by Charles Novia
Dancehall cum Afropop star act, Timaya, has been trending for a few days for the wrong reasons, perhaps.
A lady in Atlanta, America took to social media to accuse him of rape. Initially when I read the news on a blog, I thought it was one of some crazy publicity stunts some Nigerian artistes pull up and didn’t give it a second thought, even though I abhor anything which has to do with the violation of a woman.
Why did I think it was a stunt at first? Because I know how puerile sometimes our publicists in the entertainment industry in Nigeria sometimes are. They dream up the most asinine of capers just to get their clients trending. Haven’t we read many?
Two brothers fighting over getting married or not, some actress owing for fake bags, supposed twitter ‘fights’ and ‘notice-me-by-force’ holidays at exotic resorts. Sadly, the job of the Nigerian publicists in the entertainment sector seem to be one which ensures that the client must trend by all means necessary because it guarantees ( to them) media exposure and brand visibility, somewhat.
But that’s a story to dissect for another day.
And so, Timaya’s ‘rape saga’ didn’t even as much as raise the hairs on the nape of my neck when I first read it. But I had to sit up when the story started gaining traction with posts after post by the alleged ‘victim’. And I have concluded that it’s not a joke; this ish is real.
Sheila B claims from her narrative and audio proof that Timaya forced himself on her and raped her. Timaya’s initial response to a blogger was to dismiss her claims even though he admitted that he slept with her consensually and thereafter became suspicious of her motives. It was when I read Timaya’s response to the story that I came to the near conclusion that this may not be a stunt after all.
Timaya’s response was dismissive and ill-advised without any media management helping out in damage control. That’s the first step for a celebrity when these kind of things happen. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong but all that comes to the fore at first is perception management for the celebrity. And Timaya had none in that first interview.
He implicated himself much in that interview, in my opinion and not of the crime he has been accused of but of his admission of being in the same room with the lady and revealing aspects of the post – coital incidents which any smart lawyer in America could use against him in a court of law. His honesty is commendable but a naivete not to allow a paid Media manager give his own side of the story is my worry.
According to Timaya ‘…I agreed to see her and she came to my hotel in Atlanta and we got down for real .When we were done and we were chilling…I got up and started preparing for the show but I realised her phone wouldn’t leave my face and she kept asking me stupid questions and even as I answered, I wondered what she was up to ,then it hit me that she was recording and I grabbed her phone and we struggled cos I wanted to delete the videos she had made without my consent..I dont even know if she still has any but I deleted the ones I could on her phone.
I called the hotel security and explained what had happened to them .I told them to open her phone so that I could see what she had left but she refused and was making a scene and the hotel told her to get out but I didnt want her to go cos Í was scared of what she might have recorded and I insisted on calling the Police but the hotel told me that if I called the police,I might be arrested for holding her hostage in my room so I let her go.’
In ending his own side of the story, he accused the accuser of trying to extort $50,000 from him in order not to reveal his deed and he claims he refused to fall for that blackmail.
An angry Sheila B retorted ( in between putting up curious downloads of her single as a musical artist) that she wasn’t lying and has reportedly filed a rape case against Timaya with the Atlanta Police Department.
Gbese re o!
Now, that’s serious. This tale has assumed new proportions and it doesn’t look good for Timaya. The implications are dire for him. Effectively, it means any time Timaya lands in America, he’s likely to be arrested and charged for rape if Sheila persists with the case. If he is innocent, which we all have to believe until he is proven guilty, then he also needs to clear himself of these allegations.
Here’s what I would suggest Timaya should do; get a good lawyer and go to America and prove his innocence. I repeat, that this is not an allusion that Timaya is guilty but I’m concerned that he has to put this behind to move on as a creative artiste and also to redeem himself and other Nigerian artistes who might get affected by a blanket suspicion in the eyes of the larger world.
A good Lawyer would ask questions on aspects of Sheila’s story which on face value as it is from the statements right now; seem to be a bit out of place.
First, was the sex between both parties consensual? Timaya claims it was; she claims it wasn’t and actually took her phone after the intercourse to record her conversations with him. Now, that’s where experienced Psychologists would have to determine in court why she would record a guy who just raped her, according to her, and still be asking leading questions to cage him. Was it a post – traumatic syndrome or was she surreptiously trying to trap him into admitting that he did it?
Second, she has denied that she requested for $50,000 from Timaya which makes her motives not in anyway monetary by her denial. Yet a good Lawyer can ask her why she put up links to her songs for downloads just after she accused Timaya on her page. It doesn’t make sense. Was she seeking for a validation of her artistry or what? And then, who is this Sheila B? What’s her background? The Lawyers would have to research her background and scrutinise her story to the last letter. Then, if she claims she was raped and reported the case to the Police, did she go for a medical examination immediately after the incident? Do the Police have samples of Timaya’s semen from her? If indeed, she reported days after the incident, were there signs of a struggle on her body or did the people from the hotel who came after Timaya called them witness the tell-tale signs of a rape scene?
Whatever these and many questions would throw up, the reality about this issue is a wake up call for all Nigerian male acts when it comes to sexual relations with women who come at them as fans and friends. Be very careful. What is taken as normal in Nigeria by these acts is much more serious in the West. Sure, there are ladies out there who are good stalkers and could set up a successful act but certain discretions are advised when it comes to sexual dalliances.
You can’t really stop an artiste from dipping his wick in every paraffin lamp but you can certainly advice him on how not to set the himself on fire too! The frills and thrills of fame come with lots of groupies and gold diggers and if you ask me, I would advice the male acts to try as much as possible to ABSTAIN from those kinds of people.
But because it takes a lot of self – discipline to abstain, the other option would be for the artiste to ensure that before “getting it on” with the women who are wont to have one nighters, she signs a consensual agreement on a page. Just a paragraph does it. You know; ‘I, Ms A, hereby states that I’m having sex with Artiste B of my own free will and consent’. That simple. Or even a video recording of same lines.
That’s how most of those American acts do theirs. And since the world is a global village, our Nigerian acts have to learn from their counterparts in this regard.
Now, none should misconstrue this to mean that all women these acts meet are all for cherry pickings. But the reality is that a rush of blood does more to people’s inhibitions when the chips are down. Or rather…when the slip is down, if the pun is allowed here.
Charles Novia is an award-winning filmmaker. He is founder of November Productions and November Records. Connect with him on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.