234

234

234
To the Mathematician, it’s a collection of integers.
To the toddler, it is a difficult math lesson.
To the Doctor, Patients of trauma.
To the Soldier, casualties.

234
To the Cleric, humans in need of a GOD and miracles
To the Passenger, a flight number
To the Accountant, a book balance.
To the Postman, the address of a parcel

234
To the Politician, poor votes
To the sportsman, scores and statistics
To the resident, the number on his door.
And yet, to a nation, it means so much more.

234 girls,
United by gender
Targeted by evil
Abused by terrorists
Abandoned by leadership
Mourned by Mothers
Lied about by an Army

234 girls,
Having a fate unknown
Having an abode, untold
Having an experience, unimaginable

234 girls,
To some, just a piece of news.
To their parents, dreams stolen
To foreigners, a tragedy unexplainable
To a nation…hard to tell.

Whatever they may be to you, they are worth more than just a number. They represent a father’s pride, a mother’s hope, a brother’s all. They all are singular stories, representing the value of lives in Nigeria. They, once again, buttress the huge risks posed to the ordinary person every single day in Nigeria. That includes you and I. Hence, even if you can do nothing whatsoever to ease their plight, do picture yourself in that tragedy and have empathizing thoughts.

They are beyond analysis. They deserve better than mere talk. They are daughters, they are children, they are students, and above all, they are humans!

Irrespective how tough it may be to comprehend this, look at it in the simplest of ways:

They are not strangers. They are not fictional characters. They are You. They are I. They are Us.

Advertisements

NIGERIAN ANGEL OF DEATH

angel_of_death_by_raven_of_midian

Death! That was the end of the story.

I gaped. No further words were spoken, no other memories recollected. It was the end of the story and I had to accept it was the end of a person.

He was just a boy. He was tall, dark and somewhat of an introvert. He loved wearing hats and was clearly passionate about the American rap group Bone Thugs ‘N’ Harmony. He had all their posters, I heard. He recollected all their lyrics, I saw. Yet, one day, about 15 years ago, he went to a show at a spot called ‘Pin Place’ in Port Harcourt. The show lasted the duration of the night. And while there, he stepped out, across the road, for a drink or perhaps a cigarette; something I am uncertain of, though very certain it did not qualify to be a reason for death.

While purchasing it, the seller cried out that he was a thief. He was perplexed, I must assume. The stories said he was shocked. However, the stories had it that the woman ‘claimed’ she recognized him from the gang of robbers that attacked her the previous week at that very stall. He honestly explained it was his first time in the neighbourhood and had only visited because of the show across the street.

In any case, she had insisted on her certainty of identifying a very dark lad in the steep night in a society without any form of laudable electricity supply. There had been a van of Policemen parked beside her, as if for the purpose of security for the show. However, what they did next revealed their true purpose for the night, irrespective of their preconception of it.

They pounced on the lad like dogs let loose from their leash. They beat, kicked, hit and maimed him. He was not allowed the dignity of a court room or the honour of his side of the story. By the time they were done, he was silent…not only in words, but even in the beatings of the heart. He was dead.

I found it difficult to visit his home as I had never been there before. It was the incident that made me aware that young people could die. Before then, I had lived in the hysterical lie of religion that GOD grants ‘his own’ long life – the lie continuously told by the religions in Nigeria. However, I mourned a chap whom I was not particularly close to, with fear and trembling and all scary imaginations of what he had experienced that night and afterwards…I withdrew. Every time I meet someone that shares his surname, I wonder if they knew him and if yes, how close? I had questions, but yet, I withdrew…into silence. A silence which, like all Nigerians are guilty of, seems to last forever.

Then, came December 11, 2013. This time, it was yet another lad. He was a younger brother to twin girls who once shared a class with me in Nigeria. He was the only son of 6 children. About 20 years before, the family had lost their elder son and now, with aged parents, he was the only one with the enviable African title of Son.

However, on that day, some people from his office were asked to purchase diesel for the office generators as Nigeria is a country that finds it easier to have $20 billion disappear than the provision of constant electricity. As the chaps returned to the office, Policemen appeared and harassed them. The Son, as a Supervisor in the office, came out in defense of his subordinates. And then, right there, it happened yet again.

Gbam!

Death! Yet, another end. The story tells that one of the Policemen used his rifle to hit the lad’s tummy and it misfired. A boy who had just been married on June 15, 2013; who reported to work that day as a citizen of any society would, was denied everything else. His young wife, of barely a year, and twin babies within her, was stripped of the warmth of a husband at night and the support of a father for her unborn twins. The unborn twins have been permanently christened orphans even before their birth – what a life! His parents, aged, have been denied the dreams African parents bestow upon their Sons. His sisters, all carved like works of art in their creation, that angels become insecure in their presence, had their pulchritude marred by erratic strokes of tears and indescribable auras of mourning.

The story had it that the Lad’s intestines poured out. It is said the Policemen, rushed him to nearby hospitals, which, as expected in Nigeria, rejected the ‘severe’ case. On the way to a distant Government hospital, located miles away in the city of Port Harcourt, he died.

It was yet another end.

And once again, I still did not visit the family. Even now, I have been so devastated that I have not called his sisters. Every time I pick the phone to call, I ask questions like, what in the English Language would I say? Why would I prick their trauma with my words, only to have them bleed again. Nevertheless, a part tells me it is expected I call. Few, who know I have not called or visited, chastise me to do so. Yet, when I look at them, I realize most did not visit or call to say anything reasonable or to really grieve with the family, but to ‘register’ their appearance, not minding the trauma of the family. And though this is not to ease my guilt at night or point fingers, the point remains, how many times would we as a society relent to silence?

Being one who writes most of what’s on my mind, I have been shunned for ‘pointing fingers’. When I was in the United States, people applauded my craft; they questioned where I got my zeal from, how I found the drive to lead? These qualities they bestowed upon me because of my works. It was not difficult to realize that an intellectual society finds expressions of art – writing, singing, drama, etc – as mediums in changing society.

However, my fellow countrymen often castigate me for my works. Empty criticism, they call them. They challenge me to ‘do something to effect change.’ And I have to say I have seen that with the African, ‘doing something’ is only when it is physically toiling, with sweat running down your face, grit staining your nails and dust gathering on your shoes. Hence, since, when in Rome, act like the Romans, I have ‘agreed to do something’.

I shall not only write. I now shall go out there to act! With a few people, we now volunteer to work with teens in Abuja, our base. We educate them for free in their schools on the responsibilities of a proper citizen. We have gathered materials from all advanced nations of the world we have had access to and, through free seminars, we educate the teens with slides, videos and interactive sessions.

It is not enough, I know. I just hope, it can register as a start. As it appears that most adults in Nigeria have chosen not to be bothered by the occurrences in Nigeria, I do hope we can arrest young minds to be more proactive in being their brother’s keepers. I hope it works. If it does, fine. If it doesn’t; we shall re-strategize.

However, the point is this: I have decided to do something. How about you? What have you decided to do? When do you intend to start? Would you wait for another to die?

Were you not touched by the ‘ALUU 4’ incident? Are you not outraged by incidents were apprehended female petty thieves of blackberry phones are stripped nude, beaten and violated by a mob of perverted men (and deranged women) under the ever recording lens of phone cameras that share the videos on Youtube? Does it not hurt that only a few months ago, some students in a Unity School in the north were murdered in their sleep? Have you refused to pay attention to the extreme difficulty and expense involved in purchasing petrol these days? Would you pretend that it does not hurt to see your Religious leaders ask you to sow for a sudden miracle, and though weeks, months and even years have passed without that miracle; you are blackmailed into silence and total compliance with ‘GOD’s plans’, yet, the religious leaders, have graduated from Sedans to SUVs and then, a convoy of cars and now private Jets? Is it okay to feign ignorance at the joblessness in society, the delayed payment of salaries, Corporate fraud by Management on their subordinates, five thousand naira offered to hungry women to stage political protests, the insulting minimum wage, Police/Army brutality and today, over 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram?

If all these have not gotten to you, what shall? Another death? What if that death bites you beyond redemption? What if it’s a Father, Mother or Spouse? How about the possibility of it being a dear friend, Son or Daughter? Or a couple of your children in one day as it was in the Port Harcourt-bound Sosoliso plane that crash of December, 2005?

There is no longer room for silence. The Nigerian Angel of Death is not walking at midnight targeting only our firstborn-sons, it prances nonstop all through the day, collecting any and every with its large net spun by societal negligence. It is now knocking on all our doors…even yours! You may not see what medium it plans to use. The time to act is NOW!

Let us, like Jacob did, fight an angel. Not by picking arms or spreading hate, but by engendering an activity aimed at reclaiming our society. What say you?

Please say nothing. Just act!

WHICH WAY NIGERIA?

policema-tied_up

 

Which way Nigeria? Sunny Okoson once sang. Truer words have never been uttered.

Less than a week ago, news broke. Eyewitnesses confirmed that a driver delivering telecoms equipment to a site at Patigi, Kwara State, was stopped by some policemen who allegedly asked him for money. On refusing to ‘roger’, it is said the driver was shot in the arm. This, as expected, led to a couple of events; however, unexpectedly, the end of this train of events was shocking!

Eyewitnesses confirmed that residents of the locality quickly arrived the scene, questioned what had happened and without waiting for any law enforcement officer, turned on the Policemen. It is further said that the Policemen fled, leaving behind one of them. This last one of the pack, pictured above from Linda Ikeji’s blog, was beaten mercilessly, stripped half-naked and tied into what seemed like a contorted, sacrificial lamb.

Many Nigerians have expressed their hundred per cent joy over this. However, not this writer. This occurrence to me is indicative that the Nigerian society has degenerated into total lawlessness. It is only a matter of time before this lawlessness gravitates into what the world has witnessed in places like Somalia, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Syria, to mention a few.

In any case, before I launch further into my kill-joy writing (as most find this a joyful occurrence), let me state on a lighter side that there were some good points from this incident. Good points in that, at last, the people of this great nation have shown signs of refusing to be deceived by uniforms or threatened by weapons; they chose right irrespective of who the Victor or Vanquished was, they accepted their unity rather than divisions over tribe, religion, ethnicity, sexuality; etc. At last, they came together against what was a societal ill right where they were – their locality.

Though the above points are worthy of loud praise, the sad points weigh my spirit down in silence. This is sad because, despite how pathetic Nigeria is and even the evil perpetuated by this Policeman and his ‘gang’, no one has the right to strip a person of his human rights and dignity. The proper thing would have been to apprehend him and in a right-thinking nation, report him to the authorities; but there again, Nigeria cannot be defined by either ‘right’ or ‘thinking’; hence this takes us back to an even worse situation.

One finds that if the mob had chosen to do what was right by taking this Policeman to a Police station, the following are possible scenarios of what would ensue: first, the Policeman would have been freed by his ilk! Secondly, those who apprehended the Policeman would have been victims of severe human rights abuse. Thirdly, some (if not all) from the mob would have been framed and thrown into cells to spend what would become some of the most horrendous days of their lives; and in the end, they would be made to bail themselves with monies they lack and their stories would fail to get a mention from the press or even rumormongers because of some silly excuses like ‘e don pass joor’ or ‘let by-gones be gy-gones’ or because they don’t lack the money to ‘inspire’ such reporting or the connections to enforce it!

In all this, those who celebrate this story fail to realize the saddest part of it all: if Nigeria is the nation we have seen it to be, then, another gang of Policemen shall visit that locality and inflict upon her the wrath of men empowered to carry weapons. They would be plundering, rape, arson and lastly, no news about all this. So, why rejoice over a thing as this?

In the end, how does a sane person cope with Nigeria? To go ahead and join the mob to assault the Policeman or to push for the ‘proper’ thing of reporting to the authorities, only to have justice not delivered? Perhaps, this situation buttresses the point – The Nigerian society in the most subtle ways denies all her citizens sanity as there is clearly no possible route for one’s conscience to be free.

I AM NOW A WOMAN

Naisten ympärileikkaus

I am now a woman.

Throughout my 13-year old life, I have styled my hair in plaits not cuts, gossiped with my sisters rather than toil on the farm, known more colours than my father could ever differentiate, cooked meals with my mother instead of drink with men, walked around with two dots on my chest that later grew into cups and yet, none of these could bestow womanhood upon me.

A life with only the humiliating title of ‘child’ and no claim to a gender is frustrating. Fathers caution you, boys taunt you and women pat your head with admiration like you are some specie of flower with a unique gift of legs to gallivant in seek of love and attention. Today, the past remains my history; womanhood, my destiny.

My five elder sisters have served me all day. One gave me a bath, the second dressed me and another fed me. Mama cooked. Aunties sang and danced. Papa sat and watched; smiled and cheered.

I ate from special plates and shared my meals with no one. For the first time in my life, two pieces of beef were put in my meal. They stood out in the plate like uneven mountains surrounded by plain earth. A bottle of Coca-cola was also offered, not just as garnishing on the table or to be shared with other children, but all for me.

I emptied it to the last drop, while awaiting its remnants to dry out from the bottle as I held it permanently overturned in my mouth.

‘It is finished, Zainab,’ Hadiza, my eldest sister, urged me to drop it.

If it had been any other day, slaps and conks would have accompanied her words. Not today. Conks are for toddlers; slaps for children. I am now a woman.

I went to the latrine to poo. One of my sisters accompanied me. She wiped me clean with fresh leaves. Womanhood is indeed sweet like candy! I mused. I have been stopped from all forms of labour today, even to wiping my derriere.

A suppressed smile leaked out of the corner of my lips. I wiped my face to hide it. It was tough. It is always tough to hide happiness. Papa often said happiness and wealth are like pregnancy – you can never hide them! Now I understand what he always meant because everything seemed to congratulate me. Even the sun shone its congratulatory rays on me. And the trees rustled an endless tune as if reminding me I am now a woman.

I looked around to take full note of today. The sun brightened my village and our Nigerian vegetation infected all the grasses and trees with rich greenness. Everyone and everything was happy – even our mud house smiled through the many cracks in its wall. I ate, drank, napped and the only form of labour I had was answering the call of nature. I wonder why nature cannot realize I am now a woman. Perhaps nature overheard my thoughts as my presence was immediately demanded. Is there no way around this?

I dashed out to my favorite spot in the backyard, stood with my feet wide apart and urinated to my satisfaction. It is amazing how emptying a very full bladder often gives one a painfully sweet sense of relief. Then I recalled the female doctor from UNICEF who visited our country following the recent polio outbreak and how she had traded stories with us and explained that in Europe, it was prohibited to wee on the streets. Isn’t that madness? How can they say people are free there, yet they lack freedom of where to wee? ‘It must only be in a bathroom,’ she had explained.

When I returned to the tiny room I shared with my sisters, our mud walls exhaled its warm breath my way. The heat was intense. Hence I took my dress off, threw it in the corner where its mates lay and remained nude. I am now a woman. I wondered when my breasts would be rotund like Hadiza’s. When will my hips shoot out on opposite sides like the fins of a fish? I pinched my skin around my hips and bum and pulled out several times like that would subconsciously instruct my skin and bones what direction to grow in. I cupped my hands round my breasts.

‘Grow!’ I ordered. ‘You are too small. I am now a woman. Blossom!’

‘Who are you talking to?’ Hadiza asked from the door.

‘No one,’ I straightened.

‘And why are you naked? Dress up! Have you forgotten we are going out with Papa?’

I had not forgotten. I was just tired from overfeeding.

‘Where are we going to?’ I asked.

‘You ask too many questions. Stand up and get dressed.’

‘What are we going for?’

‘You ask too many questions,’ she repeated. ‘Just dress up and meet us outside.’

After the instruction, she headed out. So, I rose for the corner that had my clothes. My wardrobe of a heap of clothes presented me with all my choices – a wrapper, which served for all occasions, an old, slack pant with several holes in it, two camisoles given to me by UNICEF reps and a tacky dress made locally from worn-out material – which I had been wearing all day. I threw on the dress and ran out barefoot like every member of my family walked when visiting anywhere in the village.

‘Where are we going to Papa?’ I asked as he led me in silence, my left wrist stowed away in his right hand.

‘You are now a woman,’ Mama chipped in from beside him, ‘yet you still ask questions like a child. Women don’t question. We just follow in silence.’

I smiled at her. I got the message. My other sisters smiled in my direction before turning back to face the road. The journey was a tad bit long and the road hot, from the blazing sun above.

‘We have arrived,’ Papa suddenly announced, turning to me.

I looked up expecting to see a group of dancers or perhaps, celebrity magicians of the village as I was celebrating womanhood today. Yet, there was no such thing. All I saw was a mud hut, way smaller than ours, more rickety in looks and standing alone in an arid land like a lost puppy dying of malnutrition.

‘Where is this?’

Mama turned to me with that belabouring look in her eyes. I smiled and coyly hid my face in my palms. Her voice rang again in my head:

‘Women don’t question. We just follow in silence.’

So, I followed in silence till we entered within.

‘Welcome,’ a man received us.

He shook Papa. Two women flanked him. They were elderly in demeanour, plump in weight and warm in mien. They looked more like his wives, rather than his daughters. They gestured us to the floor as if it had chairs that were somewhat too tiny for our eyes to make out. We sat on the mud floor with smiles of appreciation for their somewhat hearty reception.

‘Zainab,’ the man called to me.

I had never seen him before. I wanted to ask him how he knew my name, but women don’t ask questions.

‘You are now a woman,’ he said to me with a smile.

The smile was infectious. Everyone in the room smiled but I think mine was the broadest and it probably lingered the longest. Through the man’s smile, I noticed his physiognomy appeared marred by several missing teeth in his mouth and those left were brown like they had sawdust stains. His hair was a squalid shade of grey and his skin rumpled over his bones.

‘Let’s go inside.’

Inside where? I wondered, gazing at the man.

‘Follow him,’ Papa urged.

Why? Follow him where? The questions poured from my mind in a torrent but I refused them exit from my mouth. I am now a woman. Women don’t question. We just follow in silence.

With hesitation in my bones, I rose and looked at the rest of my family. They smiled at me like people bound by an oath of silence. Perhaps, they assumed their smiles would be encouraging. It’s disturbing, I sighed.

The man opened the door into the inner chamber and once both of us got in, he shut and wedged it with a bamboo stick.

‘Take off your dress,’ he instructed.

‘Why?’ I gasped. ‘What is it?’

The questions erupted from my mouth. I had forgotten I was a woman.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ he patted my head. ‘You are now a woman.’

As if coaxed by some unseen force within this room, or perhaps, it was the humility that descends on one when in the presence of an elderly man, I obeyed him. I undid my button and let my dress fall from my shoulders to a puddle around my feet.

‘Lie there,’ he pointed.

I turned in the direction of his finger. It was then I had a proper view of the room. It was dingy and stuffy. In its centre lay a raffia mat that looked like it could perfectly serve as a bed for a man as tall as Papa. A neatly-folded shabby wrapper lay in one corner of the mat. Beside the mat were some earthen saucers that had knives and razors. Some of the knives and razors had rusty stains while others appeared haggard from excessive duties.

Where is this place? What happens here?

‘Go ahead,’ he urged. ‘Lie there.’

I stepped out of the puddle of my dress and lay on the mat. He walked to my side, inspected my nude body for a second before holding a brief look with me. There was an eerie silence between us. What is he looking at? I wondered. Suddenly, without any warning, he squatted.

‘I need to ask you a question,’ he began. ‘Don’t be afraid to tell me the truth. It’s just between you and I.’

His breath was harsh, seeming like a horrible mixture of palm wine and snuff intertwined with poor hygiene. I didn’t flinch. I couldn’t begin to imagine what Papa and Mama would do to me if I had. So, I only nodded and put up my best smile or at least, what I assumed was my best smile.

‘Have you ever sinned?’ He asked me.

Sinned? ‘What do you mean?’

‘Tell me the truth: has a man ever put his thing inside you before?’

‘What thing?’

‘Be honest, Zainab! Has a man put his third leg inside your body before?’

I was perplexed. ‘Do men have three legs?’

He remained mute for a moment and studied me. The cocktail of the dingy room, his bad breath and inspecting eyes made me queasy. After some seconds, he sighed and spoke again:

‘You are a woman now. Let me call the others so we can begin.’

Begin what?

Papa, Mama and the others entered the room and smiled at me. I had a lot of questions, but I remained mute. The other ladies we had met with the man on our arrival also came in. One of them brought with her a steaming earthen pot. Mama knelt beside my head and spoke in a hearty whisper.

‘You are a good woman. I am glad you have not brought me shame.’

What do you mean? I asked her in my head.

‘Don’t worry,’ she verbally replied my thoughts. ‘One day, you’ll understand.’

By the time she stood up, the man was asking the others and Papa to return to the waiting room. They nodded and waved their farewells at me as if leaving me to the hands of fate. It was agreed Mama would remain inside with me. I also noticed the two women remained.

‘You can sit now,’ the man advised Mama.

I looked around, seeking the best spot for Mama to sit in this tiny room. However, Mama crossed one leg over me and descended onto my chest. She seemed to be crouching over me rather than sitting and though she didn’t put her whole weight on me, it was enough to keep me pinned to the floor.

‘Relax,’ she smiled at me. ‘It won’t take long. Just remember that you are now a woman.’

All of a sudden, the two ladies in the room reached for my legs. The one on my right took my right leg and the one opposite her did same to my left leg. Gently, they pulled my legs apart and then, suddenly, clasped them firmly to the floor.

‘Mama,’ I quivered. ‘What is happening?’

Before she could answer, I felt a hand dab my genitals with what I imagined must have been a napkin from that steaming pot. I shouted.

‘Stay still,’ Mama coaxed. ‘You’ll be fine.’

The heat of the towel seared through me. I jerked and kicked, but Mama’s weight on my chest and her hands now securing my hands to the floor as well as the other ladies who had secured my legs kept me still. After moments of dabbing, the man lifted his head from behind Mama to smile at me.

‘I’m almost through,’ he said from his almost toothless mouth. Then, he switched his attention to Mama’s ears:

‘Her skin is now soft and ready. It will be a quick one.’

As I was battling to make sense of what was going on, I saw him lift one of the earthen saucers with the knives and razors. Before I could ask what I feared, I felt the cold brusqueness of sharp blades on my genitals. I shouted and threw myself around in spasms but the two women and Mama were impeccable in their shared task of clamping me to the floor.

The blades sawed off my clitoris and afterwards, my outer labia and finally, my inner labia.

‘Sorry,’ Mama exhaled on my face. ‘Sorry! You’re now a woman. You have to be circumcised. It’s for your own good! It will eradicate any urge of promiscuity. And your husband will love you thoroughly! You’ll be very tight for him.’

Her words came amidst my screams. I couldn’t hear all of them. I wasn’t interested. The searing pain between my legs was louder in my ears than screams from a rowdy crowd. After moments of butchering me, the man stood, smiled and said:

‘It’s finished.’

Mama and the other women left me on the mat and rose up. I felt my blood form a little puddle on the raffia mat beneath me. A blanket of cold soon enveloped me and a fever wafted across my body.

‘I did a decent job,’ I heard the man tell Mama.

‘Thank you.’ Mama bowed.

‘I removed every part of her genitals,’ the man continued, ‘and fused the wound together into one hole. That will serve for everything – urine, menstruation and in the future, childbirth. And it will remain tight enough for her husband.’

I thought to look down. Movement of my head seemed impossible. An imagination of what I would find, or not find as the case was, was unbearable. Why didn’t anyone tell me? I mused, as silent tears crept down the sides of my face. Why must this be the indication of womanhood?

‘My daughter,’ Mama smiled at me from beside the man. ‘You’re now a woman.’

I am not! I turned away, chagrined. I am in pain! I am hurting! I am incomplete!

OUR COLLECTIVE DESTINY

We keep silent…

Because it doesn’t concern us. We keep silent, except for the look of fear in our eyes, the frightful beatings of our heart and the constant ‘Rest In Peace’ we mutter under our breath, like we are scared that if we say it loud enough, we would attract the angel of death to our beds.

We keep silent…

We do nothing about it because it’s not our friends or families that were bombed, and when it’s our friends, we thank God it’s not our families, and when it gets to our families, we thank God that at least, we are still here.

We keep silent…

We shut our doors because the blast is from the next street; we close the windows so we don’t hear the neighbors scream. We tell ourselves let the by-gones be by-gones.

We keep silent…

We scream to the heavens in our churches and mosques. We claim we are praising GOD, following HIS orders. We ‘enslave’ ourselves for HIS purpose; though deep down, we wish we are ‘bribing’ HIM, endearing HIM to our side that HE may give us what we know we truly don’t deserve. We get lost in our hypocritical activities, to hide ourselves from the realities of this hell we are currently living in, which we created for ourselves through our recurring actions and inactions over the decades.

We keep silent…

We focus on issues that would never arrest our problems; we condemn the lady in revealing clothing and tag her names, we detest the girl who doesn’t wear a Hijab daily or who doesn’t tie a scarf to church; we condemn those of a different religion and speak lowly of our peers of a different denomination cos surely, they cannot be as holy as we are; we decide to stone gays and call it the white man’s sin or strip nude an apprehended girl for theft in an attempt to prove we loathe evil, though we all are drowned in it and our hands stained with our very own corruption…

We spend all our days arguing at the top of our voices and having petty talk, calling our different kinds of religion and stating our different definition of god and sin that we refuse to see that our childhood friends die before 33 and those who cross that have a celebration if they see 50; we refuse to care that our medicines are fake, our roads are poor, our planes are flying coffins, waiting to fall into our vast open Graves; our Politicians buy our integrity over a meal of pottage, we don’t realize our banks prostitute our wives and daughters, our statistics of a great economy insults our logic, our youths are feckless and jobless, our aged, frail and idle, our homes, broken with hardship, our children, growing without any hope of a future; our Police are robbers, our soldiers, Guard dogs against us the citizenry; our Bishops live close to GOD in their private jets and our Imams bathe with the waters of the Jordan river; our masses eat hunger as food and have idleness as work; our schools teach hopeless fashion to ladies and gun skills to young men; our Pressmen report to the sound of coins in their pockets, our doctors save their cheques not lives, our foodstuff are polluted with all unknown poisons and our air, a cocktail of unhealthy gasses…

Yet, We keep silent…

We fail to THINK, we fail to SEE, we fail to KNOW…one day, the corpse, will be US.

THANKS TO OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM!

I have found that in most nations of the world, people don’t know everything! In fact, most ‘developed’ societies shy away from the ‘jack of all trade, master of none’ way of life. However, not back home in Nigeria.

Here, everybody knows everything, yet, look at the society! If you ask a regular chap on the streets of Lagos, ‘what is Naira’s exchange rate to the Dollar?’; I bet you, he has an answer. If you care to research it, you would find that answer is correct, perhaps, to the fraction our ‘Mr Nobody’ gave you.

If you think that is a joke, then consider another research: ‘ask anyone on the streets of Abuja something that pertains to how GOD thinks’ and I bet you yet again, irrespective of this person’s religion, he would be able to tell you GOD’s logic, methodoogies and perhaps, activities. He would even link it to the political situation in the country, use the President as an example of GOD’s miraculous works, then, bring it down to your question. If care is not taken, he would inquire about your present dilemma and right before you, without doing any research into any of the Holy Books, would become GOD’s mouthpiece!

I really can’t tell if this is good or bad! I mean, in developed nations, normal people shy away from most general topics except those based on their areas of specialty. They seem to believe (though unintentionally) that they ought to focus on their ‘specific duties’. Hence, when they feel they have a health issue, rather than ask their neighbour for advice, they go to a hospital (unlike Nigeria, where your neighbour would gladly turn your personal physician and remind you of your medical history – even the ones you’ve forgotten about) and enter your home without invitation to turn a nurse!

I can cite several other examples. However, I think the point has already been made. I wonder if this has to do with our unique educational system – or perhaps, the lack of it! I mean, a Brit on the streets of London would ask me, like one asked me last week, ‘why do I need to know the exchange rate? How does that concern me? The banks would handle the transactions!’; but a Nigerian finds that difficult to understand (which, I honestly, did)! Is it because, we seem not to learn anything from our institutions that subconsciously, our human brains find the need to know whatever is around us? Or, is it because we are living and moving in a country that critics consider a failed state, that makes it imperative for us to seek all forms of irrelevant information to hold onto?

I am just asking. Pardon my curiousity. I think I prefer not knowing everything but just one thing and that one thing is able to provide my daily bread, clothes and shelter; instead of being a walking encyclopedia of total crap! And I call those things total crap because, if you attempt to have any piece of discussion with a Nigerian in a way that seems a tad logical, the Nigeria grows wary and tells you, ‘why you dey disturb yourself with all these kind things jooor?’

I must say, we are quite a unique breed! I don’t mean that as a compliment and certainly, not as the opposite. It is just one of those ‘kind things’ I find I say a lot these days!

THE REMAINING STORY OF THE AFFAIR OF PASTOR BIODUN AND EFE WALTER

I have refused to write on Nigeria for a while; not for lack of a functional pen (or computer), but writing non-fiction on Nigeria is a tad boring. You end up writing the same things over and over again with different characters and scenarios.

However, this is not about me. It is about another level of Grace. By now, I bet everyone reading this has read on how to learn the new level of Grace as seen in Ese Walter’s story. Without being sarcastic as I may appear, considering I am not a religious man, I would just say this, as I have said a zillion times:

The ‘Nigerian GOD’ and his Men and congregants continue to baffle people who are a tad bit logical. In any case, this is not about that GOD. It is more or less about his people – both the ones on the pulpit and the ones who are occasionally taught a high level of grace.

I have read Ese Walter’s story more than once. I do believe it. If you doubt the story, you may want to read the confession of another ‘victim’ called Franca here: http://www.gistreel.com/2013/08/24/another-lady-confirms-ese-walters-story-full-gist/.

Following Franca’s story, it is baffling that despite all that has been said and written across the length and breadth of this country, no one seems to be asking about the other ladies in this unique Pastoral Care Unit or perhaps, other departments of the workforce at COZA. The stories we have heard so far seem to give reason to the line of thought that the workers in this unit (or units) are invited to learn higher levels of grace. So, please, when will more “victims” – as they are now termed – be willing to share their learned lessons? Were they invited to sit on the laps to learn or were they asked to touch their toes or perhaps, show their proficiency in ‘blowing the flute’ before higher and higher lessons of grace were revealed? LOL

Okay, jokes apart. I was just wondering when more revelations would spill from our little Pandora’s box. In any case, back to Ese Walter’s story. The first time I read it, I found it very humourous. Afterwards, I lost the humour and read it only for the purpose of seeing the things she was trying to say by not saying them. However, before I go onto those things, I must say that the reaction that has followed her story on twitter, facebook, etc; continue to baffle me.

Surprisingly, most women challenge Ese Walter. They call her all sorts of names. In fact, they say she was not abused at all. They cling to the fact that she was a whore who was having sex with a married man. #no comments#. (But I must make this comment: these comments show these women look at her like the devil who is attacking a man of GOD after causing such to sin. Hence, what do we have? You’re damn right! There would be more lessons on high-level Grace across the country; since most women do not see the ‘Man of GOD’ to have really been at fault).

On the other hand, you have people who want to nail the Pastor (and by nail, I mean the way Jesus Christ had it; not Ese Walter). He’s been called all sorts. And not surprisingly, the Pastor is yet to give a comment.

Here is my take on this matter. To be fair on Ese, there were clearly elements of abuse in her story…BUT… please, let me finish before your nail me (like Jesus; or are we talking about another kind of nailing here?). That was not the only element in her story.

Ese states they had this affair for a week! I understand that the first time she met the Pastor in his hotel room, she must have been awed by him and the ‘trancelike’ term she uses was very possible. Students of psychology would agree with this as it follows the concept called the HALO EFFECT. Simply put, in the shortest of ways, people often feel awed when in the presence of people they consider very important/powerful/extremely beautiful/intelligent. In fact, this aids the process of hypnosis; which I think, Ese could have been a victim of on the night of that FIRST ENCOUNTER!

However, I think Ese’s story is a tad incomplete. After she left him for her house that night or perhaps, the following morning (as she does not give us this detail), reality would have struck! If she was such a ‘good-girl-turned-victim’ as parts of her writing make her appear, she would have fled or insisted on making things right by whatever means she thought possible! However, she continued, not for another incident, but a week! A bloody week! And mind you, we can’t tell how many times the “rolling under the sheets” happened per day in the course of that week! Oooops!

So here is the psychological explanation for that. She enjoyed it. Simple! This lesson on Grace was really working. She however admits that she finally urged things to change. However, later in her story, she said she insisted on seeing ‘The Teacher of High-Level Grace’ to ask him to make amends and when they finally met, he attempted to begin his next lesson by kissing her; which, I must add, she claimed to have refused (to learn). This makes me assume, her attempts at stopping this affair didn’t (initially) register as ‘serious enough’; hence, such an attempt by the “Teacher of High-Level Grace-cum-Man of GOD” wouldn’t have come as part of the introduction. Anyone who has had an Ex would testify that when one party still nurses hope of a make-up, such attempts are very common; however, if a previous firm ground had been established, any following meetings are always somewhat official and perhaps, awkward.

In any case, let me continue: One of the laws of Physics states that A BODY CONTINUES IN ITS STATE OF REST OR UNIFORM MOTION UNLESS ACTED UPON BY AN EXTERNAL FORCE. If we introduce this law into this lesson of ‘high-level Grace’; we shall realize that the parties in this class DID CONTINUE IN THEIR STATE OF ROLLING UNDER THE SHEETS (for a week) UNTIL ACTED UPON BY AN EXTERNAL FORCE!

Now, please, what was that FORCE (CONDITION)? What made Ese feel so bad and choose to drop out of this very ‘practical’ religious class? Please don’t say the Holy Ghost. I am certain, HE prompts people earlier, before a week is gone. So, I wonder, did the “victim” realize she was not the only one privileged to this “elective class of the church” and at that point feel used? Did she feel this love/admiration/attention (she had imagined on the first day) was temporary and shared with thousands of others? Was it after a week that it occurred to her that perhaps that was why her friend who had introduced her to the church warned her to keep off the ‘work force of the church’?

Psychology teaches us that a ‘feeling of self importance’ is the major driving force behind most, if not ALL, of our actions. So, was this the driving force that led our “victim” to seek reassurance that things were different in her case through a proper apology in order to feel better than the rest (of the “victims”); or at least, regain her self importance, that she was not like the other ‘cheap’ ones who could be used, promised money and trips round the world and then dumped? (She clearly showed she was not thinking of the money; but clearly, the “Teacher” didn’t “get it”. So, what was she thinking about before thinking this should be called off? Was she probably thinking of more attention and proof that she was really loved and fate or Holy Ghost had failed to make “Teacher” and “Victim” meet earlier in order to be married; and all the other lies that follow adulterous relationships when the married partner clearly demonstrates a refusal to leave his/her partner?).

Whatever the case, I think she proved to herself she was different! After all, she’s shown Nigerians who are willing to look beyond COZA to see that there are “electives” going on in these schools…oooops! I meant religious temples. If the heads are not teaching the young ladies more grace; they are teaching the young boys “dig deeper beyond the surface” – if you know what I mean! She also gave believers of these ‘Teachers of Grace’ a reason to believe them more. After all, the dream the chap had that she (Ese) would leak it to the media has come true. Abi, no be so? Does this not show that he is really a Man of GOD?

However, despite all my analysis, one question beats me: ‘Why now?’ If she wanted vengeance, she would have done it since. If she wanted clarity/redemption from guilt, she would have revealed this since. If she wanted to heal faster; then, earlier than later is what is most logical. On her blog, she had stated she was going on a 29-day hiatus and at the end of that, this story was her next post. Why reveal it on the thirtieth day? What is the significance of the date of her post? Why now; when the incident occurred while she was a student in the UK (between 2010 – 2011)? Why has she deleted her accounts on facebook Twitter – despite emphatically stating she has healed from this and ‘couldn’t care less who insults her’? Is there more to this than meets the eye?

Well, I am probably going too far. Ese Walter herself told us in the story that the ‘Teacher of High level Grace’ had warned: “Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm!”

Let me stop here before I would be accused of doing that. I really don’t want to get nailed because of this – Be it Jesus’ nailing or Ese’s.