Thursday, November 16, 2006

How much is a male organ worth?

Published 11 Saturday, November 2006 in Awesome World
The Daily Independent and The Sun had two interesting stories on Tuesday. The incidents the papers reported happened in two different Nigerian cities, but a common thread runs through them both.

In the first case, a man walking along the road at Olodi Apapa in Lagos was approached by two men on a motorcycle and requested to change some amount of money for them. The man obliged the strangers. Immediately one of the two men, the rider, shouted that his manhood had been ‘stolen’. Before the ‘good Samaritan’ realized what trouble he had just walked into, street urchins and passers-by had descended on him with fists.

“Restore his ‘thing’”, they shouted at him as they beat him. More ‘sympathisers’ joined in the beating of the ‘thief of male organs’. Sticks and rods were employed to drive home their point that he was facing imminent death unless he quickly returned what he had ‘stolen’.

A policeman walking past was attracted to the scene and attempted to rescue the man but met a stiff resistance in the madding crowd already baying for blood. The ‘thief’ would not be released unless he returned what he had stolen. The policeman called for a search of the alleged thief. If he stole something, then definitely, what he stole must be in his possession. Abi?

They searched the alleged thief’s body down to his pants, and found that he had no more than what God gave him to propagate his kind. No extra was found on him or in his bag. There was also no charms or amulets. But the crowd would not agree to let him go with the policeman. They argued that he must have mystically transferred what he stole to a spiritual coven somewhere in his village or some place where he would later go and convert it to cash! They resumed beating the man in the presence of the policeman to force him to restore what he stole. Now convinced he was going to die, an idea came to his mind. He cried out that he had restored the stolen member and brought out money for the alarm raiser to go to a nearby brothel to verify his claim.

The okada man reportedly first declined on religious grounds. He was not one to go and be cavorting with a prostitute under any circumstances whatsoever. He was a pious man with high degree of moral rectitude. But the sympathisers soon emerged with a sex worker, perhaps one with eye-popping vital statistics, and the story changed.

The pious okada man hurried into the brothel with no further encouragement. The man reportedly ravished the prostitute for longer than his initial reluctance would suggest. He and his emergency consort later came out fanning themselves profusely and smiling. The deed had been done more than satisfactorily. The crowd which waited outside for a report (the proof you need that there are too many jobless people in Lagos ) were pleased. They let off the good Samaritan to go and ‘sin’ no more.

The second incident in Owerri, unfortunately, did not have the same happy ending. A man probably feeling very happy that day greeted a stranger he met along the street, offering him his hand to shake. The stranger took the handshake and immediately started shouting that his sexual organ was missing. A crowd gathered quickly, beat the hapless man to a stupor, poured fuel on him and set him ablaze. Just like that. No attempt was made as in the Lagos case to verify the claim of the alarm raiser. No attention was paid to the cries of the victim that he knew nothing of the crime he was being accused of. The report said such an incident was a recurring decimal in Owerri during the ember months of every year. So the crowd has no time to waste. If you are accused of stealing a man’s member or a woman’s boobs, you are done for.

Now, these incidents as ridiculous and utterly embarrassing as they are, have been recurring in most major cities of Nigeria for as long as anyone can remember. They show how far our society has strayed from its lofty origins. They show how much of our authentic African values have been sacrificed on the alter of mercantilism. The concept of one being his brother’s keeper is long forgotten. Life no longer has any sanctity.

When people cry that the government sets very little store by the lives of citizens they fail to realize it is a general malaise. The life of a stray dog in Lagos , as in many other major cities in Nigeria today, is worth more than a man’s life.

Anyone leaving his house in the morning is lucky to make it back in one piece in the evening. Thousands of Nigerians daily leave their homes hale and hearty in the morning and ended up on cold slabs in the mortuaries by night fall. If they refuse to partake in air travels that are now claiming the lives of Nigerians in hundreds, they can be run over by a danfo with faulty brakes. If they steer clear of molues that routinely plunge into the lagoon, a poorly maintained lorry can squash them at the bus stop. They can be shot dead by policemen if robbers miss.

A mad man can maul them to death, or a live tension wire can fall on them. Their residences can just cave in and bury them alive. They can fall victims to adulterated drugs, get drowned transiting on rickety commercial canoes, be stabbed to death by an area boy. The list is endless.

If you escape all that, someone who wants to have a free ticket to sleep with a woman can accuse you of having stolen his ‘thing’. If you do not play your game well, you can be in a mortuary by nightfall.

Ours is a strange modernity that ruins all the good African values, imports the depravity of the West and yet somehow sustains the old monster of superstition. How we manage to achieve that will leave the best anthropologists scratching their heads.

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