Pray, how does a man tell his friends that his wife beat him the other day? How do men who suffer serious beatings in the hands of their wives in the day raise the wives’ skirts later at night to demand conjugal benevolence? Do such men get aroused anymore? Do they beg their wives to do what husbands and wives do? How do such men, for instance, come out of the house to go about their normal daily chores after the bashing from their women, knowing that their neighbours knew what happened? What about their children? Do those innocent souls witness such abnormality?
What about their psychological make-up after witnessing their mothers descending on their fathers? While wife beating is bestial and condemnable, what do we call husband battering? Husbands get beaten up by their wives the same way wives are battered by their husbands. Domestic violence is not gender sensitive. As a matter of fact, where the victims are the men, the situation gets more vicious and brutal. The problem is that since our society is patriarchal in nature, attention is focused more on the women. Men are also endangered species in some instances!
Life couldn’t be better imagined than the quietude of a village setting. Nothing can surely be more interesting! It was fun for us then running around almost half naked and ‘prying’ into the affairs of your neighbours. The village is a place where everything about everybody is in the open. For instance, then, if a goat was stolen, the owner might not raise any alarm. Goats would not get lost until the eve of the market day. All the owner needed to do was to wake up early in the morning and lay ambush by the market road. The chances that he or she would come back home with the ‘lost’ goat was very high. We knew the man who would likely go and dig up another man’s yam. We could equally recognise those who would steal kola nuts pods and commit all sorts of little crimes. We waited for them during the annual festivals and used them to practice our guttural mock songs. One or two families ‘relocated’ permanently out of the village because of the shame their family members brought upon them. I recall here a particular man who almost attacked us when we took our derisive songs to his doorstep. The fine he paid for the sacrilege of attacking festival boys almost ran him bankrupt. I was at home this last weekend and relived those old tales with my folks at home.
There was one couple I will never forget. They were not members of our community; they came to sojourn in our place. The wife was a giant. Tall, with heavy hands and she traversed the village like a colossus. On the farm, she would outwork her husband in making heaps of yam. In contrast, the husband was just fortunate to be bigger than a midget. How he talked the woman into marrying him remains a mystery. And they had five lovely children. How did he do it? There was no doubt about the paternity of the children. Resemblance shows ancestry (abijo laa mo iran). Once you sighted any of the children, you could tell who the father was! But the family had a problem. The giant woman beat the husband at the slightest provocation. On many occasions, she needed no provocation before she would descend on the husband. As much as we found their frequent fights interesting, especially when the woman ‘landed’ the husband, I knew, even at that tender age, that something was wrong. My cradle mind told me that it was an abnormal situation. One day, the table turned. The husband regained his manliness and ‘manhood’. This is what happened.
They were at their usual argument. The giant wife was in the backyard attending to something on the fire. The husband was in the passage of their face-me-I-face-you apartment. They were both shouting at each other. The door was closed. As the argument got hotter, the woman, in their Aramoko/Efon Alaaye variety of the Ekiti Dialect, issued the signature warning: “erun re ri a kan bee”, which when interpreted means: “I am coming over to deal with you”. In her madness, she rushed towards the house. From the passage, the man was also trying to make his escape. Thinking that her husband had bolted the door, the wife threw her entire weight to force the door open. It was at that time that the husband opened the door too. So, the woman had herself flying and landing on the floor just by her husband’s feet. She must have been badly injured as she could not get up immediately. The husband simply sat on her wide frame and started dealing blows on her. For the first time, it was the wife who raised the “haa pa mi o” (he will kill me) alarm. Of course, neighbours rushed in to see the ‘strange’ sight. Not a few encouraged the husband to continue to pummel her. The oldest of the men around also ordered some of our elderly men to join in the beating. Every blow on her was accompanied with the warning: “Han hi lu oko honi” (No woman beats her husband). Satisfied, the old man asked the assailants to stop. The woman was left on the floor weeping. Women gathered around her telling her unprintable things! It was a communal condemnation; she had no single atom of sympathy from the participants. I believed she must have wept more for the shame than the effects of the beatings. Then a pronouncement was made to the effect that anytime she was found assaulting the husband, the entire neighbourhood would teach her a lesson she would never forget. Needless to record it here that till they moved out of our village; we never heard any commotion in that family. The husband himself regained his gait. He could go to play the Ayo game without any sense of shame of being at his wife’s mercy.
Whatever doubts we might have had before now about what some husbands go through in the hands of their wives were cleared by Lagos State, a few days ago. On Saturday, September 9, 2023, PM News had this headline on its online platform: “Lagos women now beat their husbands to submission, 340 cases reported.” According to the report, the Executive Secretary, Lagos Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA), Titilayo Vivour-Adeniyi, was quoted to have said that more cases of husband-battering were reported in the last one year. The Lagos DSVA boss gave a figure of 340 husbands coming forward to report that their wives beat them between September 2021 and July 2022. “This is an indication that the culture of silence amongst the male gender concerning issues of Sexual and Gender Based Violence is also gradually being broken”, Vivour-Adeniyi was quoted. She could not be faulted. The silent implication is that if all men who go through hell in the hands of their wives should speak out, the number will be scary. Cases of males suffering abuses in the hands of their women are likely to be higher in the Western world and its women liberation agenda. We read almost daily, cases of African men who live in the West killing their wives because they could no longer tolerate the abuses coming from those women.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), on March 1, 2019, did a report on “Male domestic abuse victims ‘suffering in silence’”. In the report, Dr Sarah Wallace, from the University of South-Wales (USW), gave reasons why many Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) was not reported, by both men and women. She listed “fear of retaliation or a lack of trust or confidence in the police”, as one of the reasons. “However, the issue of under-reporting is even more pronounced amongst men. They fear appearing unmanly, shame, embarrassment, and a failure to live up to masculine ideals. This was the experience of the men we interviewed, who felt that they needed help to get to the root of these feelings., she added. The report added that counselling sessions for male victims of domestic violence “are shorter, but also include a focus on the role of masculinity and gender stereotypes, and help validate their experience, recognising that they too can be victims of abuse. We know that DVA against men is a seriously under-reported crime, and we know that 713,000 men were reported to have been victims of one or more types of DVA. It begs the question how many more men are actually out there that are suffering in silence.”
The international medium, in an earlier report on September 16, 2018, titled: “Male domestic abuse: Not enough support for victims, using the case of one David Edwards, who was killed by his wife weeks after their wedding, said that “Male domestic abuse victims are suffering a lack of support despite a sharp rise in attacks. Police in England and Wales recorded 149,248 incidents in 2017 – more than double the number reported in 2012. A charity organisation, the ManKind Initiative, said while a third of domestic abuse victims were men, only 0.8% of refuge beds were reserved for them. While one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives, only one in 20 will ever seek any help, the ManKind Initiative said.” Many of the survivors interviewed, the BBC reported, said that they were too ashamed to admit that they were serially abused by their female spouses. The report concluded that husbands (men) in abusive relationships with their wives (women) need help. A lot of states in Nigeria are stepping up the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBA). All they need to do is to make the advocacy neutral. The era of women being the victims alone is gone. The new religion, especially the Pentecostal, makes the matter worse. Most pastors get beaten up before putting on their cassocks. Some hide the shame of their wives battering them behind their pastoral collars. Men also need help, even more help! The big question still is: how does a man tell his friends and relations that his wife beats him? How?
Taiwo Nancy Bamisaye: My ‘Co-debater’ Takes a Final Bow
On June 9, 2019, Taiwo Nancy Bamisaye turned 50 years old. I did a tribute on my Facebook page to celebrate her. On her subsequent birthdays, I would only call her to wish her a happy birthday. I had in mind that at her 60th birthday anniversary, I would do a Diamond piece on her, and then wait till she turned 80, God willing, to celebrate her again. But alas, that will never happen. Nancy will not be available for me to write about our journey from childhood to adulthood. Reason being that on Monday, September 4, 2023, the devastating news came. ‘My Co-debater’, Taiwo died and was buried that same day!
Ken Breniman, a USA-based Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), member of Certification – International Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) and Thanalogist, did a piece on “How to Cope with Death of A Friend.” In that article, Breniman said: “Friendships are some of the most meaningful and life-changing relationships you have. That’s why it can be very hard to cope when a friend dies. This person may have been your primary confidante, your partner-in-crime, or the one who stuck by you during your parent’s divorce. If your friend was young, the aftermath of their death can be even more shocking and confusing. Deal with your friend’s death by finding ways to cope with your emotions, keeping their memory alive, and learning how to carry on without them.” This is exactly what happened to me with the passing on of Nancy. The trauma for me is coping with the emotions that come with the death and how to keep her memories and carry on without them.
Nancy, who I called ‘nasty’ Nancy, and I shared a lot in common in our secondary school days at our Araromi High school (now Odo Oro High school). She was one of the smallest in stature in our set, but she had one of the biggest brains. We got ‘liberated’ from manual work through her stubbornness in Form Three, when, with her tiny voice, she resisted the attempt to chase us out of the library for the manual work, when the announcement was made that only those going for the inter-school quiz competition in a neighbouring school should go to the library to prepare.
Our then Vice Principal, Mr. Ogunleye acceded to our, or Nancy’s demand and organised an inter-class quiz competition to determine if we were good enough to represent the school. Though class three was beaten to the third position, with our seniors in forms five and four coming first and second respectively because of the advantages they had in the sciences, the two of us made great impacts as we answered all the five English Language questions correctly and got many others from other classes as bonus marks. That was the second term of class three. By the third term, Nancy had proven herself such that she was made a full prefect (Punctuality) in form three and we had our first exposure as quiz competitors that same term.
That marked the beginning of our ‘rivalry’ as she became my “Co-Debater” from the numerous inter and intra-class debates organised by our new principal in form four, Chief A.E. O. Agidigbi. Nancy was a good debater; she hackneyed quotations from Shakespeare like someone chanting Ijala Are Ode (hunters chants). The two of us were elevated to the positions of Senior Prefect (Boy) and Senior Prefect (Girl) from our previous positions of Assistant Senior Prefects, after one of such inter-school competitions. A million thanks to the two men who were handling our English Language and Literature-in-English, Brother Biodun Ogunleye and the late Mr. Akinyemi for sustaining the ‘rivalry’. It was not therefore a surprise that we both ended up studying English Language at the university and ventured into journalism as careers; electronic for Nancy and print for me.
Though a few years younger, Nancy was a companion and a dear friend. She was more than a confidant. She had an inimitable sense of fortitude. And she was a very ‘mischievous’ friend. Whenever she called me “Senior Boy”, she was up to something ‘silly’. If she simply said: “My co-debater”, she had an old tale to retell. Her “My Egbon” salutation meant serious discussion. Now all those are over! What a life! Breniman again, writing on the sub-topic: “Coping with the loss”, asked the bereaved to “Attend the memorial to say “goodbye” Painfully, I could not do so because of the prompt burial. The social worker counselled those who grieve to “Grieve in the way that works for you”; I have been trying to do so. He enjoined grievers to remember a dear friend, by recalling fond memories, and to “Spend some time thinking about special occasions you had with the person: birthdays, milestones, and even just days hanging out at home.” He added that mourners should “Re-visit sacred places or recreate favorite practices.”
I passed by our old Araromi High School many times the past weekend, but I could not bring myself to visit the place Nancy and I had those debates and quiz competitions. On a closing tune, Breniman again counselled the bereaved to “Redefine yourself. The time after a death often leads people to think about the meaning of life. Your friend’s death may have made you more aware of things within yourself you’d like to change. Take some time to decide what kind of person you want to be moving forward.” This is exactly what I plan to do to keep your memories alive, ‘nasty’ Nancy. Your demise is a lesson. The plans we discussed last were too huge, the enthusiasm too palpable and the hopes many and encouraging. The greatest joy is that you found Christ and won souls for His kingdom. Your last identity was Evangelist Taiwo Nancy Bamisaye. You did the work of an evangelist even to the point of near death in an accident you miraculously survived.
Good night, Omo oligbo asamoju. Good night, Omo amuyan para la i’lobe. O daaro, My Co-debater!