Monday 6 March 2017

Nigeria: On the #BBNaija disqualification, let's not be conflicted

Alright, it’s Big Brother
Last night, the irksome menace of the Big Brother franchise flooded my social media space with the news of a disqualification from the Nigerian version of the competition being filmed in South Africa.
Now, I am no fan of Big Brother which I think is a zoo under the intensity of Klieg lights with every move and activity beamed into the living rooms of voyeurs in denial of their appetite for watching people express themselves with the basest instincts.
Then again, it does provide a welcome distraction for many minds that cannot find any other productive activity for their time when ogling the ‘animals’ of the Big Brother zoo is fulfilling entertainment of a sort.
However, the disqualification came about because one of the contestants, Ekemini "Kemen" Ekerette, 27 (some say that is a football age), had sexually molested another housemate, "TBoss" Tokunbo Idowu, 32. I did see a snippet of the molestation, but the opinions about it appeared to be both divided and conflicted, in some cases the victim was termed Machiavellian and scheming as the perpetrator appeared to gain sympathy and pity.
Licence is no permission
The issue must be addressed head-on and there should be no room for equivocation on the matter. The facts are self-evident and the rest is sophistry seeking a conjecture towards exculpation which should attract excoriation with respite.
There is no doubt that the Big Brother environment provides a licence for lasciviousness, that licence must however never be construed to be the excuse to abuse anyone, emotionally, physically, sexually or verbally. Whatever excess becomes the expression of base and primal instinct, agency, self-control and consideration are not suddenly passé.
The Big Brother viewing audience is huge, within the spectacle of histrionics and restraint, there is a competition to win the hearts of the audience and thereby the competition. There is no clear path to success, but eventually, the true personality of the participant would be revealed to a global audience. There is no hiding place.
Without consent
So, in that setting, Kemen crept into TBoss’s bed without invitation, as if he had entitlement to her body, he began to caress the lady without having obtained consent and was well into the criminality of sexual abuse when the lady appeared to turn away from these apparently imposed upon and unwelcome advances.
Whether Kemen could take the hint and desist is for anyone to decide and whether TBoss should have violently fought off the encroachment into her private, personal space is open to debate, but that is not the matter at hand.
Kemen, without invitation or consent, violated a woman asleep in her own bed, that is the end of the story and the beginning of judgement. Whatever happened after he got under the sheets was an imposition borne of the aggressive persistence of a man who thought he could have his way and never face consequence or sanction.
No excuses
Maybe, there is some cultural schooling that not only excuses the violation of the woman or the child by those who take sexual favours off the vulnerable for their pleasure, we appear to acquiesce to and tolerate it too.
Much as TBoss was the victim of a wanton sexual violation, there were some ready to paint her as a Jezebel, suggesting she should have fought off the attack on her person and having not done that, she had tacitly given consent. There was no consent, none whatsoever. What happened without putting a finer point to it was at the very least an attempted rape and in the severest case, a rape.
Any sympathy that might have been felt for Kemen must dissipate without remnant, the man is a predator lacking any sense of self-control. That he allowed his urges to get the better of his senses is by no means worthy of pleas of mitigation. The disqualification was probably the minimum sanction acceptable in the scheme of things.
Don’t be conflicted
Those who think Kemen’s professional prospects have been destroyed, Kemen alone is responsible for his actions, he chose to violate a woman and he must face the consequences of his actions and whatever entails from his despicable act.
To all us who have a view on this matter, we cannot afford to be conflicted on this issue, when Kemen conceived the idea of entering TBoss’s room, he could have resisted the urge. When he entered her room and saw she was asleep, he could have turned back and waited until the morning to apologise for entering the room without invitation.
However, the moment he climbed into that bed, he had crossed the line, he had reached the point of harassment, violation, molestation and every reprehensible term of sexual misconduct anyone can muster and for that alone, his disqualification was merciful and more than deserved, his disgrace was assured and as we wait for his apology, I do hope that any other women within reach of this beast are not subjected to this entitlement complex of sexual violation, especially where there might be no evidence to prove this atrocity.
The Big Brother farce continues and I hope the setting offers a mirror on society and lessons to be learnt.

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