A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Consent

A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Consent

One of the most controversial issues that could be raised anywhere in the world is that of sexual molestation or rape.

A victim would claim to have been raped and a lot of people would ask what would be considered legitimate questions, not because they’re being nasty, but due to the fact that they honestly, truly do not understand why allegations of rape or sexual molestation can be leveled against another person under certain conditions.

It is true that there’s a lot of information out in cyberspace, and a legitimate question should be, why can’t you find out? But we cannot all be the same.

In a country like Nigeria, issues of rape or sexual molestation is very tricky, because the prevailing culture, is such that women, children and the sexual minorities are fitted into certain stereotypes that makes them vulnerable to abuse.

But beyond ‘morality’ we all know that this shouldn’t be the norm.

Horror stories abound about religious leaders, teachers, lecturers, fathers, mothers and other figures of authority raping, abusing or molesting other people. But taking reactions broadly, both on and off cyberspace, the prevalent idea is to first blame or shame the victim.

Questions like, ‘what were you doing in his/her house?’, ‘why were you dressed like that?’, ‘why didn’t you scream?’, ‘why wait this long before saying anything?’ or ‘You are his wife/girlfriend/lover/sex worker so how can you claim you were raped?’, ‘When you were eating at Mr Biggs, collecting gifts/contracts/jobs/favors/money from him/her, you didn’t think there would be a price to pay?’

The transactional nature of relationships in Nigeria makes these questions, almost sane and proper.

But these questions are NEITHER sane, nor proper because of one major word, this word is called CONSENT.

According to Encarta Dictionary Consent can be defined as giving permission

1. give permission: to give formal permission for something to happen

·  As soon as they met Robert, her parents consented to the marriage.

2. agree: to agree to do something

·  She consented to appear as a witness.

Microsoft® Encarta® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

You are a university or polytechnic undergraduate. You are broke. You’ve called your parents and your mum or dad says they are broke too, but they are expecting some money tomorrow and will send it to you as soon as it lands in their account. Meanwhile, one of your friends, who is as broke as you, says she/he has some uncooked beans left in his/her locker. You check your stove/gas and you still have some left, so you ask your friend to give you the beans. You start cooking, just as the delicious smell of beans fills your room, your gas/kerosene, finishes. You run over to the room next door and BEGGED them to let you use their stove. Long story short, your beans is finally ready. You dish the food and as you were about to start eating you discover there’s no water, so you rush out to buy a sachet of pure water. By the time you return to your room, your roommate, who had been out all morning had just finished eating ALL your beans.

Now take that feeling of hurt, betrayal and willingness to commit murder, multiply it by ten, then apply it to someone who has just been sexually molested.

There is nothing wrong with asking, at every stage, just to be sure. No harm in asking about kisses, ‘Is it alright if I kissed you here?’ no harm in finding out, ‘is it alright to touch your breasts? How do you like your breasts touched?’

No harm in asking questions.

More importantly there is no harm in stopping whenever your partner says stop.

People mean stop when they say stop!

Consent is the difference between good sex and  rape. That simple word makes life uncomplicated, helps you keep relationships.

‘Yes’ or ‘No’ can determine whether your name will forever be linked with ‘sexual molester’ or not. It is the difference between having to explain yourself and nobody knowing about your sex life.

Consent is a sweet word, you should try it… everyday.

 

Of Kisses, of Sexual Predators, Of Chijioke Amu-Nnadi

Of Kisses, of Sexual Predators, Of Chijioke Amu-Nnadi

Mine didn’t start with poetry.

I didn’t know him beyond his name, his posts, on Facebook.

I was in Uganda for 2015 Writivism Literary Festival as the festival’s blog editor; he was there too, as a guest to hold a masterclass on poetry.

He checked in at midnight with Sadiq Dzukogi. I was working at a section of Ministers’ Village –the hotel we were lodged- dining hall when he arrived. Mukoma wa Thiong’o, Pa Ikhide, and Aaron Bady had arrived not long before and I’d gone to the reception to greet them so when Ssekandi – the festival’s official chauffeur – pulled into the driveway, I went out to see who else had come in.

As I greeted him and introduced myself, he hugged me. Then one of the minders  and I accompanied them upstairs to settle in. After we found their rooms, we all made to leave. I was going back to the ground floor to continue work; he offered to see me off a bit. When we got to the first floor (his room was on the third), we stopped to wrap up our chit chat. I didn’t see what happened next coming. It just did.

He cupped my face in his hands and kissed me.

I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t even processing. I just said, “Goodnight,” turned around and walked back to where I was working. As I sat, it began to hit me. Chijioke-Amunnadi kissed me. He kissed me…he…kissed me? He fucking kissed me?

Irritation. Anger.

This was the man I had never interacted with personally, not even on Facebook. We had just met and he’d kissed me. I didn’t even know him! As I processed, I began to calm myself. I had work to do, Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire and the Writivism team did not bring me to Uganda so I could spend time sorting feelings at Ministers’ Village hotel. As I continued working, he came downstairs to give me an autographed copy of his book. I thanked him and kept working.

The next days at Uganda found me avoiding him and getting irritated when he tried to come close or call me daughter. My roommate, Nneoma, knew my irritation for the man.

One night, he asked us to move into his room which was bigger than ours so he could move into ours, because a “friend” had come in and needed somewhere to stay. I disagreed but Nneoma calmed me and said it was just for the night. When we got to his room, he looked around and said it was big enough and we all could share. We disagreed.

Adeola would later see the massive doze of ‘attitude’ I dished him regularly. And even the night she and Nneoma asked me to go with them for a dinner that Chijioke ended paying for, I had mental workings to do and ensured nothing drew he and I close.
.
I have heard things.

I don’t know Chijioke. I don’t know him at all.

Perhaps kissing me – without so much as a simple by-your-leave, may not count much in the scope of all that’s been blowing up for days but I heard the old man has been saying the girls he tried things with seduced him, they were cheap…I hope he hasn’t mentioned my name because the result will take the host of heaven to settle. My blood is that hot.

There are a few more things to say about my encounter with this man.

I hosted a project on 10 October 2015 for World Mental Health Day at University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Some of you may know about it. The Curator of the project invited Chijioke to perform as we were interpreting mental health issues through art. I had given the Curator sole right to decide on who got invited, so I chose to let things slide.

In the course of planning, we ran short of funds and she turned to Chijioke for help. He did. She was one of his “daughters” but as I’ll later discover, one of the few “daughters” he hadn’t tried to touch… Yet.

He gave a total of about 35,000 naira towards the event. I thanked him. And I kept him far.

But the old man still did not know his place and went on to attempt something with our Welfare Coordinator. He wanted to kiss her; he wanted to give her head. I wasn’t there when he said those things but she came back from performing her official duties and told me this.

It is important to mention the money part because I heard he said these girls – the ones he’s tried things with – were after his money.

Dem too love money.

– Mary Ajayi

… of kisses, rape, and a god of poetry

… of kisses, rape, and a god of poetry

Life is full of stories.

I have been kissed before, forcefully, by a man I was close to.

It happened years ago.

My mum had just died and I drifted to someone close because he was the only one that I felt understood me.

One day he kissed me against my wish, I told a few friends, they laughed, I pretended to laugh, we called him a fag and other names.

Inside I felt dirty, I felt betrayed, I felt life is full of people who will use and use you. For days I watched him move around freely, I remembered others who had the same experience but we kept silent, wounded, afraid nobody would believe us.

He was handsome, intelligent, and had a swag girls wanted. Who would believe someone like that defiled little boys?

It took me years to open my heart to a man, it took me years to sit down and talk to men without that fear hiding in my head. I swore to myself to always stand for those going through such because of what I felt, but these last few days has been hell.

I have been sick and still yet my head can’t just leave these issues. I have cried. I have called, I have tried to know the truth because in issues like these one has to be careful but the truth is always constant, it will always come out, it does not stay hidden forever.

It is often said that ten people can’t lie the same way. As a security personnel, one of the ways to detect lies in a witness is to have the person write his statement again and again and then you pick the truth from it.

The truth is bitter.

But it is a pill I must swallow.

No man should kiss people forcefully because he gives them things, goodness should not come at a price. It is wrong and what is wrong is wrong. I’m broken but one should always stand on the truth.

For those that think I’m an ingrate, I agree, I am but it could be your sister, it could be you…

Life is a funny place.

For those  that chose to speak out, even when people doubted you because of love and loyalty, I say you are my heroes, you have done more than I was able to do.

For snitches, I also say well done. Life is a funny place.

What more can I say, I have learnt. I will heal. Life is funny, life is real. I am no longer disappointed. People will always be people.

Selah.

Oluwasegun Romeo Oriogun

Liberty is a many-colour-coat made of Rags

Liberty is a many-colour-coat made of Rags

 
Coming out of my closet, I carry my heart about
           like cufflinks.
It is my way of being transparent- that is coming out wearing
                 my heart 
on the cuffs of
                 my sleeve.
It is my way off attracting like-minds.
I find my kind of people everywhere I go
                             or
any closet I snoop in. 

It will amaze you …the number
The caliber of people
hiding away in their closets,
coiled up upon themselves,
trying to get smaller and smaller,
                    or
just hoping to vaporize.

I am not one of them,
I come out all the time,
even though I am timid 
For self-validation,
I like to look in on them-
those still hiding away
                                    in their closets-

Amongst this run of
                  Homo
                          Sapiens,
hiding away their
sexuality
in the Closet of
                        Marriage
are the most gifted beings-
humans
and
            women.

And many they are that will never come out of those
                   dark places
to get some air in the sunlight. They dread to be
                gay,
to be outspoken
You know like the
                             feminists
 
I was one time peeking into such
dark
      dreary
              airless
                      gloomy
closet,
and I found a feminist
          housewife
                   mother
a one who really could use the
                   liberty
of getting some
fresh air and sunshine

“so, what are you still doing in there”,
            I probed. 

“I went in
             for the feminist rants,
  and stayed in
             for the kids.”
she replied. 

I knew she isn’t coming out
of that
          closet
anytime soon;

so the answer
            to the question of
“why don’t you come out from that hole already”
was out of the
                    question.  

Great many
        are they
              who are like
I am- timid about coming out
and walking in the
              gaylight,

but
if liberty
is a
Many-Colour-Coat made from rags,
I still will wear mine
and strut about in it
– even if I only do that
        in
          my
             closet.

Christopher Raphael Okiri

Domestic Violence and the Midget Within

Domestic Violence and the Midget Within

9jafeminista asked me to put down my thoughts on DV. For the uninitiated, that’s domestic violence. She said 300-400 words. That was a week ago. Since then, I’ve written quite a number of articles, but, all in my head. On paper, I managed three puny paragraphs. On evaluation, I found I had written each of those three paragraphs in a different colour (significant?).

They (the 3 paragraphs) did not say much for I was trying to be explicit about my experience in an illicit manner. Not because of fear. My considerations also do not include my abuser, if at all, merely in a roundabout fashion. No, he isn’t any part of my considerations which remain chiefly, my girls…plus the fact that the internet NEVER forgets.

He does show his hidden character… but you must know what to look for or you will miss it.

I am usually reticent, except when speaking privately, but he taught me that privacy belongs only to those who know they are being watched. If you ever forget, your privacy can be invaded for any reason, ranging from the pleasure he takes in snooping to gathering evidence to prove you are a slut.

He knew better than to abuse me physically so he played mind games. Only, I never knew the rules of this game.

Some days, yes was yes but while we played, yes may become a maybe or even no.

The emotional and psychological abuser may be worse than the one who physically abuses. The reason is that with physical abuse, people become aware of your suffering and may intervene and save you.  No one, not even those who care about you can discern what you are passing through with emotional abuse.

Whoever dares to befriend you becomes the enemy or may be accused of being your lover. Depending on this one’s hook du jour, I was either a slut or incapable. Sometimes, you are both and the question becomes, ‘so why are you with her?’

To a certain extent, the one who abuses emotionally speaks the truth…his version of the truth. Constantly, the story evolves, gathering weight and colour as it travels. The intent is to malign, to curry favour and sympathy from the current listener.

I have been luckier than most. I grew wings, I chose life, I refused to be a victim but I ended up a statistic still, but I daresay, the good kind. One of the ones who walked away from all the crap and BS and currently choosing what life it is she desires to live.

My consideration also includes the legal, but has never been regret.

I am alone, maybe even lonely sometimes, but I am the one who chooses when those times are. Unlike with the abuser, who unable to deal with his personal failings and looks at me to find what will make him feel good. Who, upon seeing my awesomeness, goes ahead to try and belittle all he sees in me which highlights his shortcomings.

For that is the biggest problem with DV, it occurs when self evaluation reveals the midget that the perpetrator is.

Dr Adenike Olatunji-Akioye

Leftover

Leftover

P.S:  Memorabilia
You left it lying on the floor,
beside the laundry box,
a kind of slough,
keepsake.

& this was how caution peeled off
in a rush of adrenaline and desire;
& this was how we made hasty decisions,
remade Eden.

There is nothing impossible with a few drinks.
nothing insurmountable, not even celibacy;
if it is dodgy like two left shoes,
if it is bulging like a phallic tumescence,
if it is throbbing like a thumb whitlow,
worrisome like an obstinate mom
tactile like a jock’s itch,
trembling like a maiden wife.

There is nothing impossible for soft lights,
soft music. Red lights cast flimsy
shadows on burgundy bedspreads.
Robert Kelly spells b-o-o-t-y;
We catch fire.

Lagos is locked out,
we are stowed away.
The grind of tires on asphalt
are eons away from this room,
this room where your bosom
holds primacy. Perky nipples
betray anxiety too like fidgety eyes.
It is always a first time.

This seduction began long before
we threw casual hellos.

This seduction blossomed over time
from a distance. We once interred
it under a shallow canopy of laterite.

Did it rot or sprout?
Did it sprout or germinate?
Did it germinate or flower?
Did it flower or blossom?

-Dami Ajayi