The raping of a girl in Abia State by a group of 5 lads, allegedly ABSU students generated a huge uproar some weeks ago. The lads also had the gall to upload a video of the act, sending huge shock waves across Nigeria and the blogging community. A week or more later, a similar act was perpetrated by 2 LASU students, who lured and raped a lass. The events of the past few weeks have served to bring to national consciousness the issue of molestation and rape in Naija.
Rape incidents are not new in Nigeria. The advent of the internet and access by many Nigerians to smart phones and data plans has served to blow incidents that would otherwise be hushed up. Is there something about our culture that makes ‘no’ not mean ‘no’ ? People have argued this same part of our culture heaps a certain kind of stigma on a rape victim, discouraging her (or him) from speaking up or filing a report with the authorities.
In many aspects of Nigerian life, ‘no’ may mean ‘maybe’ or ‘later’ or ‘e go be’, just the same way an appointment to meet someone at 9am, ,may mean 12 noon or 2000 and never. Does this also apply to sexual advances? I mean we have all been brought up on local movies and TV shows, where the chap chases the lass, and in the early stages of ‘toastery’ she acts like she can’t stand him. Some females may even slap the chap at the mention of a date or insult him venomously (see Danny Wilson’s “Raggamuffin” video). Later on, she has a 360 degree change of heart, and they end up shagging/marrying/ or chasing each other at Bar Beach. A young male sees this, nods to himself and takes mental notes: No means ‘it depends.” At first if you don’t succeed,……..try again….
But remember that sometimes, Romeo must die..
Do Nigerian chaps feel entitled to sex once they are in the same room with a lass? An incident happened in England some years back where these 2 Nigerian chaps (Daniel and Akin) went to a club in the West End and pulled 2 oyibo chicks. They took them back home to Daniel’s flat. Akin was staying over briefly, because he had come down from Coventry for a few days. When they got to the crib, Daniel’s chick was ‘co-operating’ with him, so they chilled on the couch playing tonsil tennis. The other girl didn’t want Akin anywhere near her, and spurned all his advances. She didn’t even take her shoes off, and refused the offer to change into a pair of Akin’s shorts.
Time to go to bed, and the lads laid a huge comforter on the living room floor, so that everyone could sleep. It didn’t take long before Daniel and his girl started making out seriously, solving some ‘bedmathic’ solutions. Eventually everyone fell asleep. Not Akin. Around 3am, not able to take it anymore, Akin ‘mounted’ the other girl, slowly pushed her underwear to the side, and started having sex with her. The girl did not say a word or move an inch. When Akin was done, the girl stood up, and went to the bathroom. When she returned, she tapped her friend to wake her up, and announced that they should leave because she had just been raped. Pandemonium galore.
Her friend grabbed a mobile phone and started calling the police. Akin and Daniel ‘begged’ these chicks from 3.30am in the morning till like 8am. Dem no gree o.They called the police, and that’s how Akin was arrested. From Daniel’s flat in Kensal Green to the police station to Old Bailey court. He is presently in Belmarsh prisons, at the custody of Her Majesty. Like Tuface Idibia once crooned: Ogogoro be like woman; if you shack am, you go high o.
Incidents like this have been occurring in Nigeria for ages with a different outcome. The chaps would ‘beg’ or threaten the girl, and that usually would be the end of the matter. There is this girl I know who once told me that she was raped by her brother’s friend who she had a crush on, when she was just 16. She was in S.S 2 then, and the chap was a 2nd year student in University. She had stopped over at the guy’s house after school. The guys and 2 of his friends all took turns shagging her in the living room, and then she ran home crying but didn’t tell a soul. She said she had buried the terrible memory in the deepest pits of her subconscious.
What?! I asked her why she didn’t tell her elder brother or her folks. She confessed that her brother would have been really pissed and brushed off her allegation saying something like “Nto gi, why did you go to his house in the first place. It is good for you’. Her folks would have sneered ‘ Ashewo, your waka waka don carry you enter gbese abi. If you like, next time make you no come home straight from school.’ What kind of family is that? The Adams Family or the Fuji House of Commotion?
The act of forcing a girl to have sex against her will occurs far more often in Nigeria than one imagines. A girl comes over to see a guy whom she is not even dating, and is ‘coerced’ into ‘dropping’ .Or some rude guy hands the girl a refreshment in her hand, as he is shoving his penis into her mouth.
There are many other examples. Guys who coerce the girl into having sex by refusing to drop her off, or shutting the exit doors, and falsely imprisoning her. Or the case of the rich aristo chief who took a girl on a shopping spree at the Palms. When they got back to his hotel suite, he started taking off his agbada, and strapping on a Gold Circle condom. When the girl tried to protest saying “Ah, Chief, I am not in the mood o; besides I have a yeast infection”, the Chief barked as he shoved his manhood towards her pelvis “Ehen? And then? Ti ya n’ime!!!”
Chief had 4 rounds that night.
Or when a girl says “I have the ketchups, so we can’t even have sex”, there are guys who would counter “That is all well and good but what do I tell junior who is now stiff”.
As lads, we have to exercise self-control even if a girl comes to spend the night dressed like Tiwa Savage in her new video for ‘Love Me, Love Me, Love Me.” We have to keep that trouser snake sheathed. A cold shower is better than a cold cell.
Throughout history, many famous or successful men have fallen from grace after they were indicted and imprisoned for rape crimes. Tupac and Mike Tyson are moot examples. After Tyson went to jail for rape, he lost his boxing mojo, and was never the same prized fighter again, and took to biting ears like Goldie songs. He now rears pigeons. He lost bouts to boxers who would have beaten previously with his eyes closed. Even Bash Ali would have had a good chance of beating Tyson.
To prove how heinous the act of rape is, rapists are treated as the lowest of the low in the social hierarchy in American prisons. Once your fellow inmates ask you what you are in jail for, and you mention rape, you would get assaulted and picked on, or even shanked with a sharp object by other prisoners. Only child molesters have a worse reputation than rapists. Put it this way, even a prisoner who is serving time for stealing an 80 cent loaf of bread is treated better than a rapist. I don’t know how they would be treated in a Nigerian prison though. I mean corrupt politicians have been raping the economy and our treasury, and the few that went to jail for it had thanksgiving dinners in Kirikiri.
A lot of chaps have gotten burned by misconstruing a girl’s intentions. Chaps that like to look for an imaginary ‘green light’ in the girl’s posture, often get the wrong message that the girl is DTF (check “Jersey Shore” for the full meaning). Some guys have a problem discerning what is green light or even light at all. If a girl so much as looks as them, they would sprout something like “Abi, una done see? This babe dey fall for me, mehn. I go carry am go lodge.”
There should be a condom that has a small print on it which says ‘Girl has now consented to sex, so hereby executes the contract by tearing open this section.”
The magic condom would only be operable by females. It would probably have a seal that guys find damn near impossible to open, and only females can, a bit like a bra strap’s hook.
Until then, we have to treat our women with respect, and condemn all acts of sexual assault and rape on our sisters. I want to commensurate with the 2 girls who were forcefully violated, and I hope that the only silver lining behind all this unfortunate events would be a greater support for rape victims, general public enlightenment on the subject of sexual assault and a re-orientation of our police agencies on how to investigate and treat the crime of rape including offering counselling and victim support.
I have a bit more to say on this subject, as will be covered in 2nd part. Till then I dedicate the following song lyrics to any of our Nigerian sisters suffering any hurt as a result of molestation. Keep your head up.
Princess of the Nile/
And sweet black sexy child/
Ooh I like your style/
First mother on the planet/
I know it’s getting scary/
And all these wannabe pimps is all that you meet/
But you have got to shake them off like fleas and nigga meat/
And use your God-given talents and abilities/
No matter where you’re from, you get much respect/
Coolio (For My Sistas, 1995)
The art of “mis-yarning” is as old as language itself. From biblical examples (Moses took credit for a miracle and was subsequently prevented by God from entering Canaan) to historical accounts and even to the stuff of Roman legends.
In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia the queen of Argos mis-yarned by bragging that her daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than a goddess and was punished when the goddess sent them a Kraken (a sea monster, not a type of Danish cookie) to torment their island kingdom.
Nigerians love to talk – we babble on our smart phones in traffic at risk to our own safety, we reluctantly switch off our handsets ready for air take off, only to turn them back on as soon as the plane’s tires touch terra firma. Some also talk in the cinema, spoiling the enjoyment of more serious movie-lovers.
I mean who would be more interested in Angelina Jolie’s hair-do or hair-color, than in following the intriguing plot of the movie she is starring in? I was at Goldenfowl Cinema in Victoria Island recently to watch Salt, and a teenage girl in front of me kept talking during the movie, about Ms. Jolie’s hair. Someone on her row got fed-up with the distraction and asked her to hush. The girl got upset and started mouthing off, ruining the movie for us all. Now that is adding Salt to injury. Ok bad joke.
Way back at University in England, the librarian almost put up a “Not More Than One Nigerian Allowed” sign after he got tired of breaking up gatherings of shouting Nigerians camped outside the school library, chatting on top of their voices and shouting without a care. Our compatriots simply moved to the law library to continue.
So we are a bit chatty, but so are many people of Latin or Negro descent.
We also sabi mis-yarn well well.
Definition of mis-yarn from the Revised Pidgin English Dictionary (2010 Edition). To mis-yarn; to speak nonsense (verb), or any form of absurd or foolish talk (noun), informal or empty talk or opinion (noun), nonsense. See also bosh, opata.
Ok let me totally rephrase – we Nigerians can talk smack.
How many times has someone commented on your personal business or choice of fashion or any lifestyle choice of yours in a public place, and to the hearing of all not even originally privy to the conversation? Ah Alex, what is this? You have added (weight). See your bele.
Or chei! See big pimples on your face. Stop eating gra-nut.
It would interest you that I am actually allergic to nuts.
The above are little examples.
Or the guest who told the bride on her wedding day that he had not had a bite to eat since he came. Well, he didn’t exactly tell the bride, he sort of shouted it out to the audience at the reception including the enemies of the couple, and the bride and groom heard too.
Miffed at being overlooked by people who were serving only those they knew or were related to or those wearing aso-ebi, he cursed aloud “I have not been served anything since I came. Not even a grain of rice or a drop of water. Everyone sitting around me is eating and drinking. This is not a wedding, it is a funeral!”
Someone should have told him that actually funerals these days are like banquets for kings. So much food, so little tears for the deceased.
The funny thing is that sometimes this mis-yarn happens on live TV too. In 1988 American folk songstress called Tracy Chapman (a bit like Asa) released a single called “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight” which became a hit around the world.
Some years later, a little known Nigerian by the name of Eddie Salt (not real name) recorded a cover of the same song and shot a video for it. Eddie Salt was like your typical late 80s to early 90s Nigerian singer – he had very wet Jeri Curls, he wore costumes that glittered and he looked like the sort of dude who adds “pretty’ or “prince” in front of his government name.
In an interview on national TV, Eddie was asked what inspired him to record a cover of the song. The look on his face was as if he didn’t know what the interviewer was talking about. The person interviewing then asked Eddie if he was aware that song had been recorded by a popular American artiste called Tracy Chapman.
With a face as straight as 12 O’clock, Eddie said he had never heard of Tracy Chapman and that he was not aware that she had recorded “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight”. He further claimed ridiculously, that someone had hinted him recently that someone may have copied his song, and that infact he could not wait to see or meet this Tracy Chapman if it were her!
To be fair, Tracy Chapman had probably never heard of Eddie either.
But what gets my goat as well is when Nigerians do not take the environment or circumstances into consideration before they mis-yarn. I mean, there is a time and place for everything, right?
Some years back, I had to travel to Aba in Abia State around Christmas time with my niece. I decided to go by luxury bus, so I took XYZ from Jibowu which was going to Aba via Owerri. The journey was smooth enough and we got to Owerri around 5.30pm. About 85 per cent of the passengers dropped at Owerri, and the driver decided to wait for about 45 minutes to refuel the bus and to eat.
By the time we left Owerri, it was really getting dark and the bus had about 20 passengers onboard. We got to a place about 30 minutes from Aba, when the bus started having problems. The driver would start it and when he tried to accelerate, the bus engine would stall and quit. He would try to restart it and the car would refuse.
It was dark outside, and to make matters worse, we were in an area which was notorious in the past for armed robbers. There was no street lighting, the road was deserted save for a few cars passing by and we were surrounded by thick forests and owls hooting. Think Road Trip meets Tales by Moonlight. Oh my days.
It was very dark because the bus’s lighting was also failing. Some kids started crying because they were hungry and exhausted from travelling all day. A toddler threw up on a passenger a row beside me. The toddler’s mum blamed XYZ. The passenger’s smart agbada was covered in Cerelac. I was worried about my niece’s safety.
Then to front row of the bus, stepped up a man dressed in yellow polyester short -sleeved suit. He started preaching and talking about his ministry. In a thick Ibo accent, he relayed a story about how a year back, a bus carrying passengers to Port Harcourt got involved in an incident: “Just as the bus was approaching the hamlet of Isiala-Ngwa, the devil struck 20 yards from the toll gate. BOOM! The vehicle ran into a petrol tanker, and everyone on board the motor perished! Their families did not celebrate Christmas that year again!”
Everyone’s mouths were agape with terror. Even kids too young to fully comprehend started crying aloud. And I am like dude, of all the times and places to tell this story! The man ceased the moment by handing our fliers and pamphlets advertising his church and ministry. Let’s just say he ran out of fliers.
To be fair though, there are sometimes when your mis-yarn occurred because you meant to say something but it came out with another meaning. There was time I interviewed for a position with an oil service firm in VI. The chap doing the interview was a French middle-aged man whose English wasn’t so good. We had already discussed my professional and academic experiences as well as what the role entailed.
To break the ice a bit, he asked me what my interests were. I also asked him what part of France he came from, and what sport he was into. I was hoping that he was into football so I could talk about French football clubs I knew about like PSG, Marseille and Monaco. He however said he was into rugby and used to play rugby back in college.
In a spot of madness, I said “Rugby is a physical game, you have to be fit to play.” I didn’t know why then, but the guy looked at me in a weird manner and laughed uneasily. What I meant was that rugby was a tough sport and playing it generally required top physical fitness. The guy obviously thought that I meant that there was no way he could have ever played rugby because of his large gut. Talk about the phrase “pardon my French.” Sacre blue!
Needless to say, I never got that job. I did receive an email thanking me for my interest…
But seriously, there are levels of mis-yarn where the mis-yarner has done so out of lack of exposure or out of complete ignorance.
I was at a wedding once where the MC was a 40 something year old chap who was dressed in a red suit made out of linen, white snake skin shoes, suspenders and a bowler hat, all in 60 degree weather. The guy talked in a loud voice and was very brash.
After “Item No 7” on the menu, it was time for the couple to cut their wedding cake. The MC called out the couple and the baker of the cake. He then announced that he needed about a dozen girls from the audience who were virgins. I kid you not. These were his words “Please finally all I need are 11 or 12 single virgins. I am giving you 5 minutes, come and witness the cutting of the cake”
Well, no girls came out and I don’t think it is just because they were shy. Maybe12 is a lot to ask for.
Mis-yarning also occurs in customer service situations. I was once at a “Miss Little” branch in Aba, behind a man and a woman who had come on a date. When it was time to order, the woman started going through a verbal rundown of items on the menu board one by one.
She asked cashier, “How much is your chicken pie?” Getting irritated, the cashier replied “ The price is on the menu board, but it is N200.”
Pointing to the menu board again, she asked “What is tasty fiesta?”
The cashier visibly expatiated said “It is made out of eggs.”
She replied “Oh it is akwa. Interesting. I can see salad. Is it ugba?”
The cashier replied dryly “No it is oyibo salad made out of lettuce and carrots and not cassava and palm-oil. Please make your order. People are on the queue.”
She was about to order when something on the menu board caught her attention “Which one is Ice Cream Sunday (sundae). I doesn’t know about it. Is it because today is Sunday?”
Cashier: “It is ordinary ice-cream. Please let me take your order.”
The woman’s date just looked on quietly. He looked like he was calculating the bill in his mind, and praying that she wouldn’t do anything rash with her order.
Stubbornly, the woman continued “Mba, I want to know what is in that ice-cream sunday. What is in that ice cream sunday?” pointing with her finger to the menu board which had a picture of the item.
The cashier replied smartly “It is a trade secret.”
I couldn’t hold it in when I heard that, and I laughed out loud. I agree that a customer needs to know what is in a product, though not necessarily how it is made but the cashier’s answer was funny.
The lady eyed me maliciously, but that seems to have shut her up as she made her order and freed up the queue.
Sometime in the mid to late 90s, there was a popular night program on DBN called “The Night Shift” where callers could make a request from a list of movies in a line-up. The movie with the most votes was shown to the public. It was a hit program because they showed the latest movies. Oh, the sweet days before Silverbird, eh?
There was this nice looking lady anchoring the program then. She used to get hit on by male callers. She once had a chap ask her for her phone number on live TV to which she declined politely even though she looked a bit embarrassed. These were the days before GSM mobile services, so she would have had to give out her home number. All of the male audience were waiting.
On another occasion after reading out the line-up of available movies, she told a male caller to make his choice. He said “You.”
At least, he knew what he wanted.
What about when the mis-yarn is directed at your loved one?
A lady brought her 4 year old son to cut his hair at a salon close to where I live. The child was shouting and thrashing about, clearing terrified of the sound of the hair clipper. The barber could not get him to sit still and the kid kept on pushing the clipper blade away.
The child’s mum couldn’t get him to calm down and gave up.
The fed-up barber screamed down the kid’s ears “Shut up or I will barb you gorimakpa!! Then rub your head with palm-oil.”
Everyone in the salon went quiet with surprise. Even the child’s mother was too weak to say anything.
Maybe she thought that the threat was also directed at her perfect Brazilian lace -front wig.
“Zip up your lip before your lips zip you up”
E-40 (Record Haters, 1996)