A Letter to my Unborn Daughter

ImageSweetheart,

This letter is a betrayal of my previous convictions, and an apology for actually allowing a society of chauvinists to train my mind into agreeing that the womenfolk are indeed inferior, merely created from our ribs to be chained to marital slavery. This diseased mindset was the reason I addressed a letter to your brother about two years ago without even a reference to you, or even expressing a concern over your wellbeing in the pre-mortality world. I felt sorry for you afterwards, Sweetheart. Recent experiences have shown me the complexes of this ancient crime against ‘womanity’—a crime perpetrated by a species of insecure men for whom the freedom of the woman is seen as the collapse of decency. The woman, in their inverted wisdom, is a metaphor of gullibility—a moron who cannot think or survive in the absence of the almighty man; an imbecile whose knowledge of right and wrong must be stirred up by the ever “holy” male; a pet that must, as needs be, be treated as an accessory.

My heart is heavy, Sweetheart, as I brush away my shame to write this.  I had unfairly antagonised feminists whose misery I now understand. I had dismissed their Gender Equality campaigns as attention-seeking wolf-cries done either for publicity or to enjoy a piece of the Whiteman’s dollars. The misery and frustration of woman can be understood when we study the history of their subjugations, the cultural and religious conspiracies perfected to make the position of the woman as subordinate a design of God. Give religion to an idiot, and you have created a monster. The sheer inability to check the border between devotion to God and obsession with insanity is the root of our present societal chaos. The borderline between adherence to religion and fanaticism is thin, people don’t seem to know it when they cross it. But a fanatic is an intellectual fraud who highlights aspects of religion that celebrates the man, while he finds bliss in disregarding portions that emphasise the rights of the woman.

This letter is actually written from a will to give you the hint of latest happenings here. Ahmed Yarima, that man who ought to be in jail for establishing a political space that serves as greenhouse for this new breed of extremists, has again attempted to play on our intelligence and anger when he rallied his fellows together to agree that an underage girl is a constitutional adult simply because she’s married. They tried to cite the Prophet as role model, defending that present context shouldn’t invalidate the practice. Do you know what that means, Sweetheart? The challenges of 21st Century are issues that require painstaking application of wisdom, and not these outright insensitivities of the literalists. My provocation is an expression of many disgusts over this perpetration of an old conspiracy by a cult that still sees an empowered or independent woman as a puncture to their inflated egos! This deliberate destruction of the woman remains why every poverty-stricken idiot quotes Allah and the Prophet to marry more than one woman, even when their income is not enough to feed a camel. Has any lawmaker ever moved a motion to stop low-income earners from this going against Allah, which is what they do by going into polygamy with empty pockets? I can’t let these conspiracies and hypocrisies be dressed in the garments of religion. I can’t watch a little girl not only denied privileges but constitutionally dehumanised.

And when we are trying to highlight where commonsense ought to be applied in engaging the socio-politics of religion in modern Nigeria, some self-appointed litigators of God declared us as “liberals” or even “apostates”? One even warned that my geography and name are proofs of my infidelity. They argued that you must bear Arabic names and even be from the core north, perhaps Dan Fodio’s lineage, to pass for their own Muslim. These litigators were possibly going from house to house, market to market, as destitute “Almajirai” conveniently abandoned by their parents to begging in the name of Qur’anic education when some of us were in decent classrooms studying the ideal Islamic literatures under scholars of piety and repute. These litigators can’t tell cultural Arabism apart from Islam, yet where they counter that commonsense must never be applied in interpreting Islam, they refuse to ride on camels for pilgrimage to the holy land. Like the Prophet did. You see, Sweetheart? Fanaticism is a disability in thinking. There is nothing sacred about Arabic language or names or culture outside the context of religion, but they don’t know this. And Islamic texts are preserved in their original Arabic forms to avoid distortions. I approve that, Sweetheart. You may learn Arabic to perfect your faith, so that you won’t end up like the clowns who initiate an aggression when they see, say, a Christian cuddling a Bible written in Arabic. You see, these litigators are so pious they can mistake porn magazines written in Arabic for Islamic literatures!

Our people’s cultural and religious ignorance is that complicated. To understand them, you must study the history of their evolution either from Darwin’s contested apes perspective or from the Adam of the Qur’an and the Bible on to the invasions and missions of Arabs and Europeans who exploited our primitivity and introduced dazzling concepts of monotheism in which the inferiority complex-stricken Blackman becomes an example of spiritual confusion. Sweetheart, this holier-than-thou gra-gra over imported ideologies is one reason I wish we had a leader like old Turkey’s Mustafa Ataturk—to restore our lost self-esteem. Our esteem has been grounded in the mud by the slaveries and racisms we’ve been subjected to and which we still come across overseas today, which seem not to upset us enough to return home and demand for an ideal Black Africa of our father’s dreams. The frightful danger with pseudo-religious politicians here is their acute understanding of our gullibility, their understanding of our submission to their frauds when couched in the name of God. They sponsor sectarian crises in the name of God, they waste our resources on sponsorship of pilgrims to holy lands just to render our budgets unanalysable. Could you believe that they invested billions of taxpayers’ money in feeding destitute subjects this Ramadan, when that money could have built an industry to engage the hopeless people? Theirs are not the ways of Allah.

But don’t be afraid of showing up whenever Mum and I are ready to have you. Come, just come and be our delight. I promise to train you into that woman the society cannot but idolise, that woman of whom the chauvinists shiver… I hate the fact that Muslim women are under-represented in the Labour Market. A society whose women are powerless has done a disservice to Islam because it’s the same women, and not men, that shape the earliest education of every child. A woman deserves her freedom to rightly decide who her man is, and also be as empowered as her male counterpart. Don’t be afraid of any man, just be sure you mark the identity of whoever harasses you on your way to Junior Secondary School. I’ll definitely take care of his funeral. May God save us from us!

Dad.

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

Blueprint Newspapers (26/012013)

A Letter to my Unborn Son

unborn_child Dear Son,

This is the first of the epistles I promised myself I would write. I wish to preempt what anxieties you may soon have and, perhaps, anger too. But this letter was torn out of me by the same force that forestalls your arrival. The events now unfolding in the country seem to have eclipsed the turbulent relationships I have had with women, women I’d hoped would nurture you into a being, into that priceless gem that I shall never forsake.

I will start with them, the women. I will start with the one I named Baby. She’s named after you because she did things like you soon will: Fragile, quick to tears, she was a babbler, too. No, she didn’t totter; she was obsessed with putting on airs, and the gait of a cat. We parted ways. I know that you wouldn’t be impressed by her as mother.

Actually, I didn’t leave her because I could not put up with her, but because another woman, one I considered more suitable to nurture you, appeared. She was a foreigner, an American and she was black, in a shade referred to as ‘ebony.’ You will one day know what tourists do; you will gather tales, whenever you do arrive. My friends said she befriended me just to have me as her guide in Nigeria. Yes, the country was unsafe, and an alien needs a dependable guide in a hostile place. When she left, she had our nascent love. She wheeled it across the floor of the departure lounge in that faded, green travel bag. That was the end.

I mourned our love as I would a dead beloved. But, being a wanderer, I soon chanced upon this religious lady who tried to turn me into a bigot. She was so fond of Islam that she thought those who practised other religions were headed for certain doom. She harangued me, ‘a sinner’, as though she was the mouthpiece of the Creator. She said that addiction to western clothing and lifestyles were a curse, that the people of the book had joined hands with the accursed Satan to destroy me. I asked her about Science, she said that the West got it from the Qur’an. I asked her about Western Education, she said she had had no option but to acquire it. I asked about technology, she said it wasn’t western. She nagged me, oh, she nagged me, every day, until I let slip that I knew of Christians who were fond of God than her, just as there are Muslims more spiritually attached to theology than Christians. She said I blasphemed. She quitted.

After a few more experimental relationships, I met a Christian girl whom I rechristened ‘Reverend Sister.’ She was fond of mocking my beliefs, so vocal was she that she offered that ‘apostasy’ was the only possibility of her being your mother. Any religion whose original, unadulterated practice didn’t hurt others should never be ridiculed—those were my words to her. She publicly lived in praise of the lord, but her life, in her closet, was the opposite. I wondered what she understood by ‘true religion.’

I met this other lady, another American, whom I mistook for an agnostic. Two years into our relationship, she felt I was too conventional to be her spouse and so set her friend to educate me about her belief, Totemism.

‘Totemism is a powerful cult. A sect. An ideology. We believe that the spirits of specific beasts in this world are here to guide us, and that with true joy and true understanding comes the merging of our souls with our personal guides. It’s the reason why I never call my friend by her birth name—to me, she’s Lupita, the little wolf. Not Martha, that stupid, empty shell. We’re amiable but loners. Ferocious, sensitive, and we practice avoidance. We hold none dear, not for long anyway, and that’s how, I believe, she lives, as well.’

 So, I felt sorry for myself, for you, whose arrival continued to be delayed, unnecessarily. That Muslim Lady of Piety, who seemed to have met the criterion of my kin, had left my world. But trust me, I tried to woo her back by hooking up with her best friend. The trick, a simple psychological manouvre, was meant to stir up some jealousy in her. I know it is foolish to fake love. The said friend welcomed my advances, and what happened is too tragic to relate to your tender heart, son. However, while it lasted that friend and I became a popular couple. And soon the pretence became the truth, so true to the strings of the heart that we contemplated having you. But, I wasn’t ready. I was afraid. I didn’t know what marriage was.

And this fear drove me in my ventures into relationships with the ladies that came after her. Ladies who had all grown beyond the age when young women seek sexual adventures, they were at the point where only ‘Mr. Right’ would do. I was not such a one. And when I at last decided to choose one to settle down with, all the good girls were taken. Some smarter men had the woman who would have been your mother.

When I couldn’t bear the torture any longer, I spat on any offer to become a compatible mate. I swerved southward. You will understand what this means whenever you come. The ‘northern’ girls are considered conservative, even though that is very untrue. The ladies in the north, unlike their fun-seeking counterparts at the South of the country, are hypocrites ever playing the religious adherent in order to live up to the expectations of the society, their parents. But, they are all deceivers. I know.

So, I ran to the ladies from the south. The decision was to live my youth with women who knew the music of the time. Life became a circuit of partying with the real women. But, that came with a cost. All I earned was invested in them. This continued, until a certain thespian appeared on the scene of my life, took away every bit of my pride and turned me to a programmed being at her beck and call. The last time I scrolled through her phone book, my name was ‘ATM.’ People said she cast a spell on me, and I was indeed less than wretched when I gathered my polythene bag, and returned to the conservative pretenders.

After a season of dysfunctional relationships, your mother showed up. We met at a mall in the process of one thing that truly excites her: shopping. She was not Baby, as she never wept whenever I stood up against her ruses to emasculate me. The only time she did flare up was when I had to run an errand for my boss on the day her 33-year-old sister had chosen for the feast of a silver age! I missed the birthday. It took interventions by our friends to have her retract her vows to part ways with me.

Now, son, the decision to have you is in the recycle bin. But, if by a stroke of destiny she refuses to return, I shall have to do the ‘try your luck’—that’s what dating is—with my Indian friend-turned-lover. She is pretty, prettier than those divas in sari seen in Bollywood movies. But, her parents are racists. They think black men are devils. Those weren’t their exact words, but judging by their daughter’s depression on the day she told them I had proposed to her, their remarks may have been darker than my skin. But, I love my skin! Your future will be forged in my contest with a handsome Rajput suitor chosen by her parents.

We agreed on elopement, but I realise that I don’t have the resources to build a comfortable home with a foreigner. And I don’t want to destroy anyone’s daughter. That’s why I devote these days to making money. I’m upbeat about a promised government contract. And if that comes, you will have to learn to live with the stigma ‘half-caste.’

Dear son, read this in whispers: if either of the two ladies, your potential mothers, turns me down, I would have no option but to resort to celibacy, perhaps lifelong celibacy! I know, son, you are scared. I know that this letter may get you upset, make you go berserk. I know… but, please, do not be angry. Join me in the search for your mother. I’m tired of searching alone!

Your Father

Gymber Cacandah
El-Minna, Powerville