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Valentine, Youths, Homes, Cocktail Shakers – Tonight is the Night | By Jimi Bickersteth


The afternoon was pleasant. The sun came out, the temperature was cool and fresh. At the Lekki golf course and resort, time was just half-past six on this 14th February afternoon. My doting wife, the truest and sweetest companion any man could have, was watching grudgingly, she knows with me, it is unpardonable to disarranged the golf. After all, everyone’s life has a tempo!

She hanged on patiently on the golf links. Just now, I finished my eighteen holes, and I had been on my game-winning #55k to the bargain from my caddy. Feeling excited I tried to conceal an inward exultation under a manner of decorous calm, and, innocently in the mood to be friendly and expansive on a Valentine evening. In these days when people don’t buy birthday cards much. It’s more valentines and maybe Happy Christmases.

I was ruminating in my mind while fiddling with the blind tassel of the golf clubs window, where to take my wife for the Valentine evening. My feeling sincerely was that you can celebrate love daily and without the contrivances of a February 14th but for my darling wife’s, “You cannot mix up sentiment and reason”, and her other ad hominem! What a queer world we live in and how two different people could see the same thing each of them the other way round and the reactions of the audience, all varying widely in character and temperament.

Of course, I wouldn’t want my wife to make a song and dance of it, but, I really do not have any thrill for the Valentine occasion, no undue passion for modern views of it and absolutely free from any old fashioned prejudices. I made it patently clear that this valentine expression, to me, was plainly recreating the past, recapture old thoughts and emotions, that one had forgotten one felt.

With a sideways glance at my wife, I immediately realized that attributing to others the sentiments that one experience, may be wrong, but this Valentine thing got ‘us’ wrapped up in our own world, shey! You’ll think it was like a thingummyjig that came to lure people into marshes.

That wasn’t a very good way of putting it, but–oh, well–you’ll laugh at me, but there was something about the valentine that was–well–unearthly, unnatural, yes, unreal. A superficiality of ‘love’ and its enthrals getting all mazed, dazed and bewildered. To my wife, that was an excuse but not an explanation. I reflected if the whole thing was a chimaera of my imagination, occasionally inaccurate, sometimes suggestive.

In any case, it is no use resenting a thing that you’ve no power to stop — the escapades, adventurism, et al, and with no subtlety. A feeling of anti-climax in the air! This ‘farce’ about Valentine is global, but for our environment’s peace and well-being, the psychology and the mental states of most of the participants, who without no reprehension about them, but, life, life, and more life, we really need to get the colour correctly. Love and or its celebration should be practical like Lent, silently and secretly.

I turned away from fiddling with the blind tassel, I have always believed that a love of nature was essentially a healthy sign in a man. Let’s go near the ‘source’. Five Cowries, just by the bight of the Lagos Atlantic is it. I entered 2009, Rav-4, she had already installed herself on the passenger seat. I took off inward Victoria Island to the Five Cowries off Kuramo. Thankful she did not ask me whether we were bound.

Without the Jeep’s air-conditioner, the wind through the trees made a mournful noise, like some great giant sighing. The picture of Dante meeting Beatrice on a bridge — came to my mind, — and that picture once described by a child as a “blind girl sitting on an orange and called I don’t know why, ‘Hope’”. Hope for a future unseen, I guessed.

There’s a Creek, “Five Cowries” it is called from time immemorial. This inland — looks like a river mouth, but it isn’t — it’s just sea. To get in there by land, you have to go right inland and round the Creek, but the shortest way is by motorboat across the narrow bit of the Creek. A little beach opposite of which was a wooded headland and a white house could just be distinguished high up amongst the palm trees and fronds. What an extent Man can go for pleasure since Adam!

The Creek and the totality of its perimeter areas had not changed. Time has passed it by. It was still perched up in the middle of nowhere, with apparently no reason for existence. Looking up northward at the beautifully cool skyline of the Eko Atlantic city in the foreground, I realized the passage of years. The island I used to know was altered out of all recognition.

Nothing is so sad, in my opinion, as the devastation wrought by age, human advancement and technology on the matter, life and physical existence still sound, though the outside decays. A particular woman in a makeshift shed where all sorts of assorted herbs and roots were drenched in local gin-ethanol for decoction and all sorts of characters surround her with their disposable cups drinking and smoking weeds, was a sight that welcomed us.

I don’t quite know how to set about writing on this Valentine experience, but, there’s a good precedent. Begin at the beginning, go on to the end and then leave off. Believe me, the difficulty of beginning this frontispiece in the personal pronoun ‘I’ will be nothing to the difficulty of knowing how to stop, someone’s got to catch hold of my coat-tails and pull me down by main force.

I’m afraid I might tend to be–well, a little personal. This is a fancy story of human beings — not dummies! Be personal — be prejudiced — be catty– be anything one pleases. But a sensible common-sense account of a generation that must be pitied rather than blamed. The words of a poem by Keats, that I’d had to learn as a child, kept running through my head. “Oh say what ails thee, knight at arms, alone — and (what was it?)–Palely looking…?

The setting sun illuminated the West façade of the Creek. The Beach waterfront in the foreground continued in its curving progress, sweeping through a belt of palm trees and round between the Creek until it ended in the big sand sweep on the East side where it emptied into the delta-shaped estuary, where age is daring to defeat youth!

There was an artificially cleared plateau with battlements set with cannon. It gave out the impression of overhanging – the sea. There were trees above it and behind it, but on the seaside, there was nothing but the dazzling blue water below. An attractive spot for s3xploits! In spite of myself, I chuckled at this. One looked back, with nostalgia, the tears rising from within, the happy days of yore gone forever. Then one was young. Now, sojourning in a dreary depressing modern environment and a world complicated.

Through a framework of trees one looked down over the creek mouth. I sat up here part of the evening, humbly insignificant, to look, see and watch. On this Valentine evening, I was in it all and yet an outsider, so to speak. It is the eyes mind with which one really see at my age.

In my inner mind, I sublimate with Kraft-Ebing to build the atmosphere. The boys and girls of different shades and colour and even the beach and the Creek look like a dream one rather than a real one. But one realized this was not a dream, but a tangible reality, and one an actor in the drama.

I tried to review the pattern of the Creek-valentine, its currents and cross-currents and whether they could account for my wife’s uneasiness, it was impossible to tell. It did not seem to me that she was affected in any way by what was going on around her. Once or twice my wife cast a thoughtful puzzled look, examining the crowd and the setting, one and all with a kind of covert appraisal that seemed distinctly odd. Her more than life-size dismay was as though she had found some unwanted prop on a stage set, in a country where a man is esteemed by the success he makes of life.

We’ve had Valentine many times in the past thirty years, as Love’s Captive, the title of a novel by I think, Mrs Arabella Richardson, but over the last decade or so it had taken an added colour, a new gusto. It has become a drama. A drama the nation has failed to appreciate its rightful significance.

The surging crowd materialised out of the gloom. It was not yet quite dark but had that eerie half-light when objects lose their reality and take on the fantastic shapes of a nightmare. I wasn’t so sure. It was the kind of nightmare that was quite likely under the circumstances and that easily might be taken for a waking occurrence.

With this handful of milling crowd, I resolve to do just a plain recital of everything I can remember this mid-February evening. What they said, how they looked, just what happened. Here was life, yes, here was life. All there was, all there could be of life, of youth, of sheer blazing vitality. The faces were alive and the eyes bulging out of their sockets hooded by eyelashes the size of the cow’s. Munching and serenading away on a bowlful of seafood sauce and an assortment of alcoholic beverages.

They were so young. So young — what do most people mean when they say that? So young. Something innocent, something appealing, something helpless. But, with what I saw, I think youth is not that! Youth is crude, youth is strong and raw, youth is powerful — Yes, and cruel! And one thing more — youth is vulnerable.

This evening in the excessive display was arrogance borne out of exuberance. Such arrogance, such triumphant anticipation of a night’s stand. Hopefully, I’m not upsetting illusions, I’m a moral person, lead a moral life. That’s not quite the same thing, though, as having moral ideas. But could these young ones here be the offshoots of the typical, strong and resilient Nigerian mother, with that enormous mental and moral advantage of a strict upbringing denied to many these days?

Why are some denied of that enormous mental and moral advantage of a strict upbringing these days? Here, I wish I have that mysterious quality — authority every successful child educator must-have. I looked into the dead monotonous weariness of the face of one of the girls with her black hair perfectly arranged round her shapely head with features that were almost classic and her make-up exquisite. Something came quiveringly alive, she looked pointedly at me and said to her companions, “Chioma, ah! This one can look for Africa.”

She waved her hands impatiently like a stuffed fish in a glass case. This one was top dog and she knew it — and no scruples of good breeding restrained her from overt bad manners. I was old enough to realise it’s a character that matters, while she kept mouthing foul epithets. Rude and cross-grained, she half hoped, perhaps, that those words might hold a sting, but the face she was staring at showed no change. I don’t stand on courtesies and ceremony at beach fronts. Aside that, it was difficult for me to say anything, but if ever a man’s silence was eloquent here was that moment.

I felt as though imprisoned in a thick mist. Detached words and hums came drifting through the fog. The words stabbed through the thick enveloping blanket of my thoughts — pin-pricks through a heavy muffling veil. The beach and rows and rows of faces — their emotions slopping all over the place. Something stirred; the folds of the blanket around my brain lightened — became mere wraiths.

Boys and men and girls – difficult to tell what these girls look like under their make-up; but a wild-rose unreality about them. Frolicking, lips parted, eyes agog — it was the height of ecstasy mixed with a dash of happiness and a throb of sudden pleasure. Love or rather a celebration of love surely should be a pleasurable emotion — not something that hurt you by its intensity. There is something about the defencelessness of youth that moves me to tears.

I saw men present Flowers — assorted great sheaf of long-stemmed roses; seemed more attentive than usual. It was as though they were playing a part in a play — the part of the devoted fiancé even where the girls looked detached and aloof. It tickled me! Shyingly inarticulate and helpless with hunger in their eyes.

Youth is vulnerable. It is so ruthless — so sure. So generous and so demanding. Hear Shakespeare in  ‘Romeo and Juliet‘, in Juliet’s words. “If that thy bent of love be honourable. The purpose of marriage, send me word tomorrow. By one that I’ll procure to come to thee. Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite, And all my fortunes at thy I’ll lay, And follow thee, my lord, throughout the world.”

There speaks love allied to youth, in Juliet’s words. No reticence, no holding back, no so-called maiden modesty. It is the courage, the insistence, the ruthless force of youth. Shakespeare sure knew youth. Juliet singles out Romeo. But, why did Juliet fall for Romeo? Well, for one thing, with all due deference to the almighty Shakespeare, wrapped in love’s young dream! he happened to be the first man she had seen. The first man! Desdemona claims Othello. They have no doubts, the young, no fear, no pride. Take what you want — we shall only live once.

A lot of predatory, weed-smoking, alcoholic, substance and drug abuse Juliet’s on offer here this evening. Young, ruthless, but horribly vulnerable. Crude young women — with a cruel outlook on life, staking everything on the one audacious throw this night. Speaking of Juliet. No Juliet here — unless perhaps one could imagine Juliet a survivor — living on, deprived of Romeo.

The girls sat lapping their men, spellbound. Just like Desdemona and Othello, only, fortunately, there was no Iago about to mess things up. One they called “chairman” was puffing in his guttural deep bass voice importantly, bragging as if he owns the creek. His voice had an unexpectedly dramatic quality about it. He talked away nineteen to the dozen. Most of what he said holding a double implication — a double entendre. He had the pouches under his eyes that come with a dissipated way of life. I suspected him of racketing around, or gambling, or drinking hard, and of being first and last a womaniser.
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The personality of the young man did not quite match his voice. It was less important, one might say, insignificant. One of his aides brought one thing or the other and turned to leave now that there was no further need of his services, the chairman drew him back and landed a backhand slap on his right cheek rather than a few words of stern censure. Never have I seen such a ghastly look on any man’s face. His eyes petrified with terror or some kindred emotions. I shook my head to pity the two. He noticed I was not too pleased with his demeanour.

Why the worst type of man can always be relied upon to please and interest the nicest women has long been a problem beyond me. I knew instinctively the man was a rotter — and nine men out of ten would have agreed with me. Whereas nine women or possibly the whole ten would have fallen for him immediately with his general air of feebleness.

I just wonder, give these girls some deluxe comfort and luxury and they’ll purr, like Eve in Eden, never seeing or hearing or thinking anything except what’s a lovely sight, a lovely sound. Sweet but not practical. Absolutely charming to you. They see it all as art with a capital A. Men, all alike –easily caught by flattery and a pretty face. A little lapse into the melodrama in Eden.

With nature so honest, and a countenance so transparent, that – Enfin, to conceal one’s feelings is impossible! But, there is something about writing down an anti-climax in cold blood, deliberately and without feeling pity, that is somewhat shattering to one’s self-esteem.

The good spirits here were a bit unnatural, feverish, and rather artificial. I admit though, that in life, nothing’s ever quite what you picture it — no-no. And underneath the apparent hostility of everyday life, a real and true affection can exist. I complained of my wife’s willful refusal to admit me to her confidence on this issue.

Always she and I had had equal knowledge — even if I had been dense (not dunce) and she had been astute in drawing the ‘right’ conclusions from that knowledge, from which both of us might not have been right or wrong. She in a cool calm and liquid voice, replied, “It is not for me to dictate to you. You have a right to your opinion, just as I have to mine.”

A most admirable sentiment, put with admirable clearness, but one that brought a momentary stiffness in its train, the more so as I could not in the least guess what she was hinting at, all the same, fascinated by her eloquence. But something had occurred to occasion a complete revolution of feeling, in any case, least said sooner mended was the cliché.

As her physiognomy underwent a curious change. An expression gathered there that I can only describe as half puzzled and half relieved. And with her characteristic shrug, she dismissed whatever it was that was worrying her from her mind. Her equable poise soon swung back to the normal. Nonetheless, I had not the least idea what her views on the subject were. Know what! My gorge does rose at the realisation.

I watched her as she sat on my left-hand side, graceful, enigmatic, in her pink and red Ankara frock, with white ruffles at the wrists falling over her slender hands. Round the neck of her top she wore, rather unexpectedly, a set of old-fashioned cameos — which seemed to hint at a sentimental streak not otherwise apparent, she looked very beautiful. When she chose, however, her face could be Sphinx-like in its inscrutability. She was silent, yet in some queer way, I felt the dominating Aura of the great strength of her personality. Her quiescence was annoying!

In any case, that’s what you get sometimes with a wife, I repeat by the way, finest and sweetest companion any man could have, who religiously read Linda Condon, and in lesser degree Crewe Train with sympathy and interest in the independent woman — unencumbered or entrapped by man. Linda Condon is an exquisite study of the worship of her own beauty by a woman. Crewe Train is a study of a passionate individualist.

Herself is endowed by Nature not only with beauty but with the kind of calamitous magic which sometimes accompanied beauty and can, indeed, exist independently of it. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Juliet; I think, said that. Silly things sometimes Shakespeare made them say, of course, he couldn’t help it, he was a poet. Never cared much for Romeo and Juliet, myself. All those suicides for love’s sake. Plenty of them about. Always happening.  Anyway, back to the object of my fancy.

All I see of the girls thronging the creek in droves was Rose white youth, passion. Take that away and what remains? Only a somewhat mediocre young ‘women’ seeking for another lifesized hero to put on an empty pedestal. Young and beautiful and to my mind infinitely pathetic. I imagined it very strongly and was fascinated by the problem of personality. Did they represent Romance or stormy, turbulent creatures or a bit of both — but moral disapprobation does not preclude enjoying the night for this pretty uncontrolled sort of persons whose mentality, worth and self-esteem were being injured on a night’s stand.

These half-naked girls spent most of the evening wandering about the creek that appeared, so I think, in their minds’ eyes as a garden, climbing and eating things like plums, sour apples, hard pears. Love’s a desperate and twisting business. It can turn a worm into a fine fellow — and it can bring a decent straight man down to the dregs.

This expresses volumes of what the future portends for society, for our youths. I saw the young boys and girls terribly high-browed, their feelings were so intense, too concentrated, and their instinctive reserve deprived them of any safety valve. Sometimes the more I get older and the more I see of people and sadness and illness and everything, the sorrier I get for everyone.

This Valentine evening wore a holiday aura — a marshmallow. The public in a uniform red and white eats it up — yes, eat it up and painting the town red. I’m out to be despised and patronized but not with the fastidiousness and the distaste that a mere sensitive man might have displayed. It is human nature, and those who know the world, have no illusions about fellow compatriots, no matter their ages in a world without cares, are certainly not to be idealised.

The girls kick up their heels. They like to feel their power. It’s natural, really. Only for this valentine  (Ijó kì ító l’ésè ayásojó.) Literally, saying, “Dancing does not suit the one in a borrowed suit”. The boys, some married, some have kids out of wedlock are not ready for female entanglements and trying to avoid wounding susceptibilities. But never could avoid registering some purple passages and touches in the journey of life; the emotions, the feelings — the characters of the actors — the homes they came from — the valentine drama all rolled into one.

Thoughts of Alec and Tess in the Thomas Hardy romance classic, ‘Tess of d’ubbervilles’, the Fair, and the picture of the wronged protagonists, the biter and the bit in the classic romantic story came flooding my memory. I see now that one can only develop a thing which the seed is already present. In Othello, for instance, one is of the belief that already present in Othello’s mind was the conviction (possibly correct) that Desdemona’s love for him was the passionate unbalanced hero-worship of a young girl for a famous warrior and not the balanced love of a woman for Othello the man. He may have realized that Cassio was her true mate and that in time she would come to realize the fact.

What I was able to see of this night at the Creek portrayed the half-naked, weed smoking, carefree crowd as rotters through and through. Most of them have appealing charm, sweetness of manner but helpless and lost looks, and that was not an edifying story, but it was funny. For a society with no remorseful thought for 60% of its population, no uneasy twinges of conscience on the part of the leadership.

No haunting memories of the past Valentine experiences on homes, on the ‘raped’ and ‘traumatized’ girls, their parents and the prosperous, contented boyfriends and clients, clients being a new name on the social circuit, whose stuffs go down with the girls — girls who had gone to market — and fetched the full market price. Asking more of life, perhaps, and receiving less. Inducing the annoying derisive patronising attitudes; and a society also traumatized by the psychology — the eternal why? of human behaviour and inhumanity to lesser mortals in the name of an unknown saint.

Romance — quite a romance — a mystery romance and crime are what interests the world today. It used to be romance. Famous crimes were retold from one angle only — the love-story connected with them. The society to wit, with its gross retinue of injured girls contrived by heaven’s know what, to make their roses flame and burn with a riotous almost obscene life of the ghetto — have to realised that there was no time to lose, to save itself from self. Society still have a slim but ample chance to save the world from this rampant permissiveness, loose-living, rectitude, moral decadence and depravity, by reinstating moral studies in schools and encourage religious education.

Valentine’s Day is about as close to perfect as any day outside of Christmas can get, and in recent times have become a human animal supermarket, a mall where you pick and choose according to the capacity of your libido, mental strength and depth of your pocket. It struck me that one’s duty as a writer is to assess character — it is so hard to be a blogger and also a pukha sahib. While not generalising, I conceded that, there are still many intellectual, sensitive, beautifully poised and balanced ones who altogether are devoid of animal passion, showing breeding and self-restraint — and something else — a capacity for passion.

The crowd here seemed to have taken leave of all ordinary decency appeared to be in a dream. Completely obsessed with what they were doing in the middle of the night on this Creek. Not till the boys got broke and the girls thoroughly used did they come out of their absorption and obsession, and start to pick up the threats of ordinary life again. Miserable teenage mothers, single parents all around, perfectly disgraceful the way the boys most of the time treated this damnable egoistic, ‘loose-living’ kind of girls; who got into this relationships and way of life bald-headed, might regret it bitterly afterwards.

There is too much talk about sex, too much attention is paid to it. I do not meant that anything about s3x is wrong. That is nonsense. But s3x cannot take the place of love, it goes with love but it cannot succeed by itself. But with this milling crowds, I think, besides love, there was also a feeling of escape.

Natural, I think, owing to the circumstances of their life. Lost guardianship, parents and most had entered on a new life at any age when a school girl arrives at having a “crush” on someone. A state that does not last for very long, is merely a natural part of life. Then from that to the next stage when they realise that what they want in their life is what complements themselves.

A relationship between a man and a woman. Start then to look about for a mate. And if wise, take time, you have friends, but you are looking, as the old nurses used to say to children, for Mr.Right to come along. Escape to a life where male and female come together to create the next stage of living in this world. The road of escape, the escape route most started out on led not to life, not to increased living, loving and happiness. It led to shame, shock, pain, sometimes death.

“Love” – the most frightening word in the world. It’s dreadful nowadays these things seem happening the whole time. Girls going out with every kind of young men. Nobody taking any trouble to look after them. They have to look after themselves nowadays, and they’ve no idea of how to do it, heavens help them!

Today, I saw their strained faces with a kind of desperate gaiety. Talked and laughed a lot, but their eyes wore some kind of anguished grief in them. Uncensored freedom and wholesale liberty here. They went in for being modern. Pathetic they are somehow. So young and so self-confident. There’s that something, this gentle creatures, do they know what they’re getting themselves into, and if they do, are they ready for the repercussions, is the society ready for the backlash?.

I asked of one, and she only laughed at me in such a cool way and told me squarely that I was ‘old-fashioned’. Well, I dare say I am, but I still think I was right — in my apprehension. There’s something about youth, that can be terribly moving. My daughter — I am not indiscreet — has perhaps a tendresse for one of this young men out here. I’ll grudgingly would accept their making their own mistakes.

These ‘kids’ some of who see parents as being too idiotic and see themselves as capable of managing their own affairs without any meddlesomeness and senseless policing, monitoring and or interfering in their children’s lives, that is so infuriating about fathers and mothers. Wish I could read them out that passage from the Phaedo describing Socrates’s death. A beautiful piece of writing.

I suppose — really — one ought to put a knife into oneself — like Juliet. But — but to do that is to acknowledge that you’re done for — that life’s beaten you. There’s a Spanish proverb I’ve always liked, “Take what you want and pay for it, says God.” I looked at the ageless smooth faces, the weary eyes serving up yesterday’s sensation with today’s sense and sauce, who seem not to understand that there are things that has its tickets. There are things not for sale. There are things that cannot be bought like Sharwama, Chapman and wine. I thought again about Juliet… Men have the best of this world.

Leaving the general for the particular. There’s a something — a nuance I cannot define — but it seemed to me always that the Girl-child in particular and the youth in general do not have full representational value in the nation’s democracy and decision-making in their upbringing, in a nation where the average age of political leaders is about sixty-five. That was not natural but man-made. The youths are ‘a’ person of importance, not in themselves, but as a pivotal point.

The child unspoilt are made to fend for themselves as important point. They seemed to count for very little. Now older suffered from a certain lack in their home life. I felt strong about marriage ties, though fraught with dangers, risks and pitfalls (whoever coined the phrase, “For better for worse”), unless it is respected and upheld, a country degenerates. A bundle of parent and child problems arise. Many children, suffer from over-attention on the part of their parents. There’s too much love, too much watching over the child, dote-like.

It is uneasily conscious of this brooding, and seeks to free itself, to get away and be unobserved. The best thing for a child, I’m convinced, is to have what I should term healthy neglect on the part of both parents. This happens naturally enough in the case of a large family of children and very little money. They are overlooked because the mother has literally no time to occupy herself with them. A superficial affection exists though, the children realise quite well that she is fond of them, but they are not worried by too many manifestations of the fact.

But there is another aspect one does occasionally find a husband and wife who are so all-significant to each other, so wrapped up in each other, more like lovers than like husband and wife, that the child of the marriage hardly seems very real to either of them. That goes without saying that, in those circumstances, I think a child comes to resent that fact, to feel, defrauded and left out in the cold, drifting to warmer attachments or end up in a lukewarm affair.

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Flowers overtaken by untimely frost — still in bud — but without life with memories, small pleasures made possible by stringent economies. Children don’t care much about their parents these days, no matter how hard they tried; from what I can see, and a good many parents don’t care for their children, either, that’s as it should be, utterly and completely damning. With sufficient health and vigour to enable them still to be interested in life.

As an acute observer of the social scene, and acutely aware of the difficulties of society, marriage, one discovered is the basic fundamental and bedrock of society, we get a curious result, and like the tower of Pisa leant at an angle. So much so that  there ensued a case of catalysis – a reaction between two substances that takes place only in the presence of a third substance, a third acute angle to the hypothetical triangle, that third substance apparently taking no part in the reaction and remaining unchanged. Where the homes have failed for many genuine and ungenuine reasons, peer pressure and insidious suggestion took control — but society did not actively take part.

The children! So vulnerable, so ready, though they do not recognise it that way, to take a dare. An extraordinary, an abnormal situation! It was a marshalling of the forces of a human being to widen a breach instead of repairing it. It called on the best in a man and set it in alliance with the worst. The cumulative effect. The breaking point.

Affronted in our instincts or rather should as a society. And here, I speak in the specific and general  not in the particular sense; on a point of ethics, it should be awfully simple to say when a thing is right or wrong — but really when it comes to it, it isn’t quite such plain sailing. Yet, one has to respect their scruples and their need of a second spring, in spite of the malign influence about their ménage.

One is of the opinion and resolutely declared, in the teeth of everything, that it would be left to the government to decide whether or no the damming inferences and facts constituted an overwhelming proof of its neglect of the youths.

It was possible that that might open up quite a new view of the girl-child, of the rampant rape cases, sexual violence, apache assault and battery, substance abuse, infidelity and generally growing immorality and indiscipline, all of which, tied together, rejuvenated, became phoenix, a rally! And subtly implying that for a government which did not so decide would be quite unthinkable.

Let me say in parenthesis to all the rape in town, I say in all earnestness that it is a shame for parents to bring up their girls in such dangerous ignorance of the gins and nets that they may set for them, whether their motive be a good one or the result of simple indifference.

Nonetheless, under the prevailing circumstances. Society was the most affected by this most revolting disregard for human life in the long run. To feel otherwise would be an awkward position and in a manner that was disgusting in its hypocrisy. If the fact will not fit the theory–let the theory go. Society, too self-righteous, too conscious of rectitude and like Hamlet — eternally putting off the evil day, and it is possible it had a mauvais quart d’heure in consequence!  has to deal with the double dilemma that its own art and act has brought about, by using the correct words, supplying the correct stimuli and other measures congruent to solving the menace, loose-living has became, but has to have a nucleus on which to work, and with the coils of the law.

While one cannot be hypocritical, the nation’s, nay, the world’s precarious status — political, social and economical had made an undercurrent to loose-living, brawling, drunkenness — in a nation where the cost of alcohol is highly correlated to overall cost of living is no bogey for children, and, home conditions were not what one could have called ideal. What had been at the bottom of this loose living, could money have been the baser mainspring?

The government may not think great shakes of it, by all accounts, thought it far-fetched and fanciful. The world is in front of them, no need to bring them near decay and suffering before their time. The society has to feel quite apologetic to this multitude for putting their noses out of joint, so to speak; and their interest in what they were doing is that of pure human being — cap and cuffs forgotten!

The state has to step in. To the society evidences of the rot as seen here was little short of sensational, may not be conclusive, it may be intangible, vague and unsatisfactory but certainly, not a mare’s nest, and as sure as eggs is eggs! It shouldn’t puzzle society anyhow. It should be examined — sifted all the same. Everyone expect education to the highest level as a matter of right. Schools would be very helpful as the youths need the stimulation of other minds — that and the wholesome discipline of a disciplined community.

Modern civilized conditions are so complex for some simple and undeveloped natures. Let the government at all levels set up a modern scheme, finance it for some years, make it a cooperative self supporting community — with everyone having a stake in it. But cut off so that the temptation to go back to cities and the old bad ways can be neutralised. It will take a lot of money and investment, here philanthropists with vision come in. Society needs passionate enthusiasm, feeding the body and mind.

The nation must progress to preserve decencies and must take all contingencies into mind. The perfect solution must explain the outer facts and psychology the inside. To take this multitude to a cape of good hope, it should by legislation ensure that children are brought up by the state, to offer standardized, discipline. That’s as may be — just a glorified orphanage, it sounds — but, anyway, it’s a waste of breath to go back over the past and sentimentalise. We’ve got to get on with living — that’s our job! If need be in so far as the dictates of honour allow.

So simple are the problems of life. Life’s full and vivid and eminently enjoyable. After all said and done, we all have our own ideas of the perfect life, have we not? But the kids have so much to learn. What do they have to learn? All the grown-up emotions — pity — sympathy, understanding. And a spirit strengthened by its necessary fight for confidence and assurance. The only things they know, have ever known — are infatuation. The nation that had created some women to a vital and forceful women, of considerable mental power and gifted with abundant energy to accomplish ambitious purposes, happy and successful, need to stop masking the stench of immorality with the sweet scent of perfume.

The sun was rising, a riot of rose and orange and pale, pearly grey. What a beautiful sunrise! We walked across the open park, it was pleasant to saunter lazily through the cool glades to our car. There was hardly a breath of wind, the very chirp of the birds was faint and subdued. At the arch, we walked passed two young people whose life together was just beginning. A man in love is a sorry spectacle. Hmmm! I stood watching the brisk retreating figures walking side by side in gentle proprietary pleasure, happy — yes — happy together. The happiness of one man and woman is the greatest thing in the world. She was a lovely creature. Let her be that to him — yes — a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.

Finally flung myself on the driver’s seat. My thoughts of mankind were kindly and charitable. I was at peace with the world. Then I yawned, turned the ignition — homeward bound!

Happy Valentine! # Jimi Bickersteth

Jimi Bickersteth is a writer, blogger and social commentator. He can be reached on Twitter

@bickerstethjimi

@alabaemanuel

Email jimi.bickersteth@yahoo.co.uk

jimi.bickersteth@gmail.com

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Qwenu! publishes opinions, stories, reflections, and experiences on contemporary issues. Click here to read articles from many Africans at home and in the diaspora. Embedded tweets and guest articles do not represent the opinions of Qwenu! as we only provide a platform for writers to express themselves. Email your articles to editor@qwenu.com Follow us @qwenu_media Featured image: Denise Johnson@auntneecey/Unsplash





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