There is really a huge lure to comment on the political today. President Muhammadu Buhari has just given a national broadcast that provokes several questions; ex-Taraba governor, Jolly Nyame was, during the week, sentenced to 14 years imprisonment; Buhari assented the Not Too Young Bill, among many other issues. Unless we want to fool ourselves, political issues drive the engine of discourses in Nigeria today, especially when the 2019 elections are less than a year away. However, social and economic issues are arguably the grease that oils the engine of the political..
Some installments ago, the social issue of spousal violence which has been on the rise in Nigeria, engaged this writer. With the title, With this dagger, I thee wed, I discussed the menace of fatalities which arise from violence on the home front. Without recourse to formal statistics, one can state without equivocation that domestic violence is one of the main issues that afflict the home today. Newspapers are, every now and then, painted with crimson stories of deaths that arise from the violence at the home front. Prisons are almost bursting at their seams with husbands/wives who kill each other. During the week, a video went viral on the social media about a teacher, Abimbola Olamide, who stabbed her husband, Dare to death over a household brawl in Ikorodu, Lagos. You would want to cry seeing the lifeless body of the man inside the tricycle that was said to be conveying him to the hospital before he gave up the ghost. It is so rampant now that hardly does a pass by without a recorded case of spousal violence. Homes are hot like oven today due to violence on the home front and unless urgent remedies are found to this menace, the kitchen knife, which is mostly the innocent instrument that is sent on this gruesome assignment at the heat of anger in the home, may become the god that reigns in the affairs of the family.
Of a truth, domestic violence is not locale-blind and is a global phenomenon. However, in Africa and Nigeria especially, it is fast becoming an epidemic and is not susceptible to class analysis. In With this dagger, I thee wed, I tried to proffer solutions. My prognosis was that, spousal violence was largely borne of cultural reasons; that the home front is in disarray because we have lost our values as Africans. Wives are no longer owned by the extended family as “our own” and as such, when disagreements come, the family is ostracized from the process of seeking solutions. His Imperial Majesty, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, in a rejoinder to the piece, corroborated this point. He even took it to another realm and submitted that the abetment of the violence in the home by Christianity is rather huge. Parents are increasingly becoming witches and wizards in the modern African home and are being replaced by “Daddies and Mummies in the Lord” who counsel that couples make their spousal disagreements internal and shouldn’t seek interventions from their families. Violence is thus bottled up within the home and only comes into limelight when blood and the kitchen knife are eventually locked up in a mutual embrace at the heat of anger.
While some people are of the opinion that economic pressure is aggravating domestic violence as husbands have become impotent economically, others believe that promiscuity in the home is a major cause of spousal disagreements. Today, I however, want to talk about a causal factor of domestic violence that many may not have averted their minds to. It is the menace of aristo. Aristo, whatever is its etymology, is a lingo among higher school students which is an appellation for married men who befriend girls old enough to be their children or even grandchildren. The appellation may be recent but it’s a phenomenon that is ancient, especially in Africa where having multiple partners by men is a thing to flaunt. Yoruba Juju musician, Ebenezer Obey, perhaps had the same aristo phenomenon in mind when he referred to some men who live a life of pleasure as Agba Man. They are the rotund-tummy men who park posh cars at university female hostels, using the veil of nocturnes as shield. They splash on these girls enough money to satisfy their greed and carve an unearned class for them on campus. To these ancient sybarites, I am attributing one of the reasons for the implosion of spousal violence today.
Aristo is as old as the founding of higher institutions in Nigeria. In the quest to spill his Adamic fluid, the aristo garnishes his girl with huge cash, gift and lodges her in the comfort of 5-star hotels, as well as spoiling her with international travels. Few girls found life-long happiness therefrom when their aristo transmuted into their husbands or when they pass through the thorny road of schooling with the able cash support of the aristo. Thousand others pick up life-long scars of Hiroshima proportion from the dalliance. One feature of the aristo phenomenon is that the girls are spoilt with material wealth/gifts that become very difficult to replicate when the girls eventually decide to abandon it.
They then marry husbands who, most times, are struggling to survive; who, if ever they are employed, are paid pittance. He gives her, perhaps half of his salary, which amounts to, say N50,000 for monthly upkeep, thrice of which the aristoperemptorily gave as her TF (transport fare). The struggling husband houses her in a rented house that is sparsely furnished and perhaps, owns no car. This is no doubt a grueling suffering for a girl who was chauffeur-driven in latest automobile and was exposed to the coziness of the best hotels available. The incubus of comparison now creeps in and for a girl who was accustomed to the good life, she is frustrated with her spouse. At this intersection, she is exposed to three options: fall in line and accept that the cozy life of the aristo time is bygone; patch it on the side by clandestinely returning into her vomit of aristo, this time as an adulteress; or unleash her frustration on the “indolent man who can’t grow up,” that is, her husband. Each of the options has its drawbacks. The last two options have the potentials of leading to spousal violence.
Why economic reason is at the core of even this causal factor of domestic violence I just suggested is that, those days when the agba man infiltrated the campuses in search of girls to sexually plunder, decorating the campus girl with cash and travelling with her all over the world, when the girl graduated from school and disconnected from a life of serving as object of sexual exploitation by the man, she was almost instantly economically empowered. She immediately secured a well-paying job, got a car of her own, married an equally empowered man with whom together, they could forge a tomorrow together. Thus, the life of comfort of the aristo period on campus was not, for the girl, an unattainable mirage. Today however, the life of comfort the girl enjoyed on campus is almost forever a mirage as the economy has ensured that she is jobless, consistently dependent and marries a man who is barely surviving. The resultant effect is frustration jamming frustration at home and before you could shout ‘what!,’ crimson becomes the colour of the family lounge. As for solution; sorry, I don’t have!