Omotese is a teenage Nigerian girl born in a rural community in the midlands of Edo State. Her pathetic, yet symbolic story represents the struggles, agonies and unbearable hardship of an average Nigerian teenager or maybe a Nigerian in general terms. She narrates her thorny journey through the travail of life – her quest of realising her dreams amidst all odds, hostility and… far could she go, what strata of her dreams saw the light of the day? This is her story:

“You are the leaders of tomorrow,” I have been reminded for the umpteenth time. But wait a minute! Do leaders grow from trees? Who is going to nurture my God-given leadership skill? I have sought to know: A society that barely harbours the thoughts of how I survive daily or my leaders who have no idea of what it means to pass the night hungry in a day one runs after on-moving vehicle with nothing to show for the effort. Like other kids that litter the streets, I wonder what the future holds for a faceless and abandoned teenage girl like me.

I am blessed with a smiling face, although sometimes I consider it a curse because people always assume that life is rosy whenever they stare at my face; that tells a different story from what I secretly contend with. I have the frame of a rich kid, so you might mistake me for the daughter of Aliko Dangote or Femi Otedola. My hair could go for N100, 000. You want to know why? “Your hair looks like that of a Brazilian princess,” I have been made to believe.

I was taken away from my poor, but responsible parents at seven. My aunt, Eki, had promised my parents over a decade ago that she will train and give me the best life could offer in Lagos, the land of plentiful opportunities. She has indeed succeeded in making me the envy of others as the street has become my foster home. Don’t judge me yet. After all, no sane person will chose the famished streets as a home to the ambience of a well-furnished luxury apartment.

I had rebuffed Nigerian movies depicting cases of children taken from the village and turned into sex slaves in the big cities by their relatives. When I arrived in Lagos over 10 years ago, I had thought that someday, I will make it big, marry the man of my dreams and give my parents the life they have always dreamt of. Those lofty thoughts now live only in my mind’s eye as I have become a woman of easy virtue as the Holy Scripture puts it. I chose not to address my ignoble trade as prostitution because more than 60per cent of single ladies in Nigeria ply the same trade. They just choose to call it different names. Yes, I guess you are wondering now, “Is she really a prostitute?” Yes you are my dear. After all, Uncle John who pays for your flight ticket from Port Harcourt to Abuja is not related to you. In fact, all your uncles live in your village. Or do uncles now have sexual relationships with their nieces? Huh? And you, Deaconess Opeyemi, stop judging yourself. You may want to ask your daughter how she got that money used in buying you that expensive necklace. You see! You are not different after all.

I was forced out of my aunt’s house in Lagos when I couldn’t bear to swallow all the rubbish she was forcing down my throat. First, I was never enrolled into any school when I arrived in Lagos. Rather, I was forced into street hawking. I recall the number of times I was molested by road side mechanics, danfo drivers and men in uniform. Surprised? I mean ‘men in uniform.’ They got a fair share of my cake too. My aunt never believed me even when I cried home the number of times I was abused. So, one day, I took my bags and left her house. I thought to myself, what I could do since my life was at a cross road?

The thought dawned on me like the sound of striking thunder. ‘It’s time to give back to the society what they have freely given to me,’ I concluded in my mind.

First, I checked into a brothel and at night, men who couldn’t manage their sexual lust came to patronise me. Sometimes, I was even kind enough not to allow the use of condoms. For the one-year period I was in that brothel, I guess over one thousand men patronised me and I have no regrets. You might want to conclude that I am wicked. Don’t judge me yet. All those years I was abused and molested by men, I contracted HIV. I didn’t know until I went for a voluntary test in a clinic close to my aunt’s house. I have no degree or any form of formal education. I was a victim of domestic violence and sexual abuse. For a shattered person like me, what good could possibly have come out of me?

My travail and ugly experiences in my young life reminds me of Nigeria as a country. Just like I was promised a good life in Lagos, Nigeria had loads of potentials at independence. Just like the original plan of my life was altered by being dragged into forced labour, Nigeria’s democracy was shattered when the military took over in 1966. Remember how I have been abused and molested? Same for Nigeria. We have been abused and molested by our military and civilian leaders. Now, men who didn’t abuse or molest me now taste of my vengeful outpour of wickedness. That is the same fate that has befallen the country. Today’s generation of Nigerians didn’t sow the seed of discord, crime, hatred, corruption, greed, unemployment and poverty they now reap today. Do I intend to change and stop punishing innocent Nigerian men? Not yet, I guess. Maybe when things get better in this country, I will learn to forgive my transgressors.

I have chosen to live with the bruises of my past and maybe soon, death will end all of my sufferings and men will be liberated from my sting of vengeance. Until then, I am just going to live my own ‘Nigerian Dream.’