When it takes a village and indeed the parents

If there is anytime that I believe the saying “It takes a village to raise a child’ the case of Ese Osuru is one, well in this case “…to rescue a child.” I read through some of the contributions of amazing people rooting relentlessly for the release of Ese, some even had time responding to others who thought a 14 year old girl is ‘ripe’ enough for marriage.

Short version of the story. Ese Osuru is a 14 year old Bayelsan girl in secondary school. August 2015, Ese was taken from Bayelsa to Kano by Mr Yinusa without the knowledge of the family. Yinusa, before this time is well known by the family – he buys food both in cash and credit from the mother.

Two days later Ese’s mother went to Kano searching for her daughter – all in all she came back without Ese. The tale included Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Kano police and then Bayelsa police – none of these people could do enough to get Ese, a 14year old back to her parents.

After recent intense pressure from the public, Ese was re-united with her family 02 March 2016. She left home 12 August 2015.

Crazy? One would think. Well, if Yarima, a Senator could marry a 13 year old, why not Yanusi?

In Yoruba, we say ‘Ka le ẹlẹ́yọ́rọ́ s’ẹ́họ̀n, ká tó bá adìẹ wi’ (chase away fox before discipline chicken).

The family have suffered enough so I am not going to be critical of the parents but I will say this. When I was Ese’s age, I don’t see my parents during the week as they live in the village about 12 miles or so away (thanks to the government for not maintaining village schools).

Before my mother agreed to leave us behind, she had supports of trusted adults around.

There was a lady, Mama Sola who was very close to my mother, they were good friends, she knew all there is to know about my family and vice versa. She lived next door. If Mama Sola didn’t see us, she’d come by in the evening to say hello and take a ‘stock’.

In the building were three other families, all were known to my parents. There was another very nice family, they just returned to town from Lagos – the woman and my mother got along well, so she is always on our case.

Both of these women gave accounts to my mother whenever she comes to town, usually end of the month and in return my mother gave the only gift she could afford – palm oil and gaari.

Yinusa’s type is everywhere in Nigeria and are growing because they are getting away with crime.

When I was 16, we moved house as landlord coming home due to retirement. We moved to a much bigger house, a storey building with 6 different families, 4 bachelors and my sister and I.

Shortly after we moved into this building, we had a new fellow tenant, in his early 40s. He rented the room directly opposite our room, he was a lorry driver but going through hard time as his wife left him with their 3 year old daughter. Occasionally, his daughter would visit.

This is all that we knew about him. He seems nice.

In this house our ‘guardian’ was the landlord. He was home a lot during the day.

And there is a church behind us, a branch of the church that we attended, but we just can’t be bothered to change church so my mother went to the pastor to introduce herself so the pastor and his wife were another people keeping eye on us. Their older daughter and I were in the same class.

Our movement is quite predictable. Home – school – home – church and Friday evening, away until Sunday evening.

Long story short was about the new tenant. I’ll call him Baba Yetunde here. In this house it was just me and my younger sister. We were both in the same school.

Baba Yetunde started making odd comments such as ‘to know a girl is beautiful, one has to see her first thing in the morning’ this was meant for me, I would just smile and walked along.

Then he bought be a wrist watch as a gift, oddly didn’t include my sister. I still didn’t think anything of it. Thankfully, one day Baba Yetunde spoke to another of my mother’s ‘foot soldiers’ who on occasion would stop by to check on us that he wanted to marry me and that he has hinted my mother on this.

The said ‘foot soldier’ waited until my mother came to town and told her. Let’s just say it was not pretty because Baba Yetunde did not know that my mother’s worse nightmare was to hear her child is dropping out of school to get married and my mother has never liked us receiving gifts from anyone not even my own uncle who had ‘history’.

The result? Mother finds enough reason for us to move out of that house.

I am glad that the efforts of good Nigerians paid off on Ese. Happy for Ese’s parents – second chance is great. Happy for Ese.

Whatever is going to happen to her unborn child is a whole other story.