In the last week, allegations have been made on social media against a prominent Nigerian poet whose work i have been a champion of. The nature of these allegations border on sexual abuse, mostly inappropriate touching and general conduct bordering on “manipulation”, as well as an instance of threats of physical harm. All these accusations have been lain by a number of brave young female writers some of whom I’ve met, many of these who have got no reason to speak untruths against anyone. Subsequently, this accused writer, one of the finest poets writing in the last fifteen years, issued a universal apology via his Facebook page. The controversy is ongoing and i feel that I must say something about this.
First and innegotiably, the human body is inviolate and an inviolable space. As a writer and a poet, I recognize that this body is all I have and I am acutely aware of every single experience I hurl it into for my own creative purposes, and to exist. An artist lives in a bracket of his own trauma of being, for he by nature is more sensitive to experience and motives and stories. To tamper with the body is to censor my words and to break into my spirit. This is me.
These allegations are sad, for this is a man of unquestionable potential to greatness. These allegations, that they exist, are sad for these girls are vehicles of future greatness tampered with. Experiences not of their choosing have been hurled against their bodies and they have been correctly violated. There is ruin and there is loss, and there are no measures to the pain of either. While I mediate and meditate, I must recuse myself.
Because I hold my body as inviolate, inviolable place, I choose the contexts (relationships with others and ideas and more) in which it enters with the care of a paranoiac. I will not enter a context that is toxic, I will not enter a context that will harm my body, I will not enter a context that will put my body in peril of being destroyed. Except if these are done in furtherance of a creative experience or purpose that only I define. That is me.
Will the apology bring some form of closure? It is my hope it does. But my hope means nothing and I do not care for it to mean anything other than a state of engagement beyond indifference. In this matter, I recuse myself because I cannot care for any of the parties, alleged abuser and victims alike, in a personal, sentimental capacity. I simply do not care. My hope for some sort of closure lies only in the field of these people, alleged abuser and victims alike, creating again. It is here that my engagement, my “hope”, lies.
The alleged victims will need to decide what they want to do. It is not for the horde whose bodies never were in peril or violated to set the agenda of what is recompense. Because at the heart of this is the value of a personal estate, and I hope that personal artistic decisions, as opposed to public sentimental ones, guide these young artists in these times that brim with agenda masking indifference and bitterness. Your body is yours, brave sisters, to retake responsibility over again.
I write all this with great sadness.