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Phone Call from Lagos

Tayo Oduntola Stands on Her Own Four Feet

Life ain't easy for Lagos' only human quadruped.
Κείμενο Justice Karo

Do you remember our friend Justice Karo, who became VICE’s official correspondent for Lagos when we resumed filming the Nigeria episode of Fashion Week Internationale? He's called a few times before to give us updates on the state of the Occupy movement in Nigeria and a message of peace by a guy with a very funny name. This time around, he wrote to tell us he discovered a woman who walks on all fours. This is what he said:


If you don’t have any reason to thank God when you wake up in the morning, well I think you will find one after reading this true life story of Tayo Oduntola. This is a young lady who has spent most of her life walking (crawling) with her two hands on the ground. If that wasn't enough for Tayo to deal with, once a man (asshole) asked her to marry him, only to get her pregnant and leave her shortly thereafter, blaming her condition. (Was he blind when he asked her to marry him? Was he blind when he was making love to her?) I met with Tayo at her house and we talked for a bit.

VICE: Hi Tayo. Were you born this way?
Tayo Oduntola: No.

How did this happen to you?
It was over 30 years ago now, when I was three—I am 36 now. My mum told me she was going to take her bath and asked me to wait for her at the front of our house. So, while I was waiting outside playing on my own, a terrible wind called "tornado" attacked me, lifted me up and smashed me on the floor. Ever since, my life has been like this. Do you have any siblings?
I have brothers and sisters and they are all normal. What about your parents?
Well, we lost them many years ago.

How did your parents react to your accident?
They did everything they could; they took me to the hospital, witch doctors, churches—all sorts of places to make me normal again, but all to no avail.

What did the doctors say?
One said that what happened to me is so extraordinary, I should try something more spiritual. And so I tried the witch doctors, but my condition remained the same. It got to a point where people started saying that it is a curse I got from someone I don’t know. So, how do you move around?
Well, my only way of moving is to walk with my two hands on the ground.


You mean crawling?

How do you survive?
Well, I survive by begging on the highway or on the street.

What would you like to do to make a living?
Anything that will stop me from crawling on the ground, because it's so difficult for me. Maybe have a business that will stop me from stressing myself, like opening a small store that would help me manage myself and take care of my daughter. What are the biggest challenges you are facing now?
I face a lot of challenges, Mr. Justice. Being the only one of your kind, you notice a lot of people staring and wondering what kind of person you are. My apartment is another one, because I sleep on a plank, I don’t have a rug or a carpet. And there are times I have nothing to put on the table for me and my daughter to eat.

Justice donated a portion of his fee for this article to Tayo.

Previously in Phone Call from Lagos:

Occupy Nigeria

Another Blue Monday in Lagos

A Message of Peace From (Ex-)General Butt Naked

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