I am Uzo. I’m twenty-three years old. I grew up in a strict religious background, and naturally, when I found out my sexual yearnings, I did what everyone else burdened with guilt did. I prayed and fasted for the gay to go away. It didn’t.
I stayed on being gay.
On November 2014, I was a happy man. I was graduating from the university, with a 4.0 GPA. My convocation was just around the corner. A week to the ceremony, I got a message on a hookup site from a young man who called himself Gbemi. From his pictures, he was light skinned and tall, and looked older. In no time, we exchanged contacts and getting to know each other was fun. He called daily and impressed me with his good command of the English Language. That was a definite plus. And with his charm, I was half in love with him.
On the evening of my convocation, after the official ceremony, he called to congratulate me. We spoke for a while and then happened on a plan. My folks had left school to return home, but I had to stay back to finish up my clearance. I was due home in Lagos in a week’s time. Gbemi convinced me to come to Lagos a day before I was supposed to go on home, spend the night with him and then head home the next day.
He didn’t need to do much convincing as I’d already fallen for him. He was a very charming person. I agreed and on the 19th day of December, I packed my bag and left for Lagos.
At about 4pm, I got to Ojota and thereupon, headed for Ikorodu; Ikorodu was where Gbemi said he lived. He tracked my progress via calls and sms. The traffic was terrible. I got to Ikorodu at around 6pm, and with Gbemi’s directions, I got to his house.
He was at the gate that led into the compound of a three storey building. He looked even better than his pictures. I was giddy with pleasure that I’d finally met him. He helped with my luggage and led me in. We climbed the stairs till we got to the topmost floor. From outside the house, everything looked okay. But as soon as I stepped into the house, I knew nobody lived here. The entire room looked in shambles, as though someone had just moved out or was renovating.
I stopped mid-stride, only to get pushed all the way in from behind. I staggered in and turned to see a rough-looking dude behind me. A burning stick of cigarette stuck out from his thin, cruel lips. Another guy, not as rough-looking as the first, came out from one of the inner rooms; and there were three.
In that instant, I knew I was in trouble. All the horror stories I’d heard about kito experiences filled my head, with images of bloodied and battered victims splashed across my inner line of vision. I felt faint with terror. And then, I prayed a desperate prayer to wake up from this dream, because things like this do not happen to me.
But it was no dream. That much was confirmed to me when the rough-looking dude barked, “Siddon for ground! And no shouting! If not, this bottle go finish for your head!” He hefted an empty beer bottle menacingly in his hand.
I just melted down to the floor.
“Who be your papa?” the second guy asked.
“Erm…erm, my dad – he is nobody… You don’t know him…” I stuttered my response.
“What does he do?” It was Gbemi who asked.
I stared accusingly at him for a moment before answering, “He is a civil servant.”
The questions continued for a while before the rough-looking guy barked again, “Open your box!”
I zipped open my valise, and they snatched it from me, promptly ravaging the things inside – my new pair of shoes (a graduation present from an uncle), my laptop, clothes. Gbemi took my phone, removed my sim card and put his inside the phone. (Well, I needed to change the phone anyway)
He asked, “Where is your ATM card?”
I pointed at the zipped side of the laptop bag. But just then, as Gbemi bent to retrieve the bag, it hit me. I had forgotten my ATM card in the bag I used that morning at school before I left for Lagos. The bag was in school. For a moment, I watched Gbemi root around inside the laptop bag.
“I can’t see any ATM here,” he said.
“It seems I left it in school,” I said.
The next thing I felt was a throbbing pain on my collar-bone. The second guy had swung the piece of wood he had in his hand on my shoulder, striking me with a force that ripped a scream out of me.
“You think say we dey play here?” he snarled at me. “I go kill you here and nobody go know say you dey here!”
“I don’t even have money in that account…” I wailed, before going on to explain how I’d left the ATM card in school.
“How much you buy this laptop?” Gbemi asked.
“125k… It’s still new. You can sell it and get more money than you’ll see in my account.”
“What’s the password?” Gbemi asked again.
They sniggered at my answer, before coming together to mumble a quick conversation, leaving me lying there, rubbing at the bruise on my shoulder.
Then, the rough-looking guy turned to say, “Wey your papa number?”
“Huh?” I said, feeling my heart begin to pound.
“If I tell am say you like prick, wetin he go do you?”
I just stared wordlessly at him. My heart had started pounding so hard, I feared they could hear it. My mother was due for surgery at the time. If she got to know that her beloved son loved men, there was no telling how badly that would affect her.
“You dey craze?!” the second guy barked, advancing with his wood. “Ansa am! Wetin your popsi go do you if him know say you dey fuck nyash?!”
I recoiled from him, before launching into a teary plea for them not to involve my family. I told them about my mother and her fragile health, hoping to appeal to whatever humanity they had with my sob story.
“You see your life?” the second guy said. “Your mama dey sick, you dey here dey find prick.”
The rough-looking guy said, “Tell me, why fine guy like you go dey pursue boy? Girls dey plenty wey dey find boy like you.”
I didn’t respond.
“Pull your clothes!” he ordered.
I obeyed, removing my shirt and singlet.
“Comot everything!” he barked, gesturing at my trousers.
“Please now, please…!”
“Comot am!” the second guy shouted, raising his wood again.
I flinched, before proceeding to remove my trousers.
“Everything!” the rough-looking guy commanded.
Feeling my face burn with humiliation, I peeled off my boxers, feeling violated as I stood there, stark naked before them.
“I wan see your nyash,” he continued, waving me around.
I hedged, and then turned my back to them. It was a few moments before I felt a burning pain on my derriere. As I drew in a hissing breath, my brain registered the fact that he’d just burned me with his cigarette. That hurt – it really hurt!
“No touch am!” the rough-looking guy shouted behind me as I reached my hand around. He started cackling, along with the other guy.
And then, through their laughter, Gbemi said to them, “Guy, no spoil the fine boy abeg. Pity am.”
“Na only him nyash I go do,” the rough-looking guy replied. “When I finish, he no go gree fuck nyash again.”
And in spite of my frantic pleas, he continued burning my butt with his cigarette. The second guy used his wood on me, striking at my hands each time I tried to ward off his cohort’s assault. The burning assault continued for a couple of minutes, before they pulled back from me and ordered me to sit back down.
I sat down with effort, trembling from misery and pain, and wincing when my butt touched down on the ground.
The second guy said then, “You know say your head na millions.”
I didn’t answer him. If he was talking of a ransom, he’d have something else coming. He’d be dead before my father would pay any ransom. The old man had a formidability that was legendary. So this clueless guy had better be talking of a ritual or something.
I sat there and watched the three of them go through my clothes and footwear, putting them on to know which one would go to whom. They even put on my socks! Before long, they had successfully shared my belongings amongst themselves.
At that point, my inhaler chose to fall off the bag Gbemi was holding. He stared at it for a moment, and then upon realizing what it was, turned a panicked look to me and asked, “You are asthmatic?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
I stared at him in mild confusion. It wasn’t as though asthma was an infectious ailment, or that I’d be dropping dead any second. I replied, “Well…it never came up.”
“So, how you feeling?” he asked, staring at me as though I’d suddenly sprung antlers.
And then, it suddenly dawned on me that I’d just gotten some power back. My situation suddenly didn’t seem so dire anymore. And so, I became the victim – a different kind of victim. I gave a visible shudder, and said in a croaky voice, “Well, I react very much to cold, and I’ve been without my clothes… sitting on the bare floor…”
“Oya, oya! Wear your clothes!” Gbemi said urgently.
I proceeded to wear the clothes I had just removed, only to be stopped by the rough-looking guy.
“No,” he said. “Leave those ones, they too fine. Go find another one for that side.” He was pointing at a pile of my clothes before them.
I obediently did as he asked, moving over to pick what he wanted me to wear.
“Wear this slippers,” he continued.
I stared at the slippers he was offering – well-worn and shabby, with soles that were all but nonexistent.
“Either you wear it or you can walk with barefoot,” Gbemi put in when he sensed my hesitation.
I had no choice. At least, I was going home. All would be well.
They were kind enough to give me my transport fare. One of them called a bike and asked him to take me to the bus stop. Empty-handed, I got on the bike and was driven off. The time was past 7pm. I spent the entire time in the bus thinking on the best lie I could come up with to explain away my situation to my family.
It was about 10pm when I got home. My family was surprised, first by my early homecoming, and then by my shambled appearance. I gave them the story of being attacked by robbers on my way home. I told them that I got to Ojota and joined a bus going to Oshodi with two other passengers who turned out to be robbers. The empathy was swift and reassuring. My big sister said something about the robbers taking my troubles and bad luck along with what they stole from me. And my mother held me close to her, repeatedly extending her thanks heavenward that I was safe.
By the time I got to bed, I could feel a degree of both relief and regret. Regret that I ever met Gbemi and his kind, and at the things I’d lost, and relief that in the end, I still had my life and nothing more grievous had resulted from the kito experience.
Written by Uzo