Source: Lẹ́bẹ́: E Don Come!
Remember that wedding in July, the one where Seyi got married to Wande? Maybe it’s crazy but that moment’s forever etched in my mind. Maybe it’s because it’s the first one I’ve ever been deeply involved in – I was one of his groomsmen. Maybe it’s because of what I saw that day when the couple took their vows.
I was seated in front with the other guys when this happened. It was really beautiful watching Seyi and Wande take those vows but I wasn’t really looking at them. I saw you instead, in that resplendent white gown, looking into my eyes with nothing else but pure affection in your eyes as I vowed to love, hold, cherish and protect you for the rest of my life.
I saw our wedding that day.
So what happened? Just two more years down the line and we’re in pieces – with the shards set to cause more damage at any attempt to put them back together again – like two people in a Humpty Dumpty relationship. I was a fool and you were just plain silly at times.
You wanted me to talk more. I do talk, but I’d carved a cave where I stuck my innermost feelings, passions, fears and hopes into. That’s the part of me that you wanted to see the most and you did try. I’ll give you that; you badgered, pleaded and coaxed me to let it out. I’d almost get to that point where I finally let you in but then you tune off and disappear and the hurt of finding you at that crucial point and not meeting you waiting where you said you would made me recede even further.
So I would express myself the best way I could, by imagining how things should be – just as I imagined myself making those vows. We’d have a lot of conversations, half of them in my head but they’d seem so real that I would wonder why you still didn’t get me. To me, you should know why I’m the way I am. Why I act the way I do. Why I only keep real conversations at the simplest, most mundane level. I thought I told you so you should know. But you didn’t know; you couldn’t have known because half of what I told you about how I am was all stuck in my head.
I should have been gentler with you, more patient. I shouldn’t have treated you like you should automatically get me – like some sort of robot that I act like. You’re human, I am too but it beats me why I don’t act like one. Why I’m rarely excited or enthusiastic about anything. Like I’d been here before and seen it all so I’m bored with the world and the people in it. But I’m interested…sometimes; I just don’t know why my emotions on the inside don’t translate to my expressions on the outside…sometimes. You almost get me to the point where these two become one but you’d give up right at the most crucial moment and I’d fall back.
You would reach for me before I fall and I would reach for you just as I fell to grasp your nothing. No hands, no straws. So I got used to falling, deeper into my shell.
I could blame you for this but if there’s anything I’m grateful for, it’s a keen sense of perspective. So I could say you were lazy, not so committed or just playing games with my heart but I’m a difficult person to love as well. I’ve got no problems loving, I like imagining being loved but the thought of it happening in reality, seeing pure love radiate through someone to me scares the living shit out of me. If I’d be nice to myself I’ll just say that I’m not meant to be loved. But I’m not so nice to myself either. Put simply, I’m insufferable as fuck.
So when you told me you cheated, I was broken. I fell apart like the contents of a toppled hourglass but as hard as it was for me, I was hopeful. I felt that the fault was meant to be a shared burden. Maybe it was at this nadir that we could have finally gotten everything back on track. So I wanted to know what the problem was. Was it me? Was I not as attentive, caring or passionate as you would have liked? I probably wasn’t. Was it my inability to be really there for you? It was probably because of me. So I felt that the solution was in the knowing. To you, the weight and shame of the initial confession was more than what you could bear. Still I wanted to know, for my sake and sanity. For our sakes.
And this has always been my problem. You’ll give a little taste and I’d always want more of what you’re reluctant to offer. You still expected me to chase even when it was obvious you (and I) were going nowhere. I on the other hand expected you to keep up with me. Whatever it was, I don’t know. In the end, we’d run off in different directions without realising the chasm we were creating would be too wide to bridge. And now that we’re done running, we’re too spent to find our way back together.
I’m not a bad person, you know this. But I’m kinda messed up. I hurt people – I don’t agree but they say I do. I wonder how. They’ll read different meanings to my intentions or motivations for leaving people alone. I think people are confused: they want to be with you and they want to be alone as well. I have this problem but my awareness of the fact is already half the solution. People always leave dear. So I wondered why you didn’t even after all this. But it’s not that hard to figure out. I say to myself that I’m done with you every time. Then I see you and just want the shared moment at that time to linger forever.
People always leave and I let them. Why you’re still in this messed up relationship, I don’t know. I don’t love you any less and I even think I’m undeserving of you. But then, it’s never okay knowing just half the story – that’s torture. Completing it is my way back to you and as much as I want to, I can’t jump that far. I’ve got to retrace this bit by bit and this tip of the iceberg that you’ve given me isn’t enough. In fact, I believe it’s sinking our Titanic. And this is why I’m doing what I’ve never done before.
I’m leaving you.
I don’t wanna hurt forever
I don’t wanna keep on feeling
I just wanna say what we both know
I’m letting you let go…
Letting You Let Go – Paper Route
Image Credits: https://twitter.com/bitters101
Let’s consider a very startling possibility: that girl, woman, lady beside you might have been a victim of sexual abuse at some point in time but no matter how close you are, you might never find out.
Why? Hold on, I’ll get to it soon… First, some figures on rape to push this conversation forward.
- In the United States of America, 1 out of 6 women have been victims of attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime.
- 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police while 98% of sexual offenders will never spend as much as a day in prison.
- Approximately 4 out of 5 percent of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.
- 47% of rapists are either friends or acquaintances.
These figures are just for the USA alone. That’s a country with a security and legal system that’s far better than Nigeria and with an even more outspoken society. The figures are staggering in more developed climes so I wouldn’t even want to consider how bad it is here. It’s absolutely awful and we can’t hide this fact simply because there’s a lack of data.
Why isn’t there adequate data on issues of rape and sexual assault in Nigeria? Simple: victims aren’t really keen on discussing their ordeals here. It’s as if nobody gets assaulted but we all know this isn’t the case.
I needed to draw the above parallel with the United States because Nigeria today is basically the USA of the 1950s in relation to the perception of victims of sexual assault. Consider the Bill Cosby allegations of sexual assault in a timeline dating back to Kristina Ruehli in 1965.
Consider that most of the women didn’t speak out until a damning deposition from 2005, thought to have been confidential as part of the lawsuit settlement was leaked by the New York Times. It was an allegation of sexual assault by Andrea Constand.
In the deposition, Cosby spoke of Constand, but also of other victims, including a 19-year-old model who sent him a poem and ended up on his couch where she pleasured him with lotion. Describing the sexual act he had with Constand, Cosby explained that he believed it to be consensual.
‘I walk her out. She does not look angry. She does not say to me, don’t ever do that again,’ he said. ‘She doesn’t walk out with an attitude of a huff, because I think that I’m a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things, whatever you want to call them.’
But why didn’t this women say anything back then? Isn’t it America? Here’s your answer in part:
Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy playmate, claimed that she and her roommate went out for dinner and drinks with Cosby sometime in 1970, and he allegedly offered her a pill that would cheer her up.
It doesn’t help that here, we have a really permissive society regarding how women are treated. In a culture where women are primarily perceived as add-ons to men, it is mostly taken for granted that whatever happens to a woman at the hands of a man is her fault. Here, a woman isn’t an individual perse; she belongs to someone – her father, elder brothers, family members, husband, boss or some random male on the street. Her body isn’t hers; whatever she does regarding her physical appearance should be in consideration to the male gender. As a result, whatever a man does to a woman is the woman’s fault.
So whenever a woman is assaulted sexually here, the comments that usually follow are:
- She’s lying. He couldn’t have done it.
- What was she doing with him alone?
- Why was she dressed like that? (Never mind the fact that some rape victims are burka-wearing females)
- How could she walk alone at that time of the day?
- She shouldn’t have led him on.
- Why didn’t she stop him?
There’s more but there really isn’t any need to elaborate because these comments are all aimed at blaming the person at the receiving end of the offence – the victim.
Rape and related sexual offences are mostly kept secret because the damage done to the victim is only compounded when reported. Here, it’s more reasonable to keep quiet, lick your wounds and ‘move on’. Talking about it is taboo. There’s no retribution, no punishment. Anyone who reports should expect the ‘customary’ one sided backlash. Whichever way the pendulum swings, the victim suffers more.
A trending topic on social media today is the alleged rape of a twitter user called @sugarbelly some years ago by the son(s) of a former governor of Kogi State, the Late Abubakar Audu. But this isn’t about Sugarbelly at all. A lot has been said about that and it’s quite messy with accusations thrown back and forth. It’s safe to say I don’t know shit so I’ll just leave it be for now; trending topics generate a lot of opinions and I haven’t formed one yet. I probably wouldn’t.
But I do have an opinion on rape and the abuse of women in general – it’s downright condemnable. A few months ago, a teenage girl was raped by a university lecturer, someone her father entrusted her to for assistance with her admission into the University of Lagos.
This is one of the few reported cases; incidences like this rarely get public attention for the aforementioned reasons. I know this because a close family member was almost raped by a relative and it was simply ‘kept in the family’. With the number of assaults perpetrated by people known to the victims, cases rarely get to the police station. Even when they do, nothing is certain.
We need to stop paying lip service to punitive measures on rape. We need to see to it that sexual offenders and not the victims, are made to pay for these sins. Most importantly, we need to stop this despicable trend of victim shaming.
If we must say anything, it is to attack the act and the culprit. Anything else is a disservice to the victim and we’re not really helping anyone.
State High School, Oko-Oba (now Progress College)…
I was in JSS 1, barely a month in when the annual Inter-House Sports competitions took place. It was too early to get involved in anything and I hated competitive sports of any kind back then so I went somewhere else to play ‘Four Posts’ with my new classmates.
After finding a spot where we wouldn’t be disturbed by overzealous teachers and prefects, we all took off our shoes to get comfy. I was wearing a pair of rubber Kito sandals; I dropped my knapsack containing 16 Onward notebooks and took off my shirt, leaving me in my school shorts and undershirt.
Game done, I realised my sandals had developed wings. Mom was definitely gonna kill me this time around. My bag and shirt? Gone too.
Long story short, I found my bag some hundred meters away. The notebooks I hadn’t used were gone. Oh well, I took my half bread and continued my search for my sandals. In the end, I went home with one – Kito, my size. Till today I doubt if it was really mine, it was a jungle out there and they’d succeeded in making an animal out of me (Sharrap, onye ochi).
That was day school. So imagine what I had to go through when I became a boarder. I remember the fight I had with Hamid on the assembly ground at dawn over MY coal iron.
But that’s not why we’re really here (all of you looking for short story, yaa wrong :p).
For those who are Twitter lazy, here’s a compilation of some of the funniest tweets from the epic #SecSchInNigeria trend last week. Check the pictures, read the captions.
An uncle of mine died last week.
But I didn’t feel a thing.
I think I should be bummed, hurt, sad and grieving but I’m not. I’m not saying I’m fine; perhaps the feeling that best describes my emotional state at the moment is that of numbness. I just don’t feel a thing.
On the scale of familial feelings of loyalty and empathy, this could make me out as an asshole. I don’t know. People shed tears. I rarely do. When my tears come, most people are already done shedding. At this point, I realise that nothing’s wrong with me – I just happen to grieve differently from most people.
This isn’t really about me as much as a bit of it is. Hold on, we’re getting somewhere.
You see, my uncle and I weren’t really close. We weren’t close, period. I show up at my grandmother’s place and greet him when I see him. He’s not really social and I think that’s one thing we share because he mostly looks like he wants to be left alone. Quiet, easy-going fella, but he’s had a troubled life. He wasn’t disabled or anything but I won’t explain further.
Uncle K had a stroke late on Sunday night and was dead in a few hours. He never got married or had children. He had no love life that I or anyone knew of. No close friends either, he’d greet, smile and move on. Unlike his elder brother, Uncle M, who’s bookish, reserved but still sociable to an extent – he’s the one who named me Spencer – while using me for boxing practice when I’m within reach, just for the fin of it. Or Uncle D, the youngest of them all with whom I enjoy a few drinks while watching football matches – he’s also the best barber I’ve ever known.
And this is why I didn’t feel a thing: I have no memories.
My memories feed my joy or pain. If a random stranger dies right in front of me, I’ll be hurt at the fact that another life is gone but I won’t feel no pain on a personal level. My pain is based on my experiences – stories, conversations, arguments, laughs, a task done together, shared food or drinks, gatherings, etc. I have to remember to feel pain and when there are no memories to feed off from, I’m just numb.
He was buried the same day he died. Uncle K lived with grandma – his mother till he died so I guess it was expedient to get everything out of the way so ‘mummy’ wouldn’t dwell so much on the hurt. I wasn’t there but everyone else was: second cousins, relatives close and far, my mother and her siblings amongst others – my sisters too. In life, what really brings people you care about together are life, death and love.
And this is why I felt that hurt later on – he’s my mother’s younger brother. We’re close and even though I don’t really know how it is, it still not cool losing anyone, not to even mention a sibling. Growing up together, teenage arguments, birthdays, weddings, precious moments and all that; the pain is brutal. So seeing someone I’m close to thrown into sadness because of a sibling’s death got to me. She was upset that I didn’t show up. I had my reasons and as logical as they might be, it’s best you shut up and play yo-yo with the spittle in your mouth.
On Sunday I went to see granms with my brother and the things she said really cut through me. Sitting right across her, I’ve only felt that way just once (more on this in another post). She’s over 80 and I was gutted that the poor lady felt like she’s the one that should be gone and not her son.
“I’m not questioning God, but I wonder why – with the wonderful life I’ve lived – I’m still alive and my son is gone. I know he’s gone to rest now – he needed it – I’m just wondering why I didn’t get to go first.”
As quiet as he was, Uncle K was a piece of work for granms – she worried about the most so I know she loved him very much. As such I can’t begin to imagine how hurt she is.
No matter how old your kids get to be, they’re still your babies and no parent wishes to go through this. And like I said, this is why I’m hurt – more for them than for myself. It’s nothing extraordinary, it just is.
The thing about empathy is that it doesn’t have to be personal. The pain doesn’t have to be yours before you feel it. We’re all connected one way or another and whatever affects one of us ripples wide enough to affect a lot of us. I wasn’t close to my uncle but my mother was and my grandmother was, as well as other family members that I’m close to, so even though I didn’t feel that pain on a me-him personal basis, I felt it through them.
That’s what makes us family.
Okay…let’s get serious shall we.
Two days ago, I came across this screenshot of a series of tweets done by one dude – King With No Crown (@mcvaaey). The subject: the need to kill all Igbos for being ‘sellouts’. He called Igbos a number of unprintable names and called on all ‘well meaning’ Nigerians to embark on a ‘purge’ or ethnic cleansing of sorts.
We’ve always had this tribal e-warfare but never since Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country book drama and Fashola’s deportation of Igbos have we had it this bad. This time it really reeks, like Fani Kayode’s underwear.
Obviously the guy has never heard of Rwanda and Sudan to mention just two. The guy obviously never heard of our own civil war. History isn’t his forte.
These are difficult explanations to come up with. And they’ll stand.
But I’ve got an easier answer: this guy is a bigoted cretin who should be time jumped back to WWII and labelled a Jew. And that goes for the rest of them. Everyone else who would only open their mouths to spew vitriol against people of other tribes, nationalities, faiths, ideological leanings, etc.
Funny this is that this moron and others like him will still bitch about Boko Haram and wonder why the terrorists act the way they do. Are they any different? Just because they do their nonsense from behind a keypad doesn’t make them any better. And I only feel pity for them. Because they are the first to cry if they land in Russia and someone makes a monkey sound or brandishes a banana at the sight of them.
It’s not just talk. No. Stuff like this can start riots. And they’ll go to church and sing ‘My hands are blessed’ when they’re in fact stained with blood. Some will take communion or say prayers with that same hateful tongue.
It’s sad. really.
And for anyone who really knows me, I can’t just deal with ethnic bullshit. Some of my closest friends aren’t Yoruba. Hell, if I don’t tell you my name or speak Yoruba, you’ll probably think I’m Hausa. My mom is Yoruba, grew up in the North, schooled in the East and her bestie is an Ibibio woman who married a Yoruba man and gave birth to wonderful kids like Seun Olayemi, Olayemi Oluwatosin and their siblings.
This is where I’m going: if I meet an Ibo man who happens to be an asshole, I won’t call him an Ibo asshole. He’s simply a jerk and will be a jerk whether or not he’s from a tribe that isn’t mine. And this is where we need new laws. I’m not a lawyer but I believe our constitution is pretty weak on hate speech. Help me out here Sir Okwudilichukwu Obu.
In a sane country like the UK or US, the dude that tweeted such nonsense would already be behind bars. Anton Ferdinand accused John Terry for racist remarks on a football pitch and it became not just a football disciplinary issue but a legal one taken up by the authorities. Last year in the US, Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clipers was banned for life and practically stripped of his ownership because he made a snide racist remark against black basketball players. And here’s the clincher, he said it in private.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a tweet, facebook post, blog comment or meme, you’re gonna get what’s coming – just ask Mario Balotelli.
We need these kind of laws here. You can insult all you want but eave race, gender and religion out of it. That way, you can ensure that some moron won’t wake up one day and start killing people that don’t speak his tongue. And when we do have those laws, it’s our duty to make them work. It’s our duty to report such people to the authorities and make them realise that you can’t type hateful stuff about people and hope to get away with it.
Rwanda is pretty pretty now but we can have an awesome Nigeria without going through what they did. Nigeria is. Let Nigeria continue to be. See the headache most Eastern European nations are still having after their split? I want none of that.
Hate isn’t pretty, and its children are bloody ugly.
Okay, it would only make sense if I say this today. And it’s probably gonna be my last post about the presidential elections.
If you’re hoping for relatively free and fair elections in Nigeria, stick to the cities and major towns. Anywhere else is a sham. I don’t know, the PVC and card reader might help – a bit. I hope so. I also hope a lot of heads won’t be bashed in, in the process.
No I am not going to vote. No it isn’t because I don’t want to. It’s because I can’t.
You see, I did my voter registration 4 years ago in Ukanafun Local Government, Akwa Ibom State, Ward 4, Unit 6 precisely. Transferring proved to be hectic and I’m just gonna chill till INEC gets it right. It’s only common sense that people relocate.
Now this isn’t even the point.
Back then I functioned both as a Registration Officer 1 and Presiding Officer. Fortunately, I had to work in my local government and my village home in Ikot Oku Usung happened to be in the same ward 4. A few people already knew me, I taught their children in school even though I was really supposed to be at the Local Government Secretariat.
Registration was a major headache because people would bring 13-year-olds and you dare not question them. “Corper, nsido, you sabi my pikin age pass me ni?” So you shut the hell up and register the kid. I’m not gonna get my head broken for some town I really had no stake in. No. Once I asked my ward supervisor and he said, “Please do, for your own safety,” I registered em all and ate bush meat while at it.
Then elections came and I was still gonna work in Ward 4 but another polling unit. The man who took us there later called me aside into a Qua Iboe Church nearby and offered me 20 grand, 15 for my assistant and 10 for another official. He said the governor just wanted to ensure we were well taken care of. That wasn’t my problem but hey, if you are gonna bribe me, it shouldn’t be inside a church (I remember seeing that same man two Sundays later at the Winners Chapel I used to attend in the town, seated in the corner exclusively reserved for elders – but that’s a story for another day) I think I told him to hold on and let me finish my job first.
I thought it was just us. I was wrong.
Everyone else had been paid! Even agents from opposition parties who now rallied everyone they were canvassing for, to vote the ruling party. He was their man and it didn’t matter if he was in another party. He’s Annang. They’re Annang. He will get 100 percent votes in Annang regions.
Same thing happened at the presidential elections. He’s South-South, they’re South-South. Their kin must get 100 percent. CPC and AC agents rallied their people to give 100 percent to ‘Their Man’. It was a blatant sellout and i saw tribal politics at its best both for state and national level elections. This was for a governor who only came to campaign and didn’t do shit for those people but 200 Naira per voter was all right to sway them. He’s their man!
So I gave up. Wait up sir, I’m coming for our money!
One dude, came over at some point and snatched the box and ran off, the others pursued him and brought it back “den never put anything officer, everything dey there.” At some point they took the ink pad and ballot papers and created a desk for themselves to thumbprint at will -PDP. It was messy. Well I heard the others did the same at their strongholds. Some dudes were there with cutlasses and hoes, “We dey go farm after voting oga. No worry.” Yes sir, by all means. No, nobody is gonna farm on my head. I don’t live here. I won’t pay taxes here. I don’t have a Chihuahua in this fight. I will siddon look and go home to my family when the time comes.
When we got back to the collation centre, I realised some of my colleagues had been badly beaten for being ‘too stubborn.’ Oh oh, na so dem go kill person for matter wey no be my own? Iyo!
Now what also worried me was that there was basically a 100 grand budget for every polling unit per election. We had about 10 per every ward in that LG – 20 wards, about 200 units. Do the maths, the. Do the same for the remaining 29 local government areas. When salaries wasn’t paid on time that month end, I laughed.
It was more violent in some other areas. Some colleagues lost lives. Over what? Bullshit. Sure it was fine in the more accessible areas where the observers camped out. But in the far flung villages, it was something else. The people didn’t know their right or what to do. And this is why I believe that you don’t wait 5 months to the general elections before sensitising people. What do you have 4 years for?
Despite our reports, nothing was canceled. Not even places where friends were beaten up. They wanted 100 Percent, they got it.
It’s all about numbers and those in the cities don’t really count for shit. Now tell me where the bulk of the voters are and you’ll realise that what we have so far is a sham.
Free and fair elections? Not until we install sense 2.0 in our heads in this country. As for the candidates we have, its a shame on us that there seems to be only two to pick from. Darn shame. Why didnt APC go with Rochas and seal the East? Why not KOWA? Ah yes, she’s a woman with no ‘experience’.
Vote wisely, your life isn’t worth losing for this. Friends shouldn’t be lost because of political differences. I hope we get it righter. Receive sense! Amen.