Last year, I did an article introducing Naiyango as a Kenyan-born German singer who is based in Cologne. It was an awesome online chat that led to me sharing her music story and Kenyan background. What I did not know was that, behind that energy and enthusiastic usage of the little Swahili that she remembers, did lie a dark secret, one that could only be handled by a person as strong as Naiyango had now become. The courage to talk about her dark past, was hard to come by, considering that she was constantly defiled as a kid and raped as a teenager. Now, its music that has given her the courage to break the taboo or as she says it #BreakTheTABU.
Now a mother to a baby girl, she is more inspired to share her story and as a tool to champion for a society where future cases are reported to curb the ever-rising sexual abuse trend. She says: “Yes, I know that most cases are never reported. I believe it is because of the stigma that surrounds the subject. Most of the times victims are shamed for sharing their stories. Or, are told to keep their defilement quiet so that the family honor isn’t tainted. And such. But music heals, in my case, it became a medium where I finally had a voice. That’s why I wrote “worthy“, a song to empower myself, my daughter and anyone else who has ever questioned their value.”
She even did a video to talk about it.
She narrates the story on her website:
I remember being a jovial little girl with big hair, who enjoyed spending time in the garden. I could spend hours on end running back and forth on our compound, riding my bike, and playing with barbie dolls in the sunshine. There was another game I loved, it was called ‘Lets pretend’. Sometimes I’d pretend to be a part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with my childhood bestie Rhoda and her siblings. When I was alone I pretended to be an extraordinary singer like Whitney Houston and saw myself performing on the world stage. That garden represented freedom to me and was a welcome distraction from the pain that I endured in my childhood home.
Being in the house made me feel trapped because I was at the mercy of two pedophiles. The perpetuators were no strangers to my parents – in fact they were trusted and I was left in their care on a regular basis. One perpetuator abused me sexually on one occasion while the other raped me repeatedly at any chance he could.
Being molested made me feel so dirty, ashamed and lonely. I thought it was my fault and that I may have done something to attract such crude behavior. Too bad I did not feel safe enough to tell anyone what I was going through. I suffered in silence while harboring feelings of unworthiness and guilt. My grief grew more and more unbearable during my teens, but I numbed my childhood experiences through excessive parties and avoided emotional intimacy.
One night, after I had been out on the town, an acquaintance offered to give me a lift. He said he was headed in my direction. I agreed to join him even though I intuitively had a bad feeling about getting in his car. He raped me before I got home and shattered the last shred of dignity I had.
I was so hurt. And I grew suspicious of love. But I didn’t tell anyone. Instead, I turned to marijuana to suppress my pain and wrote sad songs whenever I could. I even continued to have ‘good‘ relationship with one of my molesters whilst neglecting my own emotional needs far into my twenties. That stopped the day he told me that he had no regrets about any of his past decisions. I snapped and asked myself why I was suffering and looking for reasons why he was a ’great’ person. I finally went to therapy and stopped ignoring the ghosts of my past. Speaking about being raped and sexually abused helped me mend my life gently: I started honoring my intuition, I had the courage to fall in love, become a mother and began pursuing music professionally. And nowadays I can say that I am genuinely joyful.
But it makes me angry to know that sexual abuse and rape are still regarded as tabu topics. Anyone who is affected by sexual abuse and/or rape needs to know that they are not alone. Let us learn to bring this dark matter to the light. And though it is a horrible fact that we were abused sexually and raped let us be bold to enough to speak of our experiences, let us reach out and ask for the help we need. Let us heal. And let us be vocal about what we have been through.
Let us #BREAKtheTABU.
For now, I will leave you with her accapella version of “Worthy”. For her, music healed!
Remember to use #BreakTheTabu on Twitter to help open the society more on issues to do with sexual harassment, rape and defilement. Also, visit her website to know more about her music. Peace!