I am sorry, Queens College Girls by Chidi Okereke


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I am sorry.

I am listening to that Justin Bieber ‘Sorry’ song as I write this, but that is not the reason I am sorry. I am sorry for a whole lot of things, and I implore the reader to please accept my apologies.

I am sorry I’m a Nigerian born to unrich people. I mean, if my parents had money, maybe they’d have had me birthed in the USA so I can have that cherished Blue passport. You see, it’s now too late for me to be a citizen of the greatest country on earth. The only place I can call home is Nigeria, despite the fact that right now, there’s no light, fuel queues are painfully long and the dollar is still exchanging at …I digress.

I am sorry I’m from this Nigeria where over 200 girls were abducted in one night. And instead of shutting down the region and declaring Defconwhatever, the authorities denied the incidence until it was ‘impossible’ to find the girls. As a result, after more than 20months, the whereabouts of these girls is still not known. Some rumor they have been married off, sold, converted, ki …I’m sorry.

I am sorry I’m from this Nigeria where some dude ‘eloped’ to Kano with a 14 year old Bayelsa girl, and after 6months, only AFTER public outcries on Social Media did the relevant authorities act to retrieve the girl and arrest the abductor. I am even sorrier that some people (some of whom I used to admire and respect) were trying to defend the pedophile at some point. I am really sorry.

I am sorry I’m from this Nigeria where any girl that comes out to say she’s been raped or molested is subjected to so much scrutiny – so much NEGATIVE scrutiny she’d wish she had kept her mouth shut. I am sorry that instead of putting pressure on relevant authorities to bring a sexual offender to book, people ask the victim questions like: “What were you wearing?” “What were you doing in his house?” “Why did you give him green light?” “Why do you have big boobs and ass?” I am sorry that a sexual assault victim who only wants the offender brought to book is torn to so much pieces that others who have been assaulted hide in their closets and die inside.

I am terribly sorry to every girl who has ever been sexually harassed, and cannot say anything because of the potential stigma. I am sorry that our country doesn’t take rape, and other forms of sexual assault seriously. I’m sorry that the only way to prove rape is if you were lucky to have it filmed or someone saw the act, or the rapist confessed, or God intervened. I am also sorry that a few guys have been wrongly accused, making it even more difficult to know who’s lying and who is telling the truth.

I am sorry I read about the Queens College incidence and I was so ‘calm’ instead of immediately labeling the accused, I called a Queens College old girl who said the guy had always been randy. She didn’t know anyone he ‘touched’ but he used to say ‘nonsense’ in class. I am sorry I went a step further to search his rather unique name on Twitter and I discovered that since 2011, girls had been talking about him and the associating tag was ‘Pervert’. I am sorry I wanted to go and look for him in Queens College and cause him bodily harm. I am sorry I tweeted his picture instead, and asked people to share until he is fired.

I am sorry I wanted him gone because I was afraid his presence in the school could foil investigations and put more teenage girls at risk. I am sorry I didn’t wait for the police to do their job and conduct a proper investigation, because from experience, until there is public outcry, the police almost never does their jobs. After all did Ese Oruru’s mother not go to the police several times? Did they free her daughter? Did it not take ‘hashtags’ to get them to act?

I am sorry I expected the Queens College administration to ask Oshifalato step aside while thorough investigations are carried out. I am sorry I expected the relevant authorities to call in experienced investigators/psychologists to conduct thorough investigations. I am sorry I did NOT expect the school authorities to supply pubescent and adolescent girls with placards and have them protest that Seni Oshifalabe ‘left alone’. I am sorry I thought the school would wait till a proper investigation is carried out before posting messages exonerating the accused on their website. I mean, after the principal, VP and Headgirl have come out to say he is a ‘good’ man, how dare any student counter them? Is she mad? Does she not want to have the prestigious QC certificate? I am sorry that Queens College is more concerned about its reputation than about the safety of their students. Which is stupid because in the end, their reputation is dependent on the safety and wellbeing of their students.

I am sorry that the Head of the Police Complaint Unit – Yomi Shogunlealluded that the testimony of the Principal, VP and Headgirl of Queens College means that Oshifala is innocent, so maybe no further inquiry is required. (That is like someone accusing me of beating them up, but because my boss and colleagues say I’m a good man, the police say investigation is NOT needed. I’m sorry I find this very laughable.)

I am sorry we’re about to fail the girls we should ordinarily protect. I’m sorry we have consistently failed our girls, our queens, the future mothers of our children and grand children. I’m sorry we have not taught our princesses that sexual harassment is not only when they are touched inappropriately; suggestive looks, suggestive remarks and sexual teasing are also forms of harassment. And they should be reported immediately.

I am sorry that a man who has been constantly accused of questionable behavior is allowed to teach in an all-girls school. I’m sorry that same man is not the only man in that all-girl school, but it seems like he’s the only one people have been associating pervertness with since 2011. I’m sorry I don’t think it is difficult for him to be reassigned to an all-boys school, so the rumors can stop at least. So the girls can feel safe at least. So paranoid Nigerians like me can be rest assured that our nation takes the fight against rape and sexual assault seriously.

I am sorry for a whole lot of things, but I am NOT sorry I lent my voice to this agitation to remove and investigate Seni Oshilafa. A lot of people have told me ‘thanks for fueling this’, while others have told me my hastiness was foolish. You’re all correct. I hastily accused someone of pedophilia without HARD evidence. Hard evidence being asking a teenage girl to subject herself to scrutiny, something I’m sure no parent wants. I am happy in my sorryness though. At least we have started something. We have established that Seni’s language and methods in classroom are unorthodox, and 100percent wrong. Hopefully some brave girl he has molested will come forth and speak and we will not tear her to too many pieces.

If in all this Seni Oshifala is innocent, may Karma find and repay me. If he is guilty, (whether a court proves it or not) may he pay for his sins. And may those shielding him pay dearly too.

I am sorry, I am tired of saying I am sorry. I will stop typing now and


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