Friday, August 21, 2009

Much Ado About Sex

What the hell is going on in Berlin? Do we need blood and urine tests to determine the sex of an athlete? Why not just roll up ‘her’ skirt and find out?

Seeing is believing! Isn’t it?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Heaven Knows No Fury Like a Woman Infibulated

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Opilogue knows no fury like a woman infibulated. So? Since the publication of Woman's Inwomanity to Woman, TELL, June 29, 2009, readers have continued to show their anger at a custom they describe as a "wicked", "bestial", "barbaric" (even “mamaric”) and "out of this world". Both men and women are up in arms against infibulation and those who practise it. There's just no describing their anger except we let the words flow unhindered from, as you will say, the horse's mouth. Here we go.

In Woman's Inwomanity to Woman, I could not bring myself to comprehend the enormity of the bestial act until I gave the article to a friend who burst into tears after reading it. That such is still practised and widely acknowledged in our African society leaves much to be desired. Keep on exposing such barbaric acts. Tina Amadi, Isolo, Lagos.

No woman, no cry? No woman, no cry? Please, ask your friend to stop crying first before we can expose more “mamaric,” sorry, “barbaric” acts. Opilogue is supposed to make people laugh in order not to cry.

Nna, I don't think there can be anything more wicked than infibulation. By the way, where did you get the word? I hope it's not from fible. Dagogo Anims Jumbo (no address).

Is it the word that is wicked or the art of infibulating which has enraged many a reader to no end like the woman below?

We also do it (circumcision) in my area, but it is not like how you sound in infibulation. It is simply mind blowing. Do people really do that to innocent girls? They should be shot through their own genitals! Mrs B (no address).

Ooops! Hankali, madam, hankali. Doing that will be out-heroding Herod! Haba! Wetin! Menene?

The Opilogue contains less of the usual dose of humour. I think it is appropriate that way. We should not gloat over woman's 'inwomanity' to woman. Mallam Adedayo, Osun State.

Good talk. Only a Macduff, that is, "the man not born of a woman", would gloat over woman's 'inwomanity' to woman.

It's very informative, in spite of the tinge of witty humour. Comrade Dayo Oladeji, Saki, Oyo State.

As gory as the story of infibulation is, some readers can still glimpse some laughlines? Sure, Opilogue without "a tinge of humour" is like Dangote without sugar.

I hope the affirmative action will be reinforced for the sake of FGM (female genital mutilation). Sehinde Ilegbusi (no address).

Affirmative action? How do you mean? Women are already claiming equality of the sexes by cutting and tearing up themselves(?) without interference from male anaesthesiologists and orthopaedic butchers called “cosmetic surgeons.” What further constitutional proviso is needed?

Only God knows where your legs go carry you go! Abi, wetin concern you with women's mutilation of their private parts? Who knows where and what you go go see again? Kris Omotosho, Abeokuta.

Are you accusing Opilogue of voyeurism (lookery)? This is blatantly unfair. Well, for your information, our lawyers have been briefed to sue you for premeditated libel, malice aforethought, slander aforetold and bad belle after the fact of injury! We shall meet in Kootu Ashipa (People's Court).

Woman's Inwomanity to Woman is funny and educative. You make me remember Camara Laye's The African Child. Nice one. Olumide Ogunsusi, Lagos.

Funny? Mrs B (above) must not hear this or else ... she might cause your genitals to be tied to the stakes and shot! C’est finis! O pari! End of cinema!

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"Those who do this must be shot in the genitals".

Wao! I haven't read TELL for quite some time but when I came across a copy and your bit on the last page, it is like the most hilarious stuff I've read in a long while ...You rock! Staphaine (no address).

Adequate response is stuck in my throat! One, I'm sure it was not Woman's Inwomanity to Woman that you read because that cannot not go down as "the most hilarious stuff" you've ever read. Two, you did not supply any address but don't worry. Opilogue can easily trace you to the nearest Big Brother House because you, too, rock. You are “da bomb!” Or is that not the language of TV reality shows? Opilogue can use forensic means or even native “airforce” (I don’t mean witchcraft oo!) to trace any anonymous reader. Hmm, wondering what has just hit you? Calm down. I'm just pulling your legs, not for infibulation though­!

Each time I read Opilogue, I doff my hat. The university you attended must be superb. Hope it is not UI. Aderemi Omolola, Abuja.

If it is UI nko? But if I may ask, which university is not a university even including Unipetrol and Unisex? I'm sure you are not going to give me the Bola Ige classification. Are you? You had better watch it!

I like reading Opilogue. It is meant for only the wise. Without wisdom, one may not be able to understand it. My prayer is that the good Lord will continue to give you the wisdom to write more. Ogu Chioma, Port Harcourt.

May the good Lord also continue to provide you with the wherewithal to purchase a copy of TELL every week. And the wisdom to decipher and dance to the agidigbo drumbeats. Na you biko!

It will be good if you can convert the writeups to comedies. Think about it. Oyekunle, Abuja.

I thought about it immediately and I came to the sad conclusion that the Niagara situation deserves more than comedy. Remember the immortal words of William Blake, the English poet, "Excess joy weeps, excess sorrow laughs." That's what you see in Opilogue. It tries to make you smile in order not to cry aloud in the face of untoward suffering in the midst of plenty. Talk of tragi-comedy and you will score a bull’s eye without being melodramatic. That’s the story of Niagara.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Woman’s Inwomanity to Woman

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Fire Down Below: Circumcision in Progress

Ol’ boy, you are still reading? I thought you’ve finished your semester exams.

Yes, I have. But that does not stop me from reading to enjoy myself.

That’s true. So, which book are you reading?

It’s The African Child by Camara Laye. I just love reading the book.

What’s so fascinating about it?

Everything you can imagine. But the part I love most is the growing up years of the author in his native Guinea, especially the ritual of circumcision. I just love that. You know what? In the traditional African setting, a man is not a man until he has undergone that ritual. And this is done just as he is about to reach the age of puberty.

Let me tell you, I do not subscribe to this idea of circumcising a child at an age when a boy is already dreaming dreams. It is painful and traumatic. I can remember my friend’s experience. He was not circumcised until he was in secondary school. That time, he would not bathe in the open like other boys. He would wait until everybody had left the stream before undressing and having a quick one before prying eyes could spot his hooded member.

That’s the price he had to pay for culture. In our own village, if girls knew a boy was still carrying a hood about, they would be teasing him with shouts of “aladodo … aladodo!”

Ehen..en, that reminds me... What’s “aladodo” in English?

“Aladodo” simply means a boy or man who carries his member about with its “parachute” yet to be detached.

You mean Camara Laye went through this ordeal?

Sure! The Malinke, Laye’s ethnic group, are neck-deep in this rite of passage. I’m sure all those Camaras, Diarras, Toures and Diallos of Guinea that you have heard about must also have been “aladodo” sometime in their lives. Every male goes through this ordeal whether consciously or sub-consciously.

How about the girls?

My God! I think they are very, very unlucky in the traditional setting. While the boys have their foreskins or hoods or “parachutes” or whatever removed, the girls have theirs “beheaded” phiam, just like that! Just like they behead people in Saudi Arabia. Pity!

Pix from
Shh... Stop bleeding!

That’s cruel. And most of this beheading of the female thing is even done by women! Can you imagine!

That’s what I call woman’s “inwomanity” to woman though feminists who, however, prefer to be called gender activists, will describe female circumcision as “a natural continuation of the ancient patriarchal repression of female sexuality.”

They may be right. Circumcision, in this regard, is an understatement. It is what my activist female friend calls female genital mutilation, FGM. She says there are three forms of the FGM, the first of which is circumcision. This involves the removal of the prepuce of hood of the protruding part of the female member, PPFM, and it is the one they say is the least severe.

What is PPFM?

You want me to use all my mouth to pronounce the name? Before I finish saying “cli....” they would have clipped my wings and tied me to the stakes awaiting verbal execution for murdering decency. So let it be. The second form of the FGM is excision and it involves the removal or partial removal of the PPFM and all or part of the female genitalia (I hope that is not offensive either). It is the commonest and it accounts for 80 per cent of all forms of mutilations in the world. However, the mother of all forms of FGM is the one called infibulation. It is the severest, the most wicked and the most uncivilised. I shiver to describe this criminal act.

Go ahead. You can’t frighten an old woman with the size of your “tuber”. Neither can you resort to using a knife to decipher a word no matter how big it is.

That one na proverb! Anyway, as I was saying, infibulation requires the removal of the PPFM, the inner genitals and most of all of the outer genitals. Wait o! I hope this is not becoming too graphic and obscene. The two sides of the vulva are then stitched together with thread, reed or thorns to prevent the girl from sleeping with a man. Osanobuah!!! Picture that in your mind. Don’t you feel like shivering? You haven’t heard anything yet. The natural opening is sewn together like a bag of cocoa being packaged for export. A tiny opening is just preserved by the insertion of a twig, allowing for the passing of urine!

Jeeesus Christ! What wickedness is that?

Wait a minute... The ordeal is not over yet. The girl’s legs are then tied together for one month or more to allow the wounds to heal and scar tissues to form. Djibouti is notorious for this kind of man’s inhumanity to man. It is a country where about 95 per cent of the women are circumcised! It is scary! A total of two million women undergo FGM every year in Africa and some parts of Asia and South America. It is common in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia in the Horn of Africa and in some parts of East Africa. So also in West Africa, but less of an issue in matrilineal societies like Ghana and Senegal. Yet, female activists continue to fight for the right of women to be spared the agony of unnecessary female circumcision. They argue it is of no positive value; rather it represses women sexually and endangers their lives through post-removal complications and trauma which often lead to depression.

I think circumcision should be banned all over the world. It’s gruesome.

If you mean female circumcision, yes. But as for male circumcision, no. For how long will a man be carrying “lagbaja” (the masked one) about in his pants? However, I have good news for mutilated women who want to have their paradise restored. Burkina Faso is it. It is where circumcised women regain their sexual identity through surgery, a kind of restorative intervention discovered about 15 years ago. It is the only country in West Africa where women who have suffered the physical as well as psychological trauma of circumcision can have their mutilated organs rebuilt and repackaged, and, if you like, rebranded a la Sisi Dora: Good surgery, Great women! Tra la la!

Woman's Inwomanity to Woman was first published in TELL, June 29, 2009.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Posers for My Country Men and Women

This is no joking time.

It's an open secret that Nigeria is tending towards being a failed state and the reason is obvious. Nothing seems to be working.

We seem not to have a national blueprint for the development of the country. There is no national phylosophy of governance. No minimum standard of living for the average Nigerian. Every government in power caters for only its members through contract awards. And only a few grab the available contracts. We hear of contracts everyday but we can't see the products because much of the contract money is embezzled either to feather the nests of those in power or to serve as a war chest for future political campaigns. The new rich Nigerians are councilors, LG chairmen, governors, commissioners, board members of government parastatals, ministers and other political appointees. The middle class is almost non-existent while the generality of Nigerians are left panting and gasping for breath. No social welfare package, no unemployment benefits, no genuine medicare, no good roads, no electricity, no potable water, no cheap food to buy. The take-home pay of workers cannot take them even to the nearest bus stop. The political climate is unattractive to foreign investors because of frequent changes of government policies.

From one government to the other Nigeria is left drifting, hence the internal rumblings and bunkerings. Youths who have no means of surviving the welling hunger in them take to crimes. Graduates who are jobless think of survival tactics by joining 419 gangs, drug cartels and kidnapping rings. Policemen who receive peanuts as salaries take to demanding bribes at checkpoints and shooting innocent people out of frustration.

Who is to blame? It will be unfair to blame Yar' Adua solely for the mess in which we are now. Nigeria had been going down the drain before he was dragged to Aso Rock by a selfish cabal which was only intent on ruling without the concomitant responsibility. And before this cabal there had been others. Different kinds of groups, cults and mafias that are visionless and self serving. For putting the nation last in their daily calculations our once great nation and the hope of Africa has been reduced to an ugly elephant with kwashiorkor limbs. We have become the laughing stock all over the world, if not for corruption, then for political instability. We have been living a life of falsehood for too long a time, it's now time for Nigerians to ask their leaders: Where do we go from here -- community or chaos (apology to Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr)? Boko Haram is just a flash of the fire next time unless Nigerians sit down together and discuss how to give this nation a facelift. Any kind of surgery will do for as long as it restores our image and dignity as the true African giant.

Think, Nigeria, think.

* * *


The Big ‘IFs’

"Praise the Lord, Alleluyah"

in the Catholic Church?!

This is a litany of 'IFs' from a reader who seems embroiled in old school hypothetical syllogisms. And see below each ‘IF’ my attempt to give life to the non-rhetorical question. Here we go.

If you could be sculpted by an artist in history, who would you choose?

Simple. Whoever is the sculptor that sculpted Naomi Campbell, the famous model (minus her off-the-handle temper).

If you could say two sentences to the current Pope what would they be?

Your Holiness, warn your priests in Niagara to desist from copying the Pentecostal pastors by shouting 'Praise the Lord, Alleluyah!' in the church. It reduces the dignity, finese and solemnity of Roman Catholicism.

If you could 'assassinate' one famous 'monster' in your country, which would it be?

Corruption! The hydra-headed monster which no IGP (Inspector General of Police) has been able to arrest.

If you could be instantly fluent in one other language that you currently do not read or speak, which would it be?

Isoko. The language is lyrical ballards in motion. Anytime I hear the native speakers speak this sonorous language I always put on my dancing shoes!

If you had the choice which language would you not want to speak.

Mandarin Chinese. Sounds as if two bulls are fighting in a china shop. No wonder it is the language of kung fu.

If you were kidnapped and allowed to telephone only one person, who would that person be and what would you tell him.

The President. And I would say this: “Please, Mr. President, do not pay any ransom. Just hand over the reins of power to them.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lamentations of a Masquerade

By Tatabonko Oro Edem

I am Alapansanpa, a reincarnation of Lagelu the Jagun of Eba Odan, Eba’dan, for short. Our ancestors built this town after the defeat of the Olowu of Owu. It is on record fact that the first city of Eba’dan was destroyed when an egungun (spirit) was disrobed and contemptuously mocked by all and sundry in the open place. Today, I, Alapansanpa, an egungun, have been brought before a magistrate court presided over by a woman! It is trite that in Eba’dan, as in other parts of Yorubaland, it is an abomination for women to look an egungun in the eye but this woman wants to, and has done so.

The Alapansanpa operates on a different cosmos, the orun (the spiritual and invisible domain of the ancestors, Gods and spirits), and not the aye (the visible world of the living). Though interconnected, and the Alapansanpa regularly visits the aye, he could not have been capable of doing those things ascribed to him because he was specifically sent to rid the society of social ills and not create them. How can a visitor from orun be treated so callously? In fact, if Alapansanpa was human this would have ended long ago - ‘iku ya jesin’ (death is preferable to ignominy). I put it on record that the police prosecutor should remember ibaje (negative reversal of fortunes). How can these children of Eba’dan that I have variously blessed, treat my earthly costume with disdain? How can the prosecutor and the magistrate send me to Agodi Prisons when they know there are no ahun trees or laganga in prison to hang my costumes? Where will I find the blood of the cockerel to sprinkle on my costume before nightfall?

I cannot plead my case before a female human magistrate and my detractors know it. Who has ever heard of the fundamental right of an egungun? They claim to have granted me bail. Bail? Whoever told them a ‘spirit’ is in bondage and needs bail? What for? Me Alapansanpa, who occupies a prominent place at the Osemeji Shrine. Me, who holds up a calabash to the Gods. Me, who watches over Eba’dan, blessing and protecting its shons and daughters. Me, Alapansanpa, a dweller of heaven. Why else do they call me ara orun? Me, needing bail? It would have been very hilarious if it would not become so tragic. They further went ahead to allege that I stole a stethoscope, a handset and eight thousand six hundred and fifty naira cash. Of all the things I have been accused of stealing, what is the business of Alapansanpa with a stethoscope? They also claimed that Alapansanpa stole a handset. Please, spare me. I am an exponent of Ifa, I deal in seere and incantations. I prescribe oruka and onde, what in heavens name would I need a stethoscope and telephone for? Who has ever heard of a telephonic connection to the spirit world? This is extreme provocation. And about the money, Alapansanpa survives by consuming large quantities of oro fruit and igbin that are very abundant in the spirit world; money as you know it on earth does not exist. The only earthly thing we sometimes crave is eko or oori, which is always provided by our worshippers. There is no witness who saw me take these items, neither have I ever craved nor needed these items as they are of no use to me, yet I stand accused before the woman magistrate to be humiliated in public! They did not stop there. They accused me of willful damage to property.

How can I be accused of damaging a Mitsubishi Lancer car, a Nissan Sunny car and a Mitsubishi Gallant car? Why not a Peugeot car? Do they think I have something against Japanese products? What is the business of Alapansanpa with cars, anyway? Alapansanpa who descends to earth using a cobweb strand has no interest in cars, except when I ask Sango to save the lives of car accident victims. For my reward I have been arraigned and accused of “assault, stealing and willful damage to property”. To show how far these misguided humans have gone, it is trite that in criminal cases all accused must be physically present in court to submit their pleas before a criminal case can move forward. In my case, I was accused with my accomplices. (?) How can I have accomplices? Were they referring to Oloolu and Atipako? If yes, why were they not also arraigned? Is it because the Oloolu wears the ago garment and carries a human skull, which was brought back from the Ibariba war? Why was Atipako not arraigned? Is it because he carries a stick that was used in beating the ofi?

Be warned. When the conclave of ancestral forces and other spiritual agents of the Eba’dan cosmos are roused, the end nobody will be able to foretell. History repeats itself when awon agba (the elders) do nothing. Agba ki i wa l’oja, ki ori omo tuntun wo (An elder cannot be present in the market while the head of an infant [on the mother’s back] hangs in the wrong way). I demand that Balogun, Otun Balogun, Otun Baale, Osi Balogun, Osi Baale, Ashipa Balogun, Ashipa Baale, Ekerin Balogun and Ekerin Baale call their daughter and the misguided prosecutor to order. There is no mens rea or actus reus that could be proven in a magistracy, that I Alapansanpa did what I was accused of doing. This is a case of mistaken identity and my accusers are mistaking me for an earthling! I am ara orun (heavenly spirit).

Submitted by Tatabonko Orok Edem based on the appearance of a masquerade in Ibadan, Oyo State, charged with theft.