I woke up on Friday to see a bunch of posts on my Instagram timeline with hashtag #istandwithbusola. My heart started to race a bit faster as I read to find out Busola Dakolo had released an interview where she confessed that Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA church allegedly raped her twice at age 17. If you know us Nigerians, you know we neither sleep nor slumber, and as I expected, the Naija community was all over social media to put our full ignorance on display.
There are many angles I could address this from – lack of compassion and a support system, our fallen justice system, the matter of sin, ideas for preventing sexual abuse, the trauma of sexual abuse, how the church failed Busola Dakolo, and the ridiculous ignorance of Nigerians. I choose to focus on the last two points.
On how the church failed Busola Dakolo.
If a woman says she was raped by the pastor of a church, you would think that the next logical thing is for the church authority to:
- Show compassion, because that’s what Jesus would do, simple. A great first step would have been a statement that acknowledged the allegations and Busola’s pain, followed by a commitment to finding the truth.
- Put the pastor, who by the way is not the Alpha and Omega (shocking alert, Nigerians!), on a leave to investigate the matter. I am hoping Pastor Fatoyinbo is not planning to preach a sermon on Sunday morning, because that will just be ridiculous.com. The Pastor is meant to lead and serve the church and does not “own” it. However, so far, the COZA church has taken sides by posting his statements all over its social media pages, talking about “he is going to sue her for false allegations”. Sue ko, shoe ni. Crisis management 101: investigate before choosing a position. Also, what did COZA do again when Ese Walter raised allegations of infidelity against the same pastor five years ago? Okay, kontinu.
Is the next woman who gets raped in Nigeria going to speak up? I hope that she does, but in reality she most likely wouldn’t, because time and time again in Nigeria, these cases are unjustly handled. On this particular matter, unfortunately, the COZA church has failed Busola Dakolo so far. However, Pastor Tony Rapu’s reaction to abuse in light of the gospel, did give me hope for the church in Nigeria. With words of wisdom, he addressed caring for survivors, confronting sin, seeking justice, and protecting the vulnerable.
On the ridiculous ignorance of Nigerians
Even if we are lacking in the common sense department, edakun where is our compassion? If a woman claims she was raped, isn’t it obvious that blaming, insulting, or asking her dumb questions is like adding salt to an injury? The responses from fellow Nigerians were so ignorant, it’s heartbreaking. It’s 2019 people! We need to f’ara bele, calm down, and start thinking things through critically before we comment.
Just in case you think I’m over-reacting, here are a few comments from Facebook. I didn’t have to dig hard for them; quite a number of comments had some sort of ignorant tone…
1. “The story looks lame to me, after 17 years, well let’s just wait, the real truth will soon come out…” – from U.J.
2. “Busola and the pastor were enjoying themselves and we are here shouting who raped who… nonsense…” – from H.D.
3. “But…do you think it really makes sense for her to be overting the secret since then, most especially now that she is married?” – from O.A.
4. “PROBABLY another brave Potiphers Wife” – from F.U.
5. “Rubbish post. For many years na now she wake up realize say Fatoyi!!! wetin wetin rape her?” – from B.S. (Translation – After many years, she realizes that Fatoyi raped her?)
6. “That means she must have enjoyed it. If not she would not remember. 17 years rape. Did she tell her husband when they met? Why now?…Maybe she wants something from the man of God.” – from O.E.F.
7. “Why coming out with such a stain now after all these years? Please you should have kept it to yourself. A lot of women have the stain but prefer keeping it in silence. A man is weak before anything that attracts him, it takes the grace.” – from Y.D.S.
While the rest of the world is on a #metoo movement, we as Nigerians are still trying to cover for crime. We are not angry enough about sexual molestation. Our little sisters, our cousins, our babies, are getting raped everyday, and our response is “a man is weak before anything that attracts him”?!
Are Busola Dakolo’s allegations true? I don’t know. But the truth is actually less important; that should be for the justice system to figure out. What matters more is that our reactions show compassion because trauma is real.
I have female friends who were raped as children and never spoke up about it probably because they knew nothing was going to come out of it, and because of the stigma associated with rape. That hurts me deeply.
I choose to stand with Busola Dakolo for many reasons, but most importantly because I want other women to know that they have a voice, and that we would listen and actually hear them. It takes immense strength to be vulnerable despite the criticisms and backlash you know you will face.
Perhaps if our responses are gracious and we are committed to learning the truth and protecting the oppressed, then many girls, women, and even young boys (remember the Catholic Church crisis), will not wait 17 years suffering in silence before they speak up. I want us to offer compassionate arms that are always ready to comfort the oppressed, and I want us to have a functional legal system that is angry enough to investigate and prosecute with the harshest punishment should the perpetrator be found guilty.
To Busola and all the ladies in her shoes, I want you to know that we see you. Busola Dakolo, I admire your courage for speaking up in an ignorant society that just doesn’t get it; one day, we will.