BY CHISOM OLAMIGOKE

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Mending‘, a book by Sikemi Ogunleye, a Nigerian writer, is a memoir of a young woman’s journey through hurts to healing. It is a tale told by a survivor of serial child abuse and childhood trauma.

Right from the first sentence in the introduction, the author is seen expressing heart-warming vulnerability and trait follows her throughout the book. “We are all vessels and when life deals us a punch, it creates a crack…” the author writes.

For someone who had to go through so many dark experiences, she stands as a beacon of light for the readers.

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She mentioned early on in the book that one of the negative emotions she had to face as a child from a polygamous family was shame and this is why I think it’s brave of her to open up deep portions of herself for all to see.

I worried a bit when she began to list out her abusers but her use of pseudonyms showed she wasn’t out for revenge. I think this speaks to the fact that she is truly on the journey of mending.

The stories of her pleasant experiences with friends later on in life cast bright rays of hope over the erstwhile gloomy skies. Her story affirms hope in humanity and shows that while people can be beasts at their worst, at their best, there is no end to goodness that is within.

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Her salvation experience changed the trajectory of her life and in the later chapters, she shares how the knowledge of God’s love kickstarted her mending process. By being vocal about her sessions with her therapists too, she also encourages the need for survivors to speak up and get help early.

Sikemi Ogunleye at the unveiling of ‘Mending’

With every story, she draws out lessons for others who have been hurt, connecting with them on an emotional level as if she is telling the readers: “If I can get better, you can. Here’s what helped me, why not try it!”

I like the reflective questions at the end of each chapter, and I think they are brilliantly crafted. They briefly take the readers’ minds out of the author’s world and help them focus on the happenings in their own lives.

This book is a wake-up call for parents and caregivers to be more intentional and alert in their parenting. As with most cases of child abuse, the author shares how her abusers from the age of 4, when she was first abused, were people considered friends and family.

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The importance of early sex education is also highlighted. From the book, the reader sees that some of the author’s experiences might not have occurred if her parents, teachers, and all involved in her early childhood educated her on time. 

To teenagers, it creates awareness and stirs hope. We hear a lot about why people shouldn’t rape, what to do to rapists, how not to get raped, what not to wear, how to protect yourself among others, but do we really know the effects of rape on the victim and how we can help them heal?

With ‘Mending’, Sikemi extends a lifeline to all who have been dealt heavy blows at their weakest moments. ‘Mending’ proves to be an invaluable resource for teenagers and a good icebreaker for parents and teen counsellors.

The book was unveiled on June 27, 2021, with family, friends, and an NGO in attendance. Amongst whom were Damilola Oluwatoyinbo, pastor of KINGS; Solomon Ayodele of Boys Quarters Africa; Toyin Falaiye of Jewels Hive Initiative, and Timilehin Awolusi.

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