Ikenga!

Ikenga!

She looked to her left, then her right. There was no one in sight. She could see light from afar but no shadows or figures. She kept walking, almost running. She knew that everything ends tonight.

It used to be sweet and good, but now, it’s painful.

Pain-ful. And bad.

Ugly-bad.

She continued to run-walk.

Everything had been good and beautiful until her husband, Ikenga, brought that witch of a sister to live with them. She had protested the decision, but Ikenga had promised her that it was just for some time. Maybe a month or two. But that month or two had stretched into six, seven, eight, nine months and half, and that girl became pregnant.

Pregnant! She almost screamed, she clamped her mouth with her left hand.

Pregnant for Ikenga!

Who would believe this?

And he never attempted to deny it. All he said was that she wasn’t related to him .

But how could she have been so foolish? How could she not have seen that they were not related? That the girl was his new wife, sent from the village by her mother-in-law, to come and take her Ikenga from her.

That witch of a mother!

She kept walking and running.

Crying.

That girl with her nonsense pregnancy! Ha the way she’d been flaunting it, as if she wants to torment my childlessness. It’s not my fault that my stomach cannot hold a pregnancy.

Ikenga had been so supportive of her, consoling her and fighting his mother for her. He had comforted her and followed her to all the doctors and pastors that were recommended. He had cooked and drank and bathed with all the oil and herbs and potions and concoctions they were given. He had prayed and fasted and thrown small parties for children like they were told, parties because children are spirits and if treated well and kindly with love and generosity, could bring babies to those who sought them.

Ikenga!

Why didn’t you tell me that you wanted a baby badly? Why humiliate me?

A light flashed from afar. A thick voice, almost like leather, asked who it was. She stopped.

Police! Yes. It was the police.

She ran towards them.

They kept the torchlight shining into her face, blinding her.

“Woman, what is the problem? Where are you coming from this late in the night?”

“I killed them! My husband and the pregnant girl. I killed them both with poison. Please arrest me… arrest me now!”

 

Som’Adina Kambilinudo is a writer, a human being. 

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A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Consent

A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Consent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Encarta Dictionary Consent can be defined as giving permission

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

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

2. agree: to agree to do something

·  She consented to appear as a witness.

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

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

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

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

No harm in asking questions.

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

People mean stop when they say stop!

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

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

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

 

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

This is not about Sugabelly…

This is not about Sugabelly…

Women…

Don’t wear short dresses. Don’t wear miniskirts. Don’t wear low cut jeans. Don’t wear makeup. Don’t wear a cleavage revealing top. Don’t wear shorts. Don’t go clubbing. Don’t…

Why?

Because, if you do and you get raped. You’d be blamed because for some weird reason it is YOUR fault that an asshole doesn’t understand the simple concept of ‘consent’ and it is YOUR fault that that asshole has no ‘self control’.

The energy people use to tell the woman to do this, do that, wear this, wear that, don’t go to his house, don’t spurn him so he won’t feel angry and force you…

Why don’t you use that same energy to teach the man the basic concept of CONSENT? Why don’t you explain what SELF-CONTROL means to the man? It is not an alien word. It is an English word so please don’t be stupid by subtly justifying rape under any guise.

Women get raped even when they aren’t wearing revealing clothes. Most rapes are committed by people the victims know. It has nothing to do with what they are wearing. When you realise in your pea sized brain that rape has less to do with sex and more to do with the quest to overpower and dominate then you’d know how useless your arguments are.

I read some things and I just know some men have no business being fathers. It is a crying shame that a man would focus on what the woman did and wore that caused her to be raped. It is fucking annoying. What do you have for brains? Sawdust?

My daughter came to the gym with me one day and saw that they had Karate classes for children. She was excited and wanted me to sign her up but I was dodging because I didn’t have the money but just reading through shit on facebook today, I will find that money for sure. She will attend. As she grows older, I will also tell her to fight and if possible kill any man that tries to rape her. Kick him in the balls. Pluck out his eyes. Maim him. Wound him. End his miserable existence on earth.

It’s better she kills him than for some animals to now start blaming her for it happening. Afterall it’s self-defence.

My stand is Zero tolerance to rape. Zero. No ifs. No buts. Fuck out of here with your stupid arguments. I’m having none of it.

In 1999, I was almost raped. I escaped narrowly. Scratch that, I didn’t escape. He decided out of the ‘goodness of his heart’ to let me go because I told him I was a virgin. Not after he still made me do despicable things to him. So you see, I didn’t really escape. Then today, someone would blame me for even being there in the first place. You are mad. Stark raving mad. I wish a dude would try that shit. I really wish you would. You gon learn today.

This is not about Sugabelly so don’t come here talking about whatever it is the devil is whispering in your ear. You’d better resist him for your own good. It’s too early and I don’t speak stupidese…

Olufunke Phillips

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

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: THE BURDEN OF A SLOW JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN NIGERIA – by Toyin Adepoju

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: THE BURDEN OF A SLOW JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN NIGERIA – by Toyin Adepoju

The rape epidemic in Nigeria seems to be deepening its roots into our contemporary society due to many factors which fearfully, have become a norm, welcomed by the nation with open arms. Some of these factors no doubt include fear (of stigmatization), poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, corruption and a terribly slow judicial system. The prevalence of this phenomenon, which mostly affects children, calls to question the activities of certain agencies, set up with the sole aim of preventing the Nigerian child from any and all forms of abuse.

stock-photo-stop-child-abuse-sign-words-clouds-shape-isolated-in-white-background-121620967Apparently, child molestation can be said to be the new dimension to rape incidences in the country as the media, on a daily basis, headlines no less than a rape story involving victims which most times are children. Just like other states in Nigeria with increasing records of child molestation, Oyo state is no different. Section 34 (1) of the Child’s Right Law of Nigeria, 2006, domesticated by the Akala’s administration in the state has it that “No person shall have sexual intercourse with a child”. By the specification of this law, a child is a person who has not attained the age of eighteen.

A child subjected to labour is vulnerable to sexual abuse. Such is the story of 13 -year old Abike(not real name) who was left in care of her grandmother and made to hawk “eko” in the evenings. After being stalked for a while in her neighborhood by two men believed to be in their thirties, she was forced into an uncompleted building and was raped. Abike could have been left alone to deal with the trauma and stigmatization which in most cases, often resulted in depression, but she was taken in by Williams Marcus of the Child Protection Network, cared for and sheltered.

Sadly, the alarmingly slow legal system in the country has made it entirely difficult to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous crime who still freely roam the streets. Meanwhile, it is quite heart-warming to know that Abike has continued from where she left-off and has returned to school. But this one story is about Abike who was lucky to have gotten help. What happens to several other victims who have been left alone to bear this burden?

Then, here is another story of Tolani, a nine-year old, repeatedly molested by an “Alhaji” in her neighborhood who threatened death if she ever said a word to anyone about what transpired between them. With a late mother and a commercial motorcyclist father, no one had the time to take care or protect her from the evil machinations of Alhaji who lured her in to his apartment on Sundays and raped her. The girl with no knowledge about what was being done to her tries it out on a younger boy, a family friend of hers, and was caught in the act. Again, the perpetrator has not been made to pay for the committed crimes, due to the terribly slow judicial system in the country. The same Child Protection Network responsible for taking care of Abike (in the first story), does same for Tolani, and just like every other well-meaning Nigerian, they are concerned about how the law enforcement agencies in charge of such cases have done little or nothing at all to bring the perpetrators to book, to at least serve as deterrent to prospective abusers.

The Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Oyo state chapter, Yetundestop-child-abuse-stop-child-abuse-23073274-400-311 Adegboye also agrees that the legal processes involved in the prosecution of a rape culprit is extremely slow. She explains that the initial process involved in reporting a rape case begins at the Police Station where an arrangement will be made for the victim to undergo medical examination. The charge is then forwarded to the Magistrate court which has no jurisdiction to try rape cases but could remand the suspect in police custody. The prosecutor is then ordered to present the charges to the Director of Public Prosecution in the Ministry of Justice, who originally bears the burden of attending to all major crimes coming in from literally every angle in the state. The ministry, after looking into these charges then tries to see if the suspect is liable to go through trail (or trails) in respective courts. The process in itself is tiring and while some prosecutors give up half-way into pressing these charges, the perpetrators, either with influence or affluence of find ways to escape trial by applying for bail at the High Court.

The Nigeria Police Force has a whole lot to do in a bid to ensure that the required punishment is meted out to the perpetrators of such grave crime by ultimately seeing the reported cases through to courts. Victims of rape should also help the police effectively carry out their legal duties by providing every bit of information they can make available to help in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators. The society also has a very important role to play in protecting her children from the seemingly inherent dangers by fishing out those responsible for such crimes and handing them over to the law enforcement agencies to follow-up on their prosecution.

Williams Marcus has called for the establishment of family courts which he says will see to the timely prosecution of abusers; most important are the child rapists, as it is the responsibility of the government at all levels to protect the child from acts that could negatively affect the child’s physical, sexual and mental well-being.

Parents and the society at large should also ensure they make themselves available at all times to provide all the necessary love, care, protection and support to and for their children.

The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. We need to protect them.

Toyin
Toyin Adepoju is an OAP at Splash FM, Ibadan.