On the issue of the rise of rape in our societies and its current popularity on social media, I have chosen an engagement. There will be no emotive post about it from me. I have instead accepted to join the board of trustees of Karniel’s Next Generation of African Men’s Initiative (KNEGAM Initiative) based here in Abuja. Its stated objective is to “empower boys so they overcome challenges as they transition from boyhood to adulthood”.
I see no justification for rape at all except a disregard for the sanctity of a body that is not yours. Yet, everywhere I see various cop-outs that more of less justify this traversing of another’s body. Whether the victim is male or female, a child or an adult, there is only one implication. I believe that the point of 5000 years of civilization is the privileging of the human body as being above that of any other animal from which it is, in fact, indistinguishable. The implication of a rape culture is to turn us all back 5000 years and more, so we are no different from any “lower animal”. We thus become lower animals. This eventuality I will not accept.
So, I will do my little bit to work with kids so they have a balanced sense of self and know where they stand as inheritors of many centuries of advancement and civilization and thought. The initiative is targeted at male kids because they are most in danger of inheriting bad assumptions as a result of the current power relations in society.
KNEGAM Initiative is run by a friend of a friend, Uchenna Idoko, in the name of her son. I thank them for asking me on their board. I am certain it will be a platform to fight bad ideas that threaten to send us all back to the times of pre-history. I hope my contribution will be concrete.
In this season of awards, dubious mostly, I feel a need to join in and make an award. Without the dubeity, of course. A little subjectivity is called for.
I have read scores of interviews by Nigerian Writers in the last year. I have always been fascinated by the more perceptive, the more memorable, answers. Where these go to the heart of the matter, I have noted them. In jot paper, in emails and sometimes by posting them on Facebook.
So, without much ado, my Literary Quote of the Year 2014 [Nigeria] goes to: Umar Sidi.
Umar Sidi is a Nigerian naval officer and poet. The quote chosen is from an interview by Uche Peter Umez which can be read HERE. Umar Sidi’s poetry has been published in a chapbook The Poet of Sand [Saraba Magazine] and he has a debut collection, Striking the Strings, due out from Origami Books, Nigeria.
“Poetry is not to be imprisoned within the cage of any tradition; it is not to be caged even in its own tradition, to do that is to do the sacrilegious, and the consequences, to say the least, are disastrous.”
[Disclosure: I co-own Parrésia Publishers Ltd, owner of the Origami Books imprint under which Umar Sidi’s poetry will be released.]
His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria [2nd R] in Burkina Faso Thursday this week; news that Mubi, an economic hub in northeastern Nigeria, had fallen to Boko Haram Islamist rebels came in a day before.
I want to know how His Excellency
Picked his suit today
To gardentend the absence
Of brother Beau Blaise
There’s wonder also how in a blink of laws
In a tipping of scales, minds of sheep reach and tap
God-veins, stand proud, draw diaphragms, roar a No
Send ageing guard dogs scurrying.
Tell me how faith blooms yet from out stilted petals
Of Ouagadougou’s rose
There is no joy in Mubi
Where the speech of feet converse away
From a crescent set awry by mullahs His Excellency
Swore to tie up, to prison suite, to bring
To heel, who now raise flags, threaten all with order
In the shadow of their lies.
Mubi, where the black flag
Flies, where my green-and-white lies fallen
The soldiers of my country fled
How did His Excellency pick this suit today
Amidst the tears of my people
To go vend statesmanese
At Sankara’s Easter?