She lost love at first sight, but married him nonetheless. On Facebook, she had fallen in love, with a profile picture of him holding a Nigerian flag in one hand and the other hand across his chest. And then she sent him a message, something about how his profile picture seemed like a symbol of hope, of a new dawn. She didn’t think he’d reply, given the myriad of comments that accompanied his updates, 150,000 on the average. But he replied. His reply ended with, “I’m coming to Ife for a function. Could we meet?” Half-excited, half-nervous, she replied, “Yes.”
And it was the same word she used when he asked her, in his hotel room, only meeting her in person for the first time, to marry him. She didn’t gasp, although she felt like gasping. She didn’t say ‘no,’ or ‘wait,’ or show surprise. She said yes. And she did not want to think that his face was older than how it looked on Facebook, or that at his age, 47, he was yet unmarried.
So when he became President, surprisingly, given the odds against him – he was from Southern Nigeria, and was from a new party – she became, of course, the First Lady.
She did not change her relationship status on Facebook. She left it the way it was, “In Progress.” By now, he was too involved with governance to update his status on Facebook, and so did not see how unchanged her relationship status was. Or that her status was usually a word.
Or that when he hit her for the first time, after she disagreed with his decision to appoint a man as Minister for Women Affairs, she updated her status to read “Hit.” Perhaps, because he did not see this, he hit her more, anytime she sounded or acted dissident. Dissidence to him meant more than one thing, as indefinable to her as to him.
Because her dissidence was indefinable, and because she was silent to his decisions as he was vociferous about them, she obliged when he asked her to wrap her hands around a pillar so that he could flog her. She had questioned his decision again. This time it was regarding the amount allocated for renovating their house. So he lashed her a dozen times, and for the second dozen, he stripped her blouse, and lashed her bare back.
And so, on the day he lashed her bare back, her status was “Bare.” It was September 30, 2010. Two hours later, her status became “Tomorrow.”
When tomorrow came, while he slept, at 1.00am, she took a rope, made it into a noose, and circled it around his head. Then she pulled it until it got to the pillar which she had held hours before. She circled the pillar with the rope, and kept circling, and circling.
Later, when the President was unavailable for his Independence Day broadcast, she updated her status, “Free.”