There was more than double excitement when the invitation to attend the tenth edition of World Congress of Families in Tbilisi, Georgia came. First, was the ever-present inclination to explore, and if possible, like Alfred Tennyson’s Ulysses, conquer new worlds and frontiers.
And two, I needed a refreshing break from the socio-economic choke in Nigeria.
Yet, the theme of the conference was alluring: a conference on families. I was just about clocking eighteen in the marriage institution and I needed some tips to keep the wine of marriage pouring, and sweetly so.
Tbilisi, as a city, was as strange to me, as the name was tough to pronounce. I never heard of it then. I was not alone. More than seventy percent of the people who heard of my trip to Georgia, concluded it was to Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States of America. No, this Georgia is different. It is a break-away nation from the defunct USSR. This Georgia is a Republic, in the eastern block of Europe, somewhere near Ukraine and Russia.
The 4-day conference opened with much excitement and promise.
With almost 2,000 delegates from over 42 countries, it was sure to strike some chord, I concluded. Five of us who are Nigerians were the only Africans in the conference. Many of the delegates, people of colour and little travelled people, took us for a spectacle.
Running my eyes through the programme, the various speakers and their segmented topics, I came to the early conclusion that we (they and us—Nigerians) are not quite on the same page on the issues that trouble us as a people.
They are from the developed/advanced world. So are their problems.
In Nigeria and the rest of Africa, we are yet struggling with the basics of life. We are still bothered about electricity supply. We are still fighting over petroleum products. We are still battling with bad roads, battling with insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution, feeding, etc. These other nations with whom we were conferencing had overcome all these issues. Our problems are strange and unimaginable to them. How could they have gathered the world together and be cracking their heads over the scarcity of petrol in a country which is the sixth largest producer of oil in the world? They couldn’t be contemplating meeting to dwell on the poverty that has bedraggled a country that produces about 2.5 million barrels of oil per day (at whatever rate). They couldn’t be gathering to discuss how a certain public official had the temerity to corner as much as $20 billion, $115m and more, into her hot bosom thereby impoverishing the rest nationals. They could not have conceived a situation where despite all the noise about GDP and development, our hospitals are yet not greater than Consulting clinics. All such base tendencies, curious greed, primordial challenges are not part of their headaches.
But these Oyinbo people pulled people from all over the world to discuss issues of LGBT (Lesbians, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender). Yes, LGBT! They were troubled sore that the fundamentals of family values were being eroded in the civilized world. No wonder the sub theme of the conference was: Civilisation at The Cross Roads: The Natural family as the Bulwark of Freedom and Human Values”.
This theme was dissected into various segments. And as speaker after speaker delivered his/her paper, backed with current statistics, it got clearer and clearer that their aches are not our aches. And more importantly, that the entire West has not all gone “nuts”. There are yet grains of people with their heads screwed aright, as they have not given up in the quest for a decent and hospitable society.
Consider some of the topics: “Gender theory and sex education undermining Parental authority and the Culture” ; “Sanctity of Motherhood”; Transforming Sex Education; … and wait for this, Parental Rights to Educate their Children—Alternatives to Public Schooling.
The latter topic was the one I found rather very ridiculous. It had many sub-themes, all dwelling on Home Education. It simply means pulling the children out of public schools so they do not get corrupted by the decrepit social ideologies which are galloned into the children, five days a week. All the five lecturers on this subject projected the sanity in home educating.
Compare with the reality at home: Here, there are no enough school for children. Many classrooms in big cities spill over with pupils, with many having not even wooden bench to sit on. The few schools available are under-furnished, under-equipped and under-staffed. The teacher-pupil ratio is hopelessly high. And while the poor of the society choicelessly cope with it, the middle class send their children to private schools, while the really rich ones send their children abroad (sometimes to the same schools from where Americans are withdrawing their children). I could not believe how deep the practice of home-educating had become. They spoke of it with glowing allure, not minding all the operational complications of running it. In their summation, it was the way to go so the next generation of the world is saved from self-destructing.
There was a huge clamour to redeem the family from the global social scourge and ruin. They spoke with pain in their hearts on how America, for instance, is compromising every sane family value that differentiated humanity from animals… all in the name of freedom.
They spoke of new legislations in America that permit a male child to wake up the next morning and decide that he now wants to be a girl… and can dress as one to school. They speak of legislations that condemn gender dichotomy of distinguishing, for instance, a male toilet from female toilet. They lament that these days, a female pupil can walk briskly into the male toilet and vice versa, without qualms. Anything to the contrary was termed as discrimination and thus a punishable offence.
Here (in Nigeria), just one sound slap on the cheek of the straying boy or girl is enough lesson to flog the errant child into line.
The abominable practice was driven home by the lecture delivered by Fr Josiah Trenham, a 50-year old father of ten and priest in the Orthodox Church in Los Angeles, California.
Describing Los Angeles as the World headquarters of the LGBT, Fr Josiah traced the history of the gay movement in America, noting that it was in LA (Los Angeles) that the first gay parade was held 50 years ago. According to him, “Los Angeles was the site of the first homosexual uprising in history – ten years before the Stonewall Riots in New York City, and it was here that the first so-called “Gay Pride” Parade took place in 1966”.
He lamented that the despicable practice has even advanced with technology adding that “There are digital apps that guide homosexual men to particular bathrooms for sex throughout airports and other public places in America. Keep that history in mind when you hear about the so-called “transgendered bathroom bills.”
He lamented that over the years, the value mark of the average American family has dropped dismally and thus the LGBT community has waxed stronger in its infamy and moral descent.
According to Fr Josiah, “Gay literature over the course of decades in both academic and popular genres decried traditional marriage as patriarchal, chaste marital sexuality as sexual repression, and religious opposition to sodomy as bigotry. Theirs was not a call for tolerance, but for the overthrow of traditional religious and civilizational norms for family, sex, and law.
“Gay Pride Parades provide a prism through which to understand the movement’s angst. These parades feature a troupe of dancing gay men dressed in nothing but G-strings from the waist down, and as Catholic nuns in full habit from the waist up. They call themselves the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.” They don’t just walk in parades in front of politicians and CEOs, but they enter churches, disrupt liturgies, defile holy things, stand in communion lines, and commit sacrilege”.
We were just about 2000 delegates from over 40 countries. It was largely a conference of lamentation: of how evil is over running the western/advanced world.
The chief host and Chairman of the Conference, a young, rich and vivacious Georgian, Mr Levan Vasadze, who himself had delivered a very fiery and rousing speech on how to restore global family values, had confessed to me, during one of the tea breaks, how they envy Africa and Nigeria in particular, in the ease with which they deal with the LGBT menace. He was full of admiration for the courage and determination of the African nations in dismissing and containing the spread the LGBT “outlaws”.
Indeed, the LGBT nonsense is the least of our problems. In fact, or National Assembly did not waste time in legislating against it few years ago and slamming
14-year jail term on those found guilty of it. And since then, there has been good quiet on the matter. How can a nation cumbered with hunger and homelessness be contending with stupid men who want to marry fellow men or lousy women who want to be sleeping with fellow women? Or even bother on why an Okonkwo would suddenly wake up one morning and want to become a Chinyere?
Here, we are ‘hustling’ to eat, to pay rent, to pay children school fees, to even recharge our phones and buy small petrol to power our I-better-pass-my-neighbour generator at the corner of the backyard. If any sane man has finished contending with these many challenges and thinks the issue of LGBT is his/her concern, then Kirikiri or Kuje prisons will offer free and good accommodation for 14 years, that is if the angry boys at Ojuelegba or Sabon-Gari do not descend on them with accumulated anger.
40 Mins at LASUTH Emergency Ward
Less than a month ago, I had read, from The Cable (an online newspaper), how doctors “kill” patients in Nigerian hospitals, mentioning in particular, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba. It was a sad narrative.
Penultimate Saturday, I had cause to visit an ailing kinsman who had been admitted at the Emergency Ward in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), otherwise called General Hospital, Ikeja. It was a sorry experience and I could easily relate to the various experiences narrated by The Cable report.
I was first shocked to see how crowded the so-called emergency ward was. There were some patients on the verandah, some even on the bare floor. None of the patients in the ward was lying on any bedsheet. My kinsman was lying on the other half of the cloth the wife was tying. There was no pillow. A few patients supported their heads with some throw pillows they may have brought from home. The ward was hot, dirty and smelly.
Only a nurse or two were on duty. Everywhere looked desolate. As I was wandering why the children of the man brought him to General Hospital, a voice rang out from one end of the ward: ”if you are not my patient, please excuse me”. She repeated the directive with a very fierce mien. Before she could say it again the third time, she had called on “Baba Hakeem”, the security man, to chase non-patients out. Then a doctor strolled in with a stethoscope hanging loosely around his neck. As we were streaming out, I heard another voice from the end of the verandah, “come and carry your patient’s food…delicious food”, repeating the announcement intermittently in Yoruba and English Language, amidst the noise and tension.
My kinsman was dying, turning and twirling, completely unconscious. But nobody bothered or so it seemed. I made to speak to the nurse who had dished out the quit order to us. Her face seemed smoking and unapproachable, and I Imagined what such nurses do to women in labour. The Doctor seemed too casual and detached. Luckily someone pointed at another doctor. He was a very young man, wearing jean trousers and a flying top. I approached him and he paid attention. He did not see the urgency in my kinsman’s case. “We have sent a letter to the Neurosurgeon”, he said, with a nonchalant voice. “Letter”?, I asked. He confirmed a letter has to be sent to the neurosurgeon to come see the patient. He spoke of it in a manner that suggests it is the normal process, but added that ”it is not like posting a letter through NIPOST”. Whatever happened to phone call!
He was to inform later that the Neurosurgeon was billed to resume at 10pm later that night. There are three neurosurgeons in the hospital, according to the doctor. But none of them was on ground in a ward tagged emergency. I simply prayed for my kinsman and left promising to call at 10pm. When I did at about 10.30pm, I was told the neurosurgeon had not resumed, and worse still, the young doctor had abandoned all the patients to go watch Rear Madrid-Atletico football match that night. Cry Beloved nation!