Tag Archives: Abuse

I’m a mother too

Mma Tata’s dark glittering skin had seen tough days, and that morning, it was clothed by the dust which spread as cars drove through St Bonaventure’s dual-passage gate under the dry weather. Beaten by the sun through days of sitting at odd and strategic roadsides, she was sweating through her pores, even at 9 o’clock in the morning. She felt sticky, yet wouldn’t care. It was a long walk from home; and everyday confronted her with the challenge to survive. “Why can’t I survive with ease?” she often wondered and asked herself. She had arrived the church gate quite early, in time to welcome the earliest comers. She wore a round-neck faded turquoise polyester blouse upon multi-coloured wrapper that had seen times and seasons. Her head was covered with a scarf of a different fabric. She was seated where she couldn’t be overlooked. Beside her, to her left, was a black polythene bag containing a few bread rolls, two litres of water and some naira notes, of higher and lower denominations. To her right was an enamel bowel, her offertory receptacle, inside which were one twenty and one fifty naira notes.
“Please, help us. God bless you,” she chorused, stretching out her beggarly hand repeatedly.
On her laps lay her six-year old son, face-down. She had her legs stretched out in yoga form. The boy wore no shirt, his upper backside covered with burns that seemed to have affected the dermis, darkened by some form of healing balm. There seem to be visible swelling, with the boy lying calmly, as one numbed by an excruciating and helpless pain.
“God bless you,” she prayed, as cars stopped, windows wound down and naira notes squeezed and thrown at her. Same was repeated as passers-by stooped to drop their alms into her enamel bowel. One could hear her sharp, coarse voice and see her left eye affected by cataract. She was visibly a woman in need. Periodically, her little boy writhed in pain, making tiny harrowing sounds. Passers-by could not help sympathizing with the little one who looked so helpless on the mother’s laps. She would draw the dark dirty blanket over his buttocks, using her left hand to drive off flies that sought to feast on the boy’s freshly dressed wounded back.
St Bonaventure Catholic Church was a highbrow parish, with parishioners comprising key politicians and high-flying corporate individuals. Even visiting businessmen and women to Abuja staying over the weekend would find St. Bonaventure homely to worship in. They would always see someone they want to meet, their business partners, top public servants, ministers and parliamentarians. The parish pastor even had a younger brother who was then the Chairman of Senate Committee on Public Accounts. The first Mass had just ended and the second one was about to commence. The entrance, which doubled as exit, was busy with people coming in and going out of the church premises.
An army green Audi, driving out of the church compound, slowed down close to Mma Tata, the glass wound down slowly and a lady, Mrs. Leeya Ekondo, a member of St. Bonaventure’s St. Vincent de Paul Association and the Parish Action Committee on HIV/AIDS (PACA), folded a one thousand naira note neatly and aimed at the woman’s bowel. She missed it, the note falling by the side. Mma Tata bowed her head in appreciation, chorused her blessing, stretched out to pick the alms, drawing the blanket off the boy’s backside. As Mrs. Ekondo adjusted her break from neutral to drive and the car rolled away gently, she thought to herself: Maybe I could help this woman. Today is first Sunday of Lent. It could be my work of charity. She turned off slowly on the main road, let the car roll some distance, and then stopped. She wound down the glass of the passenger side, picked her black handbag and turned to her thirteen year-old daughter who was seated with her younger brother at the back seat.
“Thelma, stay inside the car with your brother. I’ll be back soon. I want to help that woman sitting by the gate.”
“Alright, mum.”
“Mummy, are you bringing her home?” It was Cally, her six-year old.
“I don’t know, dear,” she said, as she stepped out of the car. “Maybe.”
She went to the back of the car, opened its booth, dropped her handbag and took out a first aid box that was inside the booth. Over her years of practice as a medical doctor, she has seen the first aid box as part of dressing code, never to go out without. As she banged the booth to lock, Cally was hanging from the inside, looking through the rear glass, then turned to Thelma, who was watching as their mother walked towards the gate.
“Sister, is mummy going to give the woman injection?”
“No. She’s going to dress her son’s wound.”
“What happened to him?”
“I don’t know; maybe he was jumping up and down playing, and when his mother told him to stop, he refused. So, when he fell down, he wounded himself.”
Cally, who was actually jumping up and down on the seat, stopped when Thelma told him what might have caused the boy’s injury.
At the time Mrs. Ekondo reached the gate, Mma Tata was stretching her hand to her, with her chorus “Help me, please. God bless you. Help me, please. God bless you.” Her enamel bowel now had a single fifty naira note with a few twenty naira notes. She couldn’t remember Mrs. Ekondo, it appeared. Leeya dropped her first aid box on the ground and brought out a set of gloves.
“What happened to your son?” She asked.
“Aunty,” Mma Tata began. “I went out to sell by the roadside one evening, as I usually do. I left my two children at home. Ukpa and his younger brother; I don’t know what happened o. I was just sitting down there at the roadside, when I heard screams…” She paused, sobbing and breathing in fast-paced manner. “I don’t know. This life; my sister, my son was burnt to death. Yes. Emma. His younger brother,” pointing to the boy on her laps. She drew the blanket to cover his wounds. She shook her head, faced down, grief-stricken, “When I reached the house, I was told Ukpa wanted to use the pit latrine and so, tried to light the lantern. It was the lantern o…,” her sobbing voice in a crescendo. “It was the lantern. Yes. Yes. My son, Emma; Emma died. In trying to save my family, my little property, I lost one eye. Now, I can only see with one. Ukpa is dying o. Help me, Ma. God bless you.” Her entire composure was sobbing.
Leeya spoke, “Calm down, madam. It’s alright. Have you taken him to see a doctor or to any medical centre?”
“Ah ah, madam. Where will I get the money? A neighbour helped dress his wounds.”
“But he needs to see a doctor. The wound could lead to swelling and decreased blood flow in his tissue resulting in destruction of structures in his system. The earlier he is treated well, the better. You need to see a doctor.”
“That’s why I’m here, Madam. To raise money and see how to survive.”
“I’m a doctor. Let me see the wound,” she said, as she bent down, touching the hem of the blanket with her gloved hands.
The woman became agitated, shoving Leeya’s hand away, her face stale and withdrawn, as though talking to a doctor was abominable.
“Madam, don’t touch him,’ she said coarsely. “He might infect you.”
“I can see he hasn’t infected you yet.”
“I’m his mother,” she said, drawing her polythene bag close to herself. She pinched the boy beneath the blanket and he sat up, with the blanket wrapped around him.
“I’m a mother too.”
The boy let out writhing screams, gaining the attention of Leeya. She moved closer to him and pulled the blanket. She peered to examine the wound, just when the boy stood up in a flash, with a shout of “Run! Run!” from the mother. In an instant, there was commotion around the gate. The little boy ran off, gleefully across the main road to the other lane and disappeared into an undeveloped plot of land. By the time those around could make sense of what seemed to be happening, Mma Tata was seen running down the walkway towards the direction of her son, so swiftly. She had packed her belongings in quite a well-rehearsed manner. Leeya stood perplexed, as some parishioners who had observed the incident gathered around. For a while, Leeya was spellbound.

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Black Gold of the Rainforest

Our land is a virgin, a maiden
Adorned with black gold of the rainforest
Surrounded by the wild of the coast
Shared in peace by her children
From the Cross stretching to the West.

That was then…

The maiden weeps, the maiden bewails
Her fecund laps stretched in disregard
And her hymen broken, her hymen
That conceals the differing ovaries within.
Now her soil is stained with blood
And her innocence sucked.

Her ovaries struggle within
To control the slimy fecund oily soil,
I mean of what is left,
While the imperialist jabbing heightens.

She’s pregnant…

Our soil is oily, our oily soil
Soiled by the oil of bourgeois machinery
Imperiling our land with imperialist outflow,
Milking adversely our bio-diversity.

Washed away are the resting abodes
Of our fore-gone sires through
The bird-foot region to the Atlantic,
Leaving their manhood bare-buttock.

And now we struggle within
Increasing her pains, spilling blood
And intensifying the imperialists imperiling
Of her innocence, our fecundity.

She writhes in pain…

Burnt within,
Suffering from the baton of abuse
From without,
Midwives are come to the rescue.

But will the confinement yield
And she be delivered of live births
That shall mock the imperialists
And restore her sanity, her resilience?
Or will her births be born still
Saying her gestation is not done?

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Four Freedoms

We were hungry, in want of food;image
And you told us we’d freedom from want.
We were fearful if we would die;
And you told us we’d freedom from fear.
We were speechless, without complaint;
And you told us we’d freedom of speech.
We believed poverty was our lot;
And you told us we’d freedom of faith.

imageAnd when we’ve come to self-discovery
Believing in ourselves and started talking
Refusing to give up until hunger is cured
You dared claim to yourself one more freedom
One we certainly do not desire:
Freedom to turn a deaf ear.

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The Police is Indo-Nigerian

India and Nigeria are very much alike in several respects. There is sprawling poverty across the two countries vis-à-vis the wealth of a few. The two countries have a problem controlling their population meaningfully in the face of dilapidated social amenities. In the two countries, there is widespread mistrust in key government agencies, especially the police. Among the various similarities, I would like to focus on public policing. This is based on the recent incident in India involving the gang-raping of a young lady. The lady’s partner just spoke for the first time since the incident and recounted what happened (here). According to his report, he and his girlfriend were dumped on the street from the bus after the lady was mercilessly abused. However, upon arrival of the police, they delayed taking her to the hospital for about 30 minutes over disagreement about who had jurisdiction over the area the incident took place.

The above situation is exactly what happens in Nigeria. If it were Nigeria, the police men would come after a long while, and thereafter haggle over who had jurisdiction, which Divisional Police Station should document the incident. But that wouldn’t be the only thing they would argue over. They would tell whoever is around that there is no fuel in their car to take the victim to the hospital and therefore would require someone, possibly the victim, to provide some funding for such purposes. If there is no ready cash, they would insist on going on bike with whoever would volunteer to go to an ATM to get money. This would have followed lengthy exchanges about how the woman had invited the rape on herself by going out with a man or dressing in a particular fashion, as though one’s dressing is the molder of another person’s animal instinct.

According to the reports, the Police Authority in New Delhi immediately rebutted the young man’s accusation, claiming that they arrived the scene within three minutes of receiving the alert and left for the hospital twelve minutes later. This is typical of Nigeria’s Police Force. They are always quick to put the blame on the citizens, but hardly accepting responsibilities. In fact, if it were Nigeria, the Police would probably have announced how they had to airlift the victim due to terrible traffic congestion as a means of saving her life. Though also injured during the incident, the lady’s partner was not considered as being in need of medical care. But, he was considered fit for continued police investigation. So, rather than let him be taken to the hospital, the police kept him in their station for four days. A very typical Nigerian situation. In fact in Nigeria his family would have had to come and bail him out, except civil society groups cry out and the presidency intervene through the Inspector General of Police. If he were a girl in Nigeria, it is highly likely that she would have been kept as suspect in the police station and duly gang-raped while there.

Like in Nigeria, there was public apathy towards giving help to the victims after they were dumped. No one wanted to play the Good Samaritan because in the face of inability of Police Authority to make headway in a case, they are likely to drag innocent citizens into the web of lengthy legal cases. That is a commonplace experience in Nigeria where we have had experiences of illegal arrest and accidental discharges. If the Police don’t get the suspect, they are ready to lock up his aged parents, pregnant wife and even infant child. If they don’t get any of these, then the neighbours – far and near – are likely victims. In the face of such threats, people who would otherwise offer timely life-saving help are cowed and become apathetic in responding to situations of emergency. It takes more than a casual disposition or desire to help to provide adequate assistance during such critical moments.

I’ve experienced the corruption of the Indian Police at the Mumbai airport during the process of declaring foreign currency in my possession and I wasn’t surprised at all because I had a baggage of similar experiences by the Police in my own country. That was in 2009 and since then, I knew that India was no different from Nigeria. In fact, I have come to know that the police in both countries have dual nationality – Indo-Nigerian. Nigerians may be heading to India on medical tourism, but I have also realized that funding of some of the medical trips by public institutions have been characterized by corrupt practices involving Indian health consultancy firms and Nigerian agencies. No matter the level of technological development or economic growth, the people must remain central to every society. The recent rape incident in India juxtaposed against Nigeria’s widespread sex crimes is a reminder that we live in unsafe world and that women are being constantly abused and then blamed for the abuse in addition to inadequate justice system to protect those hurt.The culture of silence engendered by hostile male-dominated environment has made it even difficult for women who are abused to seek justice or even come out to talk about their experiences. Many of them choose to suffer the indignation with attendant trauma all life-long.

Just while the world vents its outrage against the sex crime that is common in India, the Child Protection Network (CPN) in Nigeria has released a Report that chronicled 95 child rape cases which have been recorded in five northern states of the country. Guess what? A police officer couldn’t miss being among those indicted. Unfortunately these cases involved mainly minors, some as young as 14 years. The incidence of women being gang-raped eats at the core of survival of a society and it is of such hurtful nature that were the women to push for castration of the male folk, they would have sympathizers. It is bestial to inflict such violence on others and also painful when this is perpetrated by young persons or those who have to been placed in positions of trust. We have a duty as individuals to watch and act, because those who perpetrate these sex crimes live in our midst. We must also support organizations, especially credible civil organizations that have taken over the fight to stop these abuses and seek justice for those affected. Beyond the actions of individuals and civil groups, this is the time for leaders to demonstrate their will and take actions that are necessary to give justice to those affected and promote the rights of the vulnerable, whether they are women, children or men. This is one way to guarantee the sanity and health of the society we live in.

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Husbands Wanted: Apply In Person

A romance with poverty is an intriguing and debilitating experience. It’s a romance that could either generate the humorous or bring one to a vegetative state. I’m talking about material poverty, inability to survive on your own without dependence on kinship or the state. In such a state, your ability for independent choices is dependent on your inner wealth and strength. But that isn’t what is common among women in Nigeria, especially in Northern Nigeria. Demographic studies have highlighted the cultural subjugation of some of these women, many of who are neither heard nor seen. They are behind-the-scene attendants, with their needs dictated to and provided for by others. It was news last year when Kano State Government organized a mass wedding ceremony for about 100 widows and divorcees in the state. It smacked of a carnival. One would have thought that perhaps the women and men so married had chosen themselves, but lacked the financial resources for a ceremony. After all, mass weddings are widespread in Nigeria. The churches do it, so why can’t the state governments do it as poverty-alleviation projects? The difference lies not in the conduct of the ceremony by external parties like church or government, but in the decision of the marrying parties.

Vanguard Newspaper of today (January 5, 2013) has published Zamfara State Government’s announcement of plans to find husbands for about 2000 widows as a means of curtailing the rising numbers. I read the news and began to wonder what underlines this act of charity. As I read the online comments that followed the publication, I found that to be more intriguing than the news report itself. One of the most worrisome questions that emerged was “How did this large number of women become widows?” In trying to wrap my head around this, another post gave suggestion as to possibilities, suggesting that many of them may have been wives to late terrorists who have been killed within the last three years following the intensification of attacks by state security agents. That might be over-generalizing as the attacks have been more in the North East and not the North West where Zamfara State is. But, with the possible homogenous nature of the North, who says a widow in the North East cannot relocate, with clandestine state assistance, to the North West for purpose of swelling up their ranks and justifying the allocation of financial resources? Nigeria is a land of absurd possibilities. Nevertheless, if that line of reasoning is valid, then we are having a situation of indirect state-financed terrorism in the country. But I will let the state intelligence agencies do their work.

Now, back to the marriage arrangements; I’m wondering where the husbands will be sourced from. Will they be sourced from within and outside the state? Or will the search extend to outside the country to neighbouring Niger Republic and even up to Libya and other North African countries? Inter-marriage between northern Nigerians and citizens of Northern African countries is common and with the large number of women involved in this case, this wider search might be necessary. Anyway, come to think of it, only 500 men are needed actually. Since Zamfara is a Sharia state, a man is allowed to marry four wives. So, if the 2000 widows are distributed among 500 men, they would have been adequately taken care of. That will, however, be dependent on the State Government’s ability to source for and find willing single men.

Exploring the above further, there are several other concerns about this arrangement, unanswered questions. What are the qualifications for the husbands – cultural, religious, citizenship, psychological, etc? Are they going to be economically active and independent men? Are they going to be single or widowers? Are they going to be healthy enough such that they don’t die too soon and leave these widows widowed again? Are they going to be given employment to enable them to provide for the new wives? Will the women be given a chance to choose among the assortments of men that are going to be lined up? Have they discussed with the widows their specifications in terms of the kind of man they want? I would expect that in collating information from the widows, they were asked to fill out a form or one was filled out for each of them and in that form, they were asked adequate demographic information as a basis to match appropriate men.

There is another question that stands out. What is in this for the State Government? Is it part of their social security/development arrangements? Is it so difficult for the government to execute interventions that would make these widows economically independent on their own? I want to believe that many of them have children and these children have a right to grow under conditions of appropriate care and provisioning. I know in certain cultural settings a woman is denuded of her humanity to the extent that she is not given a voice to choose her partner or spouse, but should this be accepted as the best solution? As is common in Nigeria, it may not be surprising to find out that these “widows” are really not widows, as it could just be an arrangement to syphon money from the state treasury through some phony means. If the basis for this “project” is to address the perceived deprivation these women are exposed to, then it is hinged on the erroneous assumption that marriage is an empowering institution. In fact, marriage is a subjugating institution, especially when the basis for entering into it is not negotiated in some form.

It is my assumption that many of the said “widows” have children of varied ages and their peculiar needs may not be addressed within a marriage context. It is my reasoned opinion that the needs of many of these children may be addressed through their mother’s economic independence. These children should be situated within the entire project as the most vulnerable group; not the widows. They are vulnerable to all kinds of abuse – physical, moral, sexual, psychological, economic, etc. This is a task for the civil society groups who have a mandate to protect rights of children. There is need to understand the basis and dynamics of this project. If the women have chosen to subject themselves to this experiment, how have they factored the helpless children into the whole arrangement? It is even worrisome that the announcement was made by the Zamfara State Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, who incidentally is a woman. In a cultural setting characterized by complementarity rather than equality, we are facing a situation where new organic problems are created by trying to solve existing ones.

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What I Never Told You – A Review

I walked into the bookshop to check a title for a friend and ended up picking another for myself. It was a small book of just 88 pages coauthored by Michael MacDonald and Titus Ndiritu Kihara published in 2012 by The Paulines Africa. On the blurb of the book was written “What I Never Told You is the first memoir in Kenya’s history to tackle the taboo subject of sex addition.” It was a book I could finish while standing at the bookshop, but I chose to buy it and head to the fuel station to fill up my tank. It was in the long queue that I delved into the book. I would say it’s a self-absorbed autobiography of the secondary author, where he presents his story of descent to the abyss of sex addiction following his abuse at the age of seven and subsequent addiction to alcoholism and drugs. Presented as a diary of events with a probing penetration of the autobiographer, the writers provided an anecdotal map of addiction and the damaging effects. It’s a tale of secrets and darkness, of death and rebirth, of despair and hope, of pain and pleasure, of parenting and responsibility. Above all, it’s a story of second chances.

Reading Ndiritu’s story brings to mind the various addictions people are subjected to – alcoholism, smoking, sex, kleptomania, among others. But, as the authors say, alcoholism might be considered as a bigger problem, but sex addiction is the bigger secret. As one reflects on the book, an image of male domination comes to mind – the man that society has falsely adorned with mythic superiority status, fanning his ego and nudging him to seek to dominate not his sexual desires, but the sexuality of another. It’s a pitiable journey with Ndiritu along his personal loss of self-identity, need for help, struggle for life and recovering process. Though pitiable, it does not invite pity, but self-examination. I read the book as though I were walking in his shoes, asking myself what would have happened to me if I were exposed to the same conditions like he was. Would I have lived differently? I don’t know and I can’t say, but I’m more inclined to doubt. As one reads about how he was abused by the housemaid at the age of seven, it seems natural for one’s memory to flashback to that period of one’s life, wondering what happened to one then. To have a different experience other than abuse is to be blessed, to be preserved, something to be grateful for.

I’ve seen the power of addiction on the lives of people, but I’ve often been quick to play the blame game, silently wondering why people would choose to destroy themselves so deeply. I remember talking to a friend about addiction to alcohol and he reminded me of the second half of Alexander Pope’s quote: “…drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring.” I quickly added that there was an omitted first part which says “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” It didn’t make any difference to him and I was quick to blame him for his alcoholism. But reading this little book has queried the basis of that blame, though it doesn’t erode individual responsibility for choices and actions. Somewhat, I’ve come to realize that we share a common trait as human beings – our capacity to be vicious or virtuous, to do the best or the worst. Hence, understanding addiction calls for sympathy. To put it in context, I checked up the meaning of addiction and thought I should share. The American Society for Addiction Medicine explained the term as “the primary, chronic diseases of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry…characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioural control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviours and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”
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Sobriety isn’t an easy journey. Struggling to get healing is more demanding than never being in need. I’ve heard and shared the ancient wisdom that it is easier to find someone who has never committed a particular act than to find one who has done it only once. The book is a story that moves, admonishes and heals. I read it with empathy, trying to relate with the story in every way I could. I’ve come to think that this is one way the book was intended to be read. Incidentally, the book brought back memories of addiction that was close to me. I recall how my eldest brother, a retired soldier, had sent me to buy him a pack of cigarettes. As a teenager, it was a taboo to refuse your elder a task, but I couldn’t bring myself to carry out the errand. I knew enough and told him so. He was surprised by my boldness as I risked being beaten. I knew he was addicted to smoking and only did give up after it had destroyed his health and led to other complications before he passed away.

It’s my assumption that we should personally try to relate with addiction in some form, not necessarily by being addicted to sex or alcohol or smoking. Reading this book with the empathy it calls for can help us appreciate the struggles many people are passing through. But, the best way to deal with addiction is to admit it, not to conceal the secrets. This is the message that should be instilled in everyone that is vulnerable to abuse. I have had friends who have been abused and exposed to emotional imbalance in varied forms. Some have been lucky to overcome the experience and lead a “normal” life, but some have not been so lucky. I’ve seen some become addicted to the very abuse they were exposed to, struggling to be delivered from its claws. This experience underscores Ndiritu’s assertion that “most people go to God because they want to go heaven, but not addicts! We go to God because we have been to hell.” How true. As he recounts the effects of addiction on his family and relationships, the effect of such on him could easily be overlooked. As he chronicles his pains, he courageously admits that he has lived a life of shame, but telling his story has been cathartic. At a societal level, his story has sparked a wave in Kenya as many who were suffering similar conditions have begun to admit the truth and seek recovery. When an addict gets healing and recovers, the society heals. Our commitment to ending abuse implies working to end addiction too. This healing is our collective responsibility, our way of protecting the society from itself and protecting our own sanity. Reading What I Never Told You: Memoirs of a Recovering Addict reminds us of this need.

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Don’t read for me

Who says the reading culture in Nigeria is dying? I’m wondering the empirical basis for that assertion. Well, I don’t think it is anyway, at least based on my empirical observation. But before you start asking me about sampling procedure for statistical analysis, I don’t have any. I simply deployed the tool of observation – in fact, participant observation. The observatory was the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos. It was the first day of a two-day conference and the time was 4.22pm, few minutes after a late lunch was served. The eloquent Mistress of Ceremony took the floor and introduced the next resource person who was to speak. He was a PhD, schooled here and there (within and outside the country) and certified in this and that – an impressive testimonial. I adjusted myself in my seat and waited for her to finish. While that was going on, the paper for presentation was distributed.
…Then our scholarly resource person mounted the rostrum. He had that very humbling look, quiet and unassuming. Then he began. Yes, he began.
He started out with the title of the paper, then his name, as written on the paper. Thereafter, he intoned “Introduction.” I waited, as he continued the first sentence, then the second. It was that moment you listen to a presentation, thinking that what is being read is a quote, hoping that thereafter the presentation would start. Without skipping a word, nor adding any other, he went ahead to the next section and continued. He was reading, actually reading each word he had typed. Word-perfect. My eyes ran through the eight pages of the material I had in my hand and I wondered what torture I was being subjected to. The torture was both psychological and intellectual. It felt as though my literacy level had dropped, that I could not read. I was wondering why we were not given the paper to take home and read while sitting in the restroom. Perhaps, email our questions thereafter from our smart devices and await a feedback.
As I scanned the hall, I could see some people dozing off, others bearing the torture in silence. I never saw a lecture that left people more excited on the finishing line. It was a relief. As I sat there, glued to my chair out of respect for the effort put into intellectual production, I wondered who said the reading culture in Nigeria was dying. I am yet to be convinced. I must admit it was a well-researched and written poster presentation, but I had no way of determining if it was his original thought. If only he had not subjected me to the intellectual abuse.
I walked away that day, wondering why the presentation was not produced into an audio book so that I could listen to it while driving. In my head, I spoke to the presenter, as I would any friend who is to make a presentation, a few words of wisdom: “please, don’t ever read for me. If you must read to me, then let it be a quote or poetry.”

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