I’m not a fan of fuji music, but one of my favourite lines in music is taken from a fuji song. The line, from one of Abass Akande Obesere’s songs (I think it is Oba Idan or Fuji Gyration), reads: ko ni ragba fun eni ti’o like obirin. Literal translation: ‘It shall never be well with anyone who doesn’t like a woman’. Now, if you try to explain that line a little further or take it slightly out of context, especially as the above translation does not really do the Yoruba expression much justice, you could end up with anything in the region of: May God punish whoever mistreats a woman; woe betide every misogynist; he who does not appreciate the gift of woman in human existence is not fit to live; only an idiot would dislike a woman; women are a must-have, and so forth.
This, I assume covers for all women – mothers, children, sisters, in-laws, wives, aunties, you name it, although it does not give any woman the right to maltreat any man either. However, we know that not every man shares this belief. To some men, women are just objects and are a must-have only like the chairs, plates cars, etc in your house. In the best case scenario, they are merely to be tolerated rather than be valued.
That noted, how many times have we all been faced with people or situations that make us feel like throwing expletives, however, raw and obscene they may sound? Well, a few days back I had an encounter that almost forced me into directing Obesere’s line, in its pure, most serious-intentioned, un-translated and unadulterated form at a specific person. I often hear about female rape victims, but I have never been close to anyone who I know had been a raped. But this almost changed that night on my way home from work. It a few minutes past 11pm in Lagos, as I walked from Iyana Ipaja towards the nearest bus station in Egbeda, having being forced to walk the rest of my way after the bus I earlier boarded broke down mid-way. As I approached one of the bus stops before Egbeda, just a few metres from the market in Egbeda, I heard some voices – one of them being unmistakably feminine – in frantic conversation behind the wall which separates the main road from the rest of the market and the adjoining Gowon Estate. At first I could not make out what they were saying to each other, but as we drifted closer to each other, the picture became clearer – it was the female voice against two male voices.
The exchange was something like:
Female: leave me alone o.
First male: leave you for where?
Second male: wetin you come do here?
First male: fear no even catch you to come pass this place.
Female: (more frantic now): why can’t I pass here?
Second male: you still dey get mouth to talk? See the kin cloth wey you wear come dey pass for here?
First male: block am for the other side. No let am escape.
Then their footfalls became heavier and more rapid as the two young people, half in fear (I felt) and half in lust (of course), engaged the young girl (who could only mutter a low, H-e-l-p) in a run-walk as they all turned a bend darting across my path. As they did so, I quickly steadied myself, cleared my throat and in as commanding a voice as my nerves could permit, let out a: ‘What is happening here?’ This startled the two men and bought the young woman some time to quickly jump over the gutter and dash across the main road. One of the men gave a brief chase but returned after the woman slid into the nearest street. The other man was now face to face with me as his partner returned to us (actually charged back towards me). With nerves jangling inside me and unable to think of anything else, I repeated my earlier line: ‘what is happening here, I say?’, trying hard to keep my voice steady.
From the hasty estimate I made, the one who had gone after the lady was about 6feet tall while his accomplice was about 3 inches taller than me. They both easily towered above me and of course, had the numerical advantage, plus what if one of them suddenly thought to himself: ‘wait a minute, when did they start recruiting dwarfs into the Nigerian Police Force’ (for I was actually hoping they would pass me for a policeman)? Thankfully though, they both showed enough nervousness themselves for me to seize on to and ask them if neither of them had a sister or any other female relative at home and whether they would like it if she was raped by men like them. Six-Feet replied, ‘wetin the girl sef dey wear trouser dey find for this kind place?’ Without any further word they both hissed and muttered some words I couldn’t understand before they went back through the way they had chased the lady from.
That lady had been lucky for the fields around the corner from where they had chased her are verdant with criminals and criminal activities of every ilk. Therefore, she could have been raped there for as long as those filths wanted without anybody coming to her rescue. Whether she would have made it without my intervention or not, I am not to know. And I know I was staking my safety and even my life by being so rash, but hey what if that lady was wearing just undergarments? Does that give anybody the franchise to her body? For all we know she might have been a commercial sex worker. After all the space just off the main road behind the market from where they had chased her is usually lined with commercial sex workers at night. But even if that were the case, those women are called commercial sex workers because you have to pay an agreed fee to be able to have sexual encounter with them.
One of those dogs blamed the lady for wearing what she wore, (a tank top as top garment, from what I noticed) for their advances, but how does that concern his phallus or groin? How does that rationalize the fact of him or anyone else forcefully having their way with her? You hear people often blaming rape victims for inviting trouble on themselves by the way the victims dress, but I will believe that the woman is to blame only if and when any man is so titillated by what they see in a woman’s dressing as to grab her and mount her in the full glare of all, whether at the market, school, mosque, church or any other place filled with people. But if you claim to be aroused by a woman’s dressing, yet you only satisfy your randy craving when you are alone with your victim in a secluded area, then you must be disturbed by some other demons other than the woman’s. You are simply a lecherous, vile and depraved cowardly beast. And if anybody throws the most serious intentioned ko ni ragba fun e… or something worse your way a zillion times over for so existing, believe me, they are only just starting.