First, let's start with the heart-warming

I absolutely love family photos...well not necessarily that of my own. Don't get me wrong, I adore my family, but we just never "got it." The youngest one would look mildly sedated, while another brother would stare off into the distance, contrived smiles or priceless expressions such as that of this young lad.

So when the family photos of the Johnathan family came out on ThisDay Style magazine (H/T Jide Salu), I couldn't help shelf my critical eye and let out an unnecessarily drawn out "Awwwwwwww...."

Let's not be naive here, family photos can be deceiving, but it was a long weekend, the weather was lovely, and a well-taken family photo makes me exceedingly happy.

I'll save my Obama wanna-be references for another post - you know, like this one. Oops, yeah, that one slipped.

And besides, I needed something to cheer me up after reading the disgraceful account of brutal domestic violence in the household of Nigerian Ambassador to Kenya, Dr. Chijioke Nwigwe. Warning, the pictures of his wife's bloodied face are graphic. I believe he is now being recalled from his post - but to me it is all a charade. Let's not be fooled, this was not the first time he battered his wife, and will not be the last. Some have claimed to have received his side of the story, in which the wife attacked him first and then in the process, fell down the stairs. Really? Do batterers and abusive parents have some sort of worldwide convention and make a list of alternative scenarios to be distributed to their card carrying members? The fell-down-the-stairs excuse has to be the oldest in the book.

Upon seeing the pictures, the first questions that came to bear - and mind, you, these were immediate visceral reactions - what would possess a man to attack someone's grandmother to that extent and what would keep an educated woman in such a situation? Like seriously, unu abuo kwesiri kwanyere onwe unu ugwu. I choro igwa m na unu ka na-akpa agwa nzuzu n'agadi?* But, on further introspection I knew that the first question was inappropriate - because I believe that her status as grandmother, mother, saint or devil really has no bearing on his brutality. And if one were to trot down that road further, as we are wont to do in our culture, we find ourselves on the slippery slopes of justifying situations amenable to physical punishment of an adult or ranking the deserved-ness (there must be another word for that) of one's respect on the basis on how active one's womb is/has been. And simply put, I hate that.

The second question, I danced around a bit on a previous post from several years ago in which I made remarks on a study on Igbo women's attitudes towards domestic violence - which yielded results that at first glance, may seem atypical, but track well with some of my personal experiences. The couple at the center of this tragedy, the Nwigwe's, are well-heeled, educated and the wife possesses dual British-Nigerian citizenship. I have witnessed a number of married women stay in emotionally and physically abusive relationships, despite lives that on the outside, seem relatively put together - in fact, envious.

*you two need to respect yourselves...you want to tell me that you still behave foolishly in old age?

5 comments:

  1. md_KG said...:

    I didn't even hear about this. Such a tragedy. To speak to your point about the 'justified deserved-ness', that ish boggles my mind too. Why should a woman always take the blame for such violence? It's so sad that the entrenchment of patriarchal attitudes is clearly the major factor behind these rationales. We still have so far to go *sigh*

  1. Nne said...:

    Apparently the news was around Kenya long before the rest of us heard it. You should check NigeriansTalk.org for a post written about it.
    It was straightforward at first - but with all these different interpretations of what happened, the story has developed K leg. But in summary, the incident remains regrettable.

  1. Nne said...:

    Also heard rumors that former Imo state governor Ohakim also slapped his wife in public (this is the same governor who kidnaps journalists and beats them and who order his security men to beat up a priest because he was in the way of his convoy and I also heard that the wife is wont to slap or insult staff members).
    In my opinion there is a seems to be a widespread acceptance that interpersonal violence can be acceptable in some circumstances (violence towards househelp, physically correcting a "wayward" wife, abusing street vendors, "illegitimate" children etc). There seems to be an acceptable "tonic" level of violence. The problem is that when you start on the path of condoning violence in some situations, you open the flood gates as to which situations warrant violence.

  1. ...yes, this was disturbing!!!...what/how did he beat his wife to cause such cuts and bruises?!...my God!...it is deplorable!!...and yes, we have a long way to go!...what do you think of this goodluck guy?...nice pic though!...and i actually find that all the imperfections of naija family pics make them more interesting and endearing, at times!...haha...

  1. Ms Afropolitan said...:

    That's a great photo of the Jonathan's. Good photographer.
    Re GBV, it's very much a global problem but I wouldn't be surprised if Nigeria ranks somewhere at the top. I think because Nigerian women generally are quite independent outside of marriage, as you say - leading put together lives, the grotesquely misogynist society we have is barely discussed.
    I have all too frequently heard Nigerian men comfortably say such things as it is their right as a man to have affairs, have dinner waiting for them on the table, decide whether their wives can go out with friends etc etc but call that sexist and they will vigorously protest, alluding to the 'natural' order of things. This kind of thinking fuels the violence I believe, because it blatantly implies the inferior status of women in Nigeria