“My dad used to work for NITEL but then things went sour between my parents and soon, my father relocated to Cote d’Ivoire. My moved to Cote d’Ivoire with the hopes that they could make things work. However, things went sour in Cote d’Ivoire. One evening, as my sister and I played in my mother’s shop where she had been setting up her hairdressing equipment. Then her friend had come to call us.
When we got home, my mom was laid out on the floor. She reached for my hands and she was saying something but I didn’t get it. It was then that her friend came in and rushed her to the hospital while we stayed back in the house. She was the one, her friend, who returned and broke the news of her death to us. She said my mother died before they got to the hospital.
At that time, I was 5 years old.
My uncle came over to Cote d’Ivoire to bring us back to Nigeria. We were put in care of my father’s sister but because we were not well treated we were taken to my maternal grandparents’ place in Oluyole Estate in 2003. That was where I grew up and spent my childhood. While growing up, however, I had always designed my own clothes myself. Because my Aunty in Dublin always sent exact clothing items to my sister and me, I always sought ways to distinguish my own wears since I hated to wear matching outfits. So, I will always redesigned my own clothes – I’d add something to make mine different and since then, I had always tinkered with the thoughts of fashion in my mind.
In 2010, my grandfather died and in 2011, my grandma passed away. We couldn’t stay in the house anymore. We couldn’t return to Cote d’Ivoire to be with our dad as he was living with his third wife. Hence, we were taken back to my father’s sister’s place. Life at my aunt’s place was hard. She cut us off from any source of help that we could get. My mother’s younger sister, who was in Dublin always sent stuff for me to sell and we’d use the proceeds for upkeep but my paternal aunty stopped my mother’s sister from sending anything to us. In summary, it was hell for us. She tried in that she accommodated us but that was all she did.
My best friend was my sunshine. My paternal aunt hated her and would tell her mum not to let her associate with us. She and her family stayed in a house which my paternal aunt is a co tenant, she gave us food, clothed us and was my shoulder when I needed someone to lean on. However, as I hate being dependent, I got a job as a receptionist at a law firm. The woman who owned the firm also ran a Make-Up business and I was overseeing the business.
Our opportunity to leave the house came when my mother’s sister had informed us that she was coming home from London. She said she wanted to build a house around CRIN and she wanted me to be at hand to oversee the project. She had rented a place for us to stay but the place was inhabitable– work was still being done there. All we could do was put our things there and then sort ourselves out. We had to just find a place to stay for 3 days since my mother’s sister would be in Nigeria on the fourth day. My kid sister had female friends she was close to but I didn’t. I was a tomboy and so all my friends where guys.
While stranded, a lady reached out to me that she needed helping hands with a bridal makeup job. I went with her and I slept over till Saturday. By the end of the day when all was done, I had nowhere to go. I called a former classmate, Aminat, and told her what was going on – that I had no place to stay. She told me to come over even though she made it clear that I couldn’t stay with them (her family) because her mom was strict. It was Aminat that took me to a woman in the neighbourhood. The woman sleeps in the shop because she also was owing her landlord at her house.
In short, I passed the night in the shop with the woman and her 2 daughters.
“Morning came and I was back to square-one. By then, my phone was dead and I couldn’t reach Aminat. The woman who had accommodated had gone out and I was with her two girls but I needed to get on the move. My phone was dead and so I couldn’t reach Aminat. There was nowhere in the shop that I could charge. I left and began to roam about, trying to figure out my next step. It was while I was at this that a guy confronted me: ‘are you not the one Aminat brought yesterday?’ Apparently, the previous day when I had met up with Aminat, she had introduced me to a guy as her friend. This guy who had accosted me was a friend to the other guy and they had been together. His name was Michael.
He asked me what I wanted and I told him I wanted to charge my phone only. He insisted that I needed more than just charging my phone. When he persisted, I told him that I needed a place to stay for two days. That was when he told me that he was a corper and that if I didn’t mind he could take me to the Corpers Lodge at Bashorun. I agreed. At the Lodge, I was put with a lady – Esiri. Esiri accommodated me for the night. The second day, Michael came to check on me and I told him I’d leave for Lagos. He gave me some money and I left the Lodge for Lagos to meet my Aunty.
My Aunty was excited to meet us. Everything was going fine between us and our Aunt until she visited my Father’s sister. I wouldn’t know what they talked about but she returned and she changed towards us. There was nothing we ever did that was right. She would even use our mother’s death to bash us. It was all so strange. When she was returning to the UK, she said she’d send money to us as upkeep. Till date, she never told us what we did that made us change.
She left and no money came. We were in the house around CRIN, no jobs, no cash nothing. Then, we were inexperienced and did not know what cruelty lurked in the world. Somehow, whenever we were in need, something, someone always came through. There was a man, Kenny, he tried for us. Even though he didn’t have much he cared for us.
In 2014, I got admitted into University of Ilorin for Industrial Chemistry. I was excited. I informed my Aunty and I began to wait for her to send some money so that I can pay acceptance fee and get my registration. I waited and waited till the deadline for payment passed. I forfeited the admission. Life became hard and so my sister went to live with a friend. I hated that I was just waking up, eating, sleeping. Life was stagnant and I hated it. I hate stagnancy.
All of these, especially the admission I lost got me super-depressed.
In the end, I also left. I went to stay with a friend. In December 2014, the landlady called that she needed to use the house which my Aunt had rented so there was problem with where we’d take our things. I explained everything to a friend whom I had helped secure a place around the Adebayo area. I knew him from when I lived with my grandparents in Oluyole Estate. He was in OOU at the time. He agreed that I could put our things in a room in his own apartment. I stayed there till March 2015.
In March 2015, this friend tried to rape me and I just had to run away to a church. I knew the church through Bro. Kenny, the man who didn’t have much but always looked after us. I got to the church and explained to the Resident Pastor my predicament and he let me stay in the church. Every day I spent in the church, I reminded myself that giving up was a luxury that I could not just afford.
I stayed there in the church for the next 10 days without any change of clothes, and without a dime. All I had was my dream to make something out of my life.
There was no family to turn to and calling on friends to help was tough because all my friends that I could call were guys. A friend invited me that I could stay at his place, he even promised that everything will be fine. I was out of options – no family, no friend that I could totally trust and I couldn’t keep staying in the church. In the end, I agreed to stay with the friend till I could sort myself out.
No sooner had I began to stay with him than he began to make advances towards me. So, once again, I left this friend’s place too. By this time, I was depressed. A lot was on my mind. I wondered why things were just so bad for my sister and me. My Aunt who had come from the UK some months before had spread news about us that we were good for nothing and all sort. So, both on father and mother’s side, there was no one who cared. Everyone was just against us. She herself even backed out from supporting us. We were, once again, abandoned to sort out ourselves.
I moved in with a group of friends who lived together and I stayed there from March till June 28, 2015 and moved to another friend’s place. This new friend had a family. While I was staying with this friend, I got a job on OLX. The person needed someone to oversee and manage a business of sales of fairly used materials. However, the person had a big brother who kept meddling with the business. Sales dropped drastically when I began to run the shop by the big brother’s rule. Then, I knew I had to leave. I left the job in August 2015. Then I decided to sell men’s wears – shirts, trousers, briefs; but I just didn’t feel convinced that I was doing what I really ought to be doing. My dream to my own fashion house loomed in my mind.
August 15 2015, I went to meet a woman whom I met in 2013. She was a very proficient tailor. I told her that I wanted to learn to sew. I wanted to begin the next day but when she prevailed on me to start that day. I left everything I had planned for the day and resumed learning. Once I have my mind on something, I learn very quickly – In no time, I had begun to style clothes. Then, I needed to get my own machine in order to practice while on my own. In February 2016, I worked for one month as a network operator – I was registering SIM cards. It was with the money I made from this job that I bought my sewing machine.
This year, I had to forgo my admission despite the fact that I scored 78% in my Post UTME. Right now, I’m running my fashion line – MKD Clothing. I still dream of going to school but it may be a fashion school. My dream now is to attend a fashion school. Maybe a Fashion school outside the country.”