African tradition cannot be separated from the development of the society, while some tradition are simple some are hard and often considered as cruel and barbaric because of the process they entailsCruelty of my husband’s family tradition is forcing me out of Nigeria
African tradition cannot be separated from the development of the society, while some tradition are simple some are hard and often considered as cruel and barbaric because of the process they entails thereby making those whose faith cannot comply with the process be subjected to harassment and intimidation by the custodians such tradition
In most cases certain rites are must be performed by new wife or new born baby for spiritual cleansing or connection with the spirits of the “gods” and “ancestral spirit”, To some family it is a task that must be done for every additional to their homes but those who cannot comply with the terms are put under the fear of ,misfortune, untimely death , or failure to make it in life
Mr James Johnson and wife Motunrayo are happily married with two kids, for about fifteen years the wife have been evading traditional rites which the family consider a must for every new wife and their kids , at marriage she ran back into her parents home second day after the wedding and similar thing happened when she gave birth to her first daughter 13 years ago
Today Motunrayo and her family are living under the fear of losing her daughter and experience other misfortune predicted by her husband family due to her non compliance with what she termed as cruel nature of her husband’s family traditional rite, her fear grows bigger on daily basis as her daughter who is predicted to experience something strange at fifteen is getting closer to the age
Narrating her experience the Ilora born lady said she and her children are applying for asylum in the United State of America because she believe that will put an end to the physical and emotional suffering she has been encountering over the years
According to her “Few hours after our arrival at my husband village a day after our wedding I was taking into hut(a house built with mud)and I was told to prostrate and greet the people in the hut, which I did. They said is part of their culture, then I was handed a white material and a clay pot that had a white chalk in a paste form and I was asked to pull off everything I had on and tie the white material and apply the white chalk all over my body and I was told that as part of their tradition that I need to be examined by an old woman that they pointed out to me. Initially I didn’t understand what they were saying until I was asked to take off the white cloth that they need to inspect my private part. They mentioned to me that I would need get circumcised the following morning after a cleansing ritual by the river side (my opinion wasn’t asked if I want to be circumcised). They claim that all of them have been duly circumcised as required by tradition. I was amazed and shocked and tears were flowing down my eyes and I told my husband he needs to get me out his village because I will not allow anybody touch me. My husband promised me nothing would happen. I was so terrified I escaped from the house and left the village back to my parent house without notice to anyone”.
“I told my family members I wasn’t going to continue being married to my husband anymore because he was from a family who still practice barbaric and cruel tradition. The next day my husband and his family came to visit my family and begged them to ask my forgiveness. We were told that I will never be asked to participate in any of their traditional practices again. I forgave them and agreed to continue in the marriage. I moved in and settled in Abuja, federal capital territory”.
“According to the tradition and believe of his people (my husband), a woman who is not circumcised causes ill luck, misfortune and possibly death to the man, his family and could wipe off the entire linage of the family, she is seen as unclean and called Abiku which means an outcast. Out of fear and stigmatization, most women married into the family are pressured and subdued into such barbaric act of been circumcised and even their daughters. The process was usually performed by elderly ladies of the family. However, the circumcision is done by people who have no medical certificate or even qualified to carry out any medical procedure which is dangerous and endangers the victim’s life and the preys could get infected, bleed to death or some sort of terrible thing could happen. And they believe that any child born by an uncircumcised woman is unclean and seen as an outcast and should not be associated with because they believe the person will affect them with ill luck and could contaminate them and bad things will begin to happen and could cause death too.”
“On 09/08/2004 I had my daughter and according to the traditions of mine husbands village, once a child is born there will be a naming ceremony on the 8thday which we did and every family member was invited and after the naming they are supposed to choose a day that falls on particular market day for circumcision which I objected to and I was told that if she is not circumcised that it will be assumed that such a person does not exist in the family and cannot associate with any member of the family or come home to the village. I was told the subject was not open for negotiation that she must undergo the cleansing and circumcision process as is required by all members of their family. A week later my husband was summoned by his family members and they were mounting pressure on him and threatening him on how they will go about it with or without his permission or he should be rest assured that calamity will be fall my daughter once she turns 15 years of age. I was so terrified knowing how much endanger my life and that of my daughter was, I begged my husband to save us from such cruel and unbearable torture. He promised me that if we are in Abuja that nobody will be able to subdue us into such horrific act.”
After some months, I felt everything were settled and calm, that I could go on living my normal life, no pressure or fear of been subjected to such barbaric act, then I got the shock and surprise of my life. I was leaving a function that I attended with my daughter driving back home, I noticed that a car was following me and I try to speed away, the more I speed the more the car was coming so fast behind us. I had to drive into a police station not sure of who was trailing us and what was going on. When I drove into the police station and I quickly unstrap my daughter and ran inside the building and I told them I was been trailed, statements were taking and filed as a formal complaint and they went outside and couldn’t find anyone or car. Investigations were made and nothing was found out, few months after that I got a call with an unknown number reminding me the incident and still told me that they are watching me and that since I have refused to be circumcised and that I want to wipe off their lineage and bring ill luck that they will wipe me off. That was the exact words i was told. When I told my husband, he was as shocked as I was and he made arrangement for us to travel to Lagos which is the eastern part of the country for a while, while he tries to figure out who was threatening our lives.
On 4th of December 2010 we welcomed our handsome son into this world. During my pregnancy, I suffered a lot emotional and verbal abuse from my husband family telling me am bringing in unclean children with ill luck into their Family and I was wrongly accused that all the misfortune happening in the family was because I refused to be circumcised and that my children are unclean and have brought ill luck into their family. As tradition demands on the 8th day should be my son naming ceremony, this time around my husband invited only the family members he felt he trusted and people who were close friends of ours. That was the greatest mistake we ever did. During the celebration fully armed five group of men came in to the house Towards the end of the function, these five group of men dressed in black and full armed busted in and took us away to an unknown destination , These happened within seconds and we were caught unaware, my husband friends got into their own car and started chasing after the car they used to drove us away , we are so terrified and I taught that was the last day I will ever see my daughter and new born baby. I was shocked, terrified and so scared that all I could was just held into my husband hands but in his usual manner he started pleading the “blood of Jesus” and asking God to rescue us from the people that we don’t know, at that point , one of the guys asked my husband to shut up and said “today your wife must get circumcised” and accused our Nuclear Family of been responsible for the death of family members in the last few years , When they realized that a car was chasing them, they opened the door and pushed us out and in his words, he said “this is not over, you either agree to what you have been told or we will forcefully do it”. We are seriously injured and we are hospitalized and discharged after few days .
After the incident I can’t sleep with two of my eyes closed , I kept looking around unconsciously to see if anyone is watching or monitoring me. I have lost my peace.
I walk looking over my shoulder, I sleep with an eye open, I eat looking around unconsciously to see if anyone is watching or monitoring me. I lost my peace and my safety. Nowhere is safe for my children and I. My husband went to the village to make inquiries who is behind everything and found out that it was agreed and arranged by all his family members because they believe that any death that has happened was caused by me and my children and they told him that its either he brings his wife and daughter for circumcision and after that he must do cleansing of the land or that he has them to contain with. That was the moment my husband made up his mind that he will not allow any harm come to his wife and kids and he started saving and making plans on where is the safest place us.
I have suffered physical, emotional and verbal abuse from my husband family members. I have been called names, treated like a plague. My children and I are not save anywhere in my country. I get constant harassment from these people, my children are not allowed to come home to their father’s village or associate with any member of their family. It’s been fifteen years of torture, no peace of mind, no rest, fifteen years of constant abuse and harassment. My kids are growing and I don’t want them to go through what I have gone through and I want them to have a better life, feel accepted by the society and not been called names or constantly been accused of ill luck misfortune or death in the family.
Please help me give my kids and I the sense of security, love and acceptance they need. My daughter is thirteen years right now, I don’t want to wait for her to turn fifteen years and witness whatever they have planned. It rings like a bell in my ear and every day I wake up and look at her and realize she is almost 15, I get really scared. When I reminded my husband of what his family people told him, he quickly made arrangement for us to come over to the US, knowing fully well that we are save and will never ever have to look over our shoulder or been stigmatized anymore.
I don’t want to lose my daughter, I don’t want to be called names anymore, I don’t want my kids growing up and going through what I have been subjected to for fifteen years of been married into that family or getting to the age of getting married and they will tell them that they are unclean and have ill luck because their mum refuse to give into such a barbaric act of circumcision that I wasn’t sure of surviving after allowing someone who has no medical background to carry out a procedure on me because it is called a family tradition.
Its not only Motunrayo and her family that are going through the emotional and physical suffering occasioned by the tradition and culture, so many people are dying in silence and there is need for support inform of legislation or any form of support that will stop women from the agony of partaking in cruel tradition occasioned by marriage.