Eyo is a ten year old girl living in Ajenagule- a seething, sprawling slum on the swampy marshes of the Lagos lagoon, in Nigeria. His parents are too poor to afford an education for her or her siblings so she is left with no choice but to hawk iced water on the streets to support her family. Her father is a jobless, incestuous drunkard!
Though illiterate, Eyo is a very intelligent young girl. One afternoon, as she and her brother Lanre are hawking water, a robber tries to take their hard earned money. Eyo shouts, “Thief, child stealer”, well knowing the punishment the robber will get from the mob- a ‘tyre’. The ‘tyre’ was a particular trademark of the Lagos street mob justice. It was handed out to people who broke the law and were unfortunate enough to be caught by the mob. Victims would have car tyres thrown around their necks before being doused in petrol and set ablaze.
Besides hawking water with her brother, Eyo helps her mother at home in the evenings. At night, she turns into a sex object for her father; who later traffics her to London against her wishes. He does this through his friend Femi in the hope that she would get an education in the UK and eventually earn good income to help the family. Although Eyo is not willing to go, her mother tells her to endure and never to bring shame to her family; and that she is her family’s only hope.
Once in the uukay(read UK), she starts off as a domestic servant, then ends up as a child sex slave serving her boss and later his friends. From there, she is moved to Big Mama’s brothel, then to Johnny, a sex pimp. She endures all this because that is what her mother told to do. And despite that fact that she is ‘working’, the poor girl has not a penny to her name; so there is nothing she can do about her life.
Eyo is a heart wrenching story that highlights the plight of children trafficked to the UK and other countries in the hope that life will be better there. As we see in Eyo’s case, all that glitters is not gold.
Utlimately, Eyo is rescued by a catholic priest and nun and sent back to Nigeria to restore her life- after all “home is always best”. But even back in Nigeria, life is no easier.
Eyo is published in Kenya by WordAlive Publishers.