The previous week was a gruesome one, tales and news of needless atrocious and barbaric violence meted out on innocent children has left a lot of people heartbroken.
The story of beautiful little Hanifa who has been missing for about a month has graced out timelessness endlessly, and every time it crosses my path, it pierces deep, and hurts. I think of her, the trauma and fear she is undergoing, and I think of her mother, and the trauma, anxiety and uncertainty they are experiencing, and my heart bleeds.
Her death is not only disturbing due to the violence and inhumanity involved but distressing to think that it came at the hands of someone who had been entrusted with her care, her schoolteacher. How anyone can bring themselves to harm such a sweet innocent 5-year-old is beyond thinking.
They say the smile of a child is heaven, and that a beautiful face is pleasing to the eye. Hanifa was beautiful, innocent and her smile was like heaven, but her teacher still kidnapped, held her captive for weeks, collected ransom and murdered her. This is a man who posts nothing on his social media timeline except Qur’anic verses and religious quotations. Worst is, he was her teacher, someone he was entrusted to protect with his life if necessary. Yet, he still had the mind to go on sympathy visits to her parents while still holding her captive.
While still navigating the hurt of Hanifa’s brutal murder, I read about Daniel Ndukwe from Enugu, who killed his 3 daughters and stuffed their bodies in a deep freezer inside his compound. The very same day, I read the story of a Cross Rivers state medical doctor who beat his wife Naomi Jolly blue black because she refused to allow him to circumcise their daughters. Now, one would think that being a medical doctor, the man would be the first to know and understand the implications of FGM, nay! it is not so, he is the one ensuring its continuity because it is a family tradition that must be upheld.
Then I read the story of 11-year-old Jibril Sani Mato of Elkanemi College of Islamic Theology Maiduguri, whose throat was slashed by a senior student cutting, injuring most of his arteries, nerves, trachea and left him to die. Luckily for him, he maintained consciousness long enough for him to get to the principal’s office and slumped there. If he had not got himself to the principal’s office and died where he was assaulted, his assaulter would have gone scoot free, continued assaulting and killing others.
According to reports the Elkanemi College of Islamic Theology are trying hard to suppress and kill the matter by concealing, withholding information including the name of the assaulter. Reports have it that big names and people are trying to ensure the case is dead on arrival, including the Victim’s stepfather. All we can do is to hope that influence and elitism will not be used to suffocate and kill this incident. We can only hope that Jibril’s assaulter will face the justice he deserves, because that is the only way to forestall further occurrences. However hard the powers may try to subvert justice, I am confident that with a man like Babagana Zulum as Governor, this would not go unpunished.
Chances are that if not for social media, most of these stories would have largely remained unknown. Many more atrocities continue to happen daily in different places across this country, and many will forever remain unknown due to a lot of factors, one of which is the conspiracy of silence.
The week before that, it is the kaduna woman who pimps herself, other women as well as her daughters to bandits for money. Everything about what is happening to us is all shades of wrong. For a society so steep in religiosity and religiousness, how did we get here? Just how much sad and gory news can someone take?
Social physiologists and human Psychologists will attest to the fact that what is happening to us today, is the result and impact of violence in a society. Violence circulates and eventually consumes even the most innocent and vulnerable. They say it takes a society to raise a child, I am still unable to figure how this society conspired to raise a generation of abusive, violent, and inhumane humans.
The term ‘cycle of violence’ refers to repeated and dangerous acts of violence as a pattern associated with high emotions and doctrines of retribution, revenge or continuity which ensures the continuous repeat of the pattern of abuse or violence.
Some researchers describe the ‘cycle of violence’ as the exhibition of violent behavior learned as a child and then repeated as an adult’.
Firstly, we are a people raised on a lot of abuse; physical and verbal translating to an unending circle of violence. From childhood, the only language some children understand is abusive, because that is the only way some parents communicate with their children.
The adage most popularly used to justify child abuse in our society is ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. So many times, I always ask, if the rod is the only way to correct an erring child, who then corrects the adults when they err? Or is adulthood an automatic exemption from making mistakes or doing things that children get abused for? The child rights act was officially signed into law in 2003, but till date, a lot of states have not yet implemented it, much less to protect children from being abused, especially by their guardians.
They say it takes a society to raise a child, it seems pretty much that it is either this society all conspired to raise a generation of abusive, violent, and inhumane humans, or they simply looked the other way and pretend not to see while some percentage of them raised them.
Anyway, we now are saddled with an increasing rate of worrisome catastrophes. Children killing children (bullying in schools) parents killing their own children, known and trusted members of the community kidnapping and killing children; medical doctors still upholding female circumcision, the list is endless.
One thing is certain, today’s realities are an indication that the African parenting style of physical and verbal abuse is counterproductive. It has only succeeded in creating the cycle of violence that is revolving around us today, which unfortunately will continue to go round unless and until it is broken.
No, we are not okay. We need intervention like yesterday.
Jiddare writes from Abuja.