Recently, the Glo Laffta Fest 2015 was held in Lagos, and comedian Okey Bakassi featured as a stand-up act. Clips of his act went viral. I saw them, laughed at some of the jokes, and was taken aback by 3 in particular. Without much ado, watch and listen.
Video courtesy of Kakaki TV (YouTube Channel)
In Bad Taste
#Joke1 Drink Driving
Mr Bakassi joked about drink driving and trivialised the seriousness of it. Thousands of Nigerian citizens have died as a result of drink driving. Families are still suffering from it. Alcohol is a drug and there’s nothing funny about being under its influence, and taking to the wheels. I don’t know about now, but back in the days, public transport drivers used to drink alcohol to ‘shine eye’ before embarking on journeys. I don’t think I can recount the number of road accidents that occurred as a result of that. Coach (luxurious buses) drivers were the worst culprits. Tens of people used to die at a time. I lost friends to drink driving. So, for Mr Bakassi to applaud the Nigerian police for not breathalysing drivers, is shocking. For him to dismiss it as a waste of time is ignorant.
#Joke2 Spousal Rape
Mr. Bakassi dismissed spousal rape as ‘yeye case’! What a shame! Spousal rape is a form of domestic violence Mr Bakassi. I know women who are victims of spousal rape. They feel as dirty, and as traumatised as any other rape victim. I know a lady who ended up committing suicide due to suffering from depression, caused by her husband’s physical and sexual assaults. In fact, a victim once told me that she felt a deep sense of betrayal because her husband was one person she totally trusted. I know another victim whose husband raped, knowing fully well that he had STDs. A man dislocated his wife’s arm when he was dragging her to bed to rape her.
Mr Bakassi also dismissed spousal rape as taking something “you have paid bride price for”! A woman’s body is not “something”. Bride price is not payment for rape. What was actually very sad, were the women who laughed in the audience. It potrays the deep internalisation of marital rape as an acceptable culture. Sex between spouses should be consensual. Where violence and coercion are used, the woman’s right is violated. Lawful sex in marriage must be agreed to by both spouses, equally. No culture or religion that I know of, spells out spousal rape as a solution to “non-submission” in marriage.
#Joke3 Rape of Single Girls
Right! Mr Bakassi trivialised rape of single girls and people laughed! Argh!!!! Rape is not funny! There’s NO justification for rape! “NO MEANS NO!” Rape is a crime! The ‘blame the victim’ culture in Nigeria is the main reason victims don’t come forward. “Wetin she go find there?” reaction needs to end. We need to focus on the victims and not the justification for rape. So many women live with the trauma of rape due to fear of being mocked or criticised. More so, many Nigerians go to prison abroad because of their misinterpretation of the meaning of the word “No”. Mr. Bakassi inferred that because a girl was in a man’s bed at 3am, that she asked for rape. People, including women laughed! If she said “yes” to everything else and said “no” to sex, any use of force to have sex with her is Rape.
I admire Mr Okey Bakassi as an artiste, so this is nothing personal. I find most of his jokes funny. Nonetheless, it’s sad that he didn’t in that instant, use his influence to promote healthy lifestyles. Rather, he chose to applaud a whacked system, and somewhat mock victims of drink driving and rape. The blend of chauvinism and ignorance that exuded from his jokes was bad, but the resultant laughter from the audience was shocking. I don’t know why that video went viral. Perhaps people found it funny. I received it from someone who didn’t. The feedback from the clip was that he was “something else”. I agree, because those 3 jokes were not funny. I wish the audience didn’t laugh. Sometimes, silence is the loudest noise, especially to comedians.
Please, don’t drink and drive. Refuse to be the passenger of a drunk driver. Educate people on the dangers of it. Alcohol takes away the sense of danger from drivers. There’s a risk of falling asleep at the wheels. Drink driving kills. For victims of rape, please seek help. If the police are like Mr Bakassi described them, seeking help from NGOs should be worthwhile. Speak to your family. Seek psychological help to deal with the trauma. Also seek medical treatment.
Some Good News
I found some NGOs in Nigeria that support women who are victims of violence and rape. Examples are:
Stand to End Rape Initiative.
No. 9A Tinubu Road, Coker Extension, Ilupeju Lagos.
Project Alert on Violence Against Women (PROJECT ALERT)
234-1-8209387; 08052004698; 08180091072
Global Information Network about Drugs (GINAD) provides “holistic approach to rehabilitation from drug and alcohol addiction, medically supervised detoxification and family support and therapy programmes.”
24 Henry Adefowope Crescent
Awuse Estate, Opebi
Tel: 0234 8087290000
The Federal Road Safety Commission in Nigeria is prioritising the campaign against drink driving. I read on This Day Live website that they are collaborating with Guinness to role out public health campaigns this “ember” months.
Kakaki TV (YouTube)
Okey Bakassi (Nigerian Comedian)
Glo Laffta Fest 2015
United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol on the Right of Women in Africa.
Amnesty International (2011) Rape and Sexual Violence: Human Rights Law and Standards in the International Criminal Court. Amnesty International Publications, United Kingdom.