Will really love your comments about my frontline journal, in actual fact I have tried severally to weave politics and sexual violence in one, these are areas I am so much passionate about. Political maginalisation of women and gender focused sexual violence are the two focal points I am actually interested in, though they are unrealted topics but I feel it should flow since it is writing about women and mainstreaming gender.
Though women are highly maginalised but experience has really shown me our the society respects older women but disrespects younger ones, an adage even says when a woman is actually old in her husband's house she has automatically become a witch, it takes grace and patience for a woman to endure what the society placed on her shoulder here, what ever a man cannot survive, place it on a woman, patiently and passionately she will overcome, no wonder only women can bear the pain of child delivery. Writing about us come naturally but writing what the world will actually understand needs your support and constructive criticism.
I will really love your inputs to enable me make those necessary adjustments and corrections.
Love you all.
How can women work in an environment where electoral robbery reigns, where accrued electoral bias causes shivers running down one’s spine after memories of war and secession, which has contributed to accommodativeness in the face of disenfranchisement? A nation where the air of impunity is freely inhaled to avoid suffocation, political power is entrenched but vote not count. How can women contest election when political contests mean pursuing, overtaking and destroying one’s opponents? Picking a nomination ticket is like signing death warrant, in a country where conscience and morals are mere words with no weight.
It was not so in the beginning, when we lived in peace.
The sleeping ancient town of Owo, green and beautiful, is my native land. It borders Yoruba land in the West and the Bini kingdom in the South South. I grew up in the royal palace of the Generalissimo (the second in command to the king) he was my late maternal grandfather, he was succeeded by one of his hundred children, my mother’s immediate brother. Growing up among these loved ones made me believe Owo was the beginning and end of the World. Life was good, love was transparent, moonlight tales were real not like the fabricated African mythologies available nowadays only in Literature series.
Life sprang from Owo, a name which literally means respect which is demonstrated in the cultural character of indigenous Owo. My memories of early childhood I hold dear because childhood was truly childhood, confirming the ancient analogy that only children can actually see God. We were blameless.
September ushers in beautiful memories of innocent era of the ‘virgin dance’, an annual event in which young girls are heavily beaded around their waists with firm breasts left bared. It lasted for a period of two months, during the famous Igogo festival in Owo, when indigenes feast on specially prepared green grasshoppers accompanied with roasted yam. This is prepared by placing a whole tuber of yam in the fire for roasting, after which a knife is pierced directly into its bosom, then turned clockwise to make enough room to pour fried stew and sliced onions into the yam, to be returned upright to the fire for rapid boiling. This delicacy is served to bare budding breasted virgins.
It was when I began to understand and get settled into this enjoyable life of love, peace and communal living, the exact opposite of life in my father’s house after he has passed on, that somehow cankerworm crawled in. Till today I cannot comprehend how it began. Antagonisms from all quarters were targeted at our house. The root of this antagonism was money (and love of money is the root of all evil!), it moved stealthily and tore into the existence of my people. The centre of Owo could not hold, the politics of money built enmity on foundation of love, aspiring leaders of tomorrow abandoned their future to become slaves of corrupt political leaders, while their mothers awaited their son’s death. He who the gods want to destroy, they first make mad.
The story is not strange, but how it is narrated may be, when monetized politics came into Nigeria, the grassroots were not spared. The traditional rulers, expected custodians of the masses became contractors to political masters. Heavily beaded kings are all well seated at entrances of Governors with their Local Purchasing Order awaiting janitors to book appointments when the reverse should be the case, if not ‘eat and die’. I have heard of wars, during moonlight tales, but in 1983 it became reality in my little haven, I became bold, ever ready to confront situations. Growing up in a land where older women are always at the fore front has really solidified my belief in the competence of women but the problem in need of solution is the non acceptance of girls and young women as equal to boys and men. Being raised by a widow who catered for five children all alone, in a land everyone except the children can vouch she had no hands in the death of her husband can be terrifying. Grandmother was exemplary, but strange, politician were trooping into our rural land enriching herbalists, while assassination of innocent ones to make talisman for battleground, though no war but preparation and rumors.
If asked, I would have revealed that political leaders visit local areas just to contact powerful herbalists but this might lead to lots of acrimonies. Vividly do I recollect a charm that my grandmother made for some Nigerian leaders then, we are of the belief that there is always a big stone in an Iroko tree only if it is the Iroko tree fell by the effect of a mighty thunder, the stone found in it will now be placed inside a fiery fire for a long time may be for six hours or thereabout. Grandmother was a strong woman though mother told me she was her elder sister but their mother died when she was young and she took care of them, they were seven, she will now squeeze a particular herbs that draws exactly like eaten okro in a big calabash, the hot stone will be removed from the fire directly into slippery substance, this is given to these men as drink, when I inquired from mother the reason for drinking such a smelling, hot and slippery substance, she confided in me, “no one who drank the concoction will ever be afraid of anyone in the World when they kill a man they can sleep with the dead man”. In my early years I have witnessed politicians drank at different times, same place same source, same calabash for the same reason. Never really understood why everyone wanted to live without their conscience, but they kept on coming into the palace.
Those meetings were held in twilight, powerful men trooping from the nation’s capital, my uncle was actively involved, arrogance reigns, his brothers became his sworn enemies, money rushing from aspirants while powerful herbalist made the palace temporary abode, the trend visible in today’s polity. My friends turned to conspicuous enemies while relations and friends avoided our palace like plague. The night meetings were on politics, but then it was only referred to as ‘voting’ but my mother informed me that it was the devil’s game to exterminate the black race.
Actually I was too young to understand the riddle but I believe it was a death cast that continually reigns till this day. Utterances became devoid of affection in the once peaceful palace, the full stop to every discussion was ‘death is the end of it all’, men were ready to die for this cause, we live in perpetual fear, but I will never understand why I presumed death to be a sleeping game when everyone can always come back to share the booties; our politics was of ‘Ghana must go bag’ filled with money yet the first stanza of the National anthem was ‘Nigeria we hail thee, our own dear native land’ not so strange today that internal colonialism is sustained by a selected domination determined to remain in permanent control of the nation through rotational leadership offering nothing in return yet supported by traditional rulers, past leaders and hooligans as cheerleaders.
Political superiority brought instability into our system, power was absolute; therefore diabolical power were sought to obtain, sustain and retain power while our youths were turn to puns in the hands of politicians, we empowered them, diabolically and politically and our children were turned to thugs and hooligans.
Our land became battlefield while women and children bear the brunt of the war.
Their palace guarded day and night by our sons who are loss their lives daily to bullets of our brothers, politics killed the future and loathing became the present. Young girls became the target of dare-devil irate youths; budding breast bared for fun became sought after by empowered palace boys, always intoxicated by drugs supplied by powers that be. My mother belonged to a different political party; Unity Party of Nigeria and we were excommunicated from the palace and we moved to her mother’s house, my uncle withdrew his support to my immediate family. Mother became a full time farmer, and I was introduced to real hard life, we moved to the farm later on, but my mother was undaunted, a trait I will never forget about my mother, but we were feeding hand to mouth yet I could not understand why his brother had to beat her and dislocated her arm, she was poor but bold.
Virgin dance became history that can only be accessed through past pictures and fond memories. That was an era when sexual molestation exists only in the English dictionary.
A god that children are not allowed to participate in its worship will soon become history.
We were afraid of hooligans molesting the young girls but the reality is that things have really changed and are daily molested under our ignorant noses by trusted relations. Children became endangered species or do we say poverty has pushed adults to eating the forbidden fruits? No matter how beautiful the World is no one can feed himself with the back of his hand.
On the other hand, reality of our little world changed; politics was introduced to destabilize and awaken the peaceful town, generally politics was how big is your herbalist and cash.
Western world will wonder about the efficacy of charms but we will not easily forget the Wild Wild West, politics became a dreaded game that those with conscience, morals and fear of God will run at the mere mention of becoming a Local councilor in a town. Electoral robbery results in unimaginable mayhem that was new to us, old women came out bare chest with their weaving tools raised, though strange as everyone ran for safety, houses were burnt with raw eggs, fear gripped Nigerians, in twinkling of an eye grandfather’s beautiful house that was first rented by the first bank was raised down, the ruins stand today July 2009, this was the longest night of my life.
Peaceful coexistent became history, thinking it was restricted to my homeland but alas, it was all over the nation, brothers killing brothers, wives divorcing husbands all in the name of money politics. “Eat into your pocket is the name” and the food is Nigeria! The world cannot remain fooled about the deceit, the game is do or die, only the rich and powerful can play it except there is a godfather who is constantly pouring palm oil on the devil’s incarnate.
The system of government operated in Nigeria is known as ‘selectical’, the path of corruption must be covered by a successor handpicked by the predecessor. This is a measure they put in place to erase their path of corruption and remain in perpetual control of the nation’s resources.
Feigned democratically prevails, we are presented sterile sect which has become progressively more unrecognized by other well meaning concerned world citizens. These insensitive, selfish and unproductive leaders full of electoral prejudice perpetrated against disenfranchised Nigerians. Thank God America president did not visit Nigeria; I may believe the selection process is recognized.
The slogan remains, death is the end if it all! But women will work with will and will win when supported by willful well wishers.
Non Governmental Organizations such as Kudirat Initiative for Democracy etc are supporting willing women in politics nowadays, our women will never send killer squads trailing political opponents, Nigeria police does not unravel political assassinations, may be they are spiritual death.
Education, discussions security and support are also vital tools for prevention of politics with bitterness, sexual abuse, injustice, sexual violence and male domination of political scene will the desired change is achieved. Nigeria is of age, the problem and solution are ours. Give women voices, recognition and atmosphere of peace, we will definitely deliver.