Oluwatoyin Salau is dead today because of toxic Nigerian parenting

Oluwatoyin Salau

Yesterday, news filtered onto the internet that 19 year old Nigerian American activist, Oluwatoyin Salau had been found. Or at least her body had been found, a week after she was originally reported as missing to the Police of Tallahassee, Florida. Women from across the world had shared flyers of her disappearance, prayed for her safe return, demanded the government increase efforts to find her. But it was all for nothing.


The more we have learnt about Toyin Salau’s life, the more horrified we have become. Salau tweeted on the last day she was seen alive, a series of tweets where she detailed being sexually assaulted by an older man who she had allowed drive her from a protest, after he offered to help her find the church where she had sought shelter days before and left her personal effects for safe keeping. As anyone with acute sight challenges knows, Salau was disabled without her glasses, a situation which made her significantly more vulnerable, and probably contributed significantly to her death. Int he days before Salau went missing, she had been filmed wearing glasses, but protests can turn violent, as they did in her town and with the loss of her glasses, she lost a valuable life line to normalcy.

She accepted help because she didn’t have glasses. After she was assaulted and left her abuser’s home, she couldn’t lead the police to it because she couldn’t identify it as she had been led there without her glasses. In her last moments, she was sightless and handicapped, a situation that must have worsened whatever pain she felt in her last moment.

We know now that Salau was homeless because she ran away from her abusive Nigerian family. There are unsubstantiated reports that her brother had been complicit in some form of abuse against her, and rather than prosecute him, her family eager to protect their public prestige chose to silence Oluwatoyin Salau and not punish her brother. Reports suggest this is why she was homeless and without familial support at 19, why she fought so strongly to create a better world for other disadvantaged women like her.


Oluwatoyin Salau is a reminder that the toxic parenting habits of Nigerian parents, who are obsessed with public perception and prioritize religiousity over the well being of their children has dire consequences, consequences that lead to the death of innocent women. It is not uncommon for Nigerian parents to publicly humiliate children who are victims of sexual abuse, bullying and assault, or to silence them as a way to avoid public scrutiny or humiliation. Toyin Salau is not a martyr, she is a victim of negligence from her family, of entitlement from the black community, of poor policing from the American government. We mourn her, and demand that no other Nigerian woman should suffer, or worse, die because Nigerian parents cannot get a grip.

One comment

  1. For someone living in the States, hey, be careful not to fall for all you see on media and social media. I find it strange that you have lessons from fisayo but can conclude that the Nigerian parents failed. The US environment is different. Inside sources have a different story from what you think is the abusive religious parent. The last thing an overzealous Nigerian parent will want to do in the States is pushing their child outside. Trust me on that. This is not someone that comes from a single parent household. American politics is complex and the media will not help you as much as you think unless you do your investigations and live here. That is my advice to you. Do not rush to blame the parents.

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