With women, there is never an end to war any war in which their core interest is involved. When they win, they sip choice wines with the skull of the enemy. When they lose, they, in bitterness, weep, withdraw and go underground to continue the fight by other means. What we saw in Awka between the wife of the outgone governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, and Bianca, daughter of ex-governor C.C. Onoh and widow of ex-governor, ex-warlord, Emeka Ojukwu, was a phase in a battle of class and ego that won’t end soon. We were told that between Bianca Ojukwu and the Obianos, formerly of Anambra State Government House, there was no love.
And so, Mrs. Ebele Obiano saw this enemy sitting audaciously in her corner; the harrier had forgotten that her husband’s tenure had just ended and her rump would henceforth be a victim of all winds. She cat-walked across the red carpet and stood in the presence of a bruised Bianca. Then, what happened? We have not heard from Mrs. Obiano but Bianca spoke: “When she got to where I was seated, she verbally attacked me with her voice raised, taunting me…Then, she kept aggressively putting her hands on my shoulders and shouting…It was at this point that I stood up to defend myself and gave her a dirty slap.” That is Bianca’s case, written by her in black and white. Now, you want to ask: Why slap her? Why not taunt her back? Nobel Laureate, Mario Llosa in his ‘The War of the End of the World’ says something about what Bianca did being better, at times, than even murder. “Death isn’t enough. It doesn’t remove the stain. But a slap, a whiplash, a square on the face, does.
Because a man’s face is as sacred as his mother or his wife…” Read again the last sentence in that quote. When you substitute ‘man’ with ‘woman’, ‘mother’ with ‘father’ and ‘wife’ with ‘husband’ you would sit back, enjoy and understand better the bout. It has not ended. But, wait, what we watched was not a piece of entertainment; it was law or laws broken with criminal calmness – by both sides. Shouldn’t there be consequences for that dirty slap and the provocation that drew it? Or we should just be content with separating them, with wet-hugging the slapper and sitting the slapped beside her deflated husband – and then move on to the next item as if no law was breached? If the fighters were some menial women eking out a living in that arena of courtesy and respectability, where would they be now? In their homes or in jail? Everyone connected with the law witnessed that incident: the commissioner of police was (likely) there, the Chief Judge was there. They were quiet; they are silent. The new governor was there. Unlike others, he did not keep quiet; he issued an apology on behalf of the lawbreakers. Was that his job? It was his very first assignment as governor. Is breach of public peace, with assault and battery, no longer a criminal offence under our laws? The law is helpless in this case. In fact, there is no case; the culprits are above the law.
Jonathan Swift has a line for this in his Gullivers Travels: “…laws are best explained, interpreted and applied by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them.”Those two are women of festering hate and anger. They grossly misbehaved, but for them and their acts, there is no condemnation. Instead, there is a national celebration – online and offline, everywhere. The initial shock soon moved to social media with its unending possibilities in making light of heavy stuff. The Yoruba (and the Yorubanised) now talk of a transition from Agbari Ojukwu (Ojukwu’s skull) to Igbati Ojukwu (Ojukwu’s slap). There are people who wonder what Mrs. Obiano thought the warlord’s wife would give her in exchange for the insolent insult. Was she expecting a flight or a hug?
My people say in these matters, where you are coming from matters. They say a tiger’s cub is no plaything for a pampered bull. “The hunter’s boast at home is not repeated when he really meets the elephant” is how the poet puts it in ‘Salute to the Elephant.’And yet, there are the feminists who say there was that explosion of shock and laughter because those who fought were women. At least men fight too -and almost shamelessly regularly, especially in legislative houses. And I said yes; there were jokes, cheap and expensive because a matter that is beyond weeping could only be managed with laughter. In certain situations, we expect a certain high level of decorum and balance from the sex we call female. Nineteenth-century English cleric and writer, Charles Caleb Colton, said “women do not transgress the bounds of decorum so often as men; but when they do, they go greater lengths.”
Bianca and Obiano proved him right. Women make news and history whenever those “greater lengths” in indecorum are achieved to the shame of the society. They are like the man with sores who paid flies back in their own coins by eating them (flies) for supper. That was the spectacle that was staged in Anambra State Government House last Thursday. Whatever is disgraceful is the news. Every incident, no matter the degree of its ugliness, has its beneficiaries. You saw a male peacemaker and the tenacity with which he held the prized widow of the Ezegburugburu? Death disables the strong. True. If the Ikemba were alive, would that man not get more than a slap for his smutty efforts? It happened to a certain animal who did the same for tussling Squirrel and the Shrew. He didn’t do it without an agenda. And so, no-nonsense, tiny-eyed Shrew with its long pointed snout ate the peacemaker’s nose. Till tomorrow, a stump stays where the nose used to be. How about having a hundred of those two ladies in the National Assembly next year? And a hundred of that man who hugged Bianca? What manner of lawmaking shall we then have? Just a few days before that festival of slaps, there was a loud demand by women for women to be allowed to participate adequately in our country’s decision-making process.
The call was legitimate. But what kind of women are we talking about here? Mrs. Obiano called the shots for eight years as the empress of her husband’s monarchy headquartered inside Anambra Government House. There were talks of one, two, three cases of assaults or near-assaults between her and some other dignitaries while she was First Lady. If she denied those allegations and said they were lies from the pit of hell, what about this one dished out live before cameras? A man came from the war front and regaled his people with tales of how he killed sixteen enemies with a stroke of his sword. His audience said he was lying. What did he do to convince his listeners? He moved to the backyard and, with his feet, crushed sixteen chicks to death: “If you couldn’t see what I did at the war front, at least, you have seen what I just achieved at home.” That was his swag. In one short scene of that drama, Mrs. Obiano shamed all cynics and doubters.
She is real. When the habit of wrongdoing goes unchecked, a Roman statesman noted, the man himself can no longer set a limit to his own shamelessness. Do you remember what Tortoise said about his wife being the worst in the whole world? The neighbour by the right could have a thieving wife; the one by the left could have a whore for wife; that other one directly facing his home could be as lazy and dirty as dirt. They are all still better than Tortoise’s wife whose disease is shamelessness. Diogenes was an Athenian philosopher who did in public everything you and I do in the very privacy of our closets. He was called The Dog because of his fascination with the obscene. Roman statesman and orator, Cicero came much later to describe Diogenes’ shamelessness as knowing no bounds, recognizing no exceptions, and accepting no prohibitions. There are some things a woman should not be caught doing. Street brawling is one of them.
Someone said we are all naked under our pants. Anger is part of men’s psychological makeup. People lose their cool with the other person and fight- but must it be physical? My point is that a child that chooses to hug leprosy should be ready to live alone in the forest. There are consequences for every choice we make. The wages of the sins of provocation and assault are punishment according to the law. On 13 July 2013, UK’s Daily Mail reported two Chinese female police officers turning their beat to a boxing ring. The newspaper quoted from a video which it said captured the two traffic officers “who punch and hit each other in the middle of a busy street during rush hour. They were hired to assist wardens in directing the traffic in Tangshan, China. Both women were sacked after the fight, which lasted a minute.” Note how it ended. The state did not make a case for the misbehaving cops nor was an apology offered on their behalf by their governor.
There was this other case that happened in England. On 30 August 2018, the Irish Mirror reported two mothers doing, in the middle of a road, what Bianca and Obiano did. The report said “footage showed the furious women strangling and punching each other and sprawled on the floor in front of shocked motorists. One of the women’s children was crying saying, “please stop it mum; let’s go…” What would that mum tell that child as they grow up? And how did that incident end?
The law took care of the situation.No woman should ever hit another. Provocation cannot be defence for what Bianca did. A woman exists to put out fires whenever and wherever they flare. Someone said a successful woman is the one who collects rocks thrown at her by life, and with them, builds a bulwark. And what is a bulwark? It is that wall that protects you from unpleasant wretches taunting you, and from bullies harrying you. If you like, build your bulwark as a defensive wall, a fortress at your gate or the parapet on your roof, or as an embankment against the buffetings of life. But if you throw back the rocks at the world, be prepared for the stony consequences. That is my word for people like Bianca who did not know how to sidestep pigs and their mud challenge. The word can be ours too, otherwise, we end up as a shameless nation of brawling pigs.