A song against gender based violence

by Noel Ihebuzor  

Short and simple – for the battered and abused –

“and the moon cried herself dark the night you battered me, and the silent stars sobbed and the heavens rained damp tears….and frowned at your flowers of appeasement”

Flowers, presents, clumsy sluggish contrition
Wham, bang, in, out and over
Short, quick and simple
And with this short and insensitive flourish,
this contrived contrition
failings are deleted, denied and wiped clean
and the slate is made clean

A ritual of voluntary and selective amnesia
is once again re-enacted
on an over-burdened and traumatized victim….
this abused, reduced, confused,
this ravaged, ripped off, ripped up,
this maligned, denied, defiled piece of womanity
for whom there is no longer peace
and life together empties of all reason and rhythm,
save a rhythm rich in thuds and thumps
which deflate the soul

The camel’s back is strong but growing sore
and the woman’s soul initially deep and rich
is now growing raw and red and full of rage
and the seasons they come and they go

and the woman’s hopes for change
soar and crash with each season
and the seasons weigh hard
and soon the back is bent with sorrow
as the eyes are baggy with worry and self pity
slowly she counts her beads of sorrow
as she bids her time
as her soul beats and looks beyond the cage that is her existence

(somewhere in the hard-soft corridors of truth,
mute angels ask in a mixture of angst and empathy
“ how do pearls get thrown to swine,
and beauty to the constant stings of scorpions?”)

the mighty strong ignores the hunger and needs of the dove
and the soul, beautiful but trapped by ugly cruelty
agonizes with each passing day,
imagination and ideals slowly ebb away
and hollow emptiness and eats away the inside
a calm soul now battered by the staggering immaturity,
by the still born imagination and emotional aridity of a partner
a clod, insensitive and immune to logic beyond the brawn,
beyond the mighty fist, the rod, the muscle

each day the soul is mangled by pangs of regrets
of an alliance without spice, without rhythm, colorless
and the once bright eyes are now sunken
dazed by impunity and slowly sucked under by her powerlessness
and the indifference of those around

and the clouds gather and darken, and swell…
and swell and soon to burst into homicide

and the partner blames the spouse
and the victim is the aggressor
and the partner massages an ever swelling ego and self-righteousness
with the puerile glee of the mentally challenged,
like one caught in the stasis of frozen and retarded adolescence

“and the moon cried herself dark the night you battered me, and the silent stars sobbed and the heavens rained damp tears….and all frowned at your flowers of appeasement”

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18 Responses to “A song against gender based violence”


  1. 1 Seyi Onabanjo April 4, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Very evocative. Can almost picture the victim(s) even now…

    Regards Seyi

  2. 3 Ijeoma Ibeanu April 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Really nice! Captures the dynamics of an abusive relationship, whether mental or physical: The ‘contrived contrition’ which is supposed to ensure that the ‘slate is made clean’, the woman’s hopes for change soaring and crashing with each season. Nice!

    • 4 noelihebuzor April 5, 2012 at 4:55 am

      Quite apart from the dangers it poses to life and limb, an abusive relationship gradually erodes a woman’s self confidence and self esteem!

      • 5 Ijeoma Ibeanu April 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

        You’re quite right Uncle. It is that loss of self esteem and self confidence that also makes it more and more difficult as time goes by for the woman to say ‘enough!’ and leave that abusive relationship.

        Sad.

  3. 6 Rosemary Nwangwu April 5, 2012 at 8:03 am

    De Noel,
    The powerful and very dramatic language of this poem, song, lyric, whatever, conveys the tortuous emotion that violence evokes on the victim. The poem also captures the hypocritical response of society to this evil with the reaction that the wrong becomes the right. I trust you Noel to write this way. You know we must all deploy whatever tool we have to fight this matter.

    Imagine what just happened although not in a home but even at that, more disgusting and evoking right now in me a feeling of rejection of all sexual advances by any man in whatever guise! Believe me Noel, what I am about to write to you is disgusting and keeps making me throw up.

    A number of girls going home from school for the Easter Holidays in a chartered Ekene Dili Chukwu bus were gang-raped along the way by armed robbers after Ore! A number of these girls were virgins and the oldest was 16 years! The armed robbers had stopped the bus to rob them and found that these were all school children going home on holidays. They had no money only odd change, biscuits, gala and cheap handsets. The armed robbers were having none of it and so ordered the little ANGELS down from the bus and then back again into the bus. The robbers then ordered the driver to drive into a nearby pathway. Then the the robbers ordered the stupid driver to park and then marched the the girls into the bush threatening that since they had no money, they would have to give what they’ve got. What did they have? Their sweetness. Their virginity. Nurtured and preserved by parents and especially mothers in a most delicate combination of morals and threats. These little girls were gang-raped in turns by grown wretches, perhaps drunk, drugged and stoned out of their minds! While the violation was going on, the VIRGINS were the hottest in demand with each robber calling out to the others ‘…this one na virgin’ and then promptly calling others to have a taste of the sweetness of the virgin….

    I am angry! OUR SOCIETY HAS LOST ITS SOUL. The parents of these girls are scampering to hospitals for check-ups and the armed robbers have strolled home free and indeed savourig the taste of the pure wine we have so laboured to preserve. This is cruel. Should any mother hear this and sleep with two eyes closed? I cannot. I have not been able to sleep!

    Why do I call the driver stupid? Because the little ANGELS begged him to stop over in Ore after the bus had broken down three time before and Ekene had sent other useless buses. They had begged him to stop so they could at least sleep in Ore where they ould find accommodation. But the fool had insisted and driven past Ore at 11 pm! with little girls on board! And in the state our highways are in! I am angry!

    How has the society reeacted to this bone-chilling abomination? It is entertaining! No anger. No reaction. No solidarity. And another set of lives have been ruined. Imagine how these girls would live in the future with the harsh experience they have had. One of the girls was so traumatised and shocked when threatened by teh monsters (also created by our unequal society) that her mentrual period quickly commenced. And that saved her. She was perceived as ‘soiled’ by the robbers and that saved her too. But this little girl says she could not forget the cries of her friends as they were repeatedly raped by several grown men. I am angry!

    The Sun reported on Sunday of a village in Enugu state (Opi) where widdows are constantly raped by young men and social miscreants who are arrested and left to walk away free to continue their abominable acts. The women raped are between 55 and 70 ears of age! Abomination! The aggressors firts beat the women silly and sometimes into stupor and then rape them and steal from them as well. The women are widows with no one of the kind of the aggressors living with them to protect them! Abomination! And what does the village head say? ‘These incidents are not as bad as the women make it. The boys and men have been punished’ he says. Meanwhile, one of the widows insist that she continues to see her molester walking free and has cried herself hoarse in seeking justice! Abomination! She vows to continue.

    I say, at what point did our men become COWARDS who now have to rape women?

    I cry as I write. I cry because both the robbers and the little ANGELS are phenomena created by the same society. A society where the elites do not care about what happens to the street urchins who have no homes to call their own and no parent to care. They (street urchins) all grow up and catch up with us (through our sweet little girls). We the so-called but non-existent middle class think we are raising our children but in the end they become sacrifial lambs left to be savoured in the most brutal manner by the same miscreants we have watched grow unattended!

    I am angry! Abomination is trailing our paths.

    We must watch out! Worse is coming!

    But women can say NO! Otherwise calamity awaits us all!

    Now I can sleep better.

    Meanwhile, please keep up the good work Noel. Provoke our collective consiences with your briliant writing! I salute you my brother.

    Rosemary

    • 7 noelihebuzor April 5, 2012 at 8:50 am

      Rosemary, what a harrowing experience for the girls. Human Rights Groups should demand on and insist on q quick pursuit, arrest and prosecution of these vile creatures!

  4. 8 Rosemary Nwangwu April 5, 2012 at 8:09 am

    …And back to your poen proper, I like the poem bringing out the fact no gift makes up for the loss of self esteem that violenece evokes. I like its peripheral mention reference to the dimension of psychological violence which is more deadly because it is so subtle. The verbal abuse. the you’re good for nothing, al you spend your money on are women and clothes (for both men and women)…

    We really should open our eyes to these. Please write more.

  5. 9 ANTHONY LAWRENCE April 6, 2012 at 5:36 am

    I just read your poem sir. It is touching and violence against women has to end. Thanks for the write up. It is very beautifully written.
    I also read the incident of gang rape by some agents of the devil. It is a shame and may God help them go through this trauma.

    • 10 noelihebuzor April 6, 2012 at 6:02 am

      Thanks, Tony. I knew that the theme of the poem would resonate with your person given your sensitive and kind disposition, and also knowing your strong position in favor of non-violence in conflict resolution. The account by Rosemary is very disturbing and the events a stain on our nation.

  6. 11 theinveterateblogger April 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    “with the puerile glee of the mentally challenged,
    like one caught in the stasis of frozen and retarded adolescence”

    That’s powerful Noel. I like the composition.

    “and the moon cried herself dark the night you battered me, and the silent stars sobbed and the heavens rained damp tears….and all frowned at your flowers of appeasement”

    This is very poetic and would sound haunting in a ballad.
    Almost like a Haiku on gender based Violence.

    Looking forward to more posts.

    • 12 noelihebuzor April 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      Davina, Glad you liked it. Just doing my best to lend my voice to the voiceless, to those whose cries of pain, humiliation and powerlessness in the dark of night are often heard only by the moon and stars.

  7. 13 Rosemary Okoli April 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Oga Noel, this is a very powerful and provocative piece of writing that could win a literary award. Violence in any guise is a no, no from me. It is an abomination before man and the deities, and should be denounced, decried and condemned in every country, culture and clan. I keep wondering why a man born of a woman would treat another woman in such a deplorable manner. By bringing these to the fore in such a compelling manner, you have not only raised our consciousness to this malady but actually provoked feelings that can cause a social action. This is not just a mere work of poetry but a clarion call to reject and fight this social evil called VIOLENCE. Rosemary’s account of the little ‘Angels’ raped on their way from school and the women of Opi make the subject matter all the more sad and deplorable. It is indeed heart rending and no living soul should close his or her eyes to any form of violence. Perpetrators of these bastardly act against women and humanity should be brought to book and slammed with maximum penalty. Violence, be it at home, workplace or anywhere, is pure wickedness. It is evil and shouldn’t be condoned. Well done u!! Oliver wants some more

  8. 15 Edith Azinge April 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Wow! Very strong imagery! could picture both the Victim and Aggressor. I am amazed at how you have brought out the various moods – anger, and then total helplessness and despair. ……..Great work!

  9. 17 Susan L Daniels April 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    This is so incredibly amazing–angry, but beautiful. Now, I am going to have to be a follower 🙂


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