshoot


I think perfection is overrated. Nobody is perfect. Even on Instagram. And the idea of it is harmful.

Overall how has your creative journey been and is it slightly more difficult for plus-sized women in the creative industry?


Overall, my creative journey has been insane. At least that's the one thing I can fully say I achieved last year. It's been amazing and even looking through my Instagram page you can clearly see growth. 

I believe it is a bit difficult for plus-sized women. Sometimes getting people's attention is hard, and even more painful is when a normal-sized person does the same thing or less of what you did, people flock the content. That is really discouraging.


plus sized women in the creative industry

street style

rainbow background photography

holiday vibes

chilling in an eatery

I feel I have created my aesthetic through my style and creativity and I'm super proud of that. I never feel pressured to fit into a certain aesthetic

Any advice for women, especially young girls who are ashamed of the way they look and find it hard to accept themselves because of society? 


Girlllll. The one thing I have learnt this year is to fuck society's expectations of what we should be or look like. Make sure your own opinion comes first. Make sure you are your top priority and not what people think of you. Self-love is hard but it's the most rewarding thing ever. Never be ashamed of how you look especially if its something as normal as saggy boobs or stretch marks or even back rolls. Those are incredibly normal and you should never feel bad about having them on your body. 


live, love and breathe

plus sized women


What do you do for fun, give us three random facts about you?


I love to read Manga, Romance, fiction, play music, dance and have fun family time. 

Random facts about me; I hate honey, I'm insanely curious and I cry for every movie. Doesn't matter the genre I will cry. Even if the ending is happy or sad or scary!



Thank you for doing this! 



Saturday, 19 December 2020

ON HUMANITY, ART & STORYTELLING - AN INTERVIEW WITH PEARL ADA

Humanity and kindness


Hi, pearl. Please introduce yourself


Hello:) My name is Pearl Ada and I am a storyteller.



You recently started a website - a free resource hub where people have access to resources and information on the dangers of sexual violence and abuse. Tell us more about it and why you thought this was such an important step to take, Did you receive any push back whatsoever before and after it was created?


Consent Haven is a free resource hub for all individuals, organizations, and groups that are interested in abolishing the normalized culture of sexual violence and abuse in Nigeria. We tackle rape culture through consent education.


To be honest, I started Consent Haven out of desperation and I guess helplessness. The plight of the girl child in Nigeria and Africa as a whole is something I just can't wrap my head around. It's alarming, to say the least. With the rape and murder of Uwa, I felt like I wasn't doing enough. Are my conversations about this enough? Am I part of the problem? I found myself struggling with these thoughts...I was really losing sleep for days, then I spoke to a wise friend of mine about it..:) He gave me an assignment, asked me to brainstorm - to come up with something I can do. That's how Consent Haven was born. I had all these pieces of information I wanted to share, so I got to work. I reached out to some creatives including you Roseline...:) Thank you for helping me out...


I can't tell you how many emails I wrote to organizations, schools or the amount of influential people I reached out to, just to get it out there. None of it worked and that's okay...no one owes me anything

In regards to push-back, I actually didn't receive any while working on it. I just lost a lot of sleep - because it was a one-woman team from the creation of the website, its design, the resources and all that. I am used to not sleeping much anyway...(laughs) I got a lot of praise from friends and family after its creation, I was truly grateful for that but to be honest, that wasn't what I was looking for.


With Consent Haven, more than anything, I just wanted people to share the website and its resources. I can't tell you how many emails I wrote to organizations, schools or the amount of influential people I reached out to, just to get it out there. None of that worked...(laughs) and that's okay. It just reminded me of something I have always known, the fact that no one owes me anything and that I need to work really hard to have a platform, build an audience so that when I share projects like this, it can reach people.


6ft 3


I believe evil can never outdo good, there's just as much good as there is evil in this world. People are good! People are kind! People will help you!

 



We are breaking others in search of relief... & when you hurt beauty you hurt yourself... These lines are excerpts from your spoken word poetry 'The person who tried to break me' and 'You are ugly' These lines made me wonder how people hurt people without realizing that they too are undergoing some sort of self-destruction, can you speak more to this? Do you think the world is losing the essence of kindness?


Hurt people hurt people. That's a fact. It's really difficult to see someone who is at peace with their body, mind, and soul wreaking havoc in other people's lives. When we understand and know love - true love which by the way begins with ourselves, we find it hard to hurt others. It took a while to get here but when a person hurts me, the first thing I think is damn, this person must really be hurting. When you know and feel beauty, you give beauty, you speak beauty, you show beauty. That's how I see the world. Is it a correct view? Dunno. (laughs)


When we understand and know love - true love which by the way begins with ourselves, we find it hard to hurt others

 

Is the world losing the essence of kindness? Nah, don't think so. Although it seems the world is just getting darker and scarier, I believe evil can never outdo good, there's just as much good as there is evil in this world. People are good! People are kind! People will help you! That's the mindset I try to live by. Will I meet people who will make me question humanity? Of course! But when I am open to good, I will come in contact with it. As a woman thinketh, so is she.


Art can change the world


Do you Believe Art can change the world? You are so multi-talented, I've seen you dance, you write so well, you have very powerful vocals and you do spoken word poetry, among other things. Which of these Art forms do you love the most, which one is more liberating for you.


I think Art can and is changing the world. I speak from personal experience. I am deeply moved by art, there's just intense beauty in it. I have learned so much from engaging with different art forms and also from creating it. It's one of the most powerful things in the world. I love storytelling, be it through music, dance, spoken words, poetry, drama, I feel so free and happy when I get to tell stories. Truly, all these art forms make my heart race   (laughs) But there's one that makes it beat a little faster than the others, and that is Acting.


I call myself a storyteller because I don't want to be identified by just one art form 

 

I am an aspiring actor, I love it so much, it gives me butterflies.  To bring the human experience to life on stage, on-screen - that's my dream. This is the only occupation I don't mind being identified by - Pearl the Actor:))) I call myself a storyteller because I don't want to be identified by just one art form. I can geek out breaking down a scene or talking about an actor who inspires me. I even have a list of actors who I learn from. For me, watching a movie is a study session, I break down scenes, think of the actor's choices, the director's view  It's manic really. (laughs)



First class law graduate


You are first-class Law graduate! As a law student, I know this is such a big deal and it is not an easy feat. How was your experience studying law outside Nigeria and what do you think Nigerian universities can do better in terms of providing quality education. Also, any reading tips for law students who are struggling to get their grades up.


Thank you! My experience studying in the UK was beautiful, truly. It really wasn't easy but I didn't have to go through unnecessary hardships and all that. At the core of their education system is the wellbeing of the student, something which the Nigerian system completely lacks. If you put a student first, they do better, they excel but when a system is designed to attack your effort and hard work, it's just terrible, it's not conducive. The Nigerian universities need to put the student and their needs first, before profit and politics.


Honestly, I don't know if I am the right person to give study advice, but I would say you should know what kind of student or learner you are. Are you a visual, auditory, or verbal learner? Do you do better in groups or alone? Figure this out and fix yourself where you can thrive. I never made notes in class because I learn by listening, never missed a tutorial or seminar because I learn through discussions, barely attended lectures..(laughs) I don't like group study, so I studied alone most of the time. I preferred my room to the library. Just figure out what works for you. You don't have to do what everyone does. Not sure this helps. :):)



How to handle lonliness


What is your experience with loneliness, at what moment in your life did you feel it more and how did you cope with it?


Funny enough, my most lonely moments were around people. I have always stood out like a sore thumb, starting from my 6'3 height to the way I view the world Never been able to fit in a clique or group, so my most lonely years were during primary and secondary school. I hadn't come into myself then, so I always felt lost and just wrong. I don't think I coped with it at all then, I was just trying to survive day to day. I only realized how much I was struggling later on.


Why are you so particular about the Humanity of people, how has this acknowledgement that human beings are fundamentally flawed helped you navigate through life?


I wish I could give you a grand reason but it's just an innate thing. It's really an I was born this way situation. I have always been burdened about people, the world, humanity. I don't know how to live or function without this sense of responsibility. It shows up in everything thing I do and say. For me accepting that people are fundamentally flawed helps me love people better, helps me afford them grace I don't always do this, but I keep trying to be better.


Body shamming is bad


Some people have chosen to cower and shrink themselves because society has termed them as being overly sensitive or just doing too much. Can you give any words of Affirmation to these kinds of people?


There are a lot of unhealed people in this world you see. Hurt shows up as jealousy, envy, low-self esteem, gossip, and even ignorance. When you understand this, it becomes easier to ignore the naysayers. People will always have opinions no matter what you do or how you do it, so why not become your highest self?.   Just boldly live your one beautiful life because las las, they will still talk(laughs) Also, you are not alone! Everyone has a tribe, people who they can relate with  You may not have met or heard about them yet, that's all.

I have always been burdened about people, the world, humanity. I don't know how to live or function without this sense of responsibility.

 


Do you consider shamelessness to be a good thing? If yes, how do we eliminate the culture of shame? How helpful is shamelessness in chasing and actualizing one's goals and dreams?


I think the problem is that when people hear the word shamelessness, they immediately think of someone who goes around doing just what they want, how they want, not caring at all how their actions negatively affect other people There's a disconnect because this is not what we mean by it.


As humans, we are interconnected, whether we like it or not. Also, no person can survive alone in this world, we all need each other... A person who truly lives shamelessly doesn't let other people's opinions, expectations, or world views stop them from being or becoming their highest selves. They acknowledge the importance of advice, care, and community but realize that no one can want the best for them more than they do for themselves. They know how to sift through opinions, they are experts at blocking out the noise, and they know how to learn from advice without letting it control or damn them and their dreams. Every great name you know today lived shamelessly, they blocked out the noise and did what they had to.


By the way, people who are in tune with their bodies, hearts, minds, and souls don't shame others. It doesn't even occur to you. So, if you participate in the culture of shaming others, there's something fundamentally wrong - and it's not with the person being shamed :)


Body shamming tall girls is wrong


Have you ever struggled with low self-esteem and body shaming? How did you handle it, especially in this society where beauty is being defined by unrealistic standards.


Sure! I am 6'3. Growing up, my height was all people talked about. Both Adults and children teased me Girls are not supposed to be like this, who will marry this one? She's this tall and she's not even that pretty too, how will you kiss your husband? You look like you are going to break, she's so huge! ....

I struggled a lot, I did not feel feminine at all, finding clothes and shoes that fit was a hassle, and boys weren't even checking for the giraffe girl. I mostly felt like an alien    (laughs) Of course, this isn't the only reason but my self-esteem was non-existent.


It took a while but I handled it by redefining beauty. Beauty is something that I am, not something that I have to prove. I am beautiful and enough just because I exist. That sounds radical but it's true.


I don't need to be defined by anybody's standards. Nature chose me. God chose means (laughs) Things are different now though, my height is still what everyone talks about but it's now all about my aura, how elegant, powerful, and graceful I am. Isn't it funny? There were no drastic physical changes, I even got taller but people's attitudes towards me are different. When I walk into a room, you can tell that I operate differently. I believe I am beauty, so I radiate it, and you have no option than to acknowledge it I now carry myself like the queen I know I am.


A person who truly lives shamelessly doesn't let other people's opinions, expectations, or world views stop them from being or becoming their highest selves.


What is your current job and what is your dream job? I know mine is to relax and be receiving unsolicited credit alerts, yours?


Yes to credit alerts! I currently work as a freelance content creator. Acting is my dream job. I wanna be a businesswoman too - hopefully, all these will lead to countless credit alerts (laughs)


Humanity is important


I have always stood out like a sore thumb, starting from my 6'3 height to the way I view the world, Never been able to fit in a clique or group,


Tell us Five Random Facts About you, What do you do for fun


  • I think out loud, so I talk randomly

  • I make lists and notes for almost everything

  • I listen to music in various languages

  • I hold a lot of dance concerts in my room. I intensely dance for an hour or two for my imaginary audience...

  • I love corn - boiled, roasted, dried, popped    corn is corn



Lastly, Any advice for young people trying to find themselves?


Be intentional about the growth you hope to see in yourself, however, don't rush it. It takes time to unlearn - and growth occurs in stages. Take things slowly and trust the process. Once there is a clear intention - a clear plan, things will fall into place.



Millenials should get rid of anxiety 


Thank you for having me! 

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