Thinking about Toyin
There’s an Igbo proverb I find myself saying more and more often these days.
i melu ogo, i bute okwu.
If you do a good deed, you attract insults or trouble to yourself.
The horrible death of Toyin Salau, a little 19 year old girl, by torture and murder has shaken and hurt me on a personal level, and after only just recovering from the suicide of Hana Kimura, this has filled me up again with deep sadness.
Everyone is talking about how the police failed but what enrages me so much is that Toyin was killed by exactly the same useless type of black man she spent so much time campaigning and demonstrating and protesting for.
A Yoruba girl was murdered by the same useless people she embraced as her own and stuck out her neck to defend every day, and they let her down.
I saw a tweet showing Toyin’s friend talking on a microphone about her with a banner, and my first thought is, IF YOU WERE REALLY HER FRIEND, why was she homeless and helpless to the extent of having to depend on complete strangers for help???
I’ve often spoken about how cold and two-faced I find Americans, and how in all my years of living in this country, their friendship has always rung very shallow to me, never extending beyond surface pleasantries.
Americans will happily donate to charities, demonstrate, and do all sorts of publicly visible niceties, but very few extend the same kindness to their so called friends.
Then there is her family to blame.
I don’t know much about her home situation beyond what’s been shared online and the fact that she was homeless, but I find it so vulgar, almost sinfully vulgar, that a 19 year old little Nigerian girl whose family is alive should be left to roam around with nowhere to live, sleep, or even shower, and have to depend on strangers for survival.
Whoever Toyin’s family are, have you no shame?
Since when is it acceptable for a child who has family to be unable to live at home?
This country has a terrible culture of kicking children out of the family home when they reach majority, and I don’t know whether it’s because Toyin was born in America, and mostly grew up here, that perhaps her family also didn’t see anything wrong with her situation, but it is a huge, disgusting shame that led to and resulted in tragedy.
If she had felt safe at home, if she had had family members she could call who would come get her no matter what, she would not have had to trust a man at a bus stop who took her to his house and raped her and killed her.
That a person who supposedly had family and friends should end up in such a situation just like that is deeply, deeply shameful because everyone who knew her failed her.
Family failed her.
Friends failed her.
Her Nigerian community failed her.
Even the Black Americans amongst whom she counted herself that she defended from racism and police brutality failed her.
You would think with the atmosphere and uproar the country has been in the past few weeks, the disgusting waste of flesh she trusted to help her with a safe place to shower would have felt some sort of sense of unity or camaraderie with a young black girl in need, even if he didn’t know who she was or that she was an activist who had spent weeks campaigning on behalf of career criminal men like him.
But all he cared about was the opportunity he had to prey on a young girl in his house.
Society that produced a man like him failed her as well, because how do you encounter your fellow human being without remembering that we owe one another an obligation of decency in our dealings with one another?
I can’t even speak about that man.
May he know torment every second of his wretched existence.
I can’t stop wondering why Toyin couldn’t have gone home.
No matter how old, a child must always be able to live safely at home.
No matter what, as a family, as friends, you owe an obligation to your people.
To protect in times of danger.
To rescue from unsafe situations.
To provide a refuge every single day, no matter what.
It will never be okay to neglect those obligations as Toyin’s family and friends neglected theirs.
The true meaning of “i melu ogo, i bute okwu” is that people are deeply ungrateful, and the people you are doing good deeds for are usually not worth your effort.
Not that one should have to do anything first to be deserving of care or protection, but there is a bitter irony in the fact that Toyin who spent so much of her time doing and doing and doing for the Black American community, was then repaid with torture and murder by a Black American man.
The very man who murdered her was exactly the type of man who is the face of the racial injustices of the American criminal justice system, and the brutality of the American police.
He is exactly the kind of man whose crimes Toyin was ready to overlook because she saw his humanity as her fellow black person, and she was fighting with all her might to protect.
Yet see how he repaid her.
And in many ways, see how he repaid so many of the black women like Toyin who have been at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter protests for weeks, and at the forefront of countless other protests that began over the unjust murder of yet another black man.
A 49 year old man could not look at a helpless young girl and treat her with kindness and decency and send her safely on her way.
What kind of human beings are living in this world?
It is so deeply unfair.
Why was there not a single person who could have told her, “Wait there, I am coming to get you.” ???
Now people who claim to have known her, or claim to be related to her, or claim to have loved her want to come out with banners, and GoFundMes, and give speeches, and trend hashtags.
But where were they all at the critical moment when this child needed their help?
That a 19 year old Nigerian girl with supposed family and friends should be homeless in America is a stinking stain that will never wash out.
Toyin Salau has died a death too horrible to detail, and every single person in her life, from her parents, to any siblings, to any relations, to any so-called friends should not think they can absolve themselves of her death.
Rest in Peace, poor child.
You did not deserve this.