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

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This is all your fault…And slaps her again.

This is all your fault…And slaps her again.

You started drinking when you were pregnant with your first baby, a bottle of small stout spread over four or five days to help with the nausea. By the time you had your second, you were up to one bottle every two days. By the time your daughter – your third child – came, you were drinking close to three bottles every day; ogogoro on days you didn’t have money to spend.

Do you know how much blood comes out of a head wound? Plenty.  Especially when you’re hit on the head with a spanner by your husband. This is after you’ve insulted him for hours and torn his shirt because he wouldn’t bring enough money for your daughter’s naming ceremony. It’s been five days since you brought her home, two weeks since you had her, a tiny little thing who almost died, and you should be resting but it is important to have this party.  It doesn’t matter that your husband hasn’t been getting much work as a tanker driver. Other drivers are complaining about his drinking.

When he is asked why he drinks, he says he has a witch at home.
When you are asked why you drink, you say, you are married to the devil.
Neighbours help you when the blood starts to flow. They got tired of separating your fights a long time ago. Too many people had been hit by a stray fist from you or your husband so they stayed away. But today there is blood and so they hold you by the hand – still spewing invectives and kicking– and take you to a nearby chemist.
Your first has been standing by the door all along; it was his shout, mummy! that drew the neighbours’ attention. Your second is in the village with your mother, he was sick before your went to the hospital. The baby is inside your one-room apartment, asleep through the quarrel.

He goes into the room after everyone leaves, you with the neighbours, your husband to his favourite bar. He struggles to climb the bed, forbidden to him because he wets himself every night.

He lifts the baby net gently. He sits there and looks at her for a few minutes.
The slap is sudden, startling her awake; her cry is piercing.

This is all your fault, he says. And slaps her again.

– Enajite Efemuaye

VIOLENCE AND THE NIGERIAN: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN II

VIOLENCE AND THE NIGERIAN: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN II

The Nigerian adult graduates from a tertiary educational institute, or takes up a trade. No matter how rich and successful that adult may be, he must be subservient to the military officer’s violent whims and caprices. If for no reason, a military officer parks his vehicle in the middle of the road to urinate by the roadside or chat up an attractive woman, he must wait for the officer to satiate his complaining bladder or coax contact details from the woman respectively. To do otherwise is to risk broken bone and limb, or worse, a trip to a galaxy far, far away.

The military officer has the monopoly of power invested in him by the state, and can do whatever he or she deems fit, rarely with repercussions. If a private thinks a professor with two PhDs has fallen short of his unique code of “respect”, he can ask him to do a few “frog jumps” and if the civilian fails to comply, the military officer may whip some sense into him with the help of his koboko or that most powerful belt, which has the largest brass buckle you will find on a belt, with which he holds his khaki trousers unto his waist.

Time comes for the adult Nigerian to seek a romantic mate; the “need” may arise before tertiary education, the learning of a trade, or after. I know teenagers who were whipped to within an inch of their lives for daring to have “girlfriends” or “boyfriends” while in secondary school. By some miracle, these individuals went on to find spouses. The Nigerian male acquires funds to take Nigerian female out on a date, or dates, secret or otherwise. He “spends on her”, as the lingo goes. Soon, they find themselves at a quiet spot where “things” can happen. Sometimes, it is his parents’ home, his friend’s absent parents’ home, his university hostel room or if he has been smiled upon by his chi, his own home. After spending, spending, and spending, he is told by his peers and society, if you spend money on someone, you have control over their lives.

It is a part of modern Nigerian mores that a woman who allows you to spend money on her, buying her food at fancy restaurants or sundry gifts, MUST provide sex to the spending benefactor; surely, she must know how difficult it is to come by money these days. The Nigerian male takes this peer teaching quite seriously that he corners the Nigerian female at a quiet spot and pointedly asks her for sex, if the delay becomes unbearable. Failure to consent is not really absence of consent, after all, if she did not want sex, she would not have “eaten” his money and come to his house. Her “no” means “try harder”, so they say.

Resistance from the female kicks up memories from adolescent past — “I pay for everything for you, so you must do as I say!” thunders parent from ages ago in the subconscious of the Nigerian male. The conditioning of transactional obedience kicks in. Forceful, screaming consummation occurs, and a girl, a woman, is scarred for life, because a parent has taught a boy, a man, that violence wins — all the time. 
    
Delinquent behavior has since been associated with parenting; it would be difficult to prove otherwise. If one can make bold to suggest that violent parenting renders Nigerian men actual and potential rapists, how is it that women do not become rapists? Psychological experts who have conducted researches into parenting point out commonsensically that male and female children respond differently to authoritarian parenting (in this type, I class violent parenting) and authoritative parenting. A 2009 report titled “The Relationship Between Delinquency and Parenting: A Meta-analysis” (available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2708328/pdf/10802_2009_Article_9310.pdf) posits that “too strict authoritarian control and harsh punishment appear to be linked to high levels of delinquent and antisocial behavior… These negative child-parent transactions increase the risk of setting a child off on a delinquent path that starts in the early teens, entails many delinquent acts and persists far into adulthood.”

The effects of violent parenting are not restricted to those mentioned previously. It leads to a rupture in parent-child relationship. The Nigerian child is raised in an environment where the communication of feelings, and later, as the child grows, ideas, are severely stifled. A report in Psychology Today states that the “use of corrective violence by parents not only injures the child, but also harms the child’s ongoing relationship with the parent.” (Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201409/parenting-and-the-use-corrective-violence). Statements of ideas by a child of ideas contrary to those expressed by the parent are dealt with by the Nigerian parent’s engagement of the koboko.

Wole Soyinka, in his childhood memoirs, Ake: The Years of Childhood, recalls how Essay, his father, welcomed arguments from the Wole, the child, much to his mother’s chagrin; she preferred the rod. Soyinka’s experience is/was the exception, and few would suggest that the man has not made anything of himself. The Nigerian child learns early that the engagement of reason in disputations is an exercise in futility. Millions of Nigerians are walking the streets with short fuses, undiagnosed repressions and psychological illnesses, unable to communicate feelings and opinions adequately to parents or peers, resorting to silence, vile insults and fists for such expression. An inability to tolerate dissenting views from others becomes ingrained in the DNA.

The irony is that Nigerian laws protect the Nigerian child against physical and mental abuse but these laws are as helpful to the Nigerian child as an analgesic to a cadaver, at least, at this time. Section 212 of the Nigerian Child Rights Act 2003 clearly states that harm to a child is defined as “the use of harsh language, physical violence, exposure to the environment and any consequential physical, psychological or emotional injury or hurt.” The commencement of the Nigerian child’s early relationship with violence also heralds a lifelong relationship with lawlessness because few children are protected by the law enforcement agencies charged with the enforcement of those law. It is my estimate that every adult Nigerian, resident in Nigeria, consciously or unconsciously, breaks at least one Nigerian law per day.

It is imperative to observe that the closest this writer has come to being battered by a fellow adult Nigerian, in Abuja, was in a traffic incident in May 2014 with a middle-aged-looking lawyer, no less, witnessed by individuals who knew him and addressed him by the title “barrister”. The peeved lawyer was angered by my rather truthful remark that in the course of his insulting my person, and thundering at me, “Who are you?!” (a question that sounds most vacuous when mouthed during conflict situations by the Nigerian to supposedly belittle his compatriot), he was spraying his spittle all over my suit. The question was succeeded by two quick shoves to my head from the “learned” man, who was obviously stupefied by my mirthful and guffawed reaction to his brute force — definitely not the response he was either seeking or used to. Fortunately for both of us, he was pulled away from me by other road users, before he recovered his wits, or sought to inflict harm that went beyond my personal dignity.

Thus, I often “objectively” (or as objectively as one may be permitted in such circumstances) postulate that the most violent class of educated Nigerians are lawyers, those professionally charged with helping fellow citizens forego violence and have faith in the law. This theory is supported by countless reports of Nigerian lawyers, prominent and otherwise, publicly engaging in violent displays; even SANs are guilty of this failing, as a quick Google search often suggests. An instance that readily comes to mind is the July 2013 spectacle of the majority leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Honourable Chidi Lloyd, assaulting a legislative colleague of his with the mace of the house. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zX388EnB5I. Mr. Lloyd has a master’s degree in law; the all-powerful LLM is part of the alphabets written at the end of his name, in fulfilment of the Nigerian custom.

Adult laws against assault and battery are not well enforced, so children, the most vulnerable component of our society, really stand little chance of being catered for by laws enacted to protect them. The violent disposition of many a Nigerian lawyer is perhaps a tacit admission on their part that their professional calling offers no hope even to them, so the rest of us who are not “learned” stand little chance. One is forced to recall a case recounted to me by a neighbour in my former neighbourhood in Abuja. An incensed, middle-class wife and mother who lived in the same area before I moved in, armed with a pestle, charged at her ward, child of some distant relative, for not performing a particular domestic chore to her satisfaction. The child was killed instantly. The Nigerian Police was duly informed and the lady was detained, albeit briefly. To this day, murderer wife and mother still roams the street, free as air, as free as Mr. Lloyd, one should add. I was told her biological children were observers to this fatal administration of Nigerian discipline. The ideas bred in the minds of her children as a result of this incident are left to the reader’s conjecture.

The true tragedy is that the victim of Nigerian parenting does not recognize their victimhood. It is not uncommon to hear adults brag about the beatings they received from parents and teachers while growing up. “I am a respectful, responsible person today because of those beatings! It prepared me for a tough world!” is a rebuttal to charges of an abused past. Like the Tulsi sisters in V.S. Naipaul’s magnum opus, A House for Mr Biswas, they will often recount epic beatings from their childhood. Raising the point that there are individuals who were not beaten by their parents but who also grew up to be “responsible” citizens will be met with scepticism. They will not admit to having prayed that their beater be sent to hell by God, like Adah, the protagonist in Buchi Emecheta’s Second-Class Citizen, often prayed for her adult cousin “who had the heart to cane her for two good hours with koboko” for stealing money for what she regarded as a good cause — the furtherance of her education.

The Nigerian elite actually views mindless violence as the best way to exact retribution from a member of the lower class who has been “disrespectful” in some way. Fela Kuti termed it “power show”. Thus, the Nigerian social class is stratified not only according to access to the usual characteristics of privilege — money, education, power — it is also a configuration of the unspoken privilege to use mindless violence without question. Stories abound of top government functionaries and politicians brazenly employing violence to various ends.

The Nigerian clergy is also well disposed to the use of holy violence, against both children and adults, as evidenced by the popular Pentecostal pastor, with followers in the tens of millions, who in 2012, slapped a young girl for declaring herself a “witch for Jesus” without Jesus’s say-so. There is a video of this most illuminating incident, freely available online, but no law enforcement agency or state government, though empowered by and charged by section 43.1(b) of the Child Rights Act 2003 to do so, has been brave enough to investigate the incident and almost inevitably charge the man of the cloth to court, a man who has been known to brag openly about the affair https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMUWnmW5jPY. As has been said previously, violence, especially against children, is sanctioned by the church, and God. “If you say that again, I will slap you!” a middle-aged ex-colleague of mine, dressed in the sharpest of suits, tie and pristine white shirt, once shouted at another colleague who dared to question his outstanding educational and professional qualifications; office gossip had it he, the threatening man, was once a “house help” who worked hard to acquire formal education. The “house help” (synonymous with “house boy/girl) usually suffers more than the biological offspring of the parent as regards violent parenting. Formal education is no barrier to this kind of behaviour, as it probably is all over the world.

The media is awash with subtle endorsements of violence of the unnecessary kind. A case in point is Wazobia FM, Abuja, the Pidgin English radio station, which I sometimes listen to, eager to keep my connections to the grassroots intact, if not in body, then in spirit. An immensely popular radio presenter, Expensive, a man with a disgruntled on-air persona and an off-air philanthropic flair, often threatens to “break the heads” of his callers to his call-in evening show “Go Slow Parade”. He accomplishes the “breaking” with the sound effect of the combined sounds of glass breaking and an object connecting with the head of a screaming individual of indeterminate sex. There are different variations to this censure of callers making contributions that do not satisfy the expectations of the presenter — a gun shot, koboko whippings, setting a dog, Bingo, on the caller, all with sound effects. It was once my guilty pleasure, listening to these censures but a close confidant of mine reviles the show for this sole reason and has been known to get into an altercation or two with taxi drivers who refuse to turn off the show when he is their passenger. One can only hope children who listen to this radio show do not accept on a subliminal level that such form of rebuke is perfectly legitimate, acceptable behavior. There is a once-weekly, hour long segment dedicated to children who are encouraged to call in and report errant parents and siblings.

One has been tempted to report such “head breakings, gun shootings and koboko whippings” to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC). Some callers are known to mischievously call in the presenter just to have themselves insulted this way. Would one be getting in the way of entertainment and “good fun” for some because of one’s moralistic qualms by lodging a complaint at the NBC? Violent television shows come on at primetime on Nigerian television stations. Psychologists are quick to point out the growth in crime rates in the South Asian nation of Bhutan when television was first introduced there in 1999; so, a presence of TV violence in children’s lives may have effects that are not altogether salutary on them.

When I was an adolescent, I recall vividly missing out on the historic telecast of the public execution (read state-sanctioned public lynching) of the notorious armed robber, Lawrence Anini, who was executed just a few minutes’ drive from where we lived in Benin. My incensed father, angry at the state broadcasters for televising such news, promptly turned off the TV until he was sure the broadcast was over. The broadcast of this landmark event was pursuant to the then military government’s policy of broadcasting such executions to serve as deterrence to aspiring and career armed robbers. I am not quite sure if the same behavior exhibited by my father was replicated in other households that evening in 1986. Many parents today in the same economic class as he was then would probably be out trying to put body and soul together at that hour, without time to censor what their children watch on television.   
 
One is constrained to hope for a better day when a truly national dialogue will be embarked on, in Nigeria, about the linkages between violent parenting and societal malfunction. It may be difficult to convince a parent whose expensive leather settee has been ripped open with a knife or blade by an inquisitive toddler that child beating is not the way to go, but a try may be worth it. As a university student, I had a neighbour who was an illiterate bus driver, a Yoruba man whose loud, gruff voice dominated any space his wide girth visited; he looked like he could more than hold his own in any physical tussle. His wife was often tempted to employ the rod every now and then on the man’s large brood of children, but never when he was around. “Don’t you dare beat any child of mine!” he would scream at her, the veins at his neck straining, his body vibrating angrily, whenever such event seemed imminent. His children were some of the most respectful, ambitious children I ever met.

They always bluntly expressed their minds, but in rather respectful fashion. I envied them; as a child, that independence of thought and action was a very distant possibility, as it was for most of my peers. The last I heard, those children were gearing up to go to the university I attended. How did this non-violent father implement discipline? He would scream “omo àle” (that is, “bastard”, for those not familiar with the magical language called Yoruba) at any child transgressor who was the product of his loins. The children’s regular reaction to that two word chastisement was comparable to those of Pavlov’s dogs. When they heard it from his mouth, they behaved, and it was always a quietly amusing spectacle to behold, at least for me. A fight against abusive language aimed at children is another battle, and may yet be a tougher one to wage.

If an illiterate bus driver with no formal education who had never read an academic research paper or studies about the negativities associated with violent parenting could instinctively recognize its ill effects, maybe — MAYBE — there is hope for the yet unborn Nigerian child, if we, Nigerian adults, haven’t destroyed the country irreparably, before they come tumbling into this most interesting and confounding world.    

Bolaji Olatunde is a writer and novelist. His Twitter handle is @BOLMOJOLA. His Facebook page is “Bolaji Olatunde (Author)

COULDN’T YOU HAVE AT LEAST CLEANED YOURSELF UP?

COULDN’T YOU HAVE AT LEAST CLEANED YOURSELF UP?

PAPA: Giiift!
GIFT: Obidi, did you hear papa’s voice?
OBIDI: No
(Gift continues peeling the yam)
PAPA: Giiiift
(No response)
PAPA: Obidikeee
(The voice was louder this time)
OBIDI: Saahhh, I’m coming.
(Obidi looks at his sister as if to say I didn’t hear his voice before)
PAPA: Where is your sister?
OBIDI: She is peeling the yam sir.
PAPA: Where were you?
OBIDI: I was helping her sir.
PAPA: Don’t you have better things to do – better things than hanging around a kitchen?
OBIDI: No, papa – I was just helping her blow the fire.
PAPA: Are you mad? Your mates are playing ball down the road, it is my business what you choose to do with your life, not yours.  (Pulling his ear)
If I ever find you anywhere close to the kitchen, you will stoop down for days.
Am I clear? (No response) Are you deaf, am I clear?
OBIDI: No – I mean, yes papa.
PAPA: So you were with her, you heard me call you; she did not hear me call her. Tell her if I don’t see her before I open my eyes, she will stoop down too.
(Obidi holds his left ear as he leaves the room)
(A few seconds later, Gift enters and faces her father, fear is written all over her face)
PAPA: Why did you let me waste my voice, you want to tell me that you did not hear me ba?
GIFT: No papa.
PAPA: How will you hear me, when all you do is walk about the house, eating every food and blowing up? We cannot even find you a husband because nobody wants to marry a fat amoeba. Look in the mirror. If you can’t help yourself, nobody can help you. I am just saying my own.
GIFT: Sorry papa.
PAPA: Sorry for yourself.  Put off the light and lie down here.
GIFT: Papa, I cannot do it today, I have blood.
(Gift backs slowly towards the wall)
PAPA: Will you shut up your rotten mouth and obey your father, oh – I see you have another father outside this house that will be paying your school fees ba?
(At this point, Gift is  crying and dodging her father as he tries to reach for her)
If you don’t shut up, I will beat the living daylight out of you. Put off the light and lie down here my friend!
(Gift looks at her father and makes several kneeling gestures as she continues crying)
PAPA: That your cry will soon turn into something else if you don’t answer me.
( Papa grabs her by the elbow and forcefully places her hand on his crotch and he begins to squeeze himself with her hand)
(Gift is crying, but makes no sound)
(Papa pushes her down and rubs petroleum jelly between her thighs and begins to rub his penis between them )
(Gift just lays there, she does not move, she uses her hand to cover her eyes in the dim room and tiny sobs slips out of her. Papa uses one finger to move her panties aside and he takes his hand away immediately he realises that she truly had blood. Papa, let out a loud moan and pulls the left arm of her blouse down and he begins to fondle with her breast. Gift did not make any move. After some minutes, Papa stands up and zips his trouser)
Get out of here, if you say pim to anyone – you trust what I can do.
(Gift does not take her hand away from her face. She hits her leg against a stool as she makes her way out of the room)
PAPA: That is the only thing you know how to do, spoiling things.
(Gift sits on the floor outside Papa’s room – the shoulder of her blouse was slack on one side. Her hands are still on her face and this time, her sobs were a little louder. Her skirt was rumpled and Papa’s cum was already drying up between her thighs and from the way she sat, it was very visible as it formed a map on her dark skin)
(Moments later)
OBIDI:   Mama, welcome.
Mama:   Where is Gift, has she finished cooking the yam?
OBIDI:   Mama, I don’t know what is wrong with Gift o, she is just sitting on the floor outside Papa’s door and she is crying.
MAMA: Crying, why?
OBIDI:   Mama, I don’t know o.
MAMA: Is your father at home?
  (Mama asked suspiciously)
OBIDI:   Yes, he is inside.
MAMA: (Thinking aloud, as she walks towards Papa’s room) I hope this man has not done it again?
(Gift is already asleep by the time Mama gets there, Mama notices the cum on her   daughters thigh)
MAMA: (Mama is speaking to herself quietly)
Chai, what does this man want me to do, ehn? Nobody is even safe in this house. Is this how we will continue living? Look what he has done to the poor girl again! How will I even tell people – how will they look at us… at me?
(Mama spanks Gift to wake up)
(Gift opens her eyes and looks at her mother, her eyes are dry and she continues to stare without making any move)
Obidike get me some water.
MAMA:  You too, you just came here and started sleeping, don’t you have any sense at all? You earned this foolishness from your father. Couldn’t you have at least cleaned yourself up – what if it was someone else that found you like this? You people will not kill me in this house. If your father refuses to be sensible, does that mean you should also be senseless? You better start learning things for yourself, I cannot teach you everything. Just make sure you don’t say pim to anyone. One day, God will punish him in His own way.
(Tears stream down Gift’s eyes as her mother uses a towel to clean up her thigh. She does not make a sound.)

The End

An Original play by TIENCEPAY LAWAL

Shagari Street

Shagari Street

It always begins with a song. Then memory sets in. Soon you are coursing down familiar roads, back streets, broken waters. Suddenly, you are back here again. It is the same house on Shagari Street with busybody neighbours.

You are one of the privileged few; you own a tokunbo car, you live in a self-contain, your white-collar job holds retirement benefits. And you worked for it; you earned by self-sacrifice as you soldiered through university fending for yourself.

It always began with a song. Fela. Then you lit your first cigarette. Orlando Owoh. Then you took your first gulp of liquor. You found your taste in forbidden substances, in the brew for the society’s dregs. The foremost reason stayed with you. You wear it on a locket, your mother, a maiden image just before Father desecrated her, left her for death.

Every time the thought recourse through you, you make  a fist and aim to drive it into wall, faces. You could not forgive the old bastard, not even at his funeral. You could barely hold the urge to grip his cold cotton-wool stuffed nose. Let him die again.

You carried the bitterness in a pouch, like bile. It stained your demeanour, left a tinge that earned the respect of men, the curiosity of ladies.

It was first trendy classmates, then desperate youth corp members, then she. You saw mother in her, didn’t you? It was the same eyes, you could swear on Father’s grave. It was the same smile too. Sade was a reincarnate.

Forbidden fruits never stayed out of your reach, pursuing a spouse out of the reach of your social class. Middle-class still you were. But education, you thought, was the cure to social divisions, the melting pot for unexplained inequalities.

She loved you. She treasured you. She kissed the strip of skin between your brows and yet, you did not shiver out of your dream. You had to have her, by all means. Orphan marries into Old money. Daughter of Millionaire Elopes. Perfect tabloid captions.

She left the old mansion in fair clothes and followed you to Shagari Street. You turned a princess into a house-keeper. She made your meals and your bed, and you both slept in it like young cubs. You kept her nights feverish and during her days, you fled to make money.

Then life happened. The cusp of love once filled with affection was diluted with reality’s tragedies. Tragedies you could live with. Tragedies she could live without. Then one night you returned and she had sulked back to the old mansion.

It always begins with a song. Burning Spear. You lit your first spliff. Bob Marley. Then you hit her on her return. Your bunched fist jammed into her translucent skin and called blood.

She returned but you didn’t. You did not forgive her; let soothing waters of love run on your hurt. Let the aqueous mixture sublime on the bed of passion, moans, and orgasms. You put a bottle of liquor in your right, a glowing spliff in your left, a condom on your member and you fucked the world instead.

You skipped nights and days, strayed into the dregs of the city to squeeze cheap lemon-sized breasts, oblivious of her missed period, her growing belly, your seed, the baby.

When her water broke, you were nowhere to be found. You were hustling the street for forbidden substances. Sade was wailing. Baby was coming. Sade was weeping, crying out labour pains on the floor of your apartment on Shagari Street. You were lying with a jaunty dancer called Linda. Sade stopped to cry and you shivered your orgasm. Baby stopped to move and you lit another spliff.

You returned to Shagari Street and you heard about their deaths. You had desecrated her, left her for death too.

You are Father.

Dami Ajayi

*First published on Mr Dami Ajayi.wordpress.com

*Published with author’s permission

Have You Seen Her?

Have You Seen Her?

Five young men stood in the clearing, each bloodshot eye marked by a white chalk ring, an unending circle of love.

As they swayed to blood rousing beats from a fusion of flute, drum and fiddle, their black loin wrappers shimmered under the blinding sun.

Shaved heads tilted back, chiseled muscles vibrated as their hoarse voices rose in a collective roar.

“Please, have you seen our sister? She’s the first fruit of our mother’s womb. Pray tell, for we must know if you have seen the one whose ringing laughter filled our father’s home.”

Heavy silence from those watching threatened to suck up the air.

“We have not seen her,” they cried. “Not since the day she left our mother’s bosom, waving as she held on to her new husband’s hand for a journey of no return.”

Faces contorted, their twirls and stomps sent up showers of fine red sand. “Who knew giving out a daughter was such a dangerous thing to do?”

Covered with sand grains, the swaying crowd shook heads as tears ran down their faces.

“Did you ever see our sister in that faraway land?” Their roar asked. “Was she happy? Did she talk about us? Despite the time and space, we never forgot about her.”

Stilled by the lone wail of the oja flute, the young men held out upturned palms. “They told us the earth opened and swallowed her. No one said the hands of her husband pushed her into the hole.”

“Our eyes are heavy because we have not seen our sister. And the fresh grave yawning before us says we shall see her no more.”

Yejide Kilanko © 2014

Misogyny, Nollywood and the rest of us…

Misogyny, Nollywood and the rest of us…

From the Editor’s Desk: For the next sixteen days we will be featuring the thoughts of sixteen Nigerian Feminists on the state of Domestic Violence in Nigeria.

Nollywood will have a plot where a woman is raped, then will proceed to spend the rest of the fucking storyline focused on how absolutely devastated her husband is that his wife was raped. He can’t look at her. He can’t bring himself to sleep with her anymore. Marriage is fucked, cos hubby just can’t deal with this terrible thing that happened to him. Meanwhile, what is the actual victim doing all this time hubby is all torn up? Consoling the bloody idiot, begging him to please look at her, sleep with her, eat her food, let go as she’s let go. Kai!!!!!!

The other day, what else did Nollywood throw up? A man beats his wife whenever he’s possessed by the beating demon (sent by a woman whose sole aim is to destroy the marriage). Once demon temporarily leaves man, man will be all lovey lovey again with his wife, till the next demon possession. Oh, as you might guess, the demon-sender is the neighbour who’s always asking wifey what she’s still doing in that marriage after hubby has panel-beaten her. Of course, story ends when the prayerfulness of wifey gets demon permanently casted off & winchy winchy neighbor dies (you know that happens when demon-sending backfires nah).

Lawdhavemercy!!!! If many people weren’t digesting this trash, if many people aren’t being guided by media, this’d all be a big fucking comedy.

– Ugo Chime