The 6-1 thrashing of the Lone Stars of Liberia by the Super Eagles at the weekend would have raised hopes of their resurgence and re-emergence as African giants once more. But in another part of the world, specifically, in a French prison, there is no hope of glory for a lone Super Eagle.
Last week, a new French novel entitled Ma Vie A Un Prix or My Life Has A Price in the English translation came out. It was written by Miss Tina Okpara the adopted daughter of Godwin Okpara.
Does then name ring a bell? If it doesn’t, then think back to the glory days of the various national soccer teams and you will remember 1989 Under-17 World Cup (That’s if you are old enough to think that back).
At that tournament was a little lanky young Godwin Okpara shone so bright that he impressed the great Pele of Brazil who proclaimed him a star of the future. (None of Pele’s predictions come true though. They all belong to the museum like Maradona said).
He never lived up to that billing but he wasn’t a bad player, yet he never became a phenomenon like Pele predicted. He played in Belgium for Standard Liege and France for Strasbourg and Paris Saint German (PSG) and never became a prominent player for the Super Eagles.
But that wasn’t his major misfortune. His biggest bad luck was either that he married a devilish wife or that he had an evil streak in him that led him into the abomination he committed.
Tina Okpara was his adopted daughter but he serially raped her with the connivance of his wife, Linda. She was less than 13 when all this happened.
When the French authorities found out in August 2005, Okpara was arrested. He was found guilty and imprisoned in June 2007 for 10 years. His wife was also found guilty of torturing Tina and was condemned to 15 years in jail
Tina, who is now a young lady, has written about her experience in Ma Vie A Un Prix (My Life Has a Price).
The 192-page novel details Tina’s travails at the hands of Godwin and his wife. She kept secret notebooks where she wrote down the things they did to her. “These notebooks were used to dump all my sorrow, all my hatred for Linda. It was my lifeline and my friend,” she said.
She narrates how she was adopted at the age of 13 by the Okparas and taken to France. Linda, then enslaved her for five years and turned a blind eye while Godwin sexually abused her, she says in the book.
Tina says her decision to write the book seven years after she regained freedom is aimed at raising awareness and helping other girls who might be going through the same horrendous experience.
“One day, I told myself that if I refused testifying, other girls will continue to experience modern slavery,” she said.
The book which was written in collaboration with acclaimed French journalist, Cyril Guinet, is published by Amalion Publishing Senegal.