As a student of Commonsense, certain vindications of one’s publicly challenged and vehemently defended views ought to be occasions to go for a carnival of I-told-you gloating. But the people shamed by the embarrassment of 8000 women protesting over scarcity of marriageable men in Zamfara State refuse to acknowledge the societal dislocation that produces these many unfortunate women!
8000 women, and these are just those bold enough to exhibit their woes! Among them are over 5000 divorcees, says the reports. Here is the vindication of my fears for a society that refuses to respect the sociological demands of this century. Just a few weeks ago, Nigeria was polarised by debates over child brides, which a section endorsed on religious grounds. The Muslim ummah too was heavily polarised as the section that highlighted our social challenges and the consequences of underage marriages in a region where poverty is the most common asset and healthcare is a fantasy, were labelled “liberals” and even “apostates!” The jokers who argue that a child bride is better than a prostitute would not even admit that prostitution is not, and never, a virtue anywhere. Prostitution is a collapse of an individual’s morality which, even among married couples, is practised. Though they choose to call theirs “fornication!” even where a benefit is given for the shared pleasure.
Sorry, I will never gloat over this vindication. This is the reality of my society, one also supported by the ignorance of many educated people among us. And by our refusals to acknowledge the dangers posed by our insensitivity to modern challenges based on our (mis)understanding of religious dictates, we have set our future to self-destruct mode. Yes we distort the meaning of marriage the moment we have it simply defined as an arrangement where a man who has attained puberty pays the bride price of an insecure girl just to feed her or bear children. In this modern civilisation, with its myriad of challenges, going into life without proper empowerments earned in educational or commercial ventures is of the consequences that just erupted in Zamfara. Here is a patriarchal society where an empowered lady is seen as either wayward or westernised, which are about the same sin!
I was trained by an unlettered mother whose sufferings were inherited from the flaws in the society that denied her privileges granted her husband. My father had a sound education, and was a renowned school teacher in his days. He was trained to overcome modern economic blows, but as life would play its game of treachery, he succumbed to ill health midway through their marriage – an attack he never survived. He left his wife to fend for the children alone, to suffer I mean. She became an emergency businesswoman! She couldn’t have been able to do so if our father had not come from a rich people whose interventions saved us from that social embarrassment. Women are vulnerable in this closed society of a people who extol the superiority of men, a society where widows and divorcees depend on Allah for what Allah has given them life to acquire themselves.
Zamfara is now a symbolic place being the headquarters of policised Islam in Nigeria, and also where an equally symbolic politician whose religious sophistry is both selfish and destructive, has succeeded in planting a seed of conservatism among a people who ought to demand more from this ridiculous form of fascist theocracy imposed on them. Instead of implementing welfarist policies to ease the poverty of this landlocked entity, we have leaders who quote Allah and the Prophet to perpetuate their selfish political and even financial interests.
The child bride arrangement in this society of the dubiously religious, where undue polygamy is also practised, is not only a breeder of divorcees, but also of destitute beggars and medically unfit paupers. We built a closed society where criticisms of any sham wrapped in the foil of religion is apostasy, where even genotype testing is a taboo to many and where, until recently, HIV test too is against the teachings of Islam.
What we need now is an immediate realisation that so long as we continue with these unprogressive approaches to modern issues, and politicising what requires painstaking application of commonsense to be redeemed, we’re bound to a certain doom. We have been deliberately avoiding the truth, unsure of what it really is; but truth, however we seek to accept it, can never ever be divorced. We have to confront these monstrou truths. May God save us from us!
By Gimba Kakanda
Blueprint Newspapers (4/10/2013)
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)