Although she is barely a month in journalism, Eneh Kate Achadu, the Warsaw University, (Poland) graduate of International Relations covering gender for Intervention, delivered in terms of interviewing Mrs Felicia Ogbuja, the embattled wife of rape suspect, Andrew Ogbuja. Irrespective of how psychologically draining that interviewing her was bound to be, Achadu was encouraged to continue her pursuit of Mrs Ogbuja, an initiative she developed since October 25th, 2018, the day she went to cover #justiceforOchanya# demonstration in Abuja.
The interview Achadu brought to Intervention is, however, not publishable. The number of breakdowns alone are too numerous to edit out because they form part of the storyline. No language use expert will also fail to see the incredible tension at work: the start and stop, the temporary self-forgetfulness and the monologic one liners. She is not incoherent but she speaks to someone who has gone through or is going through distress, someone with a great desire for her present reality to turn into a dream from which she could wake up to a completely different reality. This is the only plausible explanation for the simultaneous deployment of apologia, regret, plea but also the offensive in her engagement with the conundrum of her lecturer husband getting entangled in a sordid matter.
It is paradox all the way. This is a woman well known for commanding presence over everybody in the household. How come the husband who appeared cowed by her was not that cowed from an adventure in rape? And how could that have been possible for the length of time alleged without Madam sniffing such? In Otukpo recently about the same time Ochanya Ogbanje’s case was on, a 61 year old man reportedly invited a 14 year old girl to his farm with a promise of free maize for the girl who survived by roasting the stuff. Then he raped her, threatening to kill her should she squeal. A much more mature woman was, however, able to expose the infamy when she confronted the girl after noticing her absence from the spot she roasted and sold maize. For fear of death, the girl refused to talk initially but the woman skilfully penetrated her. How did that skilfulness elude Mrs Ogbuja in Ochanya Ogbanje’s case? In the interview, there is a section where she could be heard saying something like “There are things every woman tells young girls growing under her. I made a song of that”. That does not mean that so many questions are not hanging, all of which are though not important again because they cannot bring Ochanya back to life.
But, even then, such questions compel society to reflect on the gender dimension to it. That is, why is it almost given unto men to, perpetually, be the source of distress for women? Historically, men are the architects of war, with their lust for power. That is what is going on now in South Sudan, for instance, leaving women to carry the burden of hunger, children and powerlessness. When there is divorce in a marriage, the typical man walks away, leaving the woman with the burden of taking care of the children. Even when there has been no divorce, the men do much less in terms of share of the burden of care giving. And so on and so forth! What might be the problem with men, generically speaking?
Felicia Ogbuja is, otherwise, an extraordinarily resourceful woman, a problem solver par excellence, immensely communally spirited. She stepped out to solve other people’s problems at her own expense. It was for reasons of normative propriety and social rectitude that young girls were taken to be brought up. Now, a man has completely ruined all of that, leaving her a total wreck. It doesn’t matter that the men involved are her husband and son respectively.
Yet, without ‘men’, the word ‘women’ is meaningless and vice-versa. Men are men to the extent that they are not women. It is the same thing as talking about a Christian. A Christian is a Christian only because s/he is not a Muslim. And vice-versa. Without night, there will be nothing like day. Without going into this theory of meaning, suffice it to say that there is a lesson for everyone from Mrs Ogbuja’s ordeal: there is no certainty in life. Yesterday, she was a bubbling bundle of joy, today, she is dazed.
Her ordeal is part of a larger story, the core of which is Ochanya Ogbanje’s suffering and death and the outrage it has provoked on a global scale against whoever had a hand in it. The lead suspect and Mrs Felicia’s husband, Mr Andrew Ogbuja, is already before the law while his son, Inalegwu, is also being hunted by the law just as Mrs Ogbuja has been invited by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NATIP), for example. For Felicia Ogbuja, the world has, indeed, jumbled its card in the manner an earlier writer used the expression. Although she told Miss Achadu that her church, St John Bosco Catholic Church, Ugbokolo is praying for God’s intervention in the matter and that she goes to the Apparition ground at Aokpe, there is ground to fear for her!