When I was at university, I was a happy-go-lucky kind of girl. Tell me there is a party next door and I will forget about the exam I have tomorrow and follow you to the party. Party comes first before anything else—even before friendship. So many times I chose partying and funfair over friendship. I lost my good friend Amanda to this kind of attitude. She told me, “I can’t keep up with the way you do your things. It’s hard to stick around with you.”

She kept withdrawing from me each day until one day the two of us became strangers. It didn’t bother me. Life is like that. Not all the people you meet along the way will stick with you till the end of the road. Some fall over. That’s fine. Life goes on with or without them. One night at a club close to campus, a gentleman approached me, “Hello Phylis, nice meeting you here.” The music was too loud I could barely hear the other things he said. I asked him, “How did you know my name?” He answered, “We’re friends on Facebook.” I pulled back my hair to have a clearer look at his face. He didn’t look like someone I had seen on my timeline. He said, “You won’t recognize me because I’m hardly active on Facebook but I know you.”

I sat with him at the bar. He bought me drinks and I declined; “I don’t take alcohol. Never in my life have I taken alcohol.” He looked surprised. I went ahead to order food since there was no non-alcoholic drink available. That night we talked and talked till the club was nearly empty. He wasn’t much of a dancer. I was. I got on the floor, danced for a while and told him I was leaving. He said, “It’s late. Let me drop you off where you’re going.” I didn’t think he had a car. He didn’t look like someone who could buy a Kia Picanto.

We went out and he pointed at a Black Hyundai Elantra and said, “That’s my car. I can drop you off wherever you are going.” I told him, “I’m going to campus.” The next time I realized, he was asking me which side of campus he should drop me on. I’d been asleep throughout the journey. I didn’t know when or how we got to campus. I told him my hall and minutes later we were there. I said, “Thank you for being kind.” He said, “Let me take your number. Wherever you want to go, I’m your driver.” I gave him my number and he called so I could have his number too. “Your name again?” He smiled and answered, “I’m Bright but you can call me Tuga.” “Bright Tuga. Nice name,” I said. He laughed and drove off.

The days ahead became very intense for us. We spoke every day. We chatted every moment and went out whenever we had the time—We always had time. One time, at a friend’s party he proposed to me. He had been kind since we met. He was someone who had a huge interest in the things I had an interest in so it was easy for me to say yes. I remember that night when I said yes, he held my hand and pulled me to his car and picked a bottle of very big champagne and popped it. He said, “This calls for a celebration.” I only stood there and laughed as drops of champagne kept falling on my skin.

At some point, I needed to ask the question I’d been struggling with; “What do you do, and what makes you able to live the kind of lifestyle you live?” He answered, “We pull some moves here and there but mostly, I buy and sell online.” I asked, “And that makes you all the money?” He said, “Yeah, but I have some other deals I do with friends. We import electronic and other gadgets and sell them to people. Basically, it’s not a defined business. We only move where the money is.”

Because of what he told me, I didn’t think too much of it whenever he spent forever on his laptop. We could return from town at 11P.M. and he’ll be on his laptop till the next morning. He’d tell me his business partners were coming to visit but there was nothing business about them when I saw them. He attended business meetings with these guys every day and there was one guy they called CEO. He carried himself around like the boss but he was empty-headed. He didn’t even know how to use a web browser very well. That got me curious. At a certain point, he realized I was asking too many questions but there was love in the way he answered me anytime I asked him questions.

I discussed with a friend and she told me, “That guy might be a sakawa boy so you should be careful.” But All the stories I’d heard about sakawa boys were stranger than I’d seen with him. He had money and had four cars and he was only twenty-seven years old but I never saw him doing any of the strange things we usually associate with Sakawa guys. He sleeps well when he wants to. He bathes. He can have great sex and there was no room in the house he asked me not to go. I kept asking questions and he kept telling me things. Then he started sending some huge amounts into my bank account. He’ll say, “One of my partners wants to send money but I don’t want to give her my bank account so I gave her yours. Let me know when the money drops.”

I started receiving huge sums of money in my bank account. Sometimes, he would ask me to give him the money. Other times he’ll forget about the money and let me keep it. Life was good for me. A year into the relationship, he bought a car for me. I was so overjoyed that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t question his love for me and I didn’t question his motives anymore. One night he came to me and said, “Let’s make this deal to get money from this my client. I’ve sent your photos to him. Talk to him and agree to whatever he says. When he asks for video nudes, tell him to send the money first.”

I did and the money came. From that day on I became his bait to get money from people. It got to a point I had to appear naked on live videos for his clients. I didn’t mind, as far as it brought in the money. I became one of his business partners than his girlfriend. He started bringing in different girls to his house every day. He called them partners too but they didn’t do anything apart from coming in there and leave. One afternoon I went to his house unannounced and found him on top of one of the girls. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. The most hurting thing was he didn’t stop doing it when he saw me. I ran outside and he finished doing whatever he was doing with her before attending to me.

That day I wanted to leave him. I cried and cursed him but he was calm. I didn’t buy his reason but I kept hanging around him. Maybe it was because of the money. He didn’t change. He kept bringing in girls and right under my nose, he’ll be touching and kissing them. No respect left for me in the relationship. I tuned off my mind and pretended I didn’t exist in the relationship. I was more of a partner than a girlfriend.

One early dawn, we got raided. He received a call and the next moment he started picking stuff and trying to run. I asked him, “What is the problem?” He said calmly, “Pick your things and start moving. The police will be here.” At the mention of the police, my heart started racing. I didn’t know what to do. The only thing I picked that day was my purse because it contained my IDs. Immediately we left, we saw the police car going into the house. That was the day I said, “There’s no coming back into this mess.”

I stopped picking his calls and stopped chatting with him. I didn’t want to lose the rest of the life I had left. I wanted to concentrate on my education and seek a better one than I was living. He kept calling and calling until one day he came to my hostel to threaten me. He said, “You’ve touched blood money and you can’t run from it. You better come back before I do anything bad to you.” I told him, “If you try anything with me, I’ll report you to the police. Don’t you dare me.” He kept sending threats after threats. When he realized I wasn’t scared of his threat, he stopped and left me alone.

Today, I still see him on Facebook. I hear from him sometimes. Nothing is working for him and he’s very miserable now. Sometimes he calls to ask me for money and I send whatever much I can get. He had asked me to help him find a job but what job? I asked him recently; “What happened to all the money and cars, the one you bought for me what happened to them?” When the money wasn’t coming again, I and my brothers sold everything to keep afloat. Now there’s nothing left.”

I’m grateful that I could escape and continue my education. It’s the reason I have this life I have now. It’s not perfect but it’s better than what Tuga is going through now.

—Phyllis, Ghana


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