Sunday, 29 November 2015

This Past Week

According to the Merriem-Webster dictionary, rape is unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent.

There are two crimes which I think deserve capital punishment: Rape and Premeditated Murder. Unfortunately, in our world, rape isn't even considered a crime in many places. I read an article in an old newspaper about a man who, after being detained because he raped a woman, was released on bail and went straight back to rape the same woman. He got out of prison three months later, and you don't need to be a genius to know what will send him back to prison in another few months. We read these things on the pages of newspapers and they feel so distant; but they actually happen close to us  and the frequency with which they do are a major cause for concern.

Here's a scary statistic:

"A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries. 
The attitude of the police in many countries often discourages victims from reporting rape: one study in Turkey (1999) found that 33% of police officers agreed with the assertion that "some women deserve rape" and 66% agreed that "the physical appearance and behaviors of women tempt men to rape."

This past week on Twitter NG, a story surfaced about a rape case where the victim alleged that the accused took advantage of her love for him and didn't just rape her, but also got his friends and family to do same. It was a very detailed account and very many times it was gory and unimaginable. Of course, as expected, the accused has come out to deny it and has said he is not and was never a rapist and whatnot. 
I'm interested more today in talking about reactions than in trying to figure out who is a rapist or who is not. I read some tweets and my heart broke. Even though it is difficult to imagine a human being do those things to another (underaged) human being, we need to understand that some human beings are not human beings, some human beings are monsters.
The thing most people seem to be forgetting is the fact that the victim at the time was just a little child: gullible and stupid and impressionable like all children are. How a man, an adult man has sex, consensual or otherwise, with a seventeen year old is beyond me. I don't intend to go into the illegality of having sex with a girl who cannot give consent because she simply does not have a consent to give. It really does not matter if she agrees or not, you are raping her because she is seventeen years old. But I digress, let's look away from that. 
There were a series of particularly disturbing tweets from an individual who claimed to be the wife of the accused, these tweets were disturbing because it was difficult to come to terms with a woman wishing that another woman would get gang raped. There is something very sad about it. There's a lot of talk in this century about making conscious efforts to attempt to subvert the patriarchal paradigm, but with thoughts and then tweets like that from a woman, I fear for our generation.
There's also been a lot of talk that the victim is concocting this rape story, that it all happened inside her head. Because of the antecedents of this victim, this is quite a powerful argument. However, tweeting about a JAMB score or jewelry is one thing, writing a detailed account of serial rape is quite something else. It shouldn't matter just yet whether she's fabricating her stories, that is not for any of us to decide as none of us were actually there when it happened. Or when it did not happen.

This past week, the drama in Kogi state happened. There was a lot politics involved, and that meant a lot of people didn't really grasp the whole idea. It was mostly sentiments flying about. And a little stupidity as well: like saying the best option for replacement is the son of the candidate who died; to borrow the language of a friend, that's quite daft. If we decide not to be sentimental about it, we would find that the situation is really not that complicated. The Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country, already decided in 2007 during the Amaechi case that electorates vote for parties and not individuals, and we know that in order for the constitution to be adhered to, every governor of every state has to first contest in a primary election within his or her party and win. It is not hard. The problem Kogi has is perennial. And it stems from the fact that we are extraordinarily one-dimensional. Our thinking is conveniently contained in 'the box' and it doesn't bother us. 
I can't see any serious change happening in Kogi state unless we make conscious efforts to change ourselves and our thinking first.

Monday, 23 November 2015

There Are Levels To This

Prince Abubakar Audu died on Sunday. He was on the cusp of becoming the fourth (technically third) governor of the state. Okay, so in case you are not Nigerian, here is what happened. Kogi State, where I come from, had a governorship election on Saturday. It was basically a contest between Prince Audu (who is now dead) and Captain Wada, See my dry story. INEC, which is the electoral body, Sunday afternoon had announced that the elections were inconclusive. Make no mistake though, Audu defeated Wada, the supplementary polls which INEC announced would take place was merely going to be a formality. Until an even more breaking news came in: Abubakar Audu, who had more or less won the election and was going to be sworn in next year after the shenanigan of supplementary polls were over, was dead.
There are levels to this.
For a long time, I imagined fetishism as something that would not bother you if you did not bother it, if you did not think about it. During my undergraduate years, I had a neighbour who saw ghosts or, well, creatures (fictionally or otherwise) on a relatively frequent basis and every morning he would tell me stories of what he saw the previous night while he was heading back home from night class, I would nod and say wow! But inside my head I would say 'if truly you see these frightening things every night, man, you need some serious deliverance.' I think I still feel the same way now. Fetishism is a thing, there's no doubt about that, however, how much power do our minds have? I read Louise Gluck's poem, Saints, for the first time one Saturday afternoon in my tiny room in Abuja during my service year. I did not appreciate it much at that time. I just felt it was a good poem and that was that. I thought about it today when it was confirmed that Abubakar Audu had died in the most mysterious circumstance.
There are levels to this.
Normally, I would consider this superficially and come up with theories like 'he suffered from exhaustion. Because he was 68 years old and those campaigns were draining.' or 'he was poisoned by one of his political opponents.' But there are levels to this.
There is the superficial level which I would be content with sticking to but there is also the arcane level.
As governor, from 1999 to 2003, Audu was unapologetic in his mysteriousness. Calabashes with salt and red things were not difficult to stumble upon within the State which he governed. There were rumour about all sorts of human sacrifices, there were testimonies from people who refused to go to shrines with him.  There was everything in those four years.
There are levels to this.
In Saints, Louise Gluck talks about an aunt and a grandmother who were both Saints but found their ways out very differently. Below is an excerpt:
My grandmother's was tranquil, even at the end.

She was like a person walking in calm water;
for some reason
the sea couldn't bring itself to hurt her.

When my aunt took the same path,
the waves broke over her, they attacked her,
which is how the Fates respond
to a true spiritual nature.

My grandmother was cautious, conservative:
that's why she escaped suffering.

My aunt's escaped nothing;
each time the sea retreats, someone she loves is taken away.

Many times, these things are inexplicable. And so I am not trying to explain anything. This isn't even a theory. It is merely a thought. I do not know anything other than the fact that there are levels to this. May the soul of the dead rest in peace. May we never see the likes of it again.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Evil of Terrorism

Yesterday was Friday the 13th. Yesterday was maybe the worst Friday the 13th in history. I was asleep when the evil that happened in Paris, France took place which is weird because I hardly sleep early these days. I woke up to a vlog post by Hank Green, it was called Feeling About Paris. First thing I noticed was Hank who was not his normal fun, bubbly self in the video. He looked forlorn. And then I started listening to what he was saying and he was saying, "Good morning, John. As I make this video there are lots of people killing lots of people in Paris, France." And I was still smiling and thinking what the hell is Hank going on about? And I was thinking soon he would become the normal bubbly Hank and laugh sarcastically and say "it's a joke, John." That did not happen. It was a sad video blog and I guess it prepared my mind for what I saw next. Hank went on to say things like, "if only we had been the way we had been, the way I wish the world was, this shouldn't have happened..." "If your response is to disengage, that's appropriate, if your response is to stare at live feeds on Twitter and Reddit, that's appropriate..." "Hatred is not the correct response to hatred..." "The world is broken but hope is not crazy..."
Anyway, next I went on Twitter and it was a tweet from the BBC that read "At least 120 people killed in terrorist attacks in Paris." I saw first. Then I went on to see more and more and more.
I don't really know the correct way to respond to something like this whether they happen in my country, Nigeria, or in France or in the USA or in Syria or in Iraq or anywhere else in the world, so like Hank said, most of the time I disengage and try to imagine what rationale drives human beings to be so cruel and so utterly unforgiving to their own kind. Most times I come up blank and I conclude that it is just not the rational thing to do, laying waste to humans like you. It is barbaric, it is animalistic, it is senseless. It is evil in its most unadulterated form. Have you ever thought of it? Thought of the driving force of a terrorist? I wrote a short story about it once and, writers are supposed to put themselves in the shoes of their characters, I tried so hard to imagine myself as a terrorist but things do not work like that? It is one of those things that are impossible to know unless you are.
When Boko Haram terrorists laid siege on a boys school in Buni Yadi, Adamawa State, Nigeria; and shot boys who were sleeping peacefully in the middle of the night and killed them oh so cruelly, the same thoughts came: what on earth or in heaven or anywhere else drives people to do these things? These are questions that cannot be answered here by me. And experts may do their analysis and state their inferences but no matter what reasons are stated and how cogent these reasons are, evil is evil. I have learned that evil is a denomination that is irresponsive to country or race or religion or region. It is the same evil that makes Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria kill school boys in Buni Yadi and abduct school girls in Chibok, that makes Islamic State terrorists lay waste to innocent French people relaxing from a hard week on a Friday night in Paris. It is that same evil that makes a young seventeen year old white American pick up a gun and walk into a church where black people worship and shoot at sight.
I should address also some misled and utterly naive and unintelligent people who are saying that this is God's punishment to Europe for being western and being an advanced country. And the people who are saying that the attack happened because Europeans are being leaders of the world and are absorbing immigrants who have been displaced in the Middle East and in Somalia. And then the idiotic Nigerians who are saying Nigerian people who are concerned about Paris are hypocrites because terrorism happens also in Nigeria?
On second thought, I shouldn't address anything. There's no point.
I have nothing else to say. May God grant the bereaved the fortitude they need.