Like most children, my sense of awareness started at the age of four, when I began to compare my genitals, amongst other things, with those of my female playmates. I played with all the children in the extremely large backyard of the 30-flat building I lived in with my parents and siblings; it was situated in the suburbs of Port Harcourt. I had no special friends or toys for that manner, so I played with the boys and the girls, depending on who had the toys I was interested in. There were times when older boys called me names when I played soccer with them, referring to me as a girl (some actually thought I was a tomboy) and scorning my skills on the field. The girls on the other hand welcomed me with open arms and I have fond memories of playing with those cute plastic dolls with blond hair, which I loved to braid into fancy styles whenever I got the chance. The dolls had a distinct plastic smell which I loved and I had a sense of peace whenever I played with them.

I would fight my way into playing the mom role whenever we wanted to play the “mummy and daddy” games, and my female friends often played the dad and policeman roles, as we took care of our children (the dolls). The girls didn’t seem to mind at all that the boy amongst them insisted on playing the mom roles; this was probably because I came up with the best plots for our imaginary adventures.

I knew I wasn’t the same as the other kids, because even then, even though I played with everyone, I didn’t feel like I completely belonged to either gender. I would look at my childlike face in the mirror and not ‘recognise’ myself. I know this must seem strange to you, but I didn’t see myself or appreciate the stranger looking back at me.

This sometimes still happens today.

My parents didn’t have much time for me due to the brood of eight children they catered to in our house, the oldest who was just approaching fifteen at the time. I would wander off and play my little heart out, and since I hadn’t started school yet, I was often unsupervised.

No sooner had I turned five, than the adults began to notice the rambunctious little boy, who was also quite polite and always eager to go on all kinds of errands. I didn’t mind; I was industrious that way. There was a neighbour of ours who had three teenage children, one boy and two girls. The oldest of the girls, Kemi, would often tease me about my body and ask to check if I had “something” in my knickers. Her teasing frightened me a bit because I didn’t know what she meant, but the way she said the things she said to me made me feel like I was wrong somehow, or that I was doing something wrong. Add to that the fact that my reflection was already starting to feel like a lie to me, and I couldn’t help but avoid Kemi.

However, Kemi was a determined young woman. She lured me to their flat one afternoon on a week day with a stuffed animal; it was some kind of ugly green creature, a toy I didn’t like. She saw my reluctance to accept her toy and stated that she had cute dolls in her room. So I followed her in, hoping to get the dolls. But once I was in her room, she grabbed me and clamped a hand over my mouth, hissing a threat into my ear that she would beat me if I screamed. I was immediately scared, and my fright made me compliant. She proceeded to undress herself and undress me also. She had large breasts and she smelled really bad. A swirl of confusion, shame and helplessness made me want to cry.

After ordering me to lie on my back on the bed, she mounted me and I felt a sensation on my groin area which I won’t describe as pleasurable. It was a discovery of a new type of feeling that I didn’t like. I began sobbing even as I lay there, docile on the bed. Kemi paid me no mind, so focused was she on her lust and whatever satisfaction my small penis was giving to her.

When she was satisfied, she dressed me up and let me go. The incident devastated me, and all of a sudden, I was no longer bright-eyed or always with a smile. I felt betrayed by her, by girls, by my body, by my penis. And I thenceforth began playing more with the boys and didn’t trust any girl not to harm me. Boys were better, I reasoned.

But I was wrong.

When I came of age, my parents took me to school at the local primary school, the same school my brothers and sisters attended and I got a taste of academic life. I made a few friends, but I was bored by school. I couldn’t even make any sense of whatever my class teacher said because her Benin accent was very strong. I cried a lot and fought a few times, but I was mostly reserved and ate my lunch alone.

Being in primary one meant that I got home early and could play in the backyard, but most of the kids didn’t get back as early as I did. So I ended up sitting around where some adults could send me on errands.

On a certain day, a man I saw a few times in one of the flats called on me. There were two other boys sitting with him who made jokes about me when I got closer, calling me sissy. I didn’t care and I was surprised when the man invited me into his apartment, leaving the two boys outside. He proceeded to lock the doors and push me down on the large couch. I was startled and panicked as he explained that me and him would play a little game.

“Shhh…” he shushed my whimpers. “I will be the father and you will be the mother. Don’t worry, it will be fun. You look like a fine girl…”

You should know that this was a grown man in his twenties who wanted to play “mummy and daddy” games with a six-year-old. I was terrified. He was not being as forceful as Kemi, but he was no less menacing. He took off his shorts and brought out the largest penis I had ever seen at that age, and proceeded to rub it all over my body while he touched my penis also. Mercifully, that was all he did: just rubbing his hardened penis over my body until he ejaculated. I was crying as I ran home when he was done with me, and I couldn’t say anything when my mother asked me what was wrong.

I got more withdrawn after that incident, and shortly afterwards, my family moved to Lagos. And I was pleased that I was leaving all that ugliness behind. Lagos was hectic and smelly, and I didn’t like it very much. My siblings were excited and didn’t keep quiet about all the sights and cars, when all I cared about were the snacks I could get from my dad at each stop.

After we settled into our new place in one of the major estates, my brother and I were put in the same school to finish primary school, and the others were put in secondary schools in the same area. I remember when I got my school uniforms, backpack and sandals with the white socks, I stared with some envy at the pinafores my sisters got as their uniforms, and I wished I had something like hers. I didn’t dare tell my parents though; I settled instead for sulking quietly in a corner.

I had always been envious of the girls around me. I had all these questions about why I didn’t look like them or wear their clothes. I didn’t understand I was built like the boys who kicked football about in the field instead of like the girls whose dolls I played with. I couldn’t understand why I identified more with the girls, with the female form, dress, expressions and mannerisms. There was a growing detachment from my physical body, like it didn’t fit, which contributed to the feeling of looking at a stranger whenever I stared at my reflection in the mirror. My genitals especially seemed wrong, a feeling that was compounded after my penis had been used to abuse me twice.

But my turmoil was just mine. Nobody else seemed to think anything was wrong with me, so I carried on living, going to school in boy clothes. In my new school, with the memory of Kemi held at bay in Port Harcourt, I found myself gravitating once again toward the girl crowd. The girls were my people and the boys were just too weird for me. I could express myself better with girls and not be treated to any reproval that involved violence, unlike boys who were prone to expressing disapproval through violence. I was warming up to my new environment after the abuse I suffered in Port Harcourt and I just wanted to enjoy primary school.

I still recall the many paper dolls my girl friends and I made out of our notebooks, which would result in many lashings of the cane at home. The girls always had my back and I had theirs. To them, I was just a girl in boy’s uniform and we formed cliques of sisterhood who stood against any oppression from other students. Sadly, when we graduated from primary school, I didn’t go on to any of the secondary schools my girls went to. I was going to go to this state-run secondary school that required students to bring with them their own desks, brooms and numerous textbooks amongst many other items before resumption. My parents were not pleased by this; raising us all through school was so hard on them.

I was eleven the year I got into secondary school. I was hauling my newly-crafted desk and chair toward first year class, when I heard a voice behind me dissolved in a soft giggle. Feeling annoyed by the fact that someone was laughing at me, I stopped and turned to shoot the giggler an ugly look.

It was a boy, light-skinned and good looking, who didn’t look that much older than me. His uniform fit him well, unlike mine that was baggy. My parents had deliberately had my uniforms tailored to fit me like a potato sack so I would continue wearing them – and growing into them – until they had the money to make new ones for me.

He noticed me looking at him and said hello. He introduced himself as Damola. And then he launched into a chatty monologue about everything and anything. He didn’t seem to mind that I barely got in a word edgewise; he just kept going, telling me about his primary school and how he missed his old friends. After we’d trekked for awhile, he offered to help me with my desk and I felt very relieved.

Damola became the first friend I made in secondary school. In fact, he was my only friend and it didn’t take long for me to develop a crush on him. I didn’t understand this feeling; I liked him a lot and would often fantasize about kissing him. We were both eleven years old, and as the school year went on, I realised that a lot of my classmates didn’t approve of our bond, especially the boys.

And because of this, it was only a matter of time before I encountered my first homophobic attack.


Written by Naija-T-Girl

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  1. mikkiyfab
    June 12, 08:34 Reply

    Now there is something about this story that isn’t just real but also true and emotional and a revelation about myself I have hidden that I taught I have forgotten this just brings out memories and I can’t stop the tears
    I just can’t after reading this thank you my heart goes out to all kids whom in one way or other has gone through such terrible pain

    Please my dear I can’t wait for the second part of this

    • Naijatgal
      June 13, 14:04 Reply

      I assure you, its all true and i am sorry you went through a similar thing…we take it one day at a time and healing is a slow process.
      We will survive and thrive!

  2. Afagram
    June 12, 10:15 Reply

    I’m eager to hear your story, you’re a beautiful being ❤️❤️❤️

  3. Ria
    June 12, 13:58 Reply

    Oh god. This is heartbreaking (confirmation that both men and women can be wicked and abusive and pedophiles in equal measure). Thank you for sharing your story with us, for raising your voice to be . Definitely looking forward to the second part of this.

    • Naijatgal
      June 13, 14:06 Reply

      Thank you, i broke down a few times while writing this, but if we don’t own and tell our stories we will end up dying with them…

  4. Olaminrewaju
    June 12, 14:09 Reply

    I guess I have nothing to say now
    Waiting on the next part……..

  5. Net
    June 14, 07:17 Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story.. I’m eagerly waiting for the 2nd part

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