Julius Toro’s Adventures

By Matendo Samuel

My name is Julius Toro and I’m the only son in a family of seven children. I had a full life in Nigeria, I received scholarships, I trusted and loved people. I lived responsibly, but everything went wrong. Today I’m in the United States, but I never wanted to live here. I’ll tell you what happened.

I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend the University of Florida. I studied there for a few years, and graduated with a degree in in American family law and international affairs. I was an active member of the Florida State Bar, the Community of United Black American Citizens and the Multicultural Bar Alliance, but in Nigeria, there was a job booked for me, and I was expected to start working there.

During my studies, I met a black woman, Gloria Hansen. She was beautiful and she built a castle of ideas. She was the woman of my life. When I called my family to tell them about her, they said they wanted to meet her. Shortly afterwards, we went to my home country. We met my family and spent a few days in a hotel in Abuja after. She flew back alone, and I went to see my family again. They objected to my relationship with Gloria and suggested I take a Nigerian wife.

Several families had found out that I wanted to get married and that my family wasn’t happy with the woman I introduced them to. My father was seen by different men who wanted me to marry their daughters. I wanted to stay single, but my family brought me a girl they thought was made for me. Her name was Daniela Ikechukwu and she was Nigerian. I agreed to meet her out of respect for my family. I took the time to get to know her and fell in love with her.

Time flew by. We had our first child about a year later, a boy named Daniel, and lived happily together as a young family. But one day one day, as I was leaving work, I was ambushed and shot in the stomach. I hemorrhaged and lost a lot of blood, and was taken to hospital by ambulance. The bullets were removed from my body and I was hospitalized for several weeks.

After that experience, I stayed at home most of the time. The police had come to see me several times and showed me a list of names, but I didn’t know any of them. They asked me if I had any enemies, or if I was in conflict with anyone or any group of people, but I wasn’t. The truth was I didn’t know any of my assailants.

After some months, the police closed the case. The days passed, my health improved and I prepared to return to work. Then, one evening, while I was at home with my wife and child, stones and pieces of brick were thrown through the living room windows. I got scared and called the police. They offered to stay outside our house, to ensure our safety. We accepted, but after one night we asked them to leave.

Life went back to normal. I was still scared, I didn’t feel safe in my own home, but I stayed strong. A month after the stone-throwing incident, my wife, son and I found our house ransacked when we returned from a day out. Most of our possessions were broken. The perpetrator had found some money I’d hidden under the bed and put it on the kitchen table. This time, I didn’t call the police, but called my family instead. When I had told them what happened, they insisted I should call the me to call the police, but I refused, because nobody knew who was behind this anyway.

We changed our lifestyle. We rented a hotel room without telling anyone and stayed there for two nights. On the third morning, my wife and child went home to pick up some clothes. She called me a few hours later, crying. I ran home as fast as I could.

What I found was worse than anything that had ever happened to me. Masked gunmen had forced their way in and asked my wife where I was. If she didn’t tell them, they’d kill our son. My wife was very brave, and made up a story of me having a concubine with whom I often spent time with, but she said she didn’t know her address. The gunmen grabbed my son. My wife begged them to leave him alone, but they said it was too late. They hit her on the head and she lost consciousness.

She woke up a few hours later and called me. When she’d finished, I went out into the garden and found my son there, lying unconscious, his head covered in blood. I started crying immediately, and my wife must have heard, because she ran outside and started crying too. I called the ambulance which, once it had arrived at my house, gave my son first aid and hospitalized him, as well as my wife.

As soon as they had recovered, I decided to leave for the United States.

15 April, 2023