The ultimate horror of spousal abuse was brought home to me a couple of weeks ago when I received a call from a very dear cousin of mine, Bose.
"Broda Tunde," she had begun on the phone, trying to find the right word with which to start. Then choosing to deliver it as coldly as it deserves she broke it, "Toyin ti ku o." Toyin is dead.
Was it not but a week or so earlier that the same Bose called and passed the phone over to someone to "shock me"? Someone who turned out to be this same Toyin, my cousin's bosom friend, who I hadn't heard from in over 20 years?
Toyin was visiting Nigeria from the United States where, apparently, she had relocated that long ago; she had left her teaching job at a Federal Government College in Nigeria and had gotten married. She was "home" on one of such regular visits to her loving mother; visits by which her family and friends in Nigeria were able to gauge how "successful and rich" America and marriage had turned her.
"Toyin dead?" I repeated in disbelief. "Impossible. Here in Nigeria or is she back in the States? Of what?" Many questions.
From what Bose gathered through a caller, Toyin was murdered by her husband and within days of her return to the States from that trip. Bose would be heading to Toyin's mum's place to console her, she said – if consolation were possible of a mother in that calamity.
But now more detail is out and on the Internet, Juliet, the English name Toyin apparently had come to be more known by, was clubbed to death with a baseball bat by her husband of 18 years! The tragic incident happened at the couple's home at 8615 Villa Largo Drive, Tampa, Florida. From a story posted on a Nigerian newsgroup email, Juliet whose age is put at 53 was married to Olufemi Oladapo Ademoye, 52, a successful pharmacist and popular restauranteur in Tampa, Florida, USA, and the couple has an only child by the marriage. Olufemi Ademoye, according to the report, was taken into police custody on June 16, 2010 charged with second-degree murder of his wife and mother of his son.
According to the story, Ademoye was enraged by his "discovery" of his wife's infidelity through some of her emails, which also led him to realize that she was probably already pregnant when they met and got married but she misled him into believing that he was the biological father of the child when he may, after all, not have been by him. Of course, this story is strongly refuted by Toyin's friends and family who insist it is baseless.
The phenomenon of spousal murder is certainly not one limited to any ethnic group, nationality, or race. It is a human phenomenon and a human tragedy. Wives kill husbands (perhaps more than) husbands kill wives. In most of the instances, infidelity on the part of one or the other is at the root. But essentially it is the crass inability of one or the other to control their basest animalistic urge that result in the loss of clearer reasoning and end in such violent releases.
Men (African men?) hate for their manhood or manliness to be ridiculed, and for many there cannot be greater ridicule than infidelity of their women (sometimes even of their concubines!), especially one done carelessly and with utter disdain – in comes the likes of the banished Deji of Akure, Oluwadare Adesina!.
Women know this, and some would readily taunt their husbands with it (even without truly having engaged in one) as their own "get back" in moments of hot verbal exchange of insults and abuse; anything just to "hurt" the men as much as they are hurt. And so death may come visiting even the innocent.
In Nigeria the women are either conditioned to accepting their men's insane flaunt of their "tigritude", or are completely helpless about it in a male-chauvinistic condoning society, but once outside these shores, they find freedom and are quick to "teach" their men a lesson or two in the aphorism "what a man can do, a woman can do better!" – this, to the chagrin of the Nigerian man.
But, at the bottom of it all, is the question of what, truly, is the nature of Man, as in Human Beings – for, make no mistake about it, women have similar emotional and sexual urges as men do. Evolution and the process of socialization and acculturation are what modify and continue to modify human relationships and tendencies. This topic cannot be exhausted in an article such as this of limited space. But there are wild women just as there are wild men.
Last week when my family went visiting the engaging family of Ola and Lola (Soyinka) in Abuja, the discussion dwelled on this issue of man-woman relationship and what nature imposes that Man "disposes". What, for instance, is the concept of "infidelity" and "cheating" to a Nigerian (nay, African) man as opposed to the Western or Caucasian man? Where does the concept of "cheating" come into a marriage when the man is allowed, even encouraged, to have more than one wife? Why, for instance, would an Eskimo (reportedly) consider "gifting" a visiting friend his wife for the night as a mark of love or appreciation for the friend?
And talking of wild women, one should pray never to encounter some really outrageously wild ones that would put one's better principles in jeopardy as happened recently to a good friend of mine in Ibadan. This friend, Jide, is a successful businessman, married to a German, and his business straddles both countries – Nigeria and Germany.
Whilst driving himself one evening in Ibadan, another car drove roughly past and overtook him. And, as is wont to happen, an exchange ensued between Jide and the other driver. Both men came out. Jide wondered what manner of man would drive thus. While the men did their out-staring and out-shouting game, the woman in the other car (who turned out to be the wife) came out in fury at Jide's "audacity" to confront her husband, and without hesitation gave Jide a nasty (dirty, as we would say) slap. "Don't you know you are taking to a Commissioner?" Apparently the husband is a Commissioner of something or another in the state.
Now, what would one do in that circumstance? Rub the cheek and let the "spirit of God" sway against the devil? Lock both husband and wife until a policeman can show up? Or do the instinctive – tear both wife and husband to shreds? Indeed kill or die if need be? It is an encounter one should pray never to be caught in, for how could one know how one would react?
But, back to the murder that started this piece. There can be no justification for taking someone else's life, and temporary insanity on account of adultery, or dehumanizing insult cannot be excuse enough.
This Ademoye guy has "killed" three lives – his wife's, his son's, and his own. He certainly faces possibly life imprisonment. It is a shame that an otherwise glorious life would end thus, but his deed does not belong amongst civilized people. Nothing will bring back Juliet.