Saturday, March 5, 2016 12:04 pm
Anytime you hear a Nigerian veer into a conversation whose nuances s/he can’t even grasp with “it is our culture and it is none of your business”, rush to the nearest clinic and take vaccination shots against stupidity before you move near this Nigerian again lest s/he infests you with the stupidity virus.
The tragedy is that the Nigerian hardly ever mobilizes cultural alibis to defend what is good. Speak of Nigerian innovation, genius, creativity, etc, you will never hear, “it is our culture”. Mention anything untoward, any uncatholic thing or practice and onward soldiers of culture and religion will march out furiously, lashing and thrashing blindly and ignorantly. There is no corner of Nigeria where you won’t find such dis-educated soldiers of culture and religion.
Mention any social or political or economic malaise, they will go into the archives to find that it also happens elsewhere which, in their fevered brains, justifies, explains, rationalizes and cancels out the current issue.
Mention genocide and this category of foolish and irredeemable Nigerians will tell you that Hitler also did it.
So, I wake up this morning to attempts to make photos of baby factories in the Southeast go viral.
I don’t even know where to start with the idiocy of those behind this. Obinna Aligwekwe, Agbaosi Sevezun Gloria and Ekundayo Awe say they are attempting to shift the narrative. These my friends are wrong. That is crediting those behind this nonsense with too much intelligence. Shifting a narrative is a clever and brilliant move. Those circulating those photos are not intelligent, clever or brilliant.
They are not trying to shift the narrative. They are practising the standard Nigerian playbook of stupidity: your evil justifies and rationalizes my evil. If somebody steals in your neighbourhood and makes the news today, you immediately feel assaulted in your culture and religion and waste the next few weeks of your life trying to find thieves from every other ethnic group and the other religion. That is not shifting narratives. That is trying to justify evil with evil.
I have written tons against this Nigerian national malaise. You mention a particular politician who has just stolen, the Nigerian rushes out with : why haven’t you mentioned this other one? He has not denied that the person you mentioned is a thief o. He can’t be bothered.
And these foolish people dredging up baby factory photos from the southeast don’t even have enough brain power to understand that the southeast has nothing to do with the current situation. A Kano man abducts a Bayelsa girl in a drama which subsequently reveals the weaknesses of the Nigerian state vis-a-vis traditional institutions in Kano and you are showing pictures of baby factories in the southeast. Where is the connection? Is Bayelsa southeast?
Since you have a short memory and you lack critical intelligence, here are some details for you to ponder.
1) There was the same level of outrage and condemnation when those baby factory pictures first surfaced about two years ago. Everybody condemned the practice.
2) During the outrage over baby factories, I do not recall any Southeastern folks rushing out to claim that baby factories are their culture and religion. All the Southeasterners I have on my list condemned it and recognized it for the problem that it is. If you have any evidence of anybody from the southeast saying “this is my culture and religion” let’s have it.
3) Just as the child bride phenomenon is not limited to the North (broadly defined) there is no evidence that baby factories are exclusive to one part of the country.
4) The prevalence of baby factories in one part of the country does not justify, excuse, rationalize, attenuate, mitigate, or cancel out the tragedy of Ese Oruru. And you are adding to the symbolic violence by trying to find excuses. This tragedy cannot be denied its own specificity and singularity. This is the specific case of a Bayelsa girl who has suffered violence in the hands of a Kano man and in the context of the institutions of Kano. We will not allow you to dilute this specificity.
4) The more idiotic among those of you trying to justify this thing are even asking a taunting question: which is better – marry them as pre-teenagers or turn them to baby factories? I don’t blame you. You are products of a sick and depraved Nigerian society. That is why you would think that the destiny of the girl child in Nigeria is to be objectified by stupid men like you and given only two existential options – to be exploited as teen brides or teen baby manufacturers.
5) This explains why Dino Melaye, the obstreperous moron who represents my constituency in the Senate, can stand up in that chamber and appeal to his colleagues to patronize “made-in-Nigeria women”. It is the same national sickness of objectification of women. It did not occur to this moron that Nigerian women may want no part of made in Nigeria wife beaters with porridge brains like him. He does not grant them that agency. Just as you cannot see the girl child beyond victimhood.
So, to answer your stupid question. None of the options is better. None is good. None is acceptable. The girl child should not be a bride and should not be a baby manufacturer. Anybody asking which of these two options is better does not deserve to be my compatriot in the 21st century. The Nigeria I envision has no space for pre-logical citizens.
If you like, leave the baby factories of the east and wake up tomorrow to circulate photos of Edo girls or find some abhorrent Yoruba criminal practice, that is your funeral. I will still tell you that it does not justify or excuse anything and that is not the conversation we are having right now.
And, Nigerian, so long as you belong in that nation-space, any practice from your neighbourhood is fair material for national scrutiny. You cannot bully anybody into silence with silly allegations of prejudice and bias. In case you did not get the memo: It’s 2016. Besides, there is no Nigerian whose region is under focus who does not claim that there is prejudice against his culture and religion so try another line.
If you don’t want your culture or religion to be discussed, move to Mars.
Pius Adesanmi, a Professor of English at Carleton University, studied French Studies at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.