Legendary Afrobeat King, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, was quite insightful when he sang ‘Teacher, don teach me nonsense.’ The irrepressible Fela observed something that was wrong the teacher was illustrating and he used his creative prowess to alert the society.
Some people would have condemned his boldness in challenging the teacher. During Fela’s school era, teachers were a sought after premium brand. To a great number of people, their teachers were like demigods and looked on as role models, till date. Now imagine Fela telling such a man who had attained high social status in life not to teach him nonsense.
Now, a recent development made Christopher Orji, my colleague at The Sun newspaper, to publish a post on his Facebook wall. It was an incident, which involved a man who used a despicable way to punish his wife over a disagreement. He would ask her to kneel down, stretch forth her hand and would then give her some strokes of cane, just like a school pupil would be punished by a teacher. The young children knew about it, and silently rebelled against the humiliation of their mother. Then one day, the 18-year-old son summoned courage and challenged the father, warning that he would physically fight him if he tried to flog his mother again. Infuriated by the son’s ‘effrontery’ the father declared that he would no longer pay his school fees.
His pronouncement drew outright condemnation from most people who commented on the post. One man said: “Must a woman be subjected to such trash in the name of marriage? What is she still doing with such a clueless man? But his son who is a futuristic young fellow challenged the wrong doing of his father and warned him unsympathetically never to try the rubbish again.”
It was clear from the Facebook post that the man has been giving the wife degrading treatment over the years, until the son’s dam of patience burst and long-suppressed rage all too ready to do real physical harm to his father in the event they fought. My question here is this: what lesson was the father teaching his son? Perhaps, how to order his own wife, to receive strokes of the cane.
In my neighbourhood, a story made the rounds that a certain man used to keep his wife under house arrest when they had issues. Armed with intertwined three-strand cowhide cane (koboko) he would order the wife to sit on the floor for hours and never stand up until she serves out any punishment suited for her. The lady would be squeezing her buttocks on the floor, pleading with her own husband to allow her use the lavatory. The heartless husband would utterly refuse to allow her go to the toilet to ease herself. Meanwhile, their only young son watched his irresponsible father bully his mother.
In this scenario, the teacher who is teaching nonsense is no other person than the despicable father. In the spirit of what Fela said, fathers like the two featured in this piece should stop teaching their children nonsense!
When a young beautiful woman marries a man, she gives up her maiden name, adopts the man’s surname and together they give birth to children that bear his name, she has definitely paid her dues. Such a woman would also collaborate with the man to raise the children, and in the process endured all manner of irresponsible things from the man, including having to kneel down at his command, unfaithfulness, arrogance, lies and oftentimes mismanagement of family funds, for the 18 years she was married to the man, shows that the man has mental disorder and needs to visit a psychiatrist.
Where does it happen under the sun that a man would ask the same wife he shares marital intimacy with in the wee hours of the night, to kneel down like a primary school pupil? The same woman who prepares choice meals for him, welcomes him home as husband with a sweet flowery smell, would have laid the bed, shields him from public embarrassment, cleans the house and waits for him to return. And then the warm embrace, hug, kiss, pet name she would get from him is an order to kneel down. Who does that in this 21st Century?
I personally salute the courage of the young lad, who stood up to his father and called his bluff. For breaking the vicious circle of abuse of his mother, I give 18 Gbosas, one for each of his 18 years. The teenager’s challenge, would have signaled to the father that he could also be punished by way of the challenge thrown by the son.
Interestingly, this man is not alone in this saga. There are several sick men who descend on their wives and go physical with them while their children, especially boys, watch father do the condemnable. Nduka, a father of four boys who was in the habit of exhibiting domestic violence met his waterloo when his four boys gave him stern warning of his life for trying to scuffle it out with their mother, Patience, who was a petty trader. At any provocation, Nduka would deal with his wife ruthlessly leaving her with scars and blood stained clothes. For her weak nature, she could not fight back and, therefore, became a regular patient in a particular hospital. Family and friends encouraged her to take a walk and be alive. She considered her children’s welfare more important than her own life. She only heaved a sigh of relief from torture when her abusive husband had a reason to travel out of the country. After spending years overseas, he became a legal immigrant through an illegal marriage with a German lady. He came back into the warm embrace of his family, with his boys all grown up. It was all happy Daddy-children relationship in the first week until their parents’ voices woke them up one morning. The moment they heard their mother’s voice crying, the boys rushed and held their father up. In anger, one of the son’s said: “Daddy, the next time you try this rubbish, we will kill you. This is just a warning. Our mother is not your wrestling mate, you frolicked with other women abroad and came back to kill the one who cared for us.” The man saw strange habit from his sons as they roared like lions before him. He was forced to respect his old age.
Worthy of note is the fact that domestic violence is not the only offence fathers commit before their children. Now, men who send their children (sons) to buy condoms, alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, wrapped weed at a joint, know it that you are passing on the wrong torch knowingly and unknowingly. A day will come and the son would want to eat the food daddy eats.
A certain widower settled himself with a nearby- side chick who regularly sneaked into the house very late in the night. Unfortunately, she did not show up on a certain expected date. The widower wonder how he would spend the night all alone. He sent his 12-year-old son out, to call the side-chick who came in and went straight to the room and locked the door. What a father! Same widower would parade different women before his children using the flimsy excuse of his wife’s death as justification. Fathers, do not teach your children nonsense.
A father who teaches his son about gambling is not guiding him well because a gambler is paving his way to other atrocities. When father and son begin to exchange gambling numbers, to date same women, start to be identified with the same joint, danger is certainly looming ahead. What is the father teaching his son? A certain father’s heart gladdens when his 16-year-old son wins big in BetNaija, but the boy fails woefully in school. I read of a father who keeps custody his son’s gun after each robbery or kidnap operation and yet believes he is a father.
Again, men who keep late nights know that your sons are watching you. If you are a man who hauls verbal assaults and thrashes other people in the presence of your son, bear in mind that he is imbibing your horrible practice, very fast. Fathers do not teach them nonsense. A man who boasts before his wife as a punishment about his exploration with a woman of easy virtue, while his son listens is teaching his son nonsense. Let fathers not create irresponsible children to the detriment of their lives and society.
Fathers, if you use bonding, praying and admonishing times to frolic, it will not come back. Be mindful and be guided. Oh ye fathers teach not thy children nonsense.