From Kadija George
Tina Okpara’s memoir, MY LIFE HAS A PRICE takes us on her 5-year journey to hell; from a loving yet poor childhood in Nigeria to the ordeal of modern day slavery in wealthy, suburban Paris. She was only 13 when celebrity footballer, Godwin Okpara and his wife Linda, lured her father into giving her up for a supposedly better life in Europe.
In 2001, Simon Omaku agreed to his eldest daughter being legally adopted so that she could live with her friend, a daughter of the Okpara’s, as her sister. In exchange, the Okpara’s gave him money to buy a motorcycle €375 (£297), unknowingly selling his daughter into a life of slavery.
Tina endured sexual, physical and mental abuse from her new adoptive parents until she turned 18; old enough and smart enough to escape and no longer be considered a child who would be returned to her adoptive family as a runaway. She grasped freedom when she saw her chance to take control of her own life.
This horrendous, yet true story of imprisonment, torture and abuse really goes beyond belief. It’s so shocking yet deeply moving at the same time, that you are compelled to read it, just to try and grasp some reasoning of how and why anyone would connive and plan to degrade and destroy a child for absolutely no reason.
Like the reed that braves strong winds, Tina’s story shows how a remarkable young woman had the strength of mind to hold on to the belief that she could one day expect better things from life.
Her memoir starts as a tragedy. At the end, we see in it the celebration of the life that can be hard for vulnerable women and children whose capture so often goes undetected as they remain ‘invisible’.
Tina says: “Emotionally, I am rebuilding myself slowly but not completely. Today, I am a person full of life, joy and love to share. I definitely want to have children in the near future but in good conditions to prevent them from an uncertain future and particularly prevent their having a childhood like mine.”
A true life story of hope, compassion and survival, published by Amalion, Senegal.
Tina Okpara will be in the UK to launch MY LIFE HAS A PRICE on Saturday 27 October, 2.15-3.15pm at the The African Book Fair, Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA. T:0207 324 2570. http://www.slamcentral.org/