As Told To Tunta
I was looking to write about Nigerian women who had been stalked, when Ginger reached out to me.
*Ginger is a 25-year-old woman who was harassed by her older cousin’s friend from when she was 13-years-old. Her cousin knew about it, but played it off as a joke. Read her story:
When I was 13, my parents travelled. They left me and my younger sister at home with my cousins who were both youth corpers. A few days after they left, my cousin brought in his friend who he claimed was in Lagos for a job interview. The first time I met him was when he came with my cousin to pick me up from school. This strange man ran to hug me and helped me with my bag. I didn’t understand what was going on, but my cousin introduced him as his friend.
I got a weird vibe from him. My sister and I had our bedrooms upstairs, while both my cousins and the guest stayed downstairs. I never locked my room door, but on the day this guy came to our house, I started locking it because of how he looked at me.
My cousin said he was going to be there for two days, but two days passed and he didn’t leave. I called my parents to tell them what was going on—that there was a strange man in their house.
My dad was livid. He called my cousin demanding to know who the man was, and what he was doing in our house. My cousin explained he was just there for an interview, and promised that he was going to leave the next day. The next day turned into the day after that, and the day after that. He ended up staying till the day before my parents returned to the country.
After he left, I got a strange message on my Facebook. It was a long love epistle from him. I was so confused. Why was he sending this message to a 13-year-old? He was probably in his late 20s because he was older than my cousin who at that time was 24. I was just in JSS2. I told him that I wasn’t interested. I was flattered, but I wasn’t interested at all.
He kept sending messages but I ignored them. A few days later, I got a text message from him. I didn’t know how he got my number. It was also a very long epistle. He kept sending me daily messages, calling me his darling, telling me he missed me and couldn’t wait to see me again.
At some point, I started replying his messages, but I kept thinking, “what exactly is this guy doing?” I eventually told him we could be friends even though we had nothing in common. In our conversations, he would say stuff like, “don’t you know you’re no longer a child?”
My family has a village house that we go to every year and it turns out that this guy was from our village as well. I think that’s where he met my cousin. We went to the village that year, and every time I went to my cousin’s house, his friend was always there. He would sit uncomfortably close to me, trying to touch me and telling me that I needed to realise that I wasn’t a child anymore. He kept trying to get me to go places with him. I was always very uncomfortable around him.
One time, he tried to visit me in my house, but my dad was there and asked who he was and what he was doing in our house. When he said he was there to see me, my dad screamed at him and told him to leave the house.
After the experience in the village, I told my brother what was going on— about how he had been sending me messages for months even though I had stopped replying, and my brother said he was going to handle it. He called my cousin’s friend and warned him to never contact me again.
When I think about it now, I wonder why I never blocked him. After my brother warned him to stop messaging me, he sent me a text saying he was happy to know that I was alive and well. He also said he didn’t care what my brother said, because he knew we were meant to be.
He kept messaging me for years. He would message me daily from December to February. After February, he would message me once a week or once a month, until December would come again and the whole cycle would repeat itself.
By the time I turned 16, I was too scared to come out of my house whenever I was in the village because I knew I would bump into him. I also stopped going to my cousin’s house because he was always there. One time, I was riding a bicycle around the village and I saw him. I didn’t know he was the one at first. I assumed it was someone that knew my dad because he kept calling my name. It was when I got closer that I realised it was him.
He held onto the handle of my bicycle, telling me that I was no longer a child and that he really wanted to be with me. I was terrified. We were alone on a bush path in a village. He could have held on to me, and nobody would have heard me even if I screamed. I finally agreed to meet up with him later and he let go of my bicycle. I rode back home immediately, and I was so shaken that I told my mum everything that happened and that had been happening. I told her that it had been going on for years.
The year after, he kept messaging me and I told my mum, who told my dad. My dad called him and warned him to stay away from me. I eventually blocked him everywhere, but I couldn’t avoid him in the village.
There was a time he wrote me a song and came to sing it. I was very scared. I’m not a very confrontational person, but my younger sister heard about it and cleared him. His behaviour went on till I was in my early 20s.
A few years ago, I saw him again. He came up to me and said he was sorry if he ever made me uncomfortable when I was younger. He also said he still wanted to be friends and asked if he could get my present number. I told him not to worry, that I would text him.
Just last year, I was in the village with my younger cousins. He tried to get friendly with the oldest, who was 17. He was holding her and telling her that he wanted them to be friends. My mum saw this and got very angry. She chased him out and told him that she never wanted to see him around any of her relatives.
I truly believe he’s a paedophile. I’m just very happy that I am safe from him and that it never escalated into anything physical.