​The #MenAreScum/#Menaretrash Movement: Misandry or Activism? – Editorial

​The #MenAreScum/#Menaretrash Movement: Misandry or Activism? – Editorial

Two weeks ago, in Ikoyi, Lagos, a bunch of schoolgirls sat for their finals and took to the streets in celebration. A bunch of boys from a school next door, (who had just finished their finals too) also took to the streets and started harassing these school girls  They tore their clothes, stole their phones and money, and then attempted to rape these girls, in broad daylight.
This week, in South-Africa, one girl was beaten to death and then burnt beyond recognition by her ex-boyfriend  Another was kidnapped and brutalized as she tried to escape from the car of her kidnapper.

In order to draw attention to the manner in which girls and women are being brutalized by the society, to examine the different ways that the entitlement mentality, with which men and boys are raised, contributes to the high rate of violence against women, and highlight the different ways that men can help mitigate other men’s terrible attitude towards women, the #menarescum/#menaretrash movement was trended on social media by gender activists and feminists from all over Africa.

It has become the norm on social media that whenever feminists or gender activists are advocating for the rights of the woman, men (and women) barge into the threads and try to trivialise the issues 

(by personalising it), this usually descends into a troll-fest with the activists accused of misandry and warnings issued to non-feminist women to stay off the threads because they run the risk of not being seen as ‘good girls’ and ‘wife-materials’.

The #notallmen hashtag is an example of the defences raised by men to tackle what is perceived as an attack by feminists on the institute of ‘manhood’.

However, this latest hashtag has gotten more backlash from both men and women, even those previously seen as allies to the gender equality movement. The tag #menarescum/#menaretrash is seen as being unnecessarily harsh, demeaning and off-putting. Unlike previous times when the voices of feminists and gender activists gain a lot of traction during activism on social media, the voices of people protesting against the hashtag is louder and angrier.

Although gender activists pointed out that the hashtag is not directed at men in particular, but at the structures/systems that brought about inequalities and lately, spates of brutalization against women, a lot of people are not buying it.
According to @Mr Boro, a Twitter user: 


“We have an issue at hand but you repeatedly say I’m stupid and want me to accept I’m stupid and then support you?”

“The same way you feel the need to say all men are  trash is the same way I feel the need to always disagree. You can’t gag me.”

He goes further:

“You can advocate for women’s rights without putting men down. They are not mutually exclusive.”

“Shouting men are scum on Twitter won’t stop Titi, 28 in Iganmu from getting slapped by her husband tomorrow.”

A lot of activists disagree with Mr, Boro, because they believe that with more push women will come to know and recognize their rights and men will be forced to examine their sense of entitlement and privileges afforded them by the patriarchal system presently at work on the continent.

@ChineEzeks a well-known activist and advocate for gender equality;


“The hubris & ignirance to think you somehow escaped being conditioned by a patriarchal society and the privilege it affords you. Amazing.”

“You’re not trash, but you feel more displeasure about being called trash than about women experiencing displeasure from trash. Ok.”

Also calling out people about examining their reasons for being up-at-arms against the hashtag was @Aninoritse, gender and LGBTQ rights activist;


“Of course we know not all men are scum but no oo. Correct it.”

“And correct the scum among you. No o. You’re crying and claiming we are making noise.”

“This is why the narrative will never change. Men are scum/trash. Instead of you men to band together and weed out your scum.”

The narrative emerging from these engagements seems to be that advocates should not be so ‘hostile’ in highlighting the ways inequalities have put everyone at a disadvantage. That the engagements should be less confrontational/militant.

The question is, has the less militant activism worked? In all these years of gender rights activism in Africa what has really worked? Can the answer be gotten from our history? Particularly the activism carried out by women pre- and during colonialism. Were there other tools of engagement used by women before getting to the point of ‘sitting-on-a-man’(a tool used by Eastern women to correct power imbalances) and the topless protests  carried out by women in the Western part of Nigeria to protest injustices by government authorities.

 On the other hand, post-independence, women advocates all over Africa have been lobbying their various governments for change in policies for over 30years, the advocacies are slowly, but surely, changing the landscape of women’s rights. Case in point the Violence Against Person’s bill which has been passed into law and the Child right’s act, which has gained traction in several states of the federation.

The way and manner through which feminists have engaged the issues of activism worldwide is vastly different, the end result has always been highlighting and correction of gender imbalances, can we then say that the #menarescum/#menaretrash movement has been able to achieve its aim?

ON YOUR LIPS – Laura M Kaminski

ON YOUR LIPS – Laura M Kaminski

Each conversation begins with mourning, words of loss on your lips.
Grieving phrases hang suspended like an albatross on your lips.

Do you ever feel enslaved? Indentured to others in power?
I have seen you sleep, tears on your cheeks, name of your boss on
your lips.

Victims are frightened, embarrassed, ask themselves if it’s their own
fault.
Outsiders echo that question. Silence is a cross on your lips.

They have made a suggestion to limit entry to non-Muslims.
But you cannot pick faith from your teeth, heretic floss on your lips.

Survival instructions are applied to our lives with a wide brush.
Layer after layer of silence, hard lacquer gloss on your lips.

Why should we wait for resurrection? One Love brings heaven here
now.
A little light is enough. Smile creeps slowly like moss on your lips.

Bring your own kettle-drum, set it on fire, cooking up your own
words –
Halima would dance to such salsa, hot pepper sauce on your lips.

Laura

Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba) grew up in northern Nigeria, went to school in New Orleans, and currently lives in rural Missouri. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks, most recently 19 GHAZAL STREET.

This poem, from 19 GHAZAL STREET, includes sher regarding some of the current disturbing political rhetoric in the US and elsewhere.

Superheroes Inc.: The Enablers!

Superheroes Inc.: The Enablers!

There have been a lot of articles both on and offline, recently, about how there is little or no diversity in superheroes – in comic and video forms.  This lack of diversity shows in the limited number of women and people of different races being represented as superheroes.

Nigerians, since we nor dey carry last, have been battling to rectify this grave injustice by coming up with our own set of superheroes. Esu, Sango, Amadioha, Oya and a lot more are being represented in their superhero forms. 

But we have noticed, with dismay, that a particular set of people have totally been ignored in the scramble to put our superheroes on the world stage.

Marriage is the ultimate goal for any Nigerian – living or dead, male or female, adult or child, dead broke or fantastically corruption rich.

Please do not argue!

Inventing new machines that make life easier; finding the cure for cancer, AIDS, Diabetes and other deadly diseases; making new art forms; writing codes – all these things are not as important as… wait for it – marriage!

Surprise!

Now these set of superheroes are the ones who help us to keep our morals intact, they keep marriages together (often till-death-do-them-part) and ensure our moral rectitude is … rectitudinal! They’re sometimes called the ‘Moral Police’ but this is a misnomer, and really it won’t sound nice as a superhero’s name –

Moral Police?

Nah…

As your friendly neighborhood aprokos, we have found a name to suit this group of people, we shall call them The Enablers! (Btw an enabler is someone who makes something possible. They create an environment for negative or self-destructive behavior to thrive. If you’re an addict – be it to drugs, cheating, lying, physical, emotional or psychological abuse – an enabler will empower you to do this better) gerrit?

The Enablers are made up of six superheroes with six different superpowers. They are as follows-

Virginato – Female, short, plump, with dimples in her shiny cheeks
Superpower – ability to spot virgins from a mile off with her laser beam eyes. And if you’re no longer a virgin, do not be worried, Virginato’s powers can restore your virginity – with creams or restorative surgery.
Motto: Your virginity, my business

Count Slutee – Male tall, thin, with protruding teeth
Superpower – ability to detect sluts. Just one touch on your arm he can decide whether you’re a slut or …you’re a slut. He keeps track of the number of men that you’ve ever spoken to. One blast from his fingers and your body count will be reduced to zero!
Motto: I help you keep and broadcast your ‘body count’

General Marital: Female, middle-aged, wears a lot of Darling Yaki
Superpowers: ability to advise you to pray especially if you’re in an abusive relationship. She can smell an abused woman a mile off and she readily hands out pamphlets about entering ‘war rooms’ and conquering an abusive partner on ‘your knees’.
Motto: If your partner is abusing you, then it’s your fault

Shitta the Cheater: Male, spots a goatee, dark sunshades and a beer-gut
Superpowers: knows with a certainty that men are babies and needs to be cared for, they are also subject to their penis. Can also help you find out if your partner is cheating on you. Very good at stalking women on Facebook and gives them advice about their lipsticks.
Motto: Men think with their dicks

Tape the Rule: Female, tall and fat, always has a tape rule with her
Superpowers: Her tape rule has a life of its own, measures the depth of a woman’s blouse or the length of her skirt. She knows the exact length, or depth, of clothes, which qualifies a woman for rape.
Motto: What were you wearing when you were raped?

Judgianna: Male short, thin, ascetic
Superpowers: Can be found on almost all gossip websites putting his ‘two kobo’ comments on every case involving relationships, sex and sexuality. Fights other commenters over whether Tiwa Savage should stay with her husband or not. Can slut shame with a flick of his fingers
Motto: Anti go an marry

We believe these people are heros and they deserve a place in the pantheon of gods. They are the ones keeping abused women with their abusers because ‘divorce is a sin’, they try to shame divorcees and ensure single women don’t remain single too long.

Go Enablers go!

On Abortion – Bunmi Tella

On Abortion – Bunmi Tella

I was asked where I stood on abortion in Africa….here’s my response…..

I’m definitely pro-choice and hate to see men legislating on matters which they know nothing about.

Just a couple of months ago the Sierra Leonean government tried to pass a bill legalizing first term terminations and it was vetoed by male religious leaders on the basis that it’s a sin. Meanwhile that country has the highest rate of maternal deaths in Africa and since the war a steady increase in incest and rape.

It is unfair that men get to decide such matters without much consideration for the mother – who is essentially then victimized twice.

The uncomfortable truth is that even if it’s not rape or incest, a woman should have the option to say ‘I’m not ready – I cannot handle this’.

A woman having unwanted babies is the fastest path to poverty and misery.

The other day I saw a video of 2 men “fishing” a baby out of a river. It had been abandoned by its mother.

When we force people, who are not ready to be mothers, into motherhood we sentence the child to a lifetime of neglect at best and outright abuse at worse.

Its unwanted children that become victims of sexual, physical, emotional and psychological abuse. Its unwanted children that become thieves, murderers and rapists.

During the first term, the fetus is barely a fetus and if i was a fetus I’d rather be terminated than condemned to a life of misery.

There is a reason China had its one child policy and African governments should be embracing terminations en masse to stop poverty if nothing else.

I don’t understand how you can care so much about some cells the size of a grape in a woman’s body but you can’t bring yourself to care about the abject poverty and the miserable life a huge chunk of your population is condemned to.

 

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)

…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.
.
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