Before you start reading, let me repeat that this is a long story [10 pages], and if you do not read to the end, you may not fully get it. Amaka Munonye is a Nigerian resident in BC, Canada and in the process of getting a divorce from her Ghanaian husband. At this stage, all you read are her side of the story. Their case is in court and she is afraid that if she keeps silent, she may lose custody of her children. She has shared the following story on her blog and I've been asked to help publicize it. If you know anyway to help, please do, or leave a comment in a respectful manner. Beyond that, I believe this is a story many women stand to learn a lot from. Thanks.
*Names have been initialed to protect third party privacy.
The rest of my days in Ghana were a blur. I stayed for about a month, which I spent mostly vomiting from anxiety, and the stress of how I was going to inform my parents about the awful things that had happened to me. Eventually, I did not have the courage to go to Nigeria, so I returned to Canada, without going home to Nigeria knowing that my life was over. Back home in Canada, I got a new job at the then Revenue Canada, it was part of the Public service, and I still wanted to fulfill my promise of service to my adopted homeland. I didn’t think I would be able to pass the physical tests for the army or the police, so I was happy to get into Revenue Canada. I started to work for the GST section and then as an Error Inspections agent in the T1 individual returns section. I started to eat to mask my misery. I would eat a 325g box of Rice Krispies with over half of a 1.5L bowl of ice cream in one sitting until I was so full, I would start to vomit.
A German friend of mine Udo who I hadn't seen in years was in Vancouver, saw me at the convention center and came to talk to me. I must have seemed like a madwoman to Udo I said “Sorry Udo, I cannot talk to you. I cannot be near you,” and just ran from him. He couldn't have imagined that in my complete fear of C that I was trying to save his life and/or my life too. I continued to work and to send money to C.
The phone calls were unending. I had given up all hope by then. I called my sister Ifeoma, and told her everything. She said she would go to a pastor in Redeemed church who she was sure was a real pastor, and she could ask. She called me back within a week to say that she couldn't see a Redeemed Church pastor, that it took too long, but that she had been to a church called Mountain of Fire and Miracles, and that she had been told that a blood covenant was a deadly thing, and that two people involved had to break it in agreement, if at all, and also that it frequently involved death. My sister and I agreed that I was completely trapped, and that I really had no choice but to put in my sponsorship papers for him.
I was defeated, and I knew it. I put in the sponsorship papers. I stopped talking to him on the phone, there was nothing to say. I would never answer when he called. I asked Ifeoma not to let my parents know. I would figure out how to tell them in due time. As C' documentation progressed, I would mail any documents that needed signing to him. I hardly called. He got my email from the forms I'd filled and would have his friend email me all the time. I would delete them unread. Now I wish I hadn't because that would be proof of some of what he had done to me, but each email seemed to taunt me, and I would never read them, just delete, delete, delete. I soon got tired of the pressure of avoiding him. If I ever forgot to turn off the ringer on the phone before I went to bed, he would call. The thing about avoiding his calls was that I missed countless other calls, including quite a few from my parents who wanted to know how school was progressing. I put the phone back on. C kept harassing me about returning to Africa. “How can you be in Canada when your husband is here?” I would tell him “you are not my husband, I did not choose you. You have not paid my family my dowry; I don't care what paper you have or what you have done. You are a stranger to me. My family does not know you and I do not know you.” “You are a thief who has stolen my life. He, of course, soon wore me down, and I applied for a returning resident permit and went to Ghana. I was soon sick of the place. I could not eat their food, so I had no form of comfort. He and I were not lovers, so there was no going out together, dating or anything, just sex when he felt like, and I would just lie there and float out of my body in my mind. I would pretend I was back in Canada wandering around the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, which was one of my patrol sites in my second job working as a security guard, or I would see myself cleaning my apartment, and looking out onto the street below, or I would visualize myself as a young girl in my parents’ home with my mom and dad making jokes. My favorite place was in our living room in Lagos one evening when everyone was gathered together watching TV, I suddenly sat up and said “shh, everyone, mommy, daddy, everyone, I have something to say.” They all turned their attention to me, and I said “please listen carefully, I have something very crucial to tell you all” “You know what? You are all really very lucky, you mom and dad for having a fantastic daughter like me, and my brothers and sisters to be blessed with a great sister like me.” My mum gave me a playful slap, but not before my sisters sent all kinds of missiles – couch pillows, bedroom slippers, and even a pajama top – flying at my head with “stupid girl, crazy sister, etc. and just gales of laughter from everyone. My father actually me 100 Naira and said “you're right, funny girl.” That was my favorite place, and I visualized it all the time. I was also very lucky in that C suffered severe premature ejaculation so that it never lasted more than three to five minutes. There was no more joy and laughter in my life. I was a prisoner to a stranger. Many times I thought of why I did not go out with the cult boys. At least they were Nigerian. I would have eventually been able to handle a Nigerian man, instead of this Ghanaian devil.
The daily routine in Ghana was fairly simple. Every morning at about 5am, he woke me up and took me to an open field, where people gathered and screamed morning prayers at the top of their voices for about an hour. Then everyone would break up in to groups and go from street to street preaching loudly and singing and clapping for about hour. At 7am they would gather again at the original field for closing prayers. Then again break up in to groups. C and his group with me as their reluctant captive would then go from house to house visiting people until about 11am. At each place we went to, we did nothing but sit down. I never said a word, not even a hello. I had started to pick up the language and I always heard him say she doesn't understand. After sitting for 10 minutes he would say let’s pray, then the hosts would hand him a gift of money and he would go off to the next house. I would be falling down from exhaustion, humiliation, and shame. I couldn't imagine what my father would think of me going from house to house in a strange place, essentially begging for money and/or food stuff. The mosquito bites I endured on that field were just incredible. Today I hate any mention of Ghana, and I cannot imagine going back there. After about two weeks of going begging, I started to refuse to do the prayer mornings. To compound my issues, one night as he had sex with my body, I was in my happy place in my father’s house and I actually laughed aloud. After he was done, he wanted to know why I was laughing. I had started to learn that silence was a powerful tool against him. I would go without saying anything for hours until my breath would start to stink from keeping my mouth closed. I didn't answer him. He physically dragged me to the next morning prayer and told them that I was possessed by a demon, and they I needed to be delivered of it. You need to have been there to see the vultures. They pounced on me, they pulled me back and forth and they screamed in frenzy. I had seen enough of the deliverance sessions to know that if you resisted at all, that violent beatings would ensue in a bid to chase out the demons, so I stood silently as they pulled, yelled, shouted, and prodded at me – a medical doctor to be, a pampered child from a rich and loving home. I removed myself from there in my mind, and I must have lost consciousness because it was afternoon when I woke up, and I was back in the room where I lived. The next time he took me to go pray, I stood in the midst of them and deliberately peed myself. That was a brilliant move, because even though C gave me the most miserable beating, he never again took me to prayer and begging, which was a good thing, because I had planned to defecate the next time.
When he went out every day, I started to wander the streets of Tema, the city in Ghana where I was. I soon discovered a used bookseller, and I would sit at the kiosk all day long. I read every single book and magazine that he had in that place. Ten year old readers digest magazines, anything at all I could get my hands on. The old man charged me per day and I paid the equivalent of about $5 for one day. I spent twenty-two days there before I was discovered. I never told anyone where I was going or when I would be back. The man opened at 8:30 every morning and left by 6pm. After C found me there, I stopped going there. I continued wandering around the town daily and soon discovered an internet cafe. It became my new home. I spent even longer hours there. They also sold barbecued chicken and drinks there, so I spent whole days from 7am until sometime near 10:30pm there, paying per hour for internet access. Sometimes I would run to the used book seller, rent 2-3 books, read them the whole day, hide them at the Internet cafe, and return them the next day, all this time subsisting on a diet of Coca-Cola, bread, and barbecued chicken. As a means of escape, it didn't get much better than books, food, lots of Coca-Cola, and the internet. One night, after about two weeks of hiding at the net cafe, I made my way back to the room. He was there waiting for me with a big stick. There was a carpenter in that house that made big boxes that fisherman stored and transported their catch in. C attacked me with the stick. I will always remember that night. He beat me with that stick and in a moment of sudden clarity, I looked around, found the same sort of stick, and just started to fight him back. I hit him everywhere that I could. I think that he was so shocked initially that he couldn't move, that was just how unprepared he was for me to fight back. He called one of the carpenters and they beat me until I passed out. I woke up outside the compound with no clothes on. I realized that he must have stripped me naked and thrown me outside the gates. There were a man and a women standing over me, trying to wake me up. He said “my name is Seth Boakye, let me help you. This is my sister.” I was too far beyond shame by then. Their house was about 100 meters away. Seth's sister took off her head tie and gave it to me to cover myself. I went to their house and was allowed to have a shower. Seth's sister brought out some clothes, which she gave to me. I told them some of my story. They were appalled. Seth told me don't look back, return to Canada, just run, and don't wait for anything just go. I could not tell my whole story about how I was a prisoner, and how I was existing but not really alive. I still wasn’t able to tell them that C had put me under what I thought was a forever binding blood covenant, just because I didn’t know too much about blood covenants and that sort of thing yet. I spent the whole day asleep and when I woke up in the evening I was in a better condition to talk. They wanted to know if I knew other people besides C in Ghana, I told them that I remembered a lady from the church that C attended called Docia, and that she was married to a doctor. I also remembered the name of their church in Tema, Outreach church, and Seth left to try to find the pastor of the church. He came back later in the day to pick his sister and me up. He had found the home of Pastor Abakah who was in charge of the church, and had spent the day recounting my story to him. They had now called a few people together: a woman called Mrs. Zanor was among them. C was also there. Seth was so furious. He faced C at once, asking him how he could have brought me to the town, and left me outside to die. C said that he had been all around the town looking for me, that I was always disappearing, and that he went home to sleep because he thought I would show up sometime in the night like I always did. They asked if he was unaware that I had been beaten up and that I was naked, and he replied that I had been disobedient and had gone out without his permission, and that he had beaten me, but that he had not thrown me outside the gates. They kept asking him how I had ended up unconscious and unclothed and outside, but he wouldn’t respond. Pastor Abakah, who I guess to be about sixty years old at the time, knelt on the floor before me and begged my forgiveness, saying how sorry he was that this had happened. Mrs. Zanor asked me to come and stay in her house since I knew no one else. She said I didn’t have to stay with C, and to come stay with her until I was able to arrange my return to Canada. I looked to Seth for guidance; I could see that he was barely controlling his anger. I stepped outside to speak with Seth and his sister. Seth kept insisting that I do nothing but buy a ticket to return to Canada. I could not tell him that I felt I was under this bondage of the blood covenant, and that I could never be free no matter where I was; I couldn’t tell them that I felt that I was under a curse, and that it was either stay married to this man, or lose my life. I finally said to them, I am married to this person and have put his papers through. I am going to see it through. I am also hoping that all he will want from me is to go to Canada and that once he was there that I would either run from him, or that he would leave me. Canada was to be my safe haven. Canada was my dreamland after all, the home of my heart, and there was no way I would ever not be safe there. Seth did his absolute best to try to get me to leave. He said, why are you not seeing, how can you not see that these people are not Christians?. The other people now came out from the house and the Pastor said, remember that marriage is forever, that God hates divorce. Seth gave me his phone number and email address. He said if you change your mind, call me or email me, and we will come take you to the airport. I felt as defeated and forlorn as he looked as they left. I have not seen Seth Boakye or his sister since that day.
I went to stay with Mrs. Zanor; I was still very desperate. I wanted to die. I thought about killing myself, but I didn’t want to hurt my parents and my siblings who loved me so much. My parents had already lost one of us not five years before, and I couldn’t imagine putting them through the same sort of anguish yet again. I continued to stay with Mrs. Zanor, and sure enough, before very long, C started to come there. I would usually never come out while he was there, but one day I heard raised voices. It was C shouting about a Caucasian man he said had defrauded him and some friends of his. I was in the kitchen, and crept unseen towards a corridor near the living room where I could listen in, without being seen. He was talking about a man called Lindsay.
I had met Lindsay when I was still staying at the other house with C. C had told him that I was from Canada, and he had come over to visit with a lady friend of his. He and I had chatted, and I’d asked him what he was doing in Ghana, he said that Africa was the easiest place in the world to make a lot of money, and that he was on business. He was a giant of a man. He had to have been about 6’5” and over 280lbs. He had sandy thinning hair, and his skin had been burnt quite brown by the endless equatorial sun of Ghana. He also had a large bulbous nose, and a rather rotund belly, which he encouraged to grow by downing large quantities of beer.
On the first day he came to visit, I remember that he had about six beers, which was all that I could find in the house. I recall being embarrassed that he kept asking if there was more. The biggest part of him however was his laugh, the most gigantic guffaw that I had ever heard. I remember him asking me questions about Canada and what I thought about my new homeland, and when I answered some of them, he called me ‘baby’ and ‘naïve’, and said, you will soon grow out of some of those illusions. He said, Africa is the best place. You should return to your parents in Nigeria. I thought him harmless.
C kept saying that Lindsay was an American, but he didn’t sound American to me. I had lived in Canada for over 18 months by now, and had started to pick out accents. He did not sound American in the least bit. I thought I detected some European quality to his accent, not British though. It turned out that Lindsay had been collecting hundreds of thousands of Cedis (Ghanaian currency) from the Ghanaians, telling them that he would obtain American Visas for them. At that time in Ghana there was a frenzy of people wanting to go to America, people wanting desperately to go anywhere but be in Ghana. They could go to Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Japan, just about anywhere but to be in Ghana.
In those days, the Ghanaian economy was being powered by Ghanaians abroad; remitting money through Western Union and Moneygram to their country, and the dream of them all, old and young was to be “abroad”. Lindsay saw the desperation of all the people he met, and one could almost not blame him when he started to collect money from them with the promise of an American Visa. It quickly became a strange Ponzi sort of scam in which he collected money from a lot of people, and when they started to get impatient about the visas which never materialized, he would simply pay off the older clients with the money from the newer ones.
I had actually said to a friend of C’ called Sammie who had shown me a salon on a day that I had needed to have my hair done, that he was not to give any money to Lindsay, that I did not think that Lindsay was an American, or have any connections to the American embassy. I thought I was repaying his kindness, for showing me the way to the salon, but he told C what I had said, and C then asked me never to talk to Sammie or anybody I met again, so I didn’t.
From my hiding place, I then heard C tell Mrs. Zanor that he had gone with his friends to confront Lindsay, and that they had told him that if he did not repay the money within seven days, that he would die. At this time, I was not seeing C or speaking to him, but when I heard what he said, I came out into the living room. I had lived in Canada, and I missed her dreadfully, staying in Ghana. In a very tiny way, this white man represented Canada to me, in that in Canada, there is such an eclectic mix of people, that you could meet just about anybody from anywhere. Granted that Lindsay was just this buffoon of a man, a con artist who had taken money from gullible fools, I didn’t think he deserved to die. I was scared enough of C at that point to firmly believe that he would indeed do something to Lindsay. I hadn’t saved myself, and here I was trying to save someone else!
I decided to intervene on his behalf. I said please don’t kill him. Please talk to him and give him time to get the money for you guys. I said you should have known that he is not an American. All white men are not Americans. C said what is it to you? Are there not enough black men, now you are after a white man? Is this what you have been busy doing in Canada? Sleeping with white men? He ignored me and continued to rail; seven days and that’s it. He soon left. I tried to talk to Mrs. Zanor, but she said she had to go out, so I had no choice but to let the matter drop. I started to count down the days. I went to the internet café once more to see if I would find someone that knew Lindsay. I took a cab and paid him, asking him to drive around some of the bars to see if I would spot Lindsay. I figured C would beat me, but not kill me, as I was still his ticket to Canada. I didn’t find him though. I was having all kinds of nightmares about people being mobbed or being killed while I looked on.
After about a week, Mrs. Zanor came back from church with Sammie, C and some other people. C was saying, “yes people have to know where the power is. You cannot just cheat people and go free”. I came out. I said “what happened to Lindsay”? C said, what is your connection to the man? Why is he important? Anyway he is dead! I was stupefied. He is dead? I asked repeatedly. “Yes dead”! I was paralyzed by the most intense fear I have ever felt in my life. I could not believe I was still standing there. I asked what happened to him. C said, “he went to a hotel with a prostitute and then he died”. I asked “did the prostitute kill him?” He said “I wasn’t there when it happened. All I know is that he is dead. We have to show people that there are powers and then there are powers”.
He went on to say, “anyway I came to take you back, so pack your things and let’s go”. I didn’t know if Mrs. Zanor was also afraid or what, but she never said a word, or even looked at me. I packed my bags and went with C. If I had thought that C was evil before, that was nothing. The death of Lindsay now had me even more firmly convinced that he was the embodiment of real evil. I was living a nightmare every single moment, asleep or awake, I was in a nightmare.
I was in fear of doing or saying anything to make him angry. I went back to the room where I had been living. I still escaped during the day to a different internet café, but I would always be back before he came back from the morning praying and begging. I sometimes would go in the early evenings as he would have gone out in the afternoons to return late at night. I only stayed out for an hour or two each time.
I do not know till now if Lindsay died of natural causes, or if indeed C and his people had killed him. I do not know if Lindsay was his first name or his last name, I do not know where he was from or anything more about him. In fact if I had seen the clouds open and an angel from heaven had come out and told me that C had had nothing to do with the death of Lindsay, I would have refused to believe that angel. That was how great my terror of C was. I can still hear Lindsay laugh today, and I can hear him call me ‘innocent girl’ as he drank six beers.
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