We Are One: Written By Michael Okoye

Two or so years ago, after my exile in the land of the cow worshippers, I went to see a friend who worked in a secondary school at the time. We hadn’t seen each other in years so I went to have some bro time.

We talked and he bought some emergency tummy appetiser, while I waited for him in the staff room.
Thankfully, there was some reading material on the desk. I picked up ‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Adichie and began to read.
I had barely gone past a few pages when, suddenly, there was a stampede. Three little girls were dragged into the room with cheering teachers behind them. They were flogged mercilessly and relentlessly. I hadn’t seen such brutality in a long time and it got to me. I, naturally, was curious. What did they do? I asked.

‘They were kissing and touching themselves’
‘Na Le-Le o’
‘Sodom and Gomorrah children’
They all tried to answer me at once.
‘Is that why you want to kill them?’ I replied.
‘Ah, Oga, it is not allowed in our culture’
‘God can punish us for their sin’

I couldn’t stand them being beaten like that. I told the chief flogger that she should respect my presence and not touch them while I was around.
‘Na God save una today, better stay here until I come back, we’re going to meet your parents after school’ She departed with the hordes of cheerleaders.
They were all lying flat on their bellies, crying. Bloodshot eyes. Dishevelled and quaking in every limb. I felt for them.

I got to learn that they were caught the previous day. This was a continuation of the beating they had received. I didn’t know how to feel towards them. But one thing I never felt was resentment or anger. They were in JSS2 and no more than 13. Why should I hate them when they barely know the workings of their body.

I just mumbled some advise and thereafter left. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the reaction of the teachers and even the students. What is it about sexual activity that makes an average African a god in their own right? We all know the homophobia that exists in our society and the hate, stigma that comes with it. But I got the larger picture :

Michael Okoye

We cannot accept that some people can be different from us.
We abhor people who don’t act, think like the rest. You can’t be allowed to be yourself. We want our men masculine and our females feminine. We want them to believe in God. We want them to conform to preset traditions. We want women to be apprehensive when they’re 30 without husbands. We want them to lobby for husbands. We want our men to head their homes and be the main provider. The one whose words are law and gospel.

An independent woman in her 40s, who doesn’t cry day and night for a man, must be a witch. The woman who doesn’t want children or family is abnormal and must be, should be, possessed by demons.
An Atheist in our society is second only to Anti-Christ. We don’t see them as normal. They have automatic ticket to the bottomless pit. Can’t they see the evidence of the existence of God?

Charlie boy is crazy. Denrele is a gay mofo. Ms Sahara will burn in hell.
No one is allowed to be themselves anymore. It’s eating into our mindset.
What we don’t know, we hate. What we hate, we fear. What we fear, we seek to destroy. Society101.

Rather than see them as some sociopath, why don’t we embrace their uniqueness and let them be. We are quick to judge. Quick to jump into conclusions. Quick to hate.
We have no time to think. To reason. To love. We like to dictate how other people should live their lives without looking inward. We should embrace everyone under a canopy of love, understanding and tolerance. That’s the only way humanity can progress.

Stop the shaming. Stop the trolls. We are one.

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