I remember when the story of Naomi Oni broke some five years back. It had me feeling all sorts of emotions: anxious, a little angry and also frustrated. I felt her pain and the pause it would cause on a life well-planned out. She was nearly the same age as I was at the time of the incident and that did little to abate my fears. Several things went through my mind, who could have poured acid on an unassuming young girl on the streets of London? Was it a crime against black women? Against Christians? Especially seeing as the said attacker was wearing a Hijab at the time of the attack via the CCTV footage? Who could it have been? The whole world pondered at the time.
Several claims were also made such as: Naomi inflicting the attack on herself to become a celebrity. As ridiculous as it sounds, some people even bought it as she went on to feature in talk shows speaking about the incident and how it had changed her life forever.
Eventually, a friend of hers who she had known from Primary School named Mary would be arrested and tried for the crime. On finding several evidence such as the bag in which the acid was carried, the courts found her guilty of the crime and sentenced her to prison. Now, the most shocking bit of this story isn’t just that Mary and Naomi grew up together as two young Nigerian girls in a foreign country, she was also one of the first to reach out to Naomi when the incident took place.
Naomi remembers the moment police told her they’d established that it was Mary who had attacked her. “I just felt distraught. I thought she was my friend. And I couldn’t understand why she did what she did.”
“Realising somebody you thought was your friend isn’t your friend… it’s a kind of grief, actually. To be betrayed like I was, for someone to lead you to your destruction. I was heartbroken.”
Nobody is quite sure what motivated Mary, the BBC reported
We’ve rounded up three lessons we’ve learnt from this brutal story.
Have a read below:
When people show you who they are, believe them.
The ladies had fallen out and one of the things uttered during their fall out was by Mary, who had said she would throw acid on Naomi. She eventually did it! We need to learn to pay attention to people especially what they say when they are angry at us. You will find that they tend to utter their deepest darkest truths and when they do, believe them. If you don’t like what you see, feel free to set boundaries and limit access. Not everyone is meant to partake in all your seasons.
2. It’s ok to forgive and still walk away
Forgiveness doesn’t always have to come with accepting people back into your space. Sometimes, you just need to truly let bygones be bygones by pressing froward and loving them from afar. In this scenario
3. Travel light this year, drop the unnecessary baggage
Maybe you’re reading this and it is hitting home because you realize that there are certain bridges that no longer need to exist and that for your next destination, you’ll need to travel light. It all starts with a small decision which should be followed by action. Maybe you’re even oblivious to the need to end certain friendships, so it might be necessary to start looking inwards and reflecting about where you would like to head and who might be the right persons to bring aboard that plane.
Naomi Oni mentions at the end of the video that she’s forgiven her former friend and has learnt to embrace her scars. Her bravery in spite of something so challenging is admirable and we hope that no Marys enter into our lives.