Let’s play a game of ‘what if’s’ and see where it will get us!
Remember Elizabeth Ochanya? The little girl who was brutally and sexually assaulted to death by her uncle, a (mid)knight of St. Murumba or something like that, and his son, her cousin, while her aunt who had taken her from her impoverished parents in the village looked the other way?
What if Elizabeth had snapped one day and wanting the nightly molestation to stop, had waited for her ‘uncle’ to ask for a glass of water and then, on her way to get it to him, had tipped a healthy dose of otapiapia into it?
What if Elizabeth had crept into the room where her lousy cousin lay in a post-rape-induced sleep and had stabbed him thirty times with a kitchen knife?
The first stab of the knife to kill him and then 29 other times to make assurance double sure?
What if Ochanya had looked at any female cousins she had who were safe from molestation by virtue of the fact that she lived in that house and was distant enough of a relative for both her uncle and cousin to continue their brutal assault without a twinge of conscience?
What if she had felt bitter that these girls were living a carefree childhood while she was abruptly yanked into womanhood and forced to dread nights rather than yearn for the comfort of sleep?
What if she had then thought to herself: you know what, I will give these girls sleepless night too, I will put ‘small’ pesticide in their soup?
All the outrage on social media would have immediately swung the other way, AGAINST this poor victim of brutal assault and molestation, still a child herself, taking childish decisions without considering the fatal implications?
The same people trending #JusticeForElizabeth would huddle on social media comment threads and in Facebook groups to carry Chinese whispers about ‘evil housemaids’ and trade ‘pentecostally’ addled illusions of ‘coven emerging’ housemaids who had manifested as witches at night and tried to suck their (apparently bitter) blood nyennyennyennyennyen…
The same aunt who looked the other way while this poor girl was being molested would have forced her to make a confession, made a video of it and forwarded same to popular gossip blogs and any stories the girl would have attempted to tell to justify why she took any desperate measure would have been seen as part of the evil machination.
They would have said she was making up stories to cover the pristine reputations of the dead whom she was sent from the coven to kill.
She is about the same age the late Elizabeth was, another victim of a madam who considers anyone not her direct bloodline distant enough to be treated like an animal.
Or maybe a notch lower than an animal.
Pause to ask yourself why Taibat was ‘stealing’ crayfish and one of two reasons may come to mind: she was hungry and that was the only thing readily available that she could eat at that point in time, or she had just picked the crayfish and put in her mouth.
For this ‘mighty’ stealing, she was denied food by her madam.
And Taibat did the unthinkable by tipping some pesticide into the soup under the principle of: ‘if I won’t eat it, I’ll make it bitter for those of you who will.’
Her madam and her grandchildren ate the soup and experienced a little more than bitterness.
Okay, maybe slightly more… death.
And the groundswell of opinions on the social media are suddenly skewed towards seeing an ogre in every domestic help and those less fortunate in life that they need to depend on the benevolence of malicious others to live, eat and even breathe.
If men were God!
May we never be so unfortunate as to find ourselves totally at the mercy of others. May we live long enough to see our children self-sufficient without needing to separate from us and go live with ‘aunties’ or ‘uncles’ who will treat them like additional burdens instead of what they truly are: the burden bearers of all that ails their madams – physically, emotionally and psychologically.
After the Taibat case broke and when I became frustrated with the usual ‘hey, God forbid for me to take on a housemaid’; “Housemaids are evil’; ‘Housemaids are from the pit of hell’; ‘hey, was this not how my housemaid wanted to strangle me IN MY DREAM?’ etc etc…
I commented and wrote: “there is nothing like an evil housemaid; what we have are evil madams who need to learn to treat housemaids like humans…”
It was like the floodgates had opened and they came for me.
I received a lot of calls from so many people who just needed to release their souls from the burdens they had borne for so long.
So many girls who had borne maltreatment at the hands of their madams with equanimity because if they didn’t, what was left for them to do than sleep rough on the streets?
So many who bore the maltreatment from madam during the day, then bore the weight of oga expending his sick sexual fantasies on naive girls too scared to fight back at their benefactor – their god on earth.
Too many who did not realize that the maltreatment from madam increased as she subconsciously began to accept the fact that oga preferred the forced copulations from their ‘dirty, local’ housemaids, to any willing fantasies they were willing to fulfil.
The difference between a lot of women standing today and Ochanya – is death.
It is sad.
So why do we act like we all don’t know that this is happening?
Why do we wait for death to show so much outrage when we see the obvious ‘cry for help’ from so many living ghosts, we prefer to retreat behind the cloaks of accusing every housemaid of being evil?
Evil begets evil.
I have seen madams who took small girls from the villages and brought them to the city having promised the girls’ parents they were bringing them to the city to go to school and get a better education, but instead of doing as they promised, turn the poor girls into slaves.
I have seen ogas who grabbed these poor girls by the breasts and buttocks as they walked past; and the only reaction from madam who pretended not to see what just happened, was to hit the girl on the head, slap her around, and accuse her of being ‘lazy’.
Let your imagination run wild please: if oga could risk doing that when eyes could see, just imagine what he would do under the cover of darkness.
I have seen madams who dressed to the nines for an outing, with children decked out like Princess Sophia and her cohorts, but straggling behind this elegant party would be a human scarecrow with a carelessly shorn skinhead, oversized Okrika clothes and slippers four sizes too big – the hapless nanny; the family’s sin eater.
I have seen madams who took out all the protein and goodies from the family soup, then throw in a cup of water to thin out what was left, and then keep that aside for the maid.
I have seen the madams who made up the nanny’s meals from the family leftovers. I have seen the madams who kept ‘spoiling’ food for the nannies to warm and eat until it was all gone
M’elo m’elo, m’elo m’elo la fe so?
How many shall we talk about? How many shall we ignore?
At some point, my phone was probably what kept NAPTIP in Abuja busy; I called them off the hook for every girl I observed was being treated like a dog.
These madams would not hire adults whom they would pay to render services and who knew their left from their right; they preferred the small girls who would be grateful for a chance to come to the city, not knowing that they were walking into a brutal modern-day slavery.
If you are a madam and you have an underaged child living with you whom you are ‘helping’ to go to school, in exchange for the backbreaking labour she does for you, shame on you.
Go and acquaint yourself with the provisions of the Child Rights Act.
Most of you are flirting with jail time because that child is not supposed to do the work of an adult; they should not be molested under the guise of ‘discipline’; she must get all the nutrients she needs for her age, all the hours of sleep, and a quality education.
Anything less than that means you are evil!
You can help by paying the pittance required to keep that child in a government school wherever the parents are.
Then go and hire a nanny or domestic help whom you will pay good money to take care of your kids if you can’t handle them yourself.
Sit down with them and agree on the terms of engagement.
“In exchange for XYZ labour, I will pay ABC Naira per month. These are your conditions of service, these would be the terms of disengagement.”
Stop snatching children away from their childhood and traumatizing them for life.
I have seen and seen and seen enough to boldly state that there are no demon housemaids. What we however have, are devilishly wicked madams who practice their amateur tyranny skills on little innocent girls.
They maltreat the kids until they get pushed to a breaking point and then react at the level of their mental development when it comes to processing the cause and effects of their actions.
And then, the same us – exploiters of underage indigent girls – will huddle like flies on social media threads and start wailing…
‘Housemaids are evil’
‘Housemaids are witches’
‘May God never allow me to take housemaids in my life’
Amen to that last one. Maybe when you are frustrated with life and there is no one to slap around, you can slap yourself around and receive small sense.