On a morning that should have been calm and normal, a video recording of a scuffle between the mother of a 14-year-old schoolgirl and the officials/security men of Queens College, Lagos, suddenly flooded social media platforms and quickly went viral with Nigeria’s citizens commenting freely. Some citizens even fired digital versions of high precision guided missiles at other people, whose views on the incident conflicted with their magisterial opinion. For the next few days, the incident dominated discussions at various fora and wherever people who saw the video gathered.
On one of the social media platforms, one defender of the mother-daughter duo said: “Nobody has the right to touch my daughter; the girl, a minor, was totally embarrassed; she should have been taken to the principal’s office for proper counselling. Nobody has the right to record the video of the girl and post it online.”
What was the issue? There were different accounts of what really happened. In fact, there are three different video recordings that showed different stages of the scuffle. However, information gleaned from watching the three video recordings painted a discernable picture: the 14-year-old apparently attended a wedding ceremony over the weekend during which served on the bridal train. For this purpose, she wore false eyelashes, a new practice that has spread like harmattan fire among Nigerian ladies.
Trouble started the next day, when she came to school all done-up with her Barbie doll false eyelashes boldly in place on her face. She was said to have been driven to the school by her mother, who saw nothing wrong in her 14-year-old daughter wearing her ‘bridal train duty eyelashes” to school.
Another angle to the story was that she wore the lashes for a school drama. If that was the case, why did the school officials raise objections to her entering the school premises with her eyelashes worn purposely for drama in the school? However, let’s assume for one brief moment that she was supposed to play the role of a lady in the drama, she could have been made up for the role in other ways with colourful eye-shadow, rip jeans and other clothes that would not expose her private parts while acting the part assigned to her in the drama. In essence, she needed temporary stuff that would be removed immediately after the play. But these assumptions failed the test of plausibility. On the other hand, she purposely came to school with the false eyelashes to feel cool or form a “G” in line with the current slang trending in the school. It is also possible that she wanted to test the boundaries of school rules and regulations. But she got her fingers burnt. If she happened to be a student of the Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Ojo, would she have attempted what she did even if the Chief of Naval Staff happened to be her father? Naval Ratings would have made her use frog jump to spell her full name! All told, the teenage girl had no business wearing false eyelashes at her age, no matter the nature of the function she had attended over the weekend.
As the issue continued to swirl on social media, it was gathered that the girl was one of the most intelligent girls in her class – a claim that was backed up with a picture of the symbolic cheque of N250, 000.00, which she won in one of the competitions. Upon this revelation, all manner of thoughts ran through my mind.
Several women who commented felt very strongly that the security man involved in the fracas physically assaulted the girl and they would have strangled him if they had been near the scene – all because a girl-child was involved. This notwithstanding, a clarion call needs to be made urging parents and children to respect representatives of school authorities, whether senior or junior. Discipline and respect remain integral parts of teaching and learning in schools and otherwise. Does anyone enjoy being disobeyed? No, because it is an act that God abhors. No parent loves a disobedient child, and neither would an institution or organisation applaud or reward any form of disobedience. Established rules should be respected by all. A home where there are no rules and regulations will always be chaotic; it is the same with schools, work and business places.
Stories also had it that the girl in question was asked not to get into the school premises when the prefects at the gate noticed her eyelashes. It was her disregard of the prefects that drew the security man into the matter. Both the school prefects and the security men were statutorily assigned by the school management to duty at the gate and therefore deserved respect and courtesy. Raising a child is not only about feeding him or her with all sorts of foods, fill her room with fashionable pieces etc. Moral instruction, admonition, discipline, words of encouragement and consistent prayer should occupy priority position in homes. Teach your children how to respect themselves, other people and constituted authorities. When parents see their children dress in skimpy clothes and bum shorts outside the homes, they dismiss it as the habit of ‘internet age children’ instead of putting their feet down to correct such bad behaviour. Boys would go half naked and call it ‘sagging’ and some children would go out and come back at will without being reprimanded by the parents. Some parents watch their children show all manner of unruly behaviour without correction. In one of the private secondary schools with a boarding facility, a 14-year-old senior student in SS3 broke into the cupboard of a junior student on a Sunday morning while others were in chapel and packed all his beverages. The junior student was bold enough to report to the authorities and the act earned the SS3 student a two-week suspension from school, and thereafter he became automatic day student upon his return. On the day the suspension was announced, his father was invited to take him home. The poor man cried out his heart, but school the authorities insisted that the boy must go because if he had broken the cupboard and taken a few things to eat, it would have been termed as hunger, but for confiscating the whole provision meant that he had deliberately and boldly stolen the junior student’s provision, and therefore had to face the music.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, our African heritage is being denigrated by our people who are rapidly imbibing destructive western culture. It is not wrong to absorb the right aspects of foreign culture, but the saddening truth is that what we are soaking up from the West are exactly the very same practices that the people in the so-called developed West are lamenting over and regretting because of the negative impact on their society. In a situation where Nigerians and indeed African attempt to be more White than the Whites is worrisome. Clearly it was unspeakable that a 14-year-old girl could dress to school from the home with eyelashes as part of the school uniform under the watch of her mother.
It was very wrong and condemnable. Ultimately the woman and her daughter walked away from the scene in shame, in this era of social media, which Marshal McLuhan, a communication scholar, had propounded years ago that the world would become a global village. One therefore cannot expect otherwise. Their footsteps alone seemed to be heavy; they could not carry themselves with dignity. It dawned on the mother that she was a bit careless from the home. Would she blame her daughter’s eyelash on oversight, weakness as a mother, nonchalant attitude or anything goes? Did anyone rejoice with them at that moment? Compare this with when the five secondary school girls from Anambra State defeated their mates at a global ICT competition held in the United States. Can the two scenarios be regarded as the same? Definitely not! One scenario won accolades while the other was despised and spat upon.
If young girls must beat the records of the likes of the late Professor Dora Akunyili, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Arumma Otteh, Ifueko Omoigui Okauru and a host of other Nigerian women who have broken the glass ceiling through sound academic excellence and accomplishment as well as raised worthy children, then the way to go about it is not to begin wearing eyelashes at the age of 14.
Dear girl-student, your preoccupation for now should be your studies and how to be the overall best in your forthcoming WAEC/NECO examinations. By your action, no matter how one looks at it, you did not bring honour to your parents, siblings, extended family, and your immediate community. This is not the time for eyelashes. There is time for everything.