Tuesday, 15 February 2011

UK/Nigeria: Looks more like a sexuality crisis


I read this after I had written the blog; the mother has been jailed for 8 months

BBC News - Edirin Onogeta-Idogun mother jailed over 'missing' son

A child with rights

It is now a day after the 14th of February deadline in which the parents of Edirin Onogeta-Idogun a 17-year old Londoner born of Nigerian parents should have returned him to London from Nigeria on a court order or face jail [1].

The elements of the story are sketchy but it broke on the 4th of February and as it goes, the boy portends than he was tricked into returning to Nigeria after claims that he was beaten, forced to undergo exorcisms because his mother disapproved of his lifestyle and his reluctance to get married.

He had in July taken advantage of a legal situation that allowed those forced into marriage to take protection orders out against their families in the UK.

Unusual parental arrangements

It could be quite easy to see this as a traditional discipline problem that has the child unnaturally acting against his African parents and that may well be the case but I feel there might even be unexplored facets of inquiry in this matter.

One side to be explored is the reason why the parents decided to live in separate households from 2004, one in the UK and the other in Nigeria where the father is a special adviser for the governor of Rivers State.

It is quite unusual by Nigerian standards that the mother is referred to by her maiden name Lydia Erhire, the son has a double-barrelled surname and his father is identified as John Idogun.

Parents are not entirely blameless

The idea of being tricked into something we are not keen by our parents is an age-old thing that many of us have not been able to question or challenge because of the sometimes misguided view by ourselves and society that parents are omnipotent with untrammelled control of our lives – well, times are changing and kids are wising up to how the law can and will defend their rights.

Whilst, I am not advocating indiscipline and intrusion or invasion of homes in the meting out of requisite controls and discipline by the state, parents would just have to find ways of working within the system rather than resorting to archaic methods hoping the preponderance of parental sympathy with end up in their favour.

Once the matter had acquired a legal face with the police involved, some of these matters were already outside the control of the parents and it was foolish to think that the hand of the law could not be extended to protect the as it were outrageous rights of a wayward child that dared to take his parents on with the law.

The sum differs from the product

Look at in each case, the things the young man said he suffered could be considered trivial; beatings are things parents do, many have not advanced to a level that could eliminate corporal punishment and still maintain discipline and the confidence of the child in accepting that the decisions made by the parents are right.

Exorcisms are both interesting and of great concern, having seen a number of these conducted in so-called churches in England, the brutality of such ordeals is unspeakable. Nigerians in particular with their unreasonable dread of the supernatural – this is a generalisation – can so easily attribute unusual or things they do not understand to demonic possession requiring the services of exorcists in the unregulated African-Initiated churches that litter London in particular.

The matter of forced marriage at 17 is a bit far-fetched, Nigerian men usually marry a bit later, usually in their late 20s or early 30s after they have completed their education and are able to fend for themselves and raise a family of their own.

Looks like a sexuality crisis

Taken together, an interesting picture emerges and whilst this is speculative, it might be closer to the truth.

A 17-year old has a lifestyle that the mother disapproves of, she beats him but fails to notice any discernable change and decides this is beyond her that she considers exorcism rituals the underlying concern being the child’s reluctance to get married and then she sends him to Nigeria where she hopes this issue would be sorted out.

This can only be a sexuality aversion situation where the young man might well have been exhibiting homosexual tendencies – everything falls into place – the only reason why the consideration of marriage would have arisen would be to probably convert him to heterosexuality, it would explain the beatings and the exorcism too.

Grasping at solutions

Sending him to Nigeria would have been due to the misguided view that homosexuality is a Western concept and being exposed to a rather more homophobic society would force him to adapt and probably cure him; it was the nuclear option and his mother was will be risk breaking the law for this probable solution.

If at 17, he was not looking like a virile eligible young man bringing girlfriends home, I could well understand that the mother might well be concerned; there might well be other indicators, but the truth is somewhere within these unfortunate developments which would require that all parties in this matter be saved from themselves – even if it takes the law to ensure that everyone is able to become whatever they are becoming without unnecessary duress, deception or demonization.


[1] Send boy, 17, back to UK or face jail, family told | News

Nigerian mother faces jail in the UK | Daily Times Nigeria (Beta Site)