Today I woke up to the sound of a child crying. It wasn't the whiny moan of an over-indulged child throwing a tantrum. This was genuine pain punctuated by the sound of flesh slapping flesh and the angry voice of an adult. If this were a once-in-a-while phenomenon I wouldn't be writing this post. But since I moved into my apartment almost two weeks ago, this is the sound that has woken me up nearly single every day. This is not right. No child is so badly-behaved that it needs to be beaten every single morning. This is not a problem with the child it is a problem with the parent and it is abuse.
Now, I don’t know where this family lives – they are close enough for me to hear through my second-floor window, but a walk-through of my compound today told me they are not my immediate neighbours. I don’t know the circumstances they are going through – maybe there’s financial trouble or perhaps it’s a struggling single mother or maybe it’s a mixed family who haven’t learned each other’s rhythms yet – but whatever the reason there is no excuse for what they are doing to that child.
A lot of you may not see a problem with this scenario. After all, you may have had a similar childhood and come out no worse for it. You may even be doing the same (or intend to) to your children. Don’t. The legacy of abuse is a crippling one. And as Nigerians, we are all trapped in it.