15 Nov 2010

How the biblical 'rod' of authority and protection became a tool of sexual terrorism

AllAfrica.com - Nigeria December 14, 2009

Father's Rod of Abuse

by Chris Anyokwu

Lagos — That piece of ramrod-straight iron otherwise known as a 'rod' is by nature multifunctional, serving under different circumstances, as an architectural or building tool, particularly for foundation-laying or as prop in vertical or/and horizontal positioning. And, also, a rod may be used in domestic and industrial situations, especially where firmness and stability are key. But usually when we hear the term 'rod' mentioned, we tend to cast our minds back to the Bible saga involving prophet Moses and the Egyptian' magicians.

The Bible records that God commanded Moses to go and confront Pharaoh and demand that he (Pharaoh) allow the children of Isreal to go, to leave the Egyptian captivity. God had commanded Moses to cast his rod onto the ground. The rod had turned into a serpent when Moses threw his rod down. The Egyptian sorcerers performed the same magic. But Moses' rod swallowed theirs. After the high drama of epic encounters between Moses, Aaron and the Israelites on the one hand and Pharaoh and his people on the other, Israel finally gained her freedom.

During their wilderness journey, the children of Israel beheld a strange sight: Aaron's rod - a symbol of theocratic authority - budded. Now, coming forward to our own epoch, it is quite easy to make the connection between this Biblical practice whereby members of the priesthood carried a rod as part of the appurtenances of priestcraft and the modern habit amongst the clergy of also bearing a rod to complement an impressive accoutrement donned before an adoring congregation. By way of anecdotal digression, this writer once asked his professor in the university whether he had a book called Aaron's Rod. The grizzled but irrepressibly boyish and humorous don fired back: 'I don't have Aaron's rod; I only have mine!'.

This writer had left the lecturer's office more confused and perplexed than he previously was. But illumination came much later when, during the most Holy, Rev. Dr. King Saga, cartoonists went to town giving all kinds of ludic and salacious twist to the man of God's confession to being a passionate caner. A little background detail is in order at this juncture. Rev. King, reputed to be a miracle worker, including, in particular, the cure for HIV/AIDS virus, was alleged to be in the habit of flogging members of his congregation, particularly the married ones.

That much he admitted to in public, thus portraying himself as a no-nonsense disciplinarian with a puritan or monastic abstemiousness and asceticism. He was reported to have led quite a few of his female members, not to the celestial portals of self-abnegation and sanctification, but to the abattoir of venereal nirvana and libidinous indulgences.

It was therefore generally perceived as an uncommon epiphany on the part of a cartoonist when he sketched the beleaguered cleric skimpily clad in underparts with his member erect like a cobra primed for the kill. To cap it all up, the inspired cartoonist wrote at the bottom of his piece, this legend: 'I cane a lot!'. While it is not our intention to unduly rouse His Holiness from his well-deserved hibernation in maximum-security prison where he is awaiting either the electronic chair, the lethal injection, the hangman's noose or the executioner's lead, we are merely invoking his phenomenon as an adequate enough trope to foreground a particularly disturbing and minatory trend in contemporary culture and society.

On November 26, 2009, four Irish Archbishops and the Irish police were accused of covering up sexual child abuse in Ireland. This crime was alleged to have been perpetrated for decades, according to Sky News. When the news was broken in the international media, shock waves of moral outrage went through the world, causing many to question the relevance of organized religion in the post-modern, post-human era.

Evidently, the father's rod is now being used not to stave off evil and the siege of corruption but for pornographic and licentious purposes. We are immediately reminded of Nathaniel Hawthorn's The Scarlet Letter and several other flicks in moviedom, all of them dramatizing the damning hypocrisy of celibacy and the neither/nor peatbog in which men of the cloth are mired.

Well does William Blake capture the scourge of child abuse in his poems 'London' and 'The Chimney Sweeper'. Blake brilliantly establishes the fact that social morality derives from religious authority embodied by the Church. For Blake as for us in our equally degenerate times, the Church and the State look the other way while parents abuse their children. In the 18th- and the 19th-century England, children were forced by their parents to do menial work such as sweeping of streets, clearing of chimneys, working as farm/factory hands under abominably inhuman conditions. Child mortality was rife as a consequence and children aged prematurely.

There is a sense, then, in which the parent can be seen as a variant of the religious father whose rod is at once an insigna of ecclesiastical office and, for our own deflationary intent, an index of sexual terrorism and spatial domination. By the same token, it has become commonplace for you to find a couple shacking up in a cubicle-like niche called a room. Hence, the man and his wife would procreate by the gross even though they cannot adequately cater for their numerous offspring. Their children are exposed to unhealthy sexual practices early on, and they in turn go out of their way to experiment what they see their parents do.

This is child abuse. Child abuse also entails poor feeding of children, lack of adequate parental care and guidance. You see, for instance, a little child of seven dressed for school in the morning; the parent abandons the child in school in the morning and goes to work, thus leaving it to its own devices. The child is at risk of either being abducted, stolen, poisoned, initiated into occultic practices or even run over by hit-and-run drivers. Sometimes, the child is left in the care of a maid or houseboy who him/herself needs guidance. Also, at times, you see a parent perch on a motorcycle with two or three of his or her children with the rider waltzing his way through the mazy intestines of the urban inferno. There is no telling what psycho-emotional ordeal these little ones endure under these circumstances.

It is idle to begin to engage here in demographic or/and statistical matters regarding the rate of fatalities involving minors and the underaged in Nigeria. Corpses of their types are a common sight in our urban centres, most of them victims of road rage and, of course, parental neglect. In our age where crass materialism is the measure of greatness and success, mothers and fathers pay scant attention to such family values of child training in discipline, self-application, responsibility, honesty, personal hygiene, and respect for elders.

In their mad rush to amass wealth, mostly for vainglory and for self-exhibitionism, parents abandon their offspring to the dangerous elements of street-life. You try to counsel and caution these reprobate parents to major in what really counts, that is, looking after their children, they would retort: 'we have bills to pay - house rent, school fees, food, electricity and all whatnot'. Thus, child abuse has given rise to child labour whereby children now hawk petty stuff like sachet water, recharge cards, snacks and bread on highways. We also have child-conductors, and child-soldiers who bear firearms on battlefields.

Besides, we also have child-parents: This is a situation in which a child in early adolescence gives birth to another child, thereby saddling him/herself with the rigorous tasks of parenthood. Last year, a particular Nigerian couple in the U.K. was relieved of its children because the authorities thought the couple was incapable of catering to the needs of its children. In the Western world, child care is considered crucial to social security. Just as those Irish priests sexually violated the children in their care, so do some parents, especially fathers, sexually abuse their children, making total nonsense of autochthonous African moral taboos and mores by which society was originally regulated.

The utter absence of shame and the pervasiveness of shamelessness in our culture has finally led to nihilism and philistinism. Rape, human trafficking, prostitution, area-boyism and gangsterism are all products of child abuse in one way or another. Religious organizations, parents and government must rise to the occasion with a view to putting a permanent stop to this menace. Our children are our future. We must all work together to give them a better deal.

This article was found at:


No comments:

Post a Comment