VIOLENCE AND THE NIGERIAN: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN I

VIOLENCE AND THE NIGERIAN: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN I

The Nigerian is a violent person. It is a wonder why “violence” has not been inscribed into Nigeria’s coat of arms, along with other words like “progress” and “unity” and “faith”.
The Nigerian’s relationship with violence begins early in life — you will not get what you want unless you are violent. A severe smack by a Nigerian parent to the person of an unwitting pesky baby, the momentary pause in the baby’s movements, the facial expression of betrayal on the baby’s face, succeeded by an explosion of a combination of cries of pain and helplessness. The Nigerian parent, undeterred, fails to register the protest of betrayal and smacks some more, simultaneously placing a single finger across his or her lips and shouting at the uncomprehending child to be quiet or “chop” more licks of the backhand.
This, is Nigerian Parenting 101, ordained by personally by God (or the Nigerian variant, as cynics are quick to point out), who does not mind the parent taking a bribe here or there, or doing something else not to be mentioned in certain types of company, to take proper care of their baby. Parent wants child to be quiet and will not stop smacking until child is quiet or stops the act that prompted the smacking. The child may comprehend in good time, as the months and years go by, violence’s importance in getting what one wants in the world, and internalizes this most valuable lesson.
Adolescents will however always be adolescents — forgetful breed that they are. Many babies will forget this lesson with the passage of time, some will stand up to their parents, either unknowingly or knowingly (perhaps after they have been told like I was told by a close friend when I was a teenager — “If you’ve not started disagreeing with your parents, you have not started growing up!”) The spanking gives way to full blown “discipline” which some unduly scrupulous lawyers whose heads have been filled with Westernisms may otherwise term “assault”. “I feed you in this house! I pay your school fees! You must do what I tell you! You must agree with everything I say!” is the admonition that accompanies the blows from the Nigerian parent to the now growing child. Sometimes, “I will kill you in this house if you don’t do what I tell you to do!” is the icing on the cake, the real yellow card, which for some becomes the red card and means of quick dispatch to the great beyond. This, is Nigerian Parenting 401, advanced level. These blows are dealt with a wide range of objects — brooms, clothes hangers, the koboko (the weapon of choice of the Nigerian society’s disciplinarian at large called the Nigerian military officer), iron rods and cutlasses (both said to be favoured by some officers of the Nigeria Police Force during “interrogations”), pestles for pounding yam, electric wires, the list is almost endless.

Adolescents can be quick learners too, actually, although they may be quick to dispose of old knowledge. If they have younger siblings, their parents have laid down a wonderful template for bringing younger siblings under control. “That story is not true!” younger sibling says to older teenage sibling. “You dare not disagree with me!” older adolescent sibling rebuts and gives younger sibling a thorough beating for daring to think for himself, just as his or her parent before them. The chain goes on, and may be reinforced when they see parent get into fisticuffs for a thing as mundane as two cars bruising each other, with parent at the wheels of one of the cars, mundane in the sense that reason should always trump force in such disputes. The lesson at this stage of the child’s development is clear — force shall always be better than reason, in the Nigerian scenario. To engage reason is folly, the Nigerian adolescent learns fast.  
The teenager becomes an adult, a man or a woman, after eighteen, or so says the law. This man or woman, will be called boy or girl, until he or she has children because a person who has no children of theirs, or is unmarried, has no mind of his or her own (it is the Nigerian way). One way to escape this denigration is to grow ancient features as quickly as possible. Only old people are permitted the privilege of a mind, and respect, although these features may not earn one stripes with the Nigerian armed forces; violence from them knows no discrimination. Elderly men are known to have been dealt koboko blows from time immemorial, by soldiers, for some offence as earthshaking as parking wrongly, or overtaking vehicles at military checkpoints. 

If the teenager, going on adulthood, is lucky to have tertiary education at a state-owned school, they may meet lecturers happy to entertain views divergent to theirs — a most unlikely event, even for those privileged enough to attend private tertiary institutions where it is widely reported that independence of thought is tacitly discouraged. There is a small respite from violence at this station in life, because many universities make expulsion a penalty for violent students, but as usual, this applies to those who have no godfathers. Elections into student union bodies are not for the faint of heart.

If you an aspirant who is apprehensive of being caught out as a violent individual, you can always have a crew willing to get its hands in the mud on your behalf. In the late nineties and noughties when I was a university student in Nigeria, no serious contender for any office at the national level of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) went to the national convention of that body without an assortment of weapons and charms to physically overcome the other. Many of those who occupied NANS executive positions at the time are now to be found in many political “high places” of today, including the National Assembly of the country. There was cultism as well, not the American brand of fraternities, the type of fraternities that killed difficult university lecturers and fellow students. The number of students who went on to graduate from these schools based on their abilities to muscle their ways through, become absorbed into the workforce due to educational attainments they cannot intellectually defend, and then climb to the top of the ladders of their organisations, corporate and public sector alike, will be an interesting statistic to behold, if an international or local NGO with or without a cause can manufacture a figure that will become the official standard. 

– Bolaji Olatunde

Why did your sister not shout when she was raped?

Why did your sister not shout when she was raped?

More rape victims are assaulted by people they know. Stranger-rape is in fact not as common as the one your brother did to your daughter or the one your neighbor is currently doing to your kid sister. So, why did your sister not shout when she was raped?

She was never permitted to ‘own’ her sexuality. She could not even admit that it existed let alone have a choice in what to do with it. Her pre-marriage duty was always to dodge those penises otherwise she had herself to blame. That is why she was born, have you forgotten? So when she goes home with a friend and his penis decides to get swollen that day and he wants to put it inside her, it is her fault because she was there. She caused it. Her breasts jiggled and her vagina called out to him, wanting scratching.

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So he takes what belongs to him and at this point she has become a slut and no matter how she fights and fights him in the process, this is all her fault, what is she doing in this house, who will believe she never wanted this, can a girl not come to play video games without getting fucking raped, I will not shout, I will not shout, he will soon stop, he will realize this is wrong, he is the church youth leader, he is the student union secretary general, he is daddy’s best friend’s son, surely he will stop soon, silly boy – I know he will stop soon, look at his bony chest that sprouted hairs only last year – he will soon stop, the ceiling-fan is white, the ceiling is dirty, he will stop soon, why is that cobweb hanging so low, will a spider fall in my mouth, will it taste the tears that have gathered at the base of my nose, he is not stopping.

When your daughter was raped, she did not shout because sometimes when the person is being violated the soul takes a back seat, not wanting to fully acknowledge the horror, keeping the body comatose, willing it to be all over.
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When your niece was raped, she did not shout because she would be blamed for not succeeding at ducking. She would be asked what she was doing in that office, that house. She didn’t shout because she wanted it to be all over, quickly, and maybe they could all go back to pretending it never happened.
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She didn’t shout because he had rage in his eyes and she knew he would bang her head against the wall if she protested too much and she would soon be a corpse lying in the bush with no one to avenge her death.
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She didn’t continue shouting because when she started shouting and screaming, he beat her up and she realized she would need some energy to survive this assault. So she kept quiet through it all, hearing herself sob in her mind, and waiting for it to end.
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She didn’t shout because she loved him and rationalized that his actions had to have been of frustration, or maybe his bad friends put him up to it, he would beg for forgiveness soon so what would be the point in shouting and ‘disgracing herself’, when this would all end well eventually. All is well that ends well. It will be well. It is well.
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She didn’t shout because every time another victim had shouted, she was blamed for being raped. Strangers and friends ripped her sexual life apart, and her name was tarnished forever.

Sometimes the victim is not even sure she is being raped. She is fourteen after all and she reads Mills and Boon and she ‘knows these things’. She feels certain she is in love with this thirty-year old family friend and he has promised to marry her as soon as she turns twenty. Her parents who think him the perfect mentor for their daughter have originally delivered her into his hands. She is going places and she needs a guide like him – successful, cerebral. And take her places he does. He takes her to his bedroom every evening and mentors her by stuffing his penis in her mouth and bathing her face with his sperm. He wipes her face with putrid socks. And then he cries.
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He cries when he tells her he loves her and cannot wait for her to grow up which is why he is not putting his penis in her vagina – he is doing the decent thing by putting it in her mouth instead so that he can save her virginity for their wedding night. He begs her not to tell her parents because they would never understand – who understands it when young people fall in love? She is in love with him, right? He knows her father is a strict one and it will cause a lot of trouble for her if he ever finds out.

She is confused. This is not how Mills and Boon describes it. Harlequin romances usually have sixteen year-old heroines but she is fourteen, and here she is, her mouth tasting like plastic, her breasts hurting from his attentions and her head spinning. She comes back for more mentoring because she cannot stay away without raising questions. What will she tell her parents if she shirks her daily mentoring classes? Plus, she thinks she is in love with him and her love is enduring. Is that not what love is? Patient and enduring.
Very soon he will stop behaving in this way that confuses her and hopefully six years will pass very quickly and they can be married.

Then he gets married six months later and stops mentoring her. She is heart broken. What could she have done wrong? Was she not good enough? Maybe he just could not wait anymore. It is all her fault for not being ready. Maybe she should have given him proper sex? Everything is her fault. Then she grows up and one day it hits her – “I was raped”. Over and over and over and again. But who really cares? After all “did he put it in your vagina?” and “why didn’t you bite him?”, “why didn’t you shout?”.

Nkiru Njoku

…You sometimes feel like a sea shell…

…You sometimes feel like a sea shell…

As a girl you sometimes feel like a sea shell – beautiful, intricate, thrown up from the underbelly of nature, but belonging to the world. Neighbours, friends, strangers, and family members. Unfortunately, in no way akin to beautiful sea shells, your breasts and vagina are sources of electric conversation and unintelligent analyses for people who have neither seen nor touched them.
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You almost want to apologize for having breasts and a vagina. Maybe your mother will stop being so angry with you over nothing – as she seems to have been since your menstrual cycle made an appearance. Perhaps your father will smile at you a little more and not get grumpy when you receive innocent phone calls on your mobile.

“Is it not ordinary breast and vagina? What is all this?”

It is not ‘ordinary breast and vagina’, my friend. Were you not told that your vagina is a burden you carry, a red gash – an inflammation you must be careful not to trigger? When your breasts start growing, you are in double trouble. They must never quiver, they must be caged by tight bras otherwise you are calling attention to yourself and “anything wey your eye see make you use your head carry am”.
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For many girl children, sex is not something you ‘own’. If you experiment at sixteen with a boy of sixteen, you are automatically the slut and he is the adventurer. Sex is just not something the world permits you to be associated with, AT ALL. If you want it, you are a ‘dog’. Your body’s biology becomes a problem. You cannot swing your hips, it means you want to be fucked. You cannot prettify your face, it means you want to be fucked. Your hormones are doing what Mother Nature requires them to do and your unconscious acquiescence means you want to be fucked, maybe by one man, maybe by two, or maybe gang-bangs are your thing?

And so what if you actually do want sex as a teenager? Teenagers want sex, dammit! It is a natural desire and it is not wrong, neither is it your fault. What you do with it is what counts and that’s where sex-education is supposed to come in. Unfortunately many parents fail at it, especially with their female children.

It is just really painful how being a girl, you as a sexual being are repressed. Your desires are required to be bound tightly with strong rope and carted into the bin of denial. In exchange you are bestowed with the burden of ducking sex. In other words, as a girl child one of the reasons you are alive is to prevent yourself from being fucked, literally and metaphorically. Never mind the perpetrators – it’s all on you.

If sex ‘happens to you’ without your permission, it is your fault. You wanted it, you Jezebel, and you made sure you got it, now you say you’ve been raped. Even toddlers have been blamed for their own rapes. You enticed your father. Your uncle could not resist your swinging hips that have only been weaned from diapers six months ago. Your neighbor’s penis got swollen and hard when he saw your lips sucking on your pacifier. Throw away your pacifier! You are seducing your uncle!

Nkiru Njoku

…A woman is guilty of everything

…A woman is guilty of everything

Let me tell you one small something that happened yesterday morning.

As I alighted from the bus that conveyed me to my work place, a young man was making cat calls. Me, I almost never respond to anyone making psst sounds at me. If you can’t politely call out ‘hello’ or ‘excuse me, please’, then forget the message. But this one was persistent and as though he read my thoughts, he switched to ‘Excuse me!’ So I grinned to myself and turned back to him. He moved closer and pointed at my chest, muttering some words.

Man. You should see the little rush of embarrassment that ran through me as I looked down at my shirt and noticed that all the buttons on my chest region flapped open! And there was no camisole! And I cannot wear full fleshed bras even to save my life! Ha. I thanked him, walked a distance and buttoned up.

But this is what I really want to say: there are many guys who notice such things like a girl stained from her period, a torn slit in a skirt, straying bra straps, panty lines, unzipped trouser, a woman’s wrapper almost falling off and many of such sights. But you know what they do? They ogle and laugh and make jests and point fingers and take pictures and put them up on Instagram and Facebook with captions like ‘bitches’ ‘hoe busted’ ‘o boy, see bobbi’ ‘if they rape this one now, she will start talking’ ‘doomed for hell, indecent bastard’ ‘look at her, no shame. Cannot buy ordinary pad, but can afford that ugly makeup. Winsh’ and many other silly comments that will follow.

We live in a world where a woman is guilty of everything, both what she knows and what she knows not.

©Jennifer Chinenye Emelife

The Major Massacre: Fadhilat Yejide Bhadmus’s story of domestic violence

The Major Massacre: Fadhilat Yejide Bhadmus’s story of domestic violence

From the Editor’s Desk: I came across Fadhilat’s story on the Facebook page of Naija Story. What drew me in were the pictures, the pictures of a woman who had been brutally beaten.

She had written her story, two years after the fact.

I immediately sent her a message asking if she won’t mind sharing her story on 9jafeminista and to my delight, she agreed. I was delighted not because she went through what she did, but because she was brave enough to share her story with so many women out there, going through the same physical and mental torture she had suffered.

A lot of times when people talk about domestic violence and women who are victims, the picture we get in our mind is usually that of a poverty stricken woman, dependent on a man for her livelihood, but as we’ve learnt over and again, abuse knows no class or education.

The men who abuse women have one thing in common, to show how powerful they are, to make the women less – less beautiful, less independent, less …

This story is particularly important because the Violence Against Persons bill, which has been languishing in the Lower and Upper houses has finally been passed by the House of Assembly. This is victory for feminists who have toiled long and hard, away from the glare of the media (both traditional and non-traditional) to grab this victory.

One final step towards achieving total victory is when the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan signs this bill into law.

Below is the story of a single parent, who decided to marry an older man because they are supposedly kind and gentle due to their experience but found out she was married to a monster.

We hope that one day soon, there will be justice for Fadhilat Yetunde Bhadmus.

The first abuse occurred shortly after our trip from the holy land, Mecca, which happened to be a week to his 65th birthday, the 8th of Dec 2012.

He came to my apartment from Eko Club in Surulere, around 11.30 – 12.00 pm unannounced, demanding for food while I was already sleeping. He woke me up and started shouting at me, asking me why I would be sleeping while he was not home. I asked him why won’t I sleep? Besides I wasn’t expecting him in my apartment that night. He asked me if he needed an invitation before coming to my place and I said no. I asked him what he wanted to eat and he said I shouldn’t ask him silly questions that I should either give him food or he should go elsewhere.aftertheviolence

I went into the kitchen and made him some rice and defrosted his frozen soup (he only eats fish and I usually made it in packs so I won’t be caught unawares whenever he makes his unannounced visits) served it and called him to come and eat. On getting up from where he was seated with a bottle of stout (which he brought with him from wherever he came from) and smoking his Consulate cigarette he went straight to the dining lifting my dishes up in the air and breaking them into pieces one after the other, telling me that I lack home training, was that how to serve him? Did he tell me he was hungry? And even if he was, did I ask him what he actually wanted to eat?

I stood there speechless for a few seconds before I could finish asking him why on earth he broke the valuable dishes I had acquired long before I met him, considering that I woke up to make him something to eat, the next thing that greeted my questions were rains of hard slaps on the left side of my face which continued for a while.

While trying to escape the beatings he ran after me into my bedroom to continue the assault, in spite of the fact that my girlfriend, who came from UK during that period was staying in my apartment. He left for his house that night leaving me with blood clotted, half-face. It was my girlfriend and kid sister that helped with packing cold E45 on the blood clotted face.

beforetheviolence

I was in indoors for a week plus because I couldn’t go out with the bruises. During his birthday party, I had to cover up with loads of makeup and concealer to hide traces of the abuse.

He neither apologized nor showed any sign of remorse.

The second one occurred a month after the first,in the same sequence the first.

He arrived at my apartment, that late too, while I was on the phone with my friend. He slapped the phone into my face, asking me who the hell I was talking to. Why didn’t I drop the call immediately he entered the room. That I lacked manners and respect, he left me with bruises and on my face and neck and left (each time he abuses me and leaves, he comes back very early in the morning still his arrogant self and not apologetic).

The major abuse occurred two months after this particular one, which happened some few days to my 37th birthday (5th of April was my day) and this occurred on the 21st of March 2013, I call it The Major Massacre because it went on for hours, from 12 midnight to 5 am the next morning.

There had been arguments over the issue of my not wanting to conceive for him, that I only wanted to use him and dump him. I told him it wasn’t like that, that God’ s time is the best, but when the problem persisted I told him to let us go and see an obstetrician to know if I have any problems, which we did and was asked to do several tests which I carried out and was told nothing was wrong with me. When he was asked to do the same tests he refused.

One particular day I was asked to do womb scanning, I was asked to come early without eating anything. I went to the laboratory with him, sat there for hours, waiting for the doctor to arrive, unfortunately he had to leave because he needed to go somewhere important, (according to him), which was okay by me. The doctor arrived later and carried out the test, meanwhile before he left, we planned to meet at Surulere because we had a birthday party to attend on the island. I told him I’ll be branching at my tailor’ s place to drop some clothes to be sewn which was okay by him but he insisted that I should call him once I got close to Surulere so that he can leave his house to meet me at Eko club, his club and second home, one of the rules he made was that I was not allowed to go to his home, no matter what happened because of his other wife, so as to give her some respect.

We met at the club and left for the party on the island, this was around 5:30 pm, unfortunately for us when we got there, the party had not started and he had to leave because he said he couldn’t wait and I was very hungry because I had not eaten that whole day. I returned to Surulere and on getting to the club, there was no food available, I had to go to an eatery to get something to eat. I was feeling dizzy already then, I bought the food and returned to the club to eat it.

It was while I was looking for tissue in my handbag that I came across a complimentary card that was given to me by a lady I bought sneakers from for my little girl, I was tearing it up when it occurred to me that I shouldn’t have, because he is an extremely jealous and temperamental man, I put the pieces together and placed it on the table, right in-between us in case any argument ensued.

But I was wrong because he had made up his mind about whose card it was, I knew there was going to be trouble because shortly after I placed the torn pieces of paper between us, he stood up abruptly, went straight to his car and drove off. I had no choice than to follow him in my own car (we went in separate cars) it was while I was in the car that he called my phone and started abusing me and calling me all sorts of names.

He claimed that a man gave me a complimentary card and that I had the gut to bring it to where he was and tore it in his presence. That I ridiculed him and I’ve been messing him up and down, he did not even give me the chance to explain whose card it was before he ended the call.

He got to my apartment before I did, so I went upstairs to meet him and tried to explain how the card came about but wouldn’t listen. He left the room suddenly and thinking that he had left for his house I started undressing, not knowing that he did not leave, but went and locked all the doors to the apartment and threw away the keys. He came back into the room and that was how the beatings started, I could not (or rather did not) want to come out of my bedroom when the assault started because of my little girl, I didn’t want her witnessing the battering. I eventually ran out of the room when I realized I was approaching either heaven or hell’s gate