By Derenle Animasaun
My mother and I have our daily catch up on the phone. Since my father, Kola Animasaun’s passing, our daily catch up has intensified, more on both sides as we love reminiscing,but also my mother always keeps me abreast of what is going on in her immediate surroundings. I love and cherish our conversations more now than ever. It is as if my father was by her side, eavesdropping as my mother and I gas on and he often looks on with a contented smile.
My mother and I talk about all manner of subjects and recently, it seemed more centred on power outage. It was never meant to be about power outage, but how can you miss not talking about it, when in the middle of our conversations, the power either comes on or it goes off or comes off and on again. My mother without skipping a beat or batting an eyelid, she reminds me that the day was one day on or one day off as the case may be. What is one day on and one day off? What on earth is that? Mum,then educated me on that, that there was no official mandate but soon people realised that the power outage comes on and off on alternate days.
Seriously? What ever next? Well, it is pretty outrageous, So we went from never expecting power always(NEPA) to now this? In 2019? This is not progress, surely is this what people should have to expect in this day and age? But accept is what people do, what other choice have they got?
Therein lies our problem; powerlessness and acceptance of any condition is very much what Nigerians do. Mediocrity and helplessness thrive in such environment. That is why things don’t change . We lack the will and commitment to demand standards better than below mediocre. We are conditioned to be fatalistic accepting everything as what was destined to be. This is not an environment for progress. We take whatever is meted out to us as providence or God’s will. It is a sad state of affairs. Ghana have similar to one day on, one off. Called Dumso-Dumso in Akan, it means; persistent, irregular and unpredictable electric power outage. It really explains the power outage situation so succinctly.
In 2015 in Ghana, the dumso schedule went from 24 hours with light and 12 without to 12 hours with light and 24 without. I think we can empathise, we have been there –
It is cold comfort that Nigeria is not alone. But surely, we should have moved further away from this.
I know, it was like this this in the early 80s.We then coined NEPA; the Nigerian Electric Power Authority as Never Expect Power Always! Never and Always, we find humour even in our perpetual suffering.
Equally Ghanaian-dumso in 2019 became term dumsaa meaning off for a considerably long time or off all the time.
You can not make it up. It is sadly the truth. They say if you can not cry, you might as well laugh. We do that so often, we find humour where there is hardship. It is a survival default button.
I remember when the odd and even numbers car operated in Lagos roads and some people had two cars to ensure they can at least have one to take to the road. This one day on, one day off is not it. We missed the point, it was not to buy more cars to even the odds but it was to help free the roads and incessant traffic jam like wise it is not about getting generators to enable people to live a semblance of modern life and comfort. It is about a collective and progressive upliftment of the majority of our population to a better standard of life and living.
From my archive-
Men do suffer from emotional abuse too by Denrele Animasaun
“I’m not accepting things I cannot change. I am changing things I cannot accept”- Angela Davis
November 19 is International Men’s Day. It is a global event highlighting the positive value that men bring to the world, their families and communities. This year, it is focused on men’s mental health. We know that men are conditioned not to talk about their emotional health and they are more likely to internalise their feelings for fear of being judged . They are so more likely to become very stressed and make serious attempts to end their lives. Time we change the narrative. Help is out there.
Matthew Gansallo, walked into my office and he told me that he was going to write a book to help men who have been going through emotional abuse. I sensed there was more to his intent. The draft of his book has generated interests from TV, churches and several community groups, the word is: it is a concern and there is a need for a discourse. We need to talk and for the sake of our men and family, we need to do it now.
He told me the story: there seems to be an increasing number of our men in the diaspora going through this ordeal and are reluctant to seek help. Speaking to some of his friends, many in their 40s and 50s agree that men find it difficult to discuss their problems with close friends and family and are reluctant to get help and unfortunately, some have taken their own lives because of the shame. Yes, men can be victims of emotional abuse and this is something that is often not talked about within our community after all, men should be able to deal with their own problems. Let me make it clear, women are more likely to be victims of physical and emotional abuse. But these pattern men are being emotionally abused and we are seeing this alarming rate across the diaspora and it is too common place to ignore. This is a black thing, not just a Nigerian thing.
Matthews’s book: Men who suffer from emotional abuse; silent suffering, intends to shed light on the phenomena. This is happening to men in particular, who go home to get a wife and settle abroad. And the abuse starts when the wife is about to or have received their papers or residency; they begin to make spurious accusations, then routinely emotionally or physically abuse, goad him, threaten to take the children away, make him homeless and contact the authorities in order to make a claim that the man is the aggressor.
He gets a criminal record, could lose his job, his family, his home and means of living. This modus operandi seem to be too commonplace for it to be a rarity and it is tearing families apart and the emotionally abused man, in particular, comes out of this worse off as he grapples in silence with the abuse. Emotional abuse chips away at a person’s feelings of self-worth and independence. Emotional abuse can be as destructive and damaging as physical abuse and it damages the person’s mental health. It’s common for physically abusive relationships to also include aspects of emotional abuse as this is how power and control is maintained within the relationship. It is insidious and unrelenting.
The common pattern; man brings wife from home, he supports her and sometimes her family, he finances her studies, she gets her papers, she graduates, starts earning, trouble starts in the family home, physical and emotional abuse on both sides, children suffer, divorce pending, police are involved, man leaves home, restricted access to children, messy divorce, more stress and he becomes socially isolated with anger or depression set in. Usually, it does not end well.
We, as a community have got to address this and urgently too, we have to admit that this is going on. Unless, we open up and offer support then, it will continue to happen and it will affect the next generation and any relationship that this abused man may have after this trauma. The children are victims too, and are pawns in this unfortunate situation, they become silent witnesses and they have to deal with this on a daily basis and this experience will affect them in later years. They will become emotionally scarred if this is not fully addressed.
The break up definitely will have a long term effect on the children. And the man in an abusive relationship often rides a lonely train, he often hides the emotional scars in public as if nothing is wrong and when he gets home, he deals with reality: day in and day out of emotional abuse. He becomes an expert in living two lives and keeping the secret and remaining silent, dare not confide in people.
Who would believe that this man is the victim? He lives with the shame if found out, that he cannot keep the family together and the secret has a serious impact on his emotional health.
For those who are experiencing emotional abuse; it is important to get help and get help earlier rather than later. Do not be tempted to retaliate, it may lead to arrest and a criminal record, protect the children and contact the emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they do a female victim. Always get evidence of the abuse, report to the police and get a copy of the police report. This will come in handy later on. Keep a journal of all abuse with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses.
Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital also documents your injuries. Remember, medical personnel are unlikely to ask if a man has been a victim of domestic violence, so be honest and let them know the cause of the injuries.
Have a safe plan; confer in a trusted friend, identify a place to stay, keep copies of important documents outside the home. Seek legal advice and get a restraining order against the abuser. Get support from family and friends.
Most of all, there is life after an abusive relationship and it should not define the person and it will take a while to trust again. Time really does heal all wounds.
It is about time men talk amongst themselves and be honest about their emotional health. Seeking help or talking about your situation does not mean you are weak.
You are strong and brave to ask for help many do not and sometimes silence is a killer. I wish all well.
If you are affected by any of the content, I will be happy to signpost you to where you can get help.