Ayeduase Gate, KNUST, Kumasi
I have never been that terrified in my entire life, and I hope and pray that I never ever feel that way again.
It all started around 18:40, when I walked into a printshop around the Ayeduase Gate area to print out the letter I had written to the President for One Simple Step. Some minutes later, I stood at the bus stop and stopped a taxi. There was one guy sitting in the front seat. I sat in the back seat, behind the driver, then a young woman sat by me, and finally another young man joined. The taxi took off, ostensibly heading towards tech junction. As usual, my phone was in my hand and I was on Twitter, or in my Gmail inbox or something like that.
The first warning sign was probably the slowing down of the taxi as we approached the Agric junction, towards the road leading to Gaza. For readers who aren’t familiar with the KNUST area, the Agric Junction road is a very dark road, scary. There are no street lights and many drivers and students avoid it at night.
At the Agric Junction, the driver swiftly swerved right unto that very dark road and I knew immediately that something was wrong. The lady sitting next to me screamed… I don’t know if I screamed as well, I’m not very good at screaming… but my first reaction was to throw my phone out of the window. I don’t know exactly why I did that, but I did it. Next, I struggled to open the door, and actually succeeded in opening it for what seemed like a millisecond until the guy sitting in front grabbed me. We fought – I kicked and hit him and I think he got desperate, so he bit me, on the lower part of my left thigh. By that time, the other guy had grabbed me as well. They pushed my head down to my knees and started hitting me.
At that point, I began to cry because I knew I had been overpowered. I heard the young woman crying as well, and calling upon Jesus to save her. She pleaded with our captors and told them she was going to a prayer meeting, and that we were only students, and they should please leave us alone. They asked me why I threw my phone out of the window and I replied and said it was because I was scared, and that I wasn’t thinking, and that I was sorry. I also told them that I had about GhC300 in my purse and begged them to take it and leave us alone.
They were very angry at me because I threw my phone out of the car and they showed their displeasure by slapping me repeatedly. They took my money and took the young woman’s Galaxy tab, leaving her with her phone, a small inexpensive thing. All the while, the taxi was still moving, at top speed. At one point they made us take off our blouses and then blindfolded us with the blouses.
There I was, half-sitting, half-lying topless in the back of a taxi with a couple of stinky, foul-mouthed thieves. I felt a little bit hopeful however, because I knew/thought I knew that at least we would not be killed because they didn’t want us to see their faces. Then a new fear gripped me; the fear of being raped. Suddenly, my brain was flooded with memories of things I had read and things I had heard about what to do if one was attacked by a rapist. I remembered with horror two conflicting articles I read barely a month ago. One article said that rapists were usually cowards and they would back off at the least sign of resistance, so a woman who fought off her rapist could turn him off. The other article said that what rapist loved most was not the sexual act itself, but the struggle, and that if a woman did not resist the rape, the rapist would lose interest and leave her alone. I remembered reading another article about how talking to a potential rapist could make him change his mind. So I spoke, and got slapped again for my efforts.
Then the guy sitting closest to me touched my breasts.
Then, almost as suddenly as it started, they pushed us out of the taxi.
For about a minute, I lay topless in the dirt with my blouse and brassiere tied around my head, covering my eyes, struggling to control my breathing, struggling harder not to cry. With a deep breath, I quickly stood up after putting my blouse back on, inside out and not realising it at the moment, and even though my knees were trembling I helped Wendy (not her real name) to her feet.
I looked around in fear, wondering where we were, because apart from the road and some lights, there were no other signs of civilization.
Relying on instinct, Wendy and I decided to walk to the nearest light to our right, hoping to find a house with people who could at least tell us where we were.
We arrived at what looked like a metal factory and called out with a mixture of relief and apprehension. An old man answered us – he was the security man. He couldn’t speak English at all, and though his twi was better, it was hard for him to understand us, and even harder for us to understand him. We managed to deduce that we were in Appiadu, a very small town to the east of Kumasi.
Immediately, I called Kofi, my boyfriend, explained what had happened, told him to get to Appiadu, trying as best as I could to describe my surroundings to him and hoping someone would know where we were and direct him.
We tried to get more information from the man, for instance directions to the town center or the nearest house. Finally, after I felt I couldn’t get more frustrated than I was at the moment, and after Wendy realised he was drunk, we left him to walk along the road to the next street light.
Perhaps I should mention that the street lights were not regularly spaced along the road, as is usually the case in an urban area, they were sparsely distributed, far apart and seemingly/hopefully associated with human life.
The next street light was infront of a walled and gated farm; “Genesis Farms”. Looking through a gap between the gate and the wall, I realized that there were two men sitting right behind the gate. Relieved, Wendy and I called out and threw stones at the gate. We threw stones because our ordeal was still very fresh in our minds and quite frankly, we didn’t know the kind of men we were going to encounter, so we stood at a safe didtance and called out to them. They ignored us… I could see the men moving around, and I knew they could hear us…
We gave up and walked back to our first stop. Then, Wendy got the brilliant idea of dialing a phone number that was printed underneath the name of the metal factory. Luckily, the number belonged to the owner, and after explaining our predicament, he gave us directions from the Appiadu town proper to our location. I called Kofi again with Wendy’s phone and we waited.
As we waited, we talked about how relieved and thankful we were.
Relieved and Thankful, because we had not been raped or seriously injured.