By Denrele Animasaun

 “You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” — Booker T. Washington

Not too long ago, we acted as a collective, where we acted as one and believed in the mutuality of the collective. After all, African coined the adage that;” it takes a village to raise a child”. So, where is this village, the collective when some of our vulnerable are suffering in silence and we turn our face and ignore their sufferings? How can we pretend to be religious and pious and yet perpetuate this heinous crime?

I was thinking of writing about domestic violence and mental health for some time now, but recent developments in Nigeria has propelled me to do so earlier rather than later.

If I am preaching to the converted, I do apologize. Why is it newsworthy you may ask? It should not be, but we, as a people do not regard it as important but it should be. We have normalized physical and emotional abuse in all sphere of lives and we often wonder why our society is so aggressive and abusive. It all stems from somewhere and we should look no further than our respective households. Yes, let us be honest with ourselves, it does happen and it is happening as we speak.

Domestic violence and abuse occur and still occurring for one purpose only; to gain and maintain total control over others.The abuser is acting out from a position of power and oppression. This heinous crime is committed in full view and in private. The young and the impressionable are constantly witnessing this and they are inadvertently affected emotionally and physically. This is laying a foundation for the young men in particular to think it is normal to physically abuse others and no fear of any consequences.

In this circle of fear, the abuser uses fear, guilt, shame and intimidation and they often threaten to hurt the abused and those close to them. It is in this warped sense of power that the abuser keeps the abused living in perpetual fear. It is uncomfortable to read but, I do believe we owe it to ourselves to cover these subject matters so that it illuminate us as people and help pave the way for a healthy society no matter how close to the bone it may hurt.
Let us for the sake of our young, old and vulnerable, kick domestic violence out of our society and it does not have a place and it should not be condoned.

I am tired of hearing people say it does not matter. Well, it does. The fact is, we all have mothers, sisters, nieces, aunties, partners and wives and whether it is a governor, senator, poor or rich man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult committing the act, it is wrong. Let us talk about domestic abuse in our social groups, in the house, mosques, churches ,schools and in our respective households.

I do know some people may say that, it is a way of life. No, I beg to differ. It is not big to intimidate, berate and belittle others; only a small person acting big intimidates others to feel big. A real big person who is confident will always look for ways in which a dialogue can be reached, in a win -win solution.

We as a people, should communicate not use our fists and might to subjugate and intimidate others to submission just because we can.

A sustained abuse will knock one’s confidence and self-esteem. Unfortunately, the abused will most likely suffer depression, self-neglect, social withdrawal, persistence negative thoughts. Worse, some of the abused will lose their lives in the hands of their abusers.

My father, for as long as I can remember, said to me and my siblings; if a man raises his hand up to strike you, do not wait for the hand to go down. Leave, because if he can do it once, he will do it again and again and there is no stopping what may happen after. I value this advice most dearly and it is one that I share with my friends and children.

For anyone in an abusive relationship, do not wait until it gets worse; no one has the right to physically abuse you. Do tell a trusted person, seek refuge and by all means, seek help. There are health implications from a prolonged and sustained abuse.

Where is the Money?

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” –– Charles Dickens
Nigeria is now number eight in the list of the world’s largest oil exporters but its people have nothing to show for it.

It seems that the benefit is only visible with a very select few and while we fight on religious and tribal lines, some people are laughing all the way to foreign offshore banks.

Over 70% of Nigerians are living below poverty level and yet our leaders are telling Nigerians that they have never had it so good.

Many Nigerians are living on less than $1.25 a day. This was not always the case. Twenty years ago 34%, of Nigerians were living under the poverty line according to the World Bank. It does not take a genius to know that we have not got better but got worse.

We have to lay the blame squarely at the feet of our leaders. They are the very same leaders who are insisting that we vote them back in to do very much of the same they have always done: nothing for its people.

Our health care systems are disintegrating and instead of our leaders making it a priority to build and sustain our institutions, they instead contribute to other countries for health care. According to the former minister of health,Professor Babatunde Oshotimehien, we are spending $200 million on medical tourism. That money can be best spent in Nigeria and it could maintain several hospitals if we had such high quality hospitals in the first place. It is shocking that every year almost 3000 Nigerians travel to India for medical concerns because they cannot get adequate health care at home.

My local medical center in the UK has two Nigerian doctors, this is not unique and it is like this up and down the UK. Nigerian doctors and nurses are leaving Nigeria in droves. Our places of learning are not conducive to professional learning and progress. Our hospitals and universities urgently need investments and a swift change of attitude. We have to attract the best of our health professionals, retain and pay them well to work in an environment; with the best equipment possible, only then can Nigerians go some way in addressing the dearth of highly skilled health professionals leaving the country.

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