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I went through it

“As I stood in the corridor, I was engulfed with grief and tears when another lecturer saw me and asked someone to bring me to his office. He ordered everyone out and set a box of tissues before me. When I had calmed down, he asked me what the problem was. I explained everything and he asked me to relax. He would step in. He said he had always admired me for being upbeat and outgoing because he’d heard all that had been going on but as he was from a different department, there was little he could have done.”GA

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“Sigh David. I have been following our page for a long time now. Today I am going to share some of my stories. I want to be kept anonymous please. This sexual harassment thing isn’t only done by lecturers. It’s in work places as well… but I digress.

For context, this happened in Nigeria. I schooled there 25 years ago as a fresher in Uni. I was excited and eager to learn. I was offered a course i didn’t know much about but was eager to learn. At the introductory lecture, I realized I was a bit overwhelmed and so when the lecturer asked if anyone had a question, I quickly raised my hand. He proceeded to ask me to stand and then ridiculed me in front of a class of over 700. He made me mention my full name and then said he was shocked I had gained admission to do that course with the stupid question I had asked, and advised me to drop out already. The whole class burst out laughing. I ensured that after that I sat at the back of his lectures and tried hard to stay out of his way. Unfortunately, because of my height and my name, that wasn’t always possible. He used every opportunity he got to embarrass or ridicule me. When we had quizzes, he would use my script as a reference point. In my 3rd year, I had a family crisis that nearly made me quit school. My mother said if I did, he would have won and so I shouldn’t. By then I knew I would trail a year. I was ready to drop out and apply and start afresh elsewhere but my parents would hear none of it. Unfortunately, in my final and extra year as we call it, he was made our coordinator and exams officer. He sent for me one afternoon and proudly announced how three key course results were missing and how I had refused to take his instructions to drop out, and therefore had wasted five years of my life. I stood transfixed as he spoke in front of about eight other students and managed to walk out without breaking down.

As I stood in the corridor, I was engulfed with grief and tears when another lecturer saw me and asked someone to bring me to his office. He ordered everyone out and set a box of tissues before me. When I had calmed down, he asked me what the problem was. I explained everything and he asked me to relax. He would step in. He said he had always admired me for being upbeat and outgoing because he’d heard all that had been going on but as he was from a different department, there was little he could have done. But he reassured me that I would graduate and not to let this incident worry me. The following day my course coordinator sent for me and said I had sent my sugar daddy (his reference to the other lecturer) to come and beg him. He would only reconsider since apparently, I had been giving the ‘goodies’ to his colleague! but he would still ensure I had a 3rd class. I sighed and told him he wasn’t God, and as long as I graduated, I would be fine. Fast forward to eight years after to go do a Master’s program, and I applied for my transcript to be sent direct to the Uni. The Uni wrote back to decline me an offer based on inconsistencies in my transcript and what I filled out in the application forms. Fortunately, they included a copy of what had been sent to them. I was shocked!

He was still at post and had messed up my transcript so bad. I booked a flight and flew there with the evidence and upon arrival the kind lecturer who had intervened turned out to be the Academic Secretary. He sat me down and told me that despite all that had happened he had heard I was doing well and so I shouldn’t allow the bitterness of someone limited to his location to hurt me. He sent for the Coordinator and asked him to explain how courses I hadn’t even offered were put on my transcript and sent to a foreign university. He told him such actions put African universities into further disrepute and his actions prove that he just had a personal ax to grind with me. He oversaw the preparation of a true transcript, sent one to the institution I was applying for a Masters to, and handed me a copy. I went to the Coordinator’s’ office after all this. And told him ‘you tried before and failed. As far as I am concerned, you will always fail. You aren’t God and what God had destined for my life, will surely come to pass.’

He was so angry. I know if he’d been alone when I did that he’d have slapped or punched me. But he was in a room full of students and other lecturers. I left after that. Till today, I have a fear for attending classes and I am struggling to write my professional exams because of that. Then when I started work, in my second year, one of my bosses locked me in his office at about 5pm. We run around the room for a while till it occurred to me that I needed to apply wisdom. I told him that his boss could walk in on this and that would be a problem for us. Also, there was no comfortable place to do what two adults should enjoy. So, I suggested he rather let us arrange for a weekend rendezvous and he liked the idea.

He quickly unlocked the door and I run away shaking badly. I tried to confide in a colleague and she said eh the rumor was all over that he was one of the top people I was sleeping with. I was shocked and hurt because from some of the things she said, it was clear to me she was part of the rumors. But then I knew I needed to plan my strategy carefully. So, I didn’t stop interacting with him and also set up many rendezvous which I never showed up for. I chopped his money well well for transport to meet him at conferences and out of town. I endured a stolen kiss one afternoon when he was desperate. But nothing more. Eight months of dribbling him, it dawned on him that he would NEVER EVER see in-between my legs.

There are more. But I will leave it here for now. You see, some men and women have no idea what some of us have to endure. Some people have no choice but to give in because their family depend on them for their livelihood and they feel trapped. If you are blessed to be insulated from some of the horrors, we humans inflict on each other, praise God. But let’s not look down or belittle others’ real-life experiences.

I know this is really long. You may edit it to make it much more meaningful. I am just emotional thinking back to some of these things.”

David Bondze (DB): I appreciate you very much. I will publish this on the website. You have endured so much. Hmmm!

GA: Indeed, but God is wonderful. And I must appreciate that I have been blessed beyond my imaginations. This has made me passionate about helping, protecting and mentoring young women when I meet them. I don’t wish anyone else to suffer what I have endured

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