Toke’s Gist Was Sweet Wasn’t It?

2016 has been dubbed the year of realizing things. Listening to Kehlani’s ‘You Should Be Here’ triggered some feelings in me where I completely understood that Ni**** gon’ always be Ni**** and that ‘I ain’t got time to lose my mind to these Ni****’ — excuse her pidgin. It might have only taken me one year to understand this, whereas it took Toke Makinwa 14.

Recently, Toke Makinwa’s book “On Becoming” became the 4th best selling memoir on and the 24th best selling memoir on’s kindle store. For a week, it was all everyone could talk about. Beyond the many exclamations her story warranted, there were undoubtedly some underlying issues that got lost in the storm of social media banter and office gist.

Think back to Sugabelly and Tee Billz’s stories. Remember how ready we all were to tell the world how we felt about what they went through? We were exposed to real life accounts of emotional and sexual abuse and we loved the excitement.

Our initial reactions of course were to judge and castigate their actions without saying, “Hey, I don’t know what this is really about. I’m not really sure I understand abuse. I wasn’t there when it happened, therefore I have no facts”. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. We handled these narratives, much like we did with Toke’s, caring very little about how our words affected the victims. Take this comment about Sugabelly for example:

She is capitalizing on the women’s victimization industry and taking away from true victims of rape. No one voluntarily keeps going back to a rapist, abeg.

Sigh. You may not find that exact statement in relation to Toke, but generally the sentiments remain the same. We don’t really understand the psychology of abuse, and how easy it is to shuffle between searching for validation and being “strong” enough to not want that validation. Somewhere between all that shuffling, Toke somehow imagined taking her own life would rescue her from public humiliation, shame and self-blame.

I for one, found it hard to read past that. I thought we were slowly becoming a more aware group of people. I may be wrong though. According to social media, Hillary should have won, but here we are. Nonetheless, if at any point your comments or actions make someone think suicide is a better option than dealing with you, then my friend we’ve got a problem.

I wasn’t orphaned at 8 years old. I did not endure an emotionally abusive relationship for 14 years in the bid to fill that void. That said, I can’t say I understand how she feels. What I can say is that I accept her story as she told it. My opinions therefore are mine and they will stay that away.

So um, next time a celebrity or anyone for that matter tries to show you a glimpse of their trauma, think twice before you choose explain it in a way that makes you feel less anxious. Trust me, the gist may be sweet, but you’ll be okay.

P.S. The year is almost over. If you haven’t realized anything yet, let it be this:
Your Mental Health Matters.
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