A Peep Into Mirabel Centre By David Oluwasegun Ogundipe
‘…omo te n chase te lo n ka ina taina, epa #10 ni mo fi gba pata lowo e.’
That was a part of the vulgar lyrics that emanated from the stridency of unorganized sound in the vehicle. Like a simulated robot, she turned her head to the back and her gaze caught mine.
The lyrics was her fear, but she was not alone, it was my worry too, but her subject of fear and the source of my worry was the recipe for their ‘ginger’. Yes, they said that that part gingered them. I didn’t bargain for this, I had opted for ‘sole’ not because I couldn’t afford to board a bus at the regular park, but because of the need to catch up with my appointment in Ibadan and before that time too, i observed the lady in the front checking her wristwatch several times. ‘Abeg put am for repeat, rap yen make sense’, the guy beside me requested as he moved forth and back, the driver obliged him. Then again, the gibberish being spewed by the disappointed artiste struck the cords of their encephala more. She looked back again, now, with fear boldly inscribed on her face and questions that left her heart pounding. No one can be trusted by her, because the body languages of fellow passengers were either that of outright acceptance of the lyrics or indifference. How else do you want a lady to react in such a male dominated vehicle with such lyrics being celebrated by more than four male passengers? Right beside her in the front was another lady who already slept like 15 minutes into the journey.
Few days after that journey, I was sent a link by a friend. This time, she felt I should be in the know about the very pathetic stories of 9 years old Dami, 12 years old Habiba or the unending list of victims of sexual abuse undergoing rehabilitation at the Mirable Centre in Lagos. I read about the fistula Mercy developed from the attack. I also read about Mary falling victim of the choirmaster. For the first time I was convinced that some people deserve to be shot on sight. Then, why attempting to make a meagre donation, I was drawn to a part where Juliet, one of the ladies attending to victims mentioned that she has submitted numerous proposals to help the victims but received no response. An insider information has it that most corporations do not want to be associated with a cause like rape survivors. “It is too sensitive,” Juliet concludes, “and it may affect their bottom line”. I went through that part again to be sure of what I read and none of my careful stares or attention changed the letters or their placing. For God sake, how many people will the girl child watch out for? Apparitions of men? Their own siblings, neighbours, teachers, keepers of faith and religion, friends, bosses, mentors, makers, interpreters, and executors of the law, etc. Every day, these juveniles pay for what they didn’t bargain for, and our society still leaves them to grow with the trauma haunting them right before our very eyes. Isn’t it disturbing that advocacy and donations abound on television screens, but a place as committed to the cause of rape victims as Mirabel Centre at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital cannot boast of three rooms for this cause?
I wonder what bottom line the Corporate organisations were talking about that would leave Mercy battling with fistula. I wonder the pride in stable electricity supply when dreams are dimmed daily by the animals among men whose dangling carrots are on a lethal loose. I wonder why being a girl child is fast becoming an offence. I wonder if the ‘rape and beg’ approach I overheard at the car park years back is not gaining ground. I wonder why despite Nike’s bad hip and sickle cell disease, asking for a direction led to her being driven to a secluded area and raped. But then, I stopped wondering upon placing the tiles together. Can a sick society birth sane individuals? My mind went back to that inglorious lyrics about ‘getting a girl to put off her panties just because of #10 groundnut.’ That is the type of music selling fast in the moment. Mentally, some men are more fortunate than the others. These mentally less-fortunate men cannot detach themselves from the evil messages a lot of sick musicians are selling.
Just before getting raped becomes the trademark of every girl, lady or woman, there is a need to look into our social life, vis-a-vis the songs being churned out, especially by certain rap artistes whose inspirations lie in Marijuana. Obviously, this type of music is only a part of the many rape encouraging factors, but a reduction, maybe insignificant would be noticed if the songs that are sold to the public are well censored. Then, the philosophy that a #10 worth of groundnut can get a girl or lady to pull off her panties, whether literally or figuratively will no longer ginger any man. However, it won’t be a bad idea to visit Mirabel Centre and encourage our sisters. I will, you should.
David Oluwasegun Ogundipe