By Joy Isi Bewaji for Bewaji.com
We are a story-story society. From folktales by moonlight, to testimonies in churches exaggerated by ‘hallelujahs’ and amens’- we like to talk, share stories of what happened to people we’ve never met…stories cooked up, sometimes, from the belly of excitement and wonder.
Take a picture of Oprah and slam it with motivational hogwash on Facebook- something that probably came out from a wet dream, and there would be 500 likes. Our lack of deep curiosity or contemplation doesn’t help.
“Type Amen”, says G.O Adeboye (except, sometimes, it is not G.O, just a picture of him and a mic); blink and there are 2,468 likes and 1,121 ‘Amens” from Nigerians, some who are yet to draw up any decisive plan for the year.
If you really want to prick the Nigerian conscience, just tell a sob story with atrocious misspellings to show you are just an ordinary Nigerian trying to be “humble” and looking for a way out of this big frightening world; you’ll get sympathizers flock your timeline, happy to have you as one of the unfortunate people they can feel sorry for.
Everything is believable if it can be told as a story to Nigerians.
Before we could spell our names, we were moved by the call to sit and be told stories. It is a call to belief. Tell a story, no matter how ridiculous, as long as you can piece together a few (un)believable scenes, patch fractions of thoughts and ideas, you’ll get a following, believers. People looking for gaps in their lives to fill with sympathy- anything to hide their own daily atrocities and barbarisms. Your ill-luck is the panacea for all the wrongs they have become.
So when a woman comes on social media to ask for money to rescue her child from kidnappers, for instance, we hurriedly send money.
Oh wait! We don’t actually send money…we badger people to believe her and sympathise with her; then check back to see if monies have been raised…and badger some more.
We are more interested in looking good to the public, and to friends and family, than actually being good.
We are not good people. If we were, we wouldn’t have the numbers that we have of housemaids, some barely eight years old, beaten like criminals for trifling offences. But we don’t want to think about that. We don’t want to think about what uncles do to 5 year old children; and how disgracefully uncontrolled are the numbers of child rape. We don’t want to think of all the atrocities and judgments we make under religion; and the excuses society come up with every time it has to make a decision.
If we can show faux sympathy, parade our kindness on social media and go with the crowd, maybe our sins will be made as white as snow. Cleansed. Washed. Sanctified.
Ever been on a bus and heard the tale of how I-was-going-to-ojuelegba-and-a-man-stole-my-wallet-and-beat-me-and-now-my-kidney-is-missing fib?
Take another route next week, you will find the (wo)man in another bus or junction still looking for her wallet and her kidney.
We like stories. It is the only time our bowels dance, our interests peak.
Let us hear the preposterous stories of others…and thank God we can use their astonishing tale to congratulate ourselves for being, well, ‘better’.
The entire idea of religion, our only moral institution in a country of over 160million people, is to ensure you are better than your ‘neighbour’. So you need to listen to your neighbour’s sad stories and thank God you do not have it so bad.
Women are usually the best pick for this booming sob story business. As the highly victimized gender, the woman is privileged when it comes to fabricating stories.
Society will believe the woman if she is able to weave a story of being raped, abused, insulted, molested, cheated etc.
Patriarchy loves to pity the woman. It enjoys an erection of faux empathy whenever a woman cries out.
Patriarchy loves these stories. It is not going to find a solution or dig deeper, but it is going to ask for a group hug and group condemnation that will last only as long as an orgasm; then back to looking for the next story, the next ‘victim’.
This pity porn is a million dollar sport. Grab your share.
So when Sophia Momodu starts her story and ends it with, “Davido is a wicked person”, I wonder.
Is it not the same Davido that pays her N300,000 monthly, with a car offer that is dangling in that story like a disease? Some have decided to focus on the fact that he is yet to give her a car. We are talking about a child here- a child with lung infection! Who cares if Sophia sells banana at Alaba market?! Is she beneath hard work? Why are we more taken with her needs and the failure of her needs being met than the actions that led Davido to (want to) take his child away from her?
Most young men would rather let a babymama take care of a new born. Our ‘culture’ allows a baby daddy to faff around for, say, ten years (sometimes 20…or ever!) before getting involved in the rearing of a child. But here is a young artiste, one of the busiest and most successful in the continent, who wants to be a chief player in the life of his child…
Society affords him other options of neglect if he wants. But he isn’t tapping into it (PS: Who knows if MayD is taking care of his child and babymama? Who cares?). Davido tells us why he needs to take his child away from the mother. He shows documents, FACTS; things we hardly see in cases like these…
YET Nigerians want to believe the woman. Why? Because we need to feed this pity porn, else we might die…our doubts may destroy our moral fibre.
Some question why this entire situation is shared in public. We are upset because this time the man seems to be right.
Do we question women when they share similar issues on social media?
When it comes to women and the issues plaguing the gender, we don’t want to think, we only want to raise our voices. Women issues need a lot of emotions and little sense. It is the way patriarchy likes it. And it is the only ‘privilege’ women enjoy in a society like ours- the privilege of story telling to gather empathy. We have Facebook groups and Twitter hangouts to justify this sob story business.
#Ibelievewomen. This hashtag is prone to abuse.
Sophia might be a good mother. But cannabis is involved. A child has lung infection. A father took the wrong step by allowing his sister stand in as the mother- probably out of desperate love for the child. That is, in my opinion, his only wrong. Charge him for that!
But he is a young man. His mates are still dragging meat with siblings from their mother’s pot! Give him a break!
How we do not find this troubling: Child. Lung infection. N300k. Toyota, SUV. Clubbing. Partying. Dubai all in one sentence, remains a mystery.
We want to believe a mother loves her child more than anything else in the world. We don’t want to mess with this perfect picture in our heads. Let it stay that way.
In some cases, that perfect picture is not true.
And even when we see a young father try all he can to be just as important in a child’s life, we need to tell him not to upstage the mother without weighing the shortcomings and personal drawbacks of some mothers.
Patriarchy has schooled us well.
I am sorry if this offends any movement…no, actually I am not sorry: I stand with Davido.
Culled here bewaji.com