Joy was born and raised in my home town, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. Her childhood was marred by childhood violence, poverty and scarcity, which led to her being trafficked from Benin City to war-torn Libya in 2019. There, she was imprisoned, severally raped, beaten, starved and tortured. Left for dead after witnessing the murder of her best friend, she was miraculously rescued and repatriated back to Nigeria in fragmented pieces. A recent article by a Western journalist referenced Joy’s “resilience” for surviving such a harrowing experience that would have emotionally crippled others. …

⁣The first time I took scissors to shave off some of my hair, I was 10. Safely in boarding school, I was away from the thunderous echo of my father’s voice and the security of my mother, @margaretidahosa’s plea for mercy.⁣

I shaved it, not because anyone else was doing so but because it was really the only way I could express myself in an American boarding school in Jos that demanded stricter compliance by Nigerian natives to rules that my soul inherently rebelled against.⁣

After some time, everyone grew accustomed to it, as well as to the multiple piercings and Grace…

Delivered at Intersections International’s ‘Keep The Faith: A Global Perspective on Women’s Voices’ Conference. December 8–9, 2020.

It is my absolute pleasure to be able to be here with you today to share a little about how hope and healing have been instrumental in my life and in our work over the past 10 months.

When people ask me what I do, I often say that I stretch tight shoes, since, as a young child growing up in Nigeria, my mother would often summon my sisters and me just before she left for England, or the US, and literally trace our feet on paper. Upon her arrival abroad, she would awkwardly take those drawings to a shoe…

It is how they describe us. The African woman.

Because even bearing the weight of the world on her back, still she will rise.⁣⁣

Absorbing the tread marks of rape and slavery, still she will rise.⁣⁣
Choked by the hands of patriarchy, yet she will rise.⁣⁣
The bodies of African women are the most weaponized human resource in the world. ⁣Yet, we conform with a plasticity that demands that we persevere through it all. ⁣That plasticity, that applauded “resilience of the African woman,” however, comes at a cost.⁣⁣
That cost is reflected in the brevity of our lives.⁣⁣

It is laced…

I’ve had many people in my life tell me that they “don’t know what to give someone who has everything.” ⁣⁣
As a result, they choose to give nothing. ⁣⁣
First of all, no one has everything. ⁣⁣
Secondly, and more importantly, well thought out gestures of love mean the world to people who supposedly “have everything.” ⁣⁣
Case in point. ⁣⁣
My staff at @pathfindersji know I love coffee. They also know I love to cook with certain seasonings and love Ankara in all its forms…and that’s because they’ve paid attention and have been intentional in studying me well. ⁣⁣…

I had just heard his resounding voice a few days ago. He had called to wish me a happy 24th birthday and promised to make it to my graduation from law school. ⁣⁣
Four days later, he was telling his wife that all that God had given him to do, he had accomplished.⁣⁣
“Ask God for more,” she flippantly replied.⁣⁣
Perhaps he did. Perhaps he didn’t. ⁣⁣
That night, I got a call from my brother, @febidahosa, that he was on his way to my Uni.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣
“This late? Why?”⁣⁣
“No, nothing.”⁣⁣
“But it’s so late.”⁣⁣
“I know.” He tried to keep me calm as I pommelled him…

A Reflection at the Onset of COVID-19

It’s Raining⁣

It’s raining…on the just and the unjust.⁣

As every day of the pandemic passes, the numbers- of those who are sick, those who have passed, those who have lost loved ones, those who are suffering- continue to rise. ⁣

This piece was written on April 8, 2020, the day before I tested positive for COVID-19

And increasingly, what were vague statistics start to be replaced by names of people I know, people I’ve seen and faces I’ve beloved. ⁣

It’s raining…on both the just and the unjust. It’s raining on Christians…and Muslims and atheists- on the poor and the rich, and particularly on those who…

See me, see you.⁣
Yes, I am a woman, but see you.⁣
See me, see your mother.⁣
See me, see your sister.⁣
See your daughter, see your wife.⁣

When you hurt me, call me bitch and whore, you degrade your mother. When you objectify me, rape me, defame me, you subjugate your sister.⁣

See me, see you.⁣
Hear me, hear you.⁣
Yes, I am a woman, but see you.⁣
See your helpmate, see your confidant. See the woman that will stand with you in adversity and bear your children with dignity.⁣

See me, see you.⁣
See promise, see my future.⁣
See the fear you place in my eyes when by your actions…

⁣Beauty is an energy.

Is it an energy that exudes from the soul. ⁣

All my life, strangers have told me I look like the timeless Grace Jones. I always took it as a compliment because she is an icon of strength and a force to be reckoned with.⁣

But it wasn’t until I got older that I began to see beauty as an energy that exudes from the soul. It is that energy that makes Grace Jones who she is and to a large extent, what makes me who I am.⁣

That energy is our dunamis- our superpower- that we choose to exert for the good of mankind. ⁣

Embrace your energy.⁣

I came across this picture of my mother, @margaretidahosa, a few weeks ago as I was putting together photographs for a slideshow on her birthday.

My mother, circa 1974 and me in 2020

Like her mother, my mother has always had the most impeccable brown, chocolate skin. Growing up, I would sheepishly watch her in her mirror, as she lotioned what seemed like a glowing canvas, wondering if my chubby, insecure 9-year-old self could ever look like her.

She walked with the gait of a thousand queens and her smile exuded the kind of radiance that demolished the hardest of hearts. She was that woman whose presence lingered…

R. Evon Benson-Idahosa, Esq.

Lead table turner and expert troublemaker at Pathfinders Justice Initiative (; curating more space for women at the table. @findyrpath

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