Taiwo Ajai-Lycett On Being A Mother At 15, Widow At 52, Raped At 64
But for her, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett shares her story of rising above challenges, mother at 15, widowed at 52, and raped at 64. For her, the best thing is to move past hurt.
The life story of Taiwo Ajai-Lycett is one of survival and strength. Recently, she gave an interview to The Nation, where she revealed that she gave birth to a child at 15, was widowed at 52, and raped at 65.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett: How she became a mother at 15, widowed at 52, and raped at 64
It is not easy to talk about the past, a past that is filled with pain, loss, and misery. This takes incredible strength and the knowledge that others might learn from our stories. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, 78, granted the interview at her Ilupeju home in Lagos, on a Wednesday evening. She described her experience as being through the fire and furnace but coming out fortified. She says she has learnt a lot from the universe. Where you have to go, you would go. The universe pushes you in the direction of your thoughts. It helps you actualise what you are thinking in the inner recesses of your mind.
As might be expected, being a mother at 15 caused her a lot. Disowned by family, she was on her own by the time she was 16. Adebanji Adefolaju, the man who got her pregnant, agreed to marry her when her father insisted. But unfortunately, he died in the Lalupon train disaster on September 29, 1957. He was among the 370 travellers, one among the 66 that died in the accident. Hence, there was no marriage and the family thought this gave them a bad name. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett was ignored and had to drop out of Methodist Girls' High School where she was schooling. As a result, all her siblings were in school, but there she was, a maid in her father's house.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett Refused To Lose Hope In The Face Of Her Troubles
Amazingly, all of this didn't discourage her even as she did all the cooking and housework at home. She also made sure to enrol in evening school and keep her head down. Because for her, learning was very important. Fortunately, she got a job as an assistant teacher at St. Paul’s Catholic School at Costain. A Grade II qualification was needed back then. She wrote the qualification examination and passed but her father refused to pay. He said he couldn’t foot the bills only for her to go and get pregnant again.
Subsequently, another choice presented itself. A letter came from the UK from a mutual friend of her child's father, who had married and resettled in the UK. They used to meet at his house when her child's father was alive. Then she got another letter from one David Akinduro, who told her that he was a friend to that friend of her husband. He said their mutual friend told him what happened to her and that if she didn’t mind, she could come to England and marry him. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett showed her mother the letter, and her mother showed her dad but he refused. Except for this time she insisted, told her father that she wasn't going to stay back and continue being a maid. So, she wrote back to her suitor and agreed to marry him.
Life after divorce
However, things took a bad turn when Akinduro, the husband Taiwo Ajai-Lycett married in the UK became abusive. She divorced him and moved out. Interestingly, she met Lycett afterwards and eventually married him. She described their marriage as blissful, saying that she remembers him every day since he died. Unfortunately, his death wasn't the last tragedy she'd have to go through. Back in Nigeria in 2006, she was raped in her house in Egbe. The same compound had TAL House, a private school she was running at the time.
According to Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, the people who planned the attack were members of her staff who didn't like the way she went about things. They tried to take over the business. Afterwards, she shut the school down and moved on. "Look at me today, I am over it. See, the mind is a beautiful thing. When you hold on to past hurt, you tie yourself down to grief," she concluded.
In 2017, she was featured in Kemi Adetiba's series, King Woman, where she spoke about her life. To learn more about this brave woman, watch the video below