Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’
Tags: American History, Donald Trump, Fairy GodSister, Feminism, Google, Hilary Clinton, Hypodermic Needle Theory, ImWithHer, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Jamie Foxx, Make America Great Again, Michael Jackson, Nigeria, Nigerians, politics in Nigeria, Republican Candidate, Stronger Together, Technology, United States, USElection, voter education
Tags: Abduction, Bayelsa State, child molestation, Child Rights Act, Ese Oruru, Kano State, National Assembly, Nigeria, Rabiu Kwankwaso, UNICEF, VVF, Yunusa Dahiru
In March, social media woke up to a really startling story: a young girl, a 13-year-old child that had been kidnapped from Bayelsa, taken to Kano state, rechristened Aisha in an apparent conversion to Islam, and married off to a young man. The girl? Ese Oruru. The man? Yunusa Dahiru, aka Yellow.
The contradictory reports in the media were as frustrating as they were ridiculous. First, it was said that she was eighteen, despite her family’s cries to the press to the contrary. Then the poor child was demonized, something about her dating the man, writing him love letters, and being in love with him, like the word of a child on those matters should be acknowledged. Then it was back to the arguments about her age again, and how she was 14 years old and not 13. On and on and on, splashing her face in the papers, in the hearts and minds of Nigerians that choose, very conveniently what to forget, and what to remember and stigmatize others by.
Interestingly, while this was going on, a number of other parents cried out about their teenage daughters getting abducted, married off and raped. Yes, rape because that is what this is. Non-consensual intercourse is rape, compounded in these cases by abduction, and of minors.
Back to Ese Oruru, we were confused with the back and forth that freeing the girl and returning her to her parents threw up. A lot of conversation between her not getting released till HRH, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi gave instructions to that effect because she was in his custody, the Royal’s swift denial, convoluted messaging from the police, on and on.
Amidst hashtags, commentary in the press and extreme pressure on the consciences and sensibilities of people involved in the matter, Ese Oruru was finally returned to her parents in Bayelsa in March 2016; seven months after her abduction, and recently gave birth to a baby girl. A baby birthing a baby, rife with the risk of VVF, and the total disruption of her life as we know it.
Yunusa Dahiru was charged to court too, a five-court charge of criminal abduction, inducing by the use of deception and coercion, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor.
We woke up to reports on the 11th of July that Yunusa, with expensive legal representation, has been released on bail and whisked back to Kano. The news story was garnished with a photo of this abductor and rapist at the airport. The end, literally.
Some responses came back on how long it took for the alleged abduction and rapist to get bail, the constitution and laws being the problem, rape being a bailable offence, the quality of our laws and the attendant handicap of the judiciary etc.
There were also less sane responses about Ese’s case not being a peculiarity because underage girls get abducted and raped daily, it took three months to secure bail, and then of course the ultimate expressions of ignorance couched as insults or the representation of the matter based on ethnic sentiments.
Both sets of responses ignore the fact that we’re talking about a child. Both sets of responses ignore the fact this case already stinks to high heaven. They ignore the fact that by not speedily prosecuting this case, securing a watertight conviction, and dispensing punishment that is a deterrent to potential offenders, we have lost yet another opportunity to protect our children. We keep failing them.
I have written about child molestation, rape and other crimes against minors before, taking time to narrate not just the horrors the children have faced, but the helplessness the parent feel, and the stark failures of our systems to mete justice.
We have a Child Right Acts that took 12 years (1991 – 2003 after Nigeria signed the convention on the Rights of the child with UNICEF support) to go through the National Assembly, and more than 10 years after that, only 24 states have passed and given gubernatorial assent to the law in their states. That means that our children, the most vulnerable in our society, left unprotected and we do not feel any sense of urgency. Implementation aside, it means that the appropriate legal framework for the protection of the rights of our little ones is still a pipe dream. There is no urgency from the Judiciary or the Legislature whose job is it to empower the courts.
Unfortunately, this sad story probably ends here, and this statement is based entirely on precedent. No rehabilitation for Ese, no clear deterrents for the society because we don’t protect our children. No justice because we have a National Assembly that is filled with self-serving paedophiles who do not agree that people under 18 are children and so will scuttle privately and in public any plans to protect them. A National Assembly with officials who will uphold anything other than the laws they were elected to (and swore to) protect.
While Gambia and Tanzania ban child marriages, Ghana considers raising the age for marriage for girls from 18 to 23; we have popular commentary in Nigeria that posits that child marriage is the preferable, dignified and honourable alternative to child prostitution. The Giant of Africa lagging behind where it matters the most.
We can do better. We must do better. This 8th National Assembly has the opportunity to write its name in the annals of history, and we hope they take it.
Tags: Abuja, Africa, Africa Cup of Nations, Amodu Shuaibu, Cassius Marcellus Clay, death, Johannesburg, John Ramsey, Life expectancy in Nigeria, Lonnie Ali, Louisville Kentucky, Mary Keshi, Military Dictator, Muhammad Ali, Muhammadu Buhari, NFF Technical Director, Nigeria, Nigeria Football Federation, Nigeria national football team, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Port Harcourt, Sani Abacha, Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth, South Africa, Stephen Keshi
So this past week has been filled with people dying or the remembrance or interment of dead people. Not anyone I knew personally, but you all know how I get about death. It’s the sharpest wake up call for everyone, myself inclusive.
First off, Stephen Keshi passed on the 8th of June, he wasn’t up to 60. Keshi holds quite a few awards and records (which I’m sure you all already know so I won’t go into them). He is however the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, and the second person in history to win the competition as a player and as a coach after Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt when he led the Super Eagles to win the tournament in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Whoop!
His wife of 35 years passed on sometime last year (she had cancer), and news reports say he never really recovered from her death. News reports also say he had a heart attack. A few things.
- His four children are now orphans (incredible how one event has now changed the course of events for their children)
- Even people who gave him great grief as coach for Nigeria’s football team were singing his praises after he passed.
The 8th of June is the anniversary of former military dictator Sani Abacha. He died in 1998. I think everything I think about that is summarised in this tweet I pushed out same day.
Then, last night I watched the memorial service for Muhammad Ali, an inter-faith service in his hometown Louisville Kentucky and attended by the leaders of just about every religion. I read somewhere (and I think Lonnie Ali, his wife mentioned it too) that he had planned his funeral this way, just like he planned his mom’s.
Quick recap from the BBC’s website about Ali.
I don’t think I’ve watched a ‘richer’ memorial service, overflowing with stories about this one man who was and will always be the greatest. Everyone talked about how he had helped, inspired, rewritten the rules, stood for what he believed in, on and on, and on; his vanity and great sense of humor not excluded. It was really beautiful and makes me want to do so much more with my life. So much more.
Then, this morning, just seen on Twitter that the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amodu Shuaibu, has passed on, aged 58. Apparently he complained of pain in his chest last night, and didn’t wake up this morning.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead, and I pray God in His mercies provides the comfort and strength that only He can.
We need to have an urgent national conversation about life expectancy in Nigeria, and healthcare services beyond the workshops, conferences, and stakeholder meetings that do not achieve anything tangible beyond per diem and pretty stationery.
A bigger conversation we need to have within ourselves is the one about what we’re doing with our time here, and what we want to be remembered for. And also about life being short and therefore striving to make every single day count.
I heard this quote last night; John Ramsey, family friend and former radio host said Muhammad Ali used to say, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” He said Muhammad not only paid his in full, he’d paid it forward.
What’s up with your rent?
Tags: Big Mo, Chronicles of the Fairy GodSister, Chuks D General, dettol, Everything written about you is great, Fairy GodSister, House On The Rock The Refuge, Inmates, Kuje Prison, Nigeria, Nigerian Blogger, Philanthropy, Prison visit, Prisoners in Nigeria, Road trip, Steve Crown, Wazobia FM
Hope is a currency more valuable than the dollar, more desirable than the pound, and yet the most easily dispersed, if you’re in prison.
I visited Kuje Medium Security Prison on Friday the 22nd of April 2016, my first time ever in a prison, home and/or abroad. I had heard of prison visits by charities and fellows given to philanthropy in the past, but a chance meeting with Big Mo of Wazobia FM and I was off to ‘The Committee’ to tell them we needed to contribute towards the visit.
The trip to the prison was moved a few times due to high security alerts issued by the authorities, and the calibre of people housed in the prison and at some point I lost hope that the visit would happen. But, on Wednesday I was informed that we had received the all-clear and Friday was the day.
Thanks to monies graciously approved by The Committee, I drove to the assembly point, back seat full of toiletries – toothpaste, petroleum jelly, bathing soap, washing soap, dettol, sanitary towels, and bleach – and I had to change into something totally hiding my figure. Yep, I had been warned that the less *insert a word of your choosing* females look when they visit prisons, the less excitable the men will get.
And then we set off to Kuje, which is a right turn off the stretch from the city to the airport, and transforms from urban to underdeveloped with each kilometre. Unfortunately, there is a stark difference between state capitals and satellite towns around them; stark differences in what we present to outsiders, and what we really are.
The entire drive, my mind was racing, almost crashing into itself with all the emotions I was feeling and the stories of prison visits I’d heard. Would they pee on me, would anyone be really injured? Would they be hungry, angry or just stoic? I tried to distract myself with music, with very little success.
As we turned onto the dirt road leading to the prison, the butterflies in my belly doubled, trying to keep up with the increasing military presence we encountered. I was reminded of the absolute power of celebrity and the media (read as radio) when we were stopped at one of the checkpoints and told to go somewhere far to park. Then Big Mo introduced himself and it was magical how all the soldiers started hailing him. Fist bumps, laughs, the once tense mood melted into camaraderie because the soldiers matched a face with a voice they listened to maybe everyday.
We got into the prison reception, and the ladies were taken into a room to be searched. I’ve been body searched on three continents and I tell you, none have been as embarrassing and almost invasive as this search. The body search in America comes close, but these guys take the cake abeg.
We were led to a courtyard where there were at least 100 inmates sitting under canopies and laughing as one of us cracked jokes. And there was more laughter, raucous laughter as comedians thrilled the inmates. It got better, there were comedians drawn from the inmates themselves. Hilarity!
Beyond the laughter though, I was bawling like a baby at different points. One of them? One of the comedians was told he could only do one joke. He finished it, and when the mic was going to be taken from him, he said he’d been locked up for 8 years and he didn’t know when next he’d hold a microphone. Cue my wiping my eyes furiously.
When each performer finished, he would give out a tube of toothpaste, a bar of soap, or any of the little household items we had. The joy on their faces as they received the items, the look of longing on the faces of their peers, cue my wiping my eyes furiously.
Sometimes it was easy to forget we were actually amongst inmates. The thunderous laughter, hailing their own performers or ours, and the clapping would have been great joy to a politician at a rally. Each time an official asked them to move back, or sit down though? I remembered, all over again.
I wondered what crimes they might have committed to get there, wondered about their friends and family and if they were missed, if some of them had families waiting for them to get out, or if they had moved on. I was told of people who were locked up (for years) because they couldn’t afford bail of N5000.
A pastor from House on The Rock The Refuge gave a brief exhortation, and he led us in the song ‘Everything written about you is great’ by Steve Crown before that. Watching the prisoners standing, waving their hands in worship? Kai. Pastor TJ preached hope, courage, and Jesus being able to turn their lives around.
We danced too, even me! The performers all danced with the inmates, the prison officials danced with themselves, and then us females (two of us) were asked to come out to dance. Took all of me not to cry all over again as they hailed us to the ‘stage’; couldn’t manage beyond shuffling from side to side.
And it was a teary Chioma who gave soaps and toothpaste to the inmates, including one really old, frail man as afternoon turned to evening and we had to leave.
I was turning everything we’d experienced in my mind as we walked to the reception to be processed out. Only to see prison officials whipping one really rough-looking man so quickly it seemed like every step I took coincided with a swish of the whip. I started begging the official to stop, tears flying down my face. One of the officials told me not to waste tears on the man; apparently he’d been released from this prison after spending four years for raping a female; he had just been arrested, caught in the act of raping a four-year old boy. Yes. A four-year old. A boy.
PS: A very big thank you to Big Mo, Chuks D General, Willy Willy (all of Wazobia FM and who have organised these prison visits for a number of years), all the comedians and entertainment guys who came along on this visit. You guys are awesome.
Tags: Aaron, Abuja, Adobe Photoshop, Africa, Age appropriate, Airport Security, Arkansas, Baptists, Chronicles of the Fairy GodSister, Digital storytelling, Driving in Abuja, Fairy GodSister, Nephew and niece, New baby, Nigeria, Nigerian Blogger, Prayer, South Africa
Children of God!
How’s everyone doing? Good? I know, I’ve been absent, not unavoidably, but I promise I couldn’t help it. I need you to understand how hard I tried! God is faithful sha, the year’s shaping up really nicely, and I can’t but be thankful. Where do I start from? I have a brand new, gorgeous niece! Like, when I held her like an hour after she popped out (literally, lol), I felt like my heart would explode! Very thankful!
So, what I’ve been up to? Or do we just look at the things I said I’ve learned and then they incorporate bits of what I’ve been up to? Yep, I prefer the second option, let’s do that.
- Sometimes you need to let people go. Like cut them off, and uprooting whatever stumps they attempt to leave behind because they’re cancerous and you don’t want any reappearances. And sometimes that can be difficult. And that’s ok, because we’re human, flesh and blood, etc. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do sometimes!
- Prayer is a direct line to God. Like D-I-R-E-C-T. So in February my inner lights of my car stopped working, and I’m afraid of my mechanic cos every time he fixes something it’s never what it used to be. So it works, but I just know the general equilibrium of the car has been messed with. Anyway, so that night I prayed and said to God that He could fix my car and save me from using potential tithe or offering money to fix it (I know, I’m such a spoiled Jesus baby). Guess what? Next night I drove the car, guess whose inner lights came on? Whoop! Thank you God!
- Mechanics, tailors, carpenters, electricians, all artisans are cut from the same cloth. Like I cannot deal! I was going to learn tailoring (and I know a friend who picked up the skill recently and is doing great) but am I going to learn all the others too? Sigh.
- Babies are work, a lot of work! My niece has the loudest voice I’ve ever heard on a baby… my God! Like when she’s upset, she can raise the dead! To be honest I don’t remember if my nephew was this loud or if we’ve forgotten because he’s a bit older (3 going on 300, lol). Either way my little princess has lungs! Dang! She will join a choir biko, we won’t waste this talent.
- Children say the darndest things, no really they do. So, my nephew is three, our little majesty. He’s awesome, and I’m excited at how much he’s growing up, and how he’s learned that Chioma’s iPad needs something called internet if he’s going to watch Dora the Explorer on it. Lol. So, where it would have been “Chioma can I use your iPad?” it’s become “Chioma do you have internet?” Lol. Cuteness overload when he wakes up in the morning and first thing he asks me is if I have internet. Uncle say good morning jor!
- I miss my aunt, and I don’t think we’ll ever stop talking about her. So my mom’s been around for just under a month now, and we were all gisting yesterday when it occurred to us that we talk about my aunty maybe everyday! Sometimes more than once in a day. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. You bastard.
- I haven’t read as much as I planned to do this year. I said I would do a minimum of three books a month, I’m almost rolling my eyes at how far away from that I am! Sigh. Who has a reading plan or something like that I can TRY to follow? I just feel a little inadequate when I’m not amassing titles and going through them.
- I haven’t been out of Nigeria since January, and outside Africa since October. Have you looked at the exchange rates recently? Cough.
- 30 isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. It’s the big 3-0 in a few months, and I have a whole lineup of activities I’m working on, across a number of continents (yes Boo), and involving a few crazy heights! Yeesss!! I c-a-n-n-o-t wait! Bucket list of life and destiny! Now looking up to God and showing him the total for the trip, and smiling, because God likes it when I smile. Lol…
- I fasted in January with my church, HolyHill Church in Wuse 2. 21 days (20 for me because I missed one day). It was quite the experience, and I look forward to being able to do that and just focus on God without it being a congregational activity. There’s nothing like activating a direct line to God walai… I cannot explain!
There you have it, 10 things I’ve been opened up to from the beginning of this year till now.
11. And here’s a nice little number 11 because it’s my blog, and I can – I’m a fine girl! Whoosh!!! Ok, I didn’t just figure that out, lol, but this is more like your point to ponder, reflect on, and dance to! Lol!
PS: I almost had an accident yesterday night… I was headed to Shoprite to buy chicken (lol, bestie says I wasn’t even going anywhere ‘serious’) and suddenly this guy in a Toyota Camry just comes out of literally nowhere. I’m over 100km/hr and so I call the name above every other name and step on the brakes – the one oyibo people call ‘jam the brakes’ – and I’ve never heard screeching that loud. My God! I didn’t hit it (ram into it would have been a more accurate description). My hands were steady, I didn’t swerve or endanger anyone, and interestingly, even though the guy sped forward just a little bit (when he heard the screeching I guess), the space between us wasn’t that much when my car stopped. Phew!
Praise God with me!