Recently I read the story of a young man, a relation visited him and his parents in the village where they lived and told them that she wanted him to come live with her in Lagos so she would help him get better education. He was ecstatic and begged his parents to allow him go and they obliged because they were too poor to pay tuition fees and they wanted him to have a better life and education than they had. When he got to Lagos, she refused to send him to school and made him hawk goods, she said it was his way of saving up for his education but after a few years of hawking, several beatings and sexual abuse, he ran away. This man grew up on the streets, selling what he could, sent himself to school and became a successful business man. This is not a recent issue in Nigeria, it has always been, its slavery in disguise and most of these children have very little or no choices, they take them from the comfort and love of their parents or parent in some cases and turn them to house maids or house slaves, they are beaten, starved and molested by their ward or any pervert on the street. They inspired this poem; I tried to capture their thoughts and feelings.
I see you and you see me
Do you see what I can be?
When you look into my eyes,
As you touch my thighs
Do you realize?
All I wanted was to sell my wares
All you could do was snort at my wears
I know I smell forgive my stench
But I need to sell so I am not laid on the bench.
I wanted an education and you said sure,
I thought you were noble, your intentions pure
But now am working as your maid
Education forgotten and am not paid
But I will rise above all this
I will raise my head in spite of all these
This does not define me
No it doesn’t stop me from being all I can be
From these ashes I will rise
I refuse to be bitter but wise
You won’t hold me down, you won’t win
Against all odds I will fight till I am free.