One of the most traumatic things that can happen to a woman is to be handed a baby that is less than perfect in the labour room. Imagine it…
Nine months is a long time to haul another human around inside you and I am not talking about the morning sickness and the crazy cravings for the most absurd things like wanting to eat charcoal. I am talking about the real lugging, yes. Not being able to sleep because the little being inside you is fully awake. Not being able to lie on your side because the little lady’s little legs are there. The heart burn is another story as the little one gets bigger and the uterus pushes against the stomach contents. Your bladder feels like it is perpetually full and you are peeing so often. The baby is oblivious of your discomfort. He’s probably having a blast in there. Some babies have been known to enjoy their lives in the uterus world that the doctors have to coax and sometimes haul their tiny behinds into the real world. The mother has to endure all, the pain, the sleepless nights, the kicking and then many times the doctor’s knife and of course the stitches and accompanying pain.
All that do not obliterate the joy and excitement of expectation; the frenzied shopping, choosing colours for everything from the basinet to the socks and nursery. In this part of the world, the naming ceremonies are usually at an advanced stage long before the baby arrives.
Now, whether the labour is long and hard or swift and easy, it is still labour. Tough stuff, trust me. You scream until you are hoarse, recite the Quran or call Jesus until the Holy One is forced to persuade your baby to take pity on ‘mummy’ and leave his comfy cocoon. Sometimes it takes two hours. Sometimes you are in and out of pain for 24 hours. Some have done more. And then finally you do that long push and he cries, yes, he cries. You heave a sigh of relief and wait for the baby to be placed in your arms. Five minutes, ten minutes and the nurses are dashing up and down, colliding with the midwife and doctor-on-duty… you are wondering what is taking them so long, and then the doctor clears his throat, face dead-pan, hands your baby over and there he is, cute little thing, one thumb in his small mouth but he has only one eye, only one!
You move swiftly from shock to anger to exasperation and then the flood of tears express the dozens of questions that are running around in your head and bleeding heart. What did I do wrong? Why is God punishing me? Who have I offended? Did I take the wrong drugs? Unending questions. Inconsolable mother on the day she had looked forward to for 40 weeks.
Thank God for science, new medical discoveries and support, a lot of less-than-perfect babies are now able to live life to the fullest.
But what about where the imperfections are not detected until the child is fully grown and well into his teens? There is no way of knowing a rapist at birth, is there? Yet a mother nurses and nurture her infant boy with all the love she has, only to wake up one morning and find out that her 17-year-old son has been caught pants down or boxers-around-his-knees pushing himself forcefully into an unwilling frightened girl in broad daylight? What does a mother do then? How does she face the world? And it is an extremely bad case of the disease called rape when the rapist is caught doing the evil not only in the open but in front of a cheering and clapping audience.
And that brings us to the story of something that had become an annual traditional sexual assault ceremony by male students of Ireti Grammar School, SW Ikoyi, on female students of Falomo High School, both in Lagos. In case you didn’t, let me share excerpts from Michale Matthew, a woman of strength who braved the odds (she could have been mobbed by those stamping rascals) and captured the daylight evil in words and pictures.
According to Ms Matthew, that fateful Wednesday, the Ireti Grammar School boys had armed themselves with scissors and many ‘ready randy dangling modifiers’ to unleash horror on the girls. Just like they did last year and the year before that. They pinned down their struggling victims, violated them while their colleagues cheered and security guards recorded the obscene drama, instead of protecting the girls.
These teenage rapists cornered the frightened girls, pushed them down, tore their skirts and underwear’s with their scissors and forced their cursed things into the girls. They grabbed the girls’ breasts, hair and did this evil in the sight of God and man. In broad daylight. And it was not the first time. And this is neither the medieval times nor a remote village inhabited by apes. It all happened in Lagos.
So how did we get to this sorry pass?
Was there a Principal or were there Principals, Vice Principals in those schools all these years, men and women who supervised the raped and the rapist? How did those principals sleep at night, after every rape tradition? I still haven’t recovered from the account of one of those sick boys who violated and invaded a girl ‘from the back’ while people looked on. And they say it was tradition, something that happened every year like Egungun or Eyo festivals. In a community, state that has kings and laws. Again, I ask, how do those teachers of rapists sleep at night? Do they dream or have nightmares where boys with vampire teeth sink their incisors in the necks of shivering girls? I think up until Ms Matthew’s move of decent courage, those teachers slept soundly and did not dream at all. And that made me wonder: was there something in their constitution that made them immune to the agony and evil of broad daylight rape, or they simply got used to it over time? What kind of mothers and fathers are they, these teachers who could sleep, eat and go their merry way after the rape festival of Falomo?
Do those teachers have children and if they do, do they actually answer, respond when their children call them mummy, daddy? How do they look the rapist in the eye the morning after, in class, at ‘assembly, when they meet them in town, at valedictory service?
These principals, they must be in their 50s, right? Maybe they are community leaders, Chairpersons of Parents and Teachers’ Associations of the more decent schools where their own children are pampered and treated like real children. I also imagine they are elders in their churches, mosques. Ah, God is so merciful. They stand in the house of God and make the sign of the cross, take Holy Communion the Sunday after an episode where:
‘The crowd of boys are wild with frenzy, cheering the two boys on, while grabbing at her hair, breasts and she is fighting for dear life.’
The Muslims among those teachers, do they sit or stand and face Ka’aba when they pray five times after supervising this part of the ceremony:
“The girl is kicked down, she bravely pushes herself up and another guy tries to clear her legs and she lunges at him and then a guy takes a pair of scissors in his hands and with one swoop tears her skirt from the bottom and also a part of the black spandex shorts she has on underneath. All this happens really in a few minutes and he proceeds to push himself into her through her back. His trousers is open too and another one tries to do same from the front.”
When the pastor says, shall we rise and lift up holy hands to the Lord, do those teachers actually lift their soiled hands to the same God who created the children whose lives are marred forever by the rape ceremony.
How much of this rape tradition happens between these dark students and their even darker teachers or am I wrong to assume some of these teachers benefit from this rape festival? Were these teachers simply told to look the other way by their teenage students, and they complied meekly? I indeed think there is plenty of cultism in this club of silence. There certainly is more lying beneath this surface and the Governor Ambode administration must put an end to this evil. Fortunately cleansing this fouled and defiled schools can’t be much work for Akinwumi Ambode and his team, not compared with Abule Egba, Berger and Ajah flyovers. Clearing out the priests and priestesses of the Falomo rape shrines should be easier than the months of planning the removal of the once intractable Lekki traffic. The Lagos state governor has assured us that these little rapists will face the full consequences of their evil tradition and Ambode’s word, you can take to the bank. But the men and women in whose care we entrusted these children should not go unpunished.