Monday, September 25, 2017

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Thing Around Your Neck

They say sorrow looks good on me,
Her silvery pearls accentuating my neck,
They say she dangles sweetly from my lobes,
Like diamonds found deep within African soils.

I am acquainted with sadness,
Like long lost lovers.
She and i fit perfectly like pieces of a puzzle.

She nests her heavy head on my ample chest,
And i generously pat her icy back,
Singing her songs of a once upon a time.

They say sorrow looks beautiful on me
The way her selfish fingers clutch my throat.

Note: Title is adopted from Chimamanda Adichie's novel titled, The Thing Around Your Neck
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Saturday, June 17, 2017

A June Poem

This is the poem of a night in June
When the song that sung
Was a saddened ode
A prayer on the tongue
For a fire that burned
From darkness to daylight
Under the watchful eyes of God.

Love is a wicked friend
Who grips a heart
With hands made of roses and thorns.
"Mourn your loss"
The old friend begs
Only the lover understands
The pain that is felt.

You with the vizer over your eyes
Refuse to see them
The sons and daughters
Lovers and friends
All with the smell
Of death on their feet.

Do you not see how a night in June
Has stormed their worlds
A thief in the night
Now gone with the wind.
Let us leave this darkness
And find the light
Maybe, one morning in July.
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

How Do You Say Gender Based Violence and Consent In Nigerian?

There has been a lot of conversation regarding gender roles, sexual assault and gender based violence in Nigeria of recent. This is in no way because these issues are new problems that are riddling and corrupting our society, this is because a problem that has pervaded our society for ions, is finally being acknowledged.

The Emir of Kano State, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi plans to enact a policy that prevents men whom cannot afford to keep multiple wives at home from getting married to more than one wife. This in itself makes sense, Emir SLS has seen the effect of polygamy in our communities when it is not done right, how women are most of the time, unwillingly pushed into living very difficult lives due to the fact that their men keep marrying more wives and having more children. As the Emir, SLS stepped up to protect his people. He also plans to enact a law that protects women in situations involving domestic violence by making domestic violence a punishable offence which directly contradicts this belief: “There is a deep cultural belief in Nigeria that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman to discipline a spouse ”(Wikipedia). He has acknowledged the fact that domestic violence is a big problem in Nigeria. However, this has not been sitting well with a lot of Northern Nigerian clerics. Too many of them have come out to vehemently oppose the law. Emir SLS has of course, not been deterred. The plan still stands.

As many of the clerics who have come out to oppose The Emir’s law said, this new policy will allegedly change the law of the Qur’an. One cleric whose name I refuse to mention said in an article (paraphrased), that men must take the law of their homes into their hands and it is up to God to judge them (in reference to domestic violence). In all of the articles I have read, what these clerics claim is that God will judge a man if he does not do right by his wife but a woman will be judged here, on this earth, by the hands of man. You understand how hypocritical, misogynistic and just plain wicked that is?

Nigeria is a heavily misogynistic society, whether we like to admit it or not. By admitting that sentence, I am in no way implying that other countries are any less misogynistic, the world is a pretty misogynistic place but the focus of this write-up is Nigeria, where laws and policies affect me and the people I love directly. Too many Nigerian men have cried out that the law banning men from marrying multiple women (if they cannot afford to) is against the sunnah of Muhammad S.A.W whilst ignoring the fact that each one of Muhammad’s wives was well taken care of. The common trait with if not all but most clerics, is to dissect the sunnah of Muhammad S.A.W and then pick and choose whatever fits into their lifestyles. That which does not fit is ignored and it is backed up by “religion cannot be interpreted in the same way as it was in the time of Muhammad S.A.W”.

Another instance that has my mind all mangled up is the issue of consent that does not seem to be a conversation in Nigeria. The show Big Brother Nigeria has been back on television for a few months now. Regardless of our morality clause that judges the show, we have to admit that the show is a show watched by millions of Africans. Even if we ourselves do not partake in increasing viewership for the show, the show does find it’s way into many households and remember, the TV/internet is this generations main source of information. I digress. A few weeks ago, a participant of the show was disqualified (thumbs up to the show for that) because he directly or indirectly assaulted a housemate while she was asleep. Believe me, the responses I got from both men and women regarding this issue still freezes my blood. I will add a few conversations that had me the most shook up.

“ Me: It does not matter if the world knows he likes her or not, as long as she did not give him permission to get into her bed and do whatever he did, it is a violation of her right to privacy at her most vulnerable state (sleep).

Colleague: If she did not like what he did, she could have woken up to stop him(ignoring the fact that some people are actually deep sleepers). I’m sure she enjoyed it. ”

“ Colleague: But he likes her, everyone knows that. It is not like it was a stranger that got into her bed. He should not have been disqualified. (Ignoring the fact that she has made it explicitly clear that she did not like the accused)

Me: It does not matter. He did not have her permission; he should not have gotten into her bed and touched her. That is sexual assault.

Colleague: *laughs and calls me an “activist” * ”

“Colleague (female): I feel bad for the man, he had such potential.

Me: You are literally sympathizing with a possible rapist.

Colleague: *laughs nervously* ”

What I took from these conversations is this, the topic of consent is not discussed in Nigeria which is directly related to the misogyny I mentioned earlier. A woman’s body is free for the taking as long as it is “right there”. There is a difference between a Yes, a No and a No Response. A lack of response is not a Yes, it is not consent, it does not give any man, any right to a woman’s body. I am now more terrified of Nigerian men than ever. The heavy sympathy the accused man received all over the Internet left my jaw hanging.

We have begun discussions about gender-based violence; soon…we should have this conversation on a national scale meaning, the National Assembly (even though we all know the amount of testosterone in that dome makes doing the job the Assembly was created for i.e. enacting laws that affect the general populace, actually impossible).
Unless more women study and discuss Islamic jurisprudence and work with the way our laws affect women in today’s society, men would continually make us victims of their interpretation of Islam as it is been done today.
We must talk about consent; we must educate people about consent. We must protect our women from the wickedness of ignorance. After the scene aired, the show was quick and swift in their response to disqualify the accused, which was highly admirable considering the kind of society we live in. Even other housemates were quick to isolate the lady who was the victim here.

We live in a society where a victim receives no emotional support but an accused receives heaps of it. This must change. This is not the society our ancestors sacrificed for.

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