Disgust. Anger. Irritation. Indignation. These are only a few of the emotions that have greeted the BBC Eye expose on randy lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana universities. The demand for sex in exchange is a phenomenon that has become synonymous with our higher institutions of learning for decades; so much so that hip hop artiste, Eedris Abdulkareem shed light on it via a track that went on to become a hit 17 years ago. “Mr Lecturer” condemned the shenanigans of sexual predators cum lecturers in universities and polytechnics. Today, the story is not different, in fact, if feelers from undergraduates are anything to go by, then the situation has worsened considerably.
Na poor I poor, I no crase loosely translates to “I may be poor, but I’m not crazy.” The first time my mum said this to me while recounting an episode that happened—one in which she had refused to entertain a slight on her person; I thought it was a funny but apt expression. In essence, it means that in spite of a man’s penury, he can still muster some dignity. And more often than not, the insatiable appetite for the good life is not an aftermath of poverty, rather, it is a product of avarice along with the absence of dignity.
It was the umpteenth time she would be reporting him to his bestie, Chris, and as usual, Chris was full of apologies on his friend’s behalf and assured her she would never cause to complain again.
But she had heard this before. She could still remember the words of her would-be mother-in-law the last time she had walked him on them arguing.
“Ada, you need to be patient. I am not taking sides with Bayo oh, only that I know a woman who wants to enjoy her marriage will need a lot of patience,” She had said, waving her palms.
“But mummy, are you saying I should put up with his cheating ways?”
The palpable fear that has gripped the residents of Port-Harcourt is not unfounded. At the last count, no less than ten young ladies have met their sordid deaths in the hands of an unidentified killer. The pattern is as similar as it is curious: young women of a certain age range are found bereft of breath in random hotels within the city’s metropolis. Cause of death—strangulation. The unsettling story does not end there; it takes on an eerie dimension with the murdered ladies spotting a white piece of cloth tied around hand and neck. By now, one would have thought that law enforcement agencies would have some answers relating to these inexplicable murders, but that’s merely wishful thinking.
My mum once told me the story of how, during the early years of her marriage, a friend of her friend had expressed concern over her “apparent” childless state. My mum’s friend had stared at her with a mixture of shock and amusement. “She has three kids already,” she announced to this individual. It was their turn to be surprised; they had had no inkling that my mum had even one kid, let alone three. They had been so certain of their impression that if the new information wasn’t from one who was so close to my mum, they would have doubted it was true.
Individual mystery is getting scarcer by the day. Our lives are an open book because it is no longer fashionable to keep mum on one’s activities. The virtual community continues to prompt us to share— and we succumb— letting friends and foes alike into everything that defines our essence. Gone are the days when circumspection was an unwritten rule. The times when one made moves in silence are long forgotten, and though some people still hold onto the holy grail of a life void of incessant displays, these lots are a negligible percentage.
Influence is a word that increasingly features in our daily vocabulary; so much so that we now have people who go by the title of Influencers. Impacting the behaviour or thought process of others is a concept the vast majority of us could relate with since we were kids. Our parents warned us about peer pressure and how it could derail us from the straight and narrow path. At school, we were admonished not to join band gangs to ensure we weren’t tempted to engage in untoward activities such as drugs and heavy drinking. All our lives, we have been lectured on the potential danger inherent in influence.
It starts at an early age: the dream and need to belong. To be one of the cool kids. The drive to be affiliated with wealth and recognition began in high school; children from average homes who did all they could to be friends with the kids from affluent backgrounds. They devised every means to be viewed as one of the creme de la cremes of the student society. Some of them went as far as denying their own parents or seeing them discreetly when they came visiting because they needed to keep up an appearance.
Nearly 2.5 million Muslims participated in the Hajj (a spiritual exercise that constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam) this year. The figures have risen steadily over the years, and it is safe to presume the next couple of years will follow the same upward trajectory in numbers. The El al-Adha holiday is one both Muslims and Christians can identify with even though it is not officially celebrated by Christians. The story of Ibrahim (Abraham in the Bible) and God’s command to him to sacrifice his son, Ismail is recorded in the two most popular holy books. Eid-el Kabir is tagged, a festival of sacrifice—one that commemorates a test of faith and belief in the supreme being.
At the basest level, humans go through the same challenges: juggling family and vocation, giving attention to the things that really matter—making and sustaining a living, staying healthy—nurturing relationships. For people in developing countries, poverty is an ever-looming possibility, so there’s a constant battle to stay afloat financially. Add political turmoil and insecurity to the mix, and there’s no doubt that everyone has sufficient burdens to keep them busy. However, there’s a challenge that never ceases to rear its head. One that’s designed to break anyone who isn’t deliberate about self-awareness and authenticity.