Discover more from In Nollywood
Here Love Lies: Raising Girls in a Religious Home
Tope Oshin’s comeback spotlights the problems of raising girls in overly religious homes
I connected quickly with the opening scenes of Tope Oshin’s Here Love Lies because I grew up in a religious home. My parents were pastors, and I had to live up to the gospel they preached. Those days, the topic in every morning devotion centred on holiness and the repercussion of being unholy: hell fire.
The messages often came across as threats — of hell, of being poor or thrown out of the house — if I got pregnant. Subconsciously, I knew that if that happened, I was doomed to a life of suffering here on earth and one of eternal turmoil in hell.
These memories came back fresh in my mind as Here Love Lies introduces Amanda with teary eyes, knees on the floor and moving her lips with little or no explanation to give. There was her dad, fuming and spewing insults and what must be done to save his face.
Oshin’s sinister romance drama tells the story of a preacher's teenage daughter who is disowned for refusing to abort her pregnancy. Amanda’s father (played by the forever brilliant Sam Dede) presents her with two options: abort the child and stay, or keep it and leave. She chooses to keep her baby. It is a brave yet foolish choice because she has no nowhere to go. But as we see later in the film, Amanda, as portrayed by Oshin, is a resolute young woman.
The entire family turns on her. Her mother, although hesitant, concedes to her husband’s stance while her sister, filled with anger that Amanda got pregnant for her "man", is happy. But the cruel decision still rests on her father, who does what most religious leaders do: put their image before their child’s welfare. Such men worry more about what their church members will say about them.
There is a pattern with kids born into religious homes. Sex education and discussions about romantic feelings are treated as taboo and replaced by teachings of the spirit, but the latter cannot occupy the space of the former. And threats of disownment and hellfire only instil fear, which then eliminates any space for open conversations about the feelings that erupt when such kids hit puberty. Or when older men start to talk to them in inappropriate ways. We didn't get Amanda’s backstory, but with the reaction that followed the news of her pregnancy, one could tell such discussions were taboo in their house. The movie also doesn't expound on life as an abandoned child but anyone can imagine what life would be like for a teenage mother with no home, money or family.
We see Amanda in a few years' time with her teenage daughter living the life, but the scars of yesterday are still present. She struggles with motherhood and every time her daughter gives her a headache, she remembers her father's words when she chose to keep the pregnancy. He cursed her, and she has accepted that’s the reason her daughter never listens and probably why she is meeting horrible men who won't date a single mother. This speaks to the trauma kids abandoned for getting pregnant carry into adulthood; they blame themselves for everything and accept unlucky situations as repercussions for their sins.
Amanda does get a break from her men's struggles when she meets Michael, a white man who is a fan of her blog. He is a lover of all things Nigerian, and unlike most men she meets, he doesn't seem to have any baggage. The icing on the cake is that he doesn’t run for the door when she mentions she has a child. Micheal represents all that she couldn't find in previous relationships; he is not judgemental like those men or her father. What more could a woman who has had failed relationships ask for? Yet even Michael isn't all that he seems.
There is enough reason to believe that if Amanda's situation was handled better by her family, she would most likely not have fallen into the hands of awful men. Teaching children the word of God is not enough and threatening them with it is not the solution. Be a safe space for them so they don't live in fear and make heartbreaking decisions.
Thanks for reading Inside Nollywood! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.