Concerning the Tragic Death of Renua Giwa-Amu

By: Deji Yesufu

Renua Giwa Amu killed herself on the 26th of December, 2020. She was only 26 years old. Renua is the last child of Femi Giwa-Amu, a lawyer and also a pastor. Renua had taken to social media to share a bit of her anguish. Over the years she had been sharing bits and pieces of her story on her numerous social media handles, but on the 18th of September, 2020, she finally barred it all. In an open letter to him, Renua called out her father for sexually molesting her at the age of seven. She said the physical trauma was so bad she nearly died of sepsis. Having gotten over the physical pain, Renua obviously did not overcome the emotional and psychological trauma that the events caused her. As a child all she had to contend with was the pain of sexual abuse but as she grew older, Renua had other issues to deal with. She explained in her letter to her father:

“Entire chunks of my memory were once lost and taken from me, entire friendships and interests and hobbies and goals I had just vanished and might still not fully ever come back… Instead I carried around such intense feelings of shame, regret and self-loathing disgust that it consumed me most times… Good or bad, traumatic or not, those memories of mine that hurt me and triggered me for so long have finally woken me up and reminded me that I promised myself if I survived you, escaped, and somehow found enough sanity to be willing to return home that I would never set foot in Nigeria unless I had publicly acknowledged that fact that you continually raped me as a seven-year old child until I had a possible prepubescent miscarry and almost died of sepsis. I wasn’t even in primary 4 yet.”

Renua will later warn the public to beware of her family shedding crocodile tears at her passing. Following her death, however, the family blamed her death on her psychological imbalance. Ezim Giwa-Amu Ede, one her aunts, wrote on Facebook on the 1st of January, 2021:

“… In September (2020) Renua started having her crisis again because she wouldn’t take her medication. She accused my brother, her father, of Rape, incest and abuse… The story went viral. All the gossip mongers thrived in circulating it. It became trending news nationwide…” In other words, Renua’s suicide should be blamed on her psychiatry history.

I did not learn of Renua’s story until after her death when various online news portals begun to publish the story. My first reaction to the story was one of deep grief. I did not know the girl but somehow I could identify with her struggles; except that I do not think that suicide was the route she should have taken out of it. I browsed through her Facebook wall and saw the video of her conversation with her mother. I saw that all that concerned the mum in that conversation was Renua taking down the September 18 open letter she wrote to her father. It was obvious that all that concerned the Giwa-Amu family was the preservation of the family name and thier integrity in the public; not the restoration of a broken and battered young woman. Renua had accused her parents, uncles and aunts in the letter of various things and I am not surprised that following her death they will be making every effort to preserve the family name. When Ezim Giwa-Amu Ede made reference to Renua’s stopping to use her medication, she was making an argument that is very familiar to me.

When I began to criticize churches on the practice of tithing, one church that had suffered the brunt of my criticism the most begun to suggest that I was psychologically imbalanced. They sold this line to a number of people and it eventually reached my wife, who then told me. Thankfully I have no records of visiting any psychiatric clinic in my life and I do not use hard drugs or anything that might warrant imbalance in my thinking. The “psychological imbalance” argument is cheap blackmail that only low thinking and defeated individuals employ to dispel sound arguments on the lips of their opponents. It does not always work but where it sails through the victim is quite easily discarded as one whose utterances should not be taken seriously.

I have not said that Femi Giwa-Amu raped his daughter. What Renua said, and went further to accentuate with her suicide, still remains an allegation. Unfortunately allegations of sexual molestation that happened some twenty years ago is almost never proven – even if it were to get to hallowed chambers of a competent court of law, as we saw recently in the Biodun Fatoyinbo/Dakolos rape case. My issue with the Giwa-Amu family is not that they were accused of doing many sordid things; my issue with them is thier almost graveyard silence and nonchalance when their daughter was making these allegations. When Renua began to talk about her funeral was when the family should have stepped in and ensured that she did not hurt herself. Unfortunately and probably coupled with the fact that she was living outside Nigeria, the family left her to herself and then published the news of her passing – referring to her as some beautiful soul.

It is this attitude of trying to cover up a family name at the expense of the psychological damage that a person has experienced that causes some of us to be a bit sympathetic with Renua’s story and to regard it as almost certainly true. The Giwa-Amu family is a very educated lot and perhaps the trait for argumentation which Oje Giwa-Amu (another of Renua’s uncle) has for religious issues on Facebook is a family trait they now use to defend their integrity in public. I understand quite a number of them are lawyers and they may wish to dispute this position of mine but whatever else they may say, I would really want to know what any of them did at reaching this young woman when she began to suggest suicide. If they did nothing, I will have to conclude that they are culpable in this young woman’s death.

I would never understand the psychology behind pedophilia. It is enough to know that it is a psychological problem that needs medical attention. Perhaps as the Giwa-Amu family explains what they did to forestall Renua’s suicide, they should also explain what they did when this young woman began to make these accusations of her father. If all they did was to seek to cover it up and preserve the family name, they have her blood on their hands.

Incest did not begin with our day; it is a long established sin that comes with the effect of the fall on human beings. Nevertheless the internet has helped to make us more aware of the evil all around us. In cases of incest, there are two victims: the perpetrator and the victim. Both of them will need medical attention and psychiatry evaluation. The Nigerian government may also help by enforcing laws instituted against this evil. Nigerian families should realize that some evils are not better solved by covering them up. When we cover up issues like incest, we allow the victim’s pains to fester to the point that many of them might begin to consider suicide as a way out. Renua Giwa Amu’s death is a perfect case in point.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

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