stop judging our bodies! – Okwei Odili 

​When Malcolm X told a thick crowd of African Americans that the most abused person in America is the black woman, he didn’t say it under the influence of ogogoro or overfeeding.

He said it because among our people are men like Trick daddy, African American men who hate African American women. Because these men hate themselves. Because these men cannot fight for their mothers and sisters.

According to failed and now fat rapper, Trick daddy, African American women are ‘hoes’ that need to sit up before the Latina and white ‘hoes’ take all their men. 

SAD.

Let us bring it back to Nigeria where many women are bleaching.

I shared an article talking about the pressures on women in Nigeria to emulate fake/un-African beauty standards and it was a Nigerian man here who said, Are the women being forced by men to bleach? Well I’d like to tell you about someone I dated as a young woman, who actually bought me the cream to ‘tone’. I dumped him.

I will also like to refer you to mainstream Nigerian music videos by popular Nigerian males filled with non African women, who look different than us. Each one fairer than the next. Diversity is the spice of life, to me. So I appreciate everybody. But to belittle one over another, especially the queens, I can’t take.

Not everybody has the psychological strength to refuse what is subtly or not subtly drummed into their ears. So yes, because men and women rely on each other, they have the capacity to influence one another. So yes, the bleaching continues.

Africa is the seat of the diamonds and gold, cocoa and rubber, oil and super humans, yet we assist those who hate us, to hate us. How dare we assist them, to un-glamourise us, we who are queens and kings, colorful, even when we are sleeping.

SAD.

Time to stop this. Leave African women alone. Stop asking us about our hair, stop judging our bodies. Our hair, breasts, nose, hips, vagina and all are OURS. We don’t tell you what to do with your body.

And STOP that fucking picture where all we do is carry water or firewood on our heads in 2016. 

Stop comparing us to anybody because we are too damn magical for all your collective idiocies and divisional tactics.

– OKWEI-UGO ODILI.

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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!

A brief Slut Shaming Dictionary aka Slut Shaming on Fleek

This article is dedicated to one thing and one thing only, arming you with words. Yes we can, arm you with words that should be used the next time you’re going on a slut shaming mission. We would be dismayed, if you start this very important activity that helps the patriarchy control women’s bodies without using the proper slangs and terms.

What else are we here for but to help you achieve your dreams of a world without equality, a world in which women are seen as objects (preferably sex objects). In this Utopia, men would be able to strip women that annoy them on the streets naked, without fear of reprisal. Teachers can sleep with as many of their underage students as it is possible, women with cups bigger than an ‘A’ cup size can be stared at and the state of their sexuality a topic for discussion and debate. Men will be able to grab the boobs of women they meet in the swimming pool. In this ideal world, women will be able to give excuses for the rape of other women… ooops… wait… we are living in this sexist utopia already!

But… we won’t let that stop us! Hell to the No! We will still go ahead and equip you with words that hurt, words that can maim, or kill… words that will continue to make this utopia of ours what it is today, a country without the basic amenities, but is obsessed with sex, money and religion (and not necessarily in that order).

Without any further ado, we introduce our dictionary of slut shaming.

Slut Shaming – stigmatizing a woman for having sex, or stigmatizing a woman on the suspicion that she’s having sex, or stigmatizing a woman on the suspicion that she might be planning to have sex… makes absolute sense don’t it?

Ashawo: If there’s any Nigerian dictionary, the word ‘Ashawo’ is the only one deserving of a whole page for itself, just that word, ‘ashawo’ written on a plain foolscap page… why you ask. Well this is simple, ashawo is one of the few (and we dare say the only) word understood across all languages, all ethnic boundaries. Ashawo is a prostitute, ashawo gives sex for money, ashawo sleeps around, her body count is almost as high as that of the Nigerian population.
Ashawo is to be pitied, only to be seen (by men) under the cover of darkness.

Ashawo is a slut.

Slut: is a term for a woman or girl who is considered to have loose sexual morals or who is sexually promiscuous (Wikipedia)

Although men who are promiscuous are called ‘Community Penis’ note that being a community penis does not make you a slut, which is why another word had to be coined for them.

A community penis is a ‘man’, because part of hyper-masculinity is your ability to have as many sexual partners as possible.

Side-Chick – the other woman; also known as the mistress; a female that is neither a male’s wife or girlfriend who has relations with the male while he is in another relationship (Urban Dictionary).

Men are expected to cheat, women are not expected to cheat. In a heteronormal, hyper-religious and homophobic society like ours that operates a gender binary system, we wonder who men are supposed to cheat with… other men? Trans? Lesbians? Who?… but that is not why we are here…

The point is, a side-chick is a slut, an ashawo, who is giving sex away ‘free of charge’.

Transactional Sexual Relationships: We know you did not come here to read big-big grammar… who grammar don epp? But there are times that you need to sound like a Patrick Obahiagbon in order to get your point across. If you can throw this sentence into a conversation surrounding slut-shaming, we assure you that will be the end of that matter!

So what are transactional sexual relatitonships?

Transactional sexual relationship is closely linked to socio-cultural expectations of gender whereby a man is expected to act as a provider to their partners and women expect a compensation for ‘giving’ sex. This results in implicit assumptions of exchange, whereby for example a man might buy a woman a drink and her acceptance implies a willingness to have sex.(Wikipedia)

In proper Nigerian English, what this means is that a man is expected to be the ‘provider’ of money and penis, and in exchange a woman is expected to ‘give’ sex and often times, these days, domesticity.

Body Count – also known as ‘how many men have you slept with?’ Having a body-count of more than half, qualifies you for sluthood… period!

With these few, but very important words, we encourage you to go into the world and put women to task.

A girl is unreachable because she’s classy, she has a job and doesn’t want to date a jobless, uncivilized slob? Call her a slut.

A girl turns down your proposal for friendship because she’s noticed that you’re borderline sociopath? Call her a slut.

A girl breaks up with you? Call her a slut.

You rape a girl and she reports you to the police? Call her a slut.

You blackmail a vulnerable girl into having an affair with you and then she calls it off? Call her a slut.

A girl refuses to sleep with you because you’re suffering from hyper-masculinity and have violent tendencies? Call her a slut.

A girl refuses to wash your underpants because she’s not your domestic help and breaks up her friendship with you? Call her a slut.

Slut shaming covers a multitude of sins…

Are we saying that you’re a sinner? Oh no we wouldn’t dare say that…

Do we dare call you a misogynist, self-hating, uncivilized pig?
Oh no, we are not that nasty… are we?

Ese Oruru: A teenager being torn apart

When do teenage relationships start?

According to raisingchildren.net.au , there isn’t a ‘right age’ to start having relationships – every child is different, and every family/culture will feel differently about this issue. But here are some averages:

From 9-11 years, your child might start to show more independence from the family and more interest in friends.From 10-14 years, your child might want to spend more time in mixed gender groups, which might eventually end up in a romantic relationship.From 15-19 years, romantic relationships can become central to social life. Friendships might become deeper and more stable.

There is a lot of controversy about Ese’s age, but the excellent investigative journalism by AIT with the interview of her parents confirm that Ese is in fact 13 yrs old so there is no need to waste time debating about this.

As a mother of a teenage son myself, I know that many teenagers spend a lot of time thinking and talking about being in a relationship. In these years, teenage relationships might last only a few weeks or months. It’s also normal for children to have no interest in romantic relationships until their late teens. Some choose to focus on schoolwork, sport or other interests.

Each parent is different, and no one has a right to tell another parent how to raise their child. But the problem is when the general public decides to have an opinion over a young girl’s sexuality. Going over Linda Ikeji’s blog when it was announced that Ese had in fact choosen to stay in Kano, the comments people left on the article made me nauseous. They had no respect for her privacy, and no one even viewed her as a child.

It is very disturbing that our society does not view child sexuality any different from adult sexuality. They take it lightly and find it funny that a 13 year old confused and vulnerable, who has obviously made some poor choices  should be made an object of ridicule.

Puberty is the period when an adolescent reaches physical growth and sexual maturity. It is marked with bodily changes and change in feeling towards opposite sex due to increase in sex hormones. This period starts from late childhood and ends with early adulthood. (12 to 18 years).

In this crucial stage, adolescence is influenced by peer pressure especially the opposite sex peers. Puberty is a period marked with rapid physical growth leading to sexual maturity and psychological changes. The average onset of puberty is at 10 or 11 for girls and age 12 or 13 for boys.

Girls become sexually and  physically mature two years earlier than boys. Puberty begins with a surge in hormone production, which in turn causes a number of physical changes a an adolescent is going through drastic physical changes  she also goes through psychological, mental and  emotional changes. Stanley Hall, well known psychologist, describes this stage as the period full of “storm and stress”. This phase is marked with psychologically growing-up. Ericson, another psychologist refers this stage as “Identity Crisis” referring to confusion in identifying oneself neither as a child nor as an adult.

The early and late childhood period boys like to play with boys and girls prefer to be comfortable in the company of girls. Developing relationship with same sex friends and getting their approval and acceptance is one of the important characteristic of interpersonal relationship. The maximum socialization takes place during this stage. But as childhood period end and child enters into an adolescent stage suddenly due to hormonal changes and development of secondary sex characteristics the interest in opposite sex becomes more significant.

Suddenly an adolescent becomes self conscious and  her outlook changes.   She becomes conscious towards herself as well as towards opposite sex. An adolescent spends lot of time looking at himself or herself in the mirror, new look in hair style, preference in clothing and dressing up manners changes, use of cosmetics and interest in looking good increases. Sudden changes occur in improving self image and having better self impression on opposite sex. Girls become shy in the presence  of the opposite sex.

Is all this  my attempt at using pchychology to justify Ese’s behavior? NO! What I am in fact saying is that is is normal for her to be interested in the opposite sex, but that is not a reason to make her an object of  ridicule. She is still a child, and  it is the responsibility of society to protect her till she reaches the age of consent. Just because   she is an  adolescent  with raging hormones doesn’t mean she is a responsible adult ready to make decisions on her own. All responsible adults in her life have to protect her till she is mature enough to understand what she is getting herself into.

Back in 2013, a Time magazine article on abduction began like this…

“Abduction is a singularly grotesque transaction. In a single instant, a relationship between two people changes to one of captor and prisoner, owner and chattel. One holds absolute power and the other holds none.”

The  Nigerian, media had a fanfare with word abduction, but when Ese was being returned, there were a crowd of men around her, the video circulating the web showed a terrified little girl trying to hold on to some sort of control.  There was no comforting voice. Once again, there was absolutely no recognition that this was just a child. For Heaven sakes, Ese is just a child.

She may or may have not chosen to have gone to  Kano. It doesn’t take a genius to know that it will be traumatizing to be the center so much controversy.  She may or may not be in love.  It does not take a PhD to know that no one would want their their private life broadcasted on air. An adult would be nerve wracked to go through what Ese has been through.

The American Psychological Association say, According to research, hostage survivors often develop an unconscious bond to their captors and experience grief if their captors are harmed. They may also feel guilty for developing a bond. This is typically referred to as the Stockholm syndrome. Hostage survivors may also have feelings of guilt for surviving while others did not. It is important for survivors to recognize that these are usual human reactions to being held captive.

When hostages are released, it is essential for them to:

Receive medical attention.
Be in a safe and secure environment.
Connect with loved ones.
Have an opportunity to talk or journal their experience if and when they choose.
Receive resources and information about how to seek counseling, particularly if their distress from the incident is interfering with their daily lives.
Protect their privacy (e.g. avoid media overexposure including watching and listening to news and participating in media interviews).
Take time to adjust back into family and work.

I am writing this as a teacher and a mother, Please for the love of God, leave this child alone to go back to school no more media coverage on this story, it’s doing the Ese more harm than good. As long as she is below the age of consent, all responsible adults should act like it!

 

 

 

Time Magazine

http://science.time.com/2013/05/08/abduction-psych/

 

American Psychological Association

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/hostage-kidnap.aspx

 

Her Parents confirming her age

Blogged onwritestartinternational.com as AN HONEST LOOK AT ESE’S PREDICAMENT

Maryanne Kooda, a CELTA qualified Special Needs Teacher, conducts weekly creative writing workshops and reading programs for 6 to 16 year olds in Colombo Sri Lanka. Ms Kooda is a feature writer with a passion for children; she has extensive teaching experience in the tertiary and primary levels of the Sri Lankan International school system.

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

Mine didn’t start with poetry.

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

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

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

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

He cupped my face in his hands and kissed me.

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

Irritation. Anger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dem too love money.

– Mary Ajayi

… of kisses, rape, and a god of poetry

Life is full of stories.

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

It happened years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The truth is bitter.

But it is a pill I must swallow.

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

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

Life is a funny place.

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

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

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

Selah.

Oluwasegun Romeo Oriogun

SEXISTS, FEMINISTS AND THAT SPACE BUS RIDE INTO 2016

This year has seen a resurgence in women finding their voices and refusing to be shut down…

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This year has seen the transformation of your garden variety, everyday sexist into… The Thing!

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For some of us that are not comic or cartoon  or Manga buffs, The Thing is this mild-mannered young man who can hardly swallow even the water that has been placed on his lips. But watch him ‘rub’ his balls rings together … And he becomes this huge,  destructive troll with anger management problems.

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Sorry wrong picture

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Yup this picture…

So The Thing is the representative of the Nigerian Sexist Troll Cabal. A bunch of misogynistic types with mummy or daddy issues.

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This does not leave out the ‘cultural’ troll cabal like marketing outfits

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Bloggers who have perfected the art of victim blaming by turning stories upside down…

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The sheer El Stupido

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And the most heartbreaking… Parents

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But seriously you troll cabal guys need to up your game because it appears your bullying game is getting old…
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Of course feminists don’t take any prisoners…

Like bang!

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Boom!

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Boom!

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Oh and a quick reminder

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Happy New Year!!!

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)

Silence…

The first time you tried talking about your rape experience, it was with your reflection in the mirror. You knew it happened; knew how, knew when, knew with whom. But you filed every scene in a bowl, took it to the darkest corner of your soul and left it there. You had heard the terrible names and labels they gave to the ones who built up courage, found their words and said something.

“Slut”

“Ashawo, ynash dai scratch am.”

Forcing them to believe that it was their fault. That the skirt they wore exposed too much flesh or the jeans moulded their curves and waved their figure before the eyes of men.

“Na her dai wear short thing, why man no go follow am?”

When you heard Mama Basira talking about the rape victim you and your mum had seen on News Line sometime ago, you disappeared into your room, shaking at her words.

“Wetin she dai do for man house? Na her carry herself go.”

You could imagine her saying those words to you, putting a comma and a full stop as though it was a movie and she knew where it began and how it was going to end. You wondered, if your mum would reply as she did now, nodding her head.

“Girls of nowadays, their leg no dai stay one place.”

You wanted to tell them that sometimes, the devil is the one who barges through the doors and rains his terror on you. You wanted to tell her that your legs were in your room when  Pelumi, the driver had walked in and not the other way round. But you fed your voice to silence, giving yourself to the darkness and nightmares for years. Until today, when you shoved away the  denial  and agreed with your subconsciousness that you had been raped.

“I was raped”, you kept saying to the cold eyes that stared at you from the mirror. You wanted to tell your mom. Of course, Pelumi was long gone but you wanted to unburden, to narrate your fears and let the world know. But you knew what your mother would ask, as she did concerning that rape victim, where people like Mama Basira would place their interest.

“Why she no talk since?”

And beneath that question, lies years of your torment and anguish.

Shade Mary-Ann Olaoye

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