Friday, 18 January 2013

Lest We Underestimate the Idle Uncles

There is a young man whom you do not know. But I know him and have received the permission to write about him. So, you get to read this story. When he was about 11 years old, he tolerated the rape of a young girl who had gone to watch cartoon in some "uncle's" apartment within their neighbourhood. The victim had cried to him for help with the evidence of an underwear that was heavily stained with sperm. Disgusted by the news, the boy went to confront the man in anger. The guilty man who felt ashamed and did not deny the accusation said, “I am sorry. It is the work of the devil.”  The boy wished he could chastise the “uncle” for raping his younger sister. He tried to fight him. But he was not his match. So, he went to report the incident to an aunty who lived in the same building as the so-called uncle. 
After narrating the story, the woman was touched. But to his amazement, she took no serious actions. She simply went over to the man's apartment to rebuke him saying, "Agbaya, e o kuku mo ju blue filmu lo laye yin..." Meaning, "You old-for-nothing man, all you ever do with your life is watch pornographic movies..." Then, she went over to the next house where the victimised 7 year-old girl lived and warned her to be careful with stupid unsolicited visits because they will not earn her anything less than what she had received. “If at this young age, you have started seducing men and watching blue films with jobless idiots, what will you do when you mature?” That was her judgement. Nothing else was done. The boy was disappointed. He wished he could have done something to punish the man and avenge his molested sibling. But he couldn't. All he could do was say evil prayers for the “uncle” and provide “sorry” and “stop crying” to his little sister.  Amidst sobs and falling tears, his sister asked, "Why did uncle XYZ ask me to sit on his lap? Why did he urinate on my pant? Why did he squeeze my chest with his hands? I told him to stop but he did not answer. He said I should keep quiet that he would buy me Mr Biggs. I told him it was hurting me but he did not answer. He told me we’re doing cartoon. Now, aunty is angry with me. What will mummy say when she comes? Daddy will beat me. Won’t he? She then looked her brother in the eye, “Are you angry with me too?” “No, I am not angry with you” He replied. “I am angry with uncle XYZ for doing this to you. He should be arrested and locked up in the prison. But I am confused by what aunty did. I wonder why she did not beat uncle XYZ or even tell the police.”

They had a house girl who had gone out on a date with one of her admirers. When she arrived, they told her too about the incident. She was surprised and raved madly over to the man’s apartment and nagged him for about thirty minutes. But again, she returned home to warn the kids not to tell anyone about the incident. She said, “If Daddy and Mummy hear, ah, they will beat you o! They will get angry and punish the two of you. That means, at Christmas, you will not travel with them on vacation and they will not buy presents for you on your birthdays. Even, they will go and report to your headmistress in school and everybody will laugh at the two of you during assembly.  Let’s just keep it secret among us. I promise not tell your Daddy and Mummy. Oya, you too promise me that you won’t tell them.” Out of fear, the kids promised to never tell their parents. The house girl examined the little girl, washed her in the bathroom and changed her dress before she incinerated the evidencing underwear. Later on, she gave them out of the goodies her boy friend had bought for her and calmed the little girl to sleep. The boy felt something was wrong somewhere. He knew what that uncle did was called rape and felt there should be a punishment for it. But he did not know what to do. He couldn’t predict how his parents would react if they heard about the incident. He wondered if his sister was guilty. He was confused and angry and somewhat ashamed. But he had to let it go. Of course, the parents came back in the night, as usual, when the kids had gone to bed. They never heard of the incident until the kids were grown-ups. The brother did not say a word about it until his thirty-something year-old sister couldn’t stop having relational issues with men. She had grown hatred and mistrust towards men over the years and it was affecting her at work and in her relationships. By then, “the idle uncle” had emigrated from their neighbourhood and gotten lost in the shoal of 150 million Nigerians. It seemed too late to mete out justice. But more importantly, the awful experience had left the victimised girl in need of a help she never received.

There is just one lesson I'd like to share through this story:

Quality time is a characteristic of quality parenting. If you are not parenting your own kids, you are jeopardising their precious future. Expensive gifts, costly education, professional housemaid, rich neighbours, DSTV, innocent drivers, etc cannot do the work for you. Such artificial style of parenting is becoming rampant in several urban centres today. Parents should remember that idle uncles (and aunties) are everywhere; and they hardly wear caution slogans on their foreheads.

Special thanks to whom it concerns for granting us publication permission.