Posted in Poetry

V is for Violence and Violation

By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels



You return always to your ritual
Of force, foaming like fits of fury
Heart of steel, to stages of stone, long assumed gone,
Dormant but dominant
Clenched fists of metal rusting
Behind its lustre of polished calm
Simmering tension running subterranean
Ever willing, trigger happy, happy pugilist,

It is a lottery won by 7 out of 10 women,
With prizes of broken bones, torn souls;
Whose mouths swallow knocked-out teeth
And bitten tongues.  She says
She ran into a door, and a door
Fell on me once, but how many doors
Can one woman run into
Before she says she ran
Into a fist?  

You pound the rib
You gave into shapeless broken fragments
The call of the residual is strong
Damming and diverting rivers uphill
To flow in impossible unceasing eddies
And tiring sterile circles

He does not always hide
In bushes or haunt alleys
Like a cat hunting mice:
We know our attackers
Two-thirds of the time.
Numbers do not lie.
The strangers we were warned off
Are not as dangerous as friends
38% of the time, or men
We think we know, 73%
Of them our rapists without masks.

And behind the smile, the polish
The beast lurks, ready to
Pounce and pound flesh to prove the power
Of the mighty proud to a lamb

We ask for it, old women
Dressed in housecoats

And young ones in sweatpants
Who jog bike paths,
Or women who look
At their husbands
Without the right balance of fear.
We are always asking for it,
Simply by breathing.

And we breathe the fear of the brawn breed
Trapped in culture’s cages,
Bent, stooped, stopped and stumped by glass ceilings
And your febrile insecure masculinity
It is your fear that chokes you
As you choke me, break me and break us,
Your false potency creates tsunamis of true impotency
And you forget that the truly strong
Are not afraid of being weak
And that only the weak
Embrace violence to prove power.

***As always, a pleasure to collaborate with my friend and duet partner Susan especially for International Women’s Day.  Susan’s words pierce and her statistics call attention to the disturbing pattern and spread of gender based violence. They challenge us to act, to act fast and NOW. My words are in regular typeface. Susan’s are italicized.




Development and policy analyst with a strong interest in the arts and inclusive social change. Dabbles occasionally into poetry and literary criticism!

34 thoughts on “V is for Violence and Violation

  1. goodness…this stole my breath…vicious write on a vicious sad reality….It is a lottery won by 7 out of 10 women,…goodness…not a lottery i would ever want to win…i like the way you did that though, turning lottery on its head…the chances…this is a hard hitting piece….really well done…


  2. A very sad reality of the violence man inflicts upon man.
    No matter how small is that voice, speak up – someone will hear.
    Silence is the face of today’s evil personified in what is condoned; made acceptable; made a reality for the droves of voiceless ones.

    A society – Any society that cannot – would not protect the women, children and man himself is a doomed society.

    A job well done.


  3. Oga Noel! This is a masterpiece. I like how the story unfolds and how both of you seem to be in each other’s thought process.


  4. Wao what a duet!. It at once provokes shame to masculinity,anger to feminity and loss to humanity.My favourite from you would be:”–breathe the fear of the brawn breed trapped in culture’s cages–“and the entire stanza of:” And behind the smile,the polish—-“From Susan that has to be:” — we are always asking for it simply by breathing”.How forceful can anyone get!!.I can only imagine the cathartic experience for both of you. IWD is indeed honoured.!!


    1. well spoken, Victor. It was important to speak out against this vice and having spoken, one felt a weight lifted but the worry still remains because one fears that somewhere even right now some poor woman is being pounded or abused by a male ruled brawn, and his brain ound up by his biceps!


  5. First off… in the next life, I’ll be present at your wedding. loool. Anyway statistics aside, I feel any man who raises a finger at a woman ought to be drawn, quartered and hacked into tiny pieces. It is gory enough that many women have to live with spousal violence but it tops it off that most women are either forbidden to speak about it or even agree that it hapened for the fear of castigation or ostracism.

    great to read you two together again… transcendental, sublime and beyond borders. Sussie, you are welcome to be Igbo in your next life. Am sure you will enjoy it… A lot too


    1. Obinna (Noel, please forgive me for commenting here, but I have to)–I would LOVE to be Igbo in the next life, if we are allowed more than one try at this crazy thing. I think it would be unfair to have only one shot at getting the lines right without at least one dress rehearsal, after all. Always a joy to write with Noel, even about something as awful as this. If we are not confined to being human the next time around, let’s be dolphins and squabble over fish the next go round. I would like to sing the poetry of the sea next time.


      1. Susan, ada di oha nma, oberre oha, okwuru oha. I am always happy feel your hand on my blog as your comments embellish! as always, I enjoyed doing the duet, painful as the theme and song are. The appellations at the start of this message mean you are igbo, onye nke anyi, already without knowing it!


      2. Noel, wow, you honor me with that, and thank you so much for saying so. I feel the sincerity of your words, and am grateful for them. This does mean someone needs to show me the difference between a yam and a sweet potato at some point, or you guys will be kicking me back to the west shortly after you’ve welcomed me. Smiling big over here! We need to do some more of these duets when your schedule allows. This weekend I am back on standard time (well, I lose an hour), so it might be easier to work together on something.


    2. Obinna, GBV is wrong, a sin and a crime. It is also cowardly. At the route of it is our model of what it means to be masculine. It would be good if people tried to undertake componential analyses and semantic differentials of the words “masculine” and “feminine” and compare responses from maleds who batter and those who do not!


    1. Thanks, Susan. GBV is wrong. and wrong is wrong! and we can start to stamp it out by paying attention to early socialization and changing our definitions of masculinity.


  6. Nicely written, uncle!…This societal ill has eaten deep and is fast becoming a “norm” …worse still, children who grow up in homes like this are affected, beyound measure, in many ways..thank you both for this piece..and may the fire continue to burn..may that light continue to shine in you.


    1. so true, IBB. Sad that parents often overlook that they often perpetuate a cycle of violence through their children as some of them may model the sad and cruel behavior in question.


  7. A great duet. Actually “how many doors can one woman run into before she says she ran into a fist”. The culture of secrecy and/or “marriage protection” is aiding criminality. So long as the notion of …”being a helper”,…”to bear him children” is still locked into our religious/ moral upbringing, uhuru will remain a dream. It is sickening. But surely, “only the weak embrace violence to prove power”. Thanks for drawing our attention to this cancer. Maybe the shouting will soon cease, and the shooting will start.


    1. I hardly ever advocate violence (that would definitely be “un ogssian”). I actually took poetic license from the shoot of a plant. My shooting should thus represent “a first sign of recovery”.
      However on a lighter note I once lived close to a violent man in the Delta area of Nigeria. The whole neighbourhood dreaded his violence. The only exception was his wife. The story on ground was that he met his oga in his wife. She holds a black belt in judo/karate and was infact an instructor for the state. So if kunfu, shotokan rue, jit kundo… could keep my daughter safe from a brute “behind the smile”, what will be your suggestion.


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