The increasing cases of rape and defiling of little children in Ekiti require urgent attention. The amendment being sought may include imprisonment and medical castration of offenders, among others not stipulated in the existing law —Erelu Bisi Fayemi, First Lady, Ekiti State.
THE human mind works in a mysterious way that confirms that man is more than the Matter that Marxists say it is. Man, truly, has a spiritual essence. One of our Marxist lecturers, a professor, was driving one day on a long haul up North and, out of nowhere, thoughts of a classmate of his in his secondary school days flashed through his mind. Why now, he asked. Since they left school decades ago, he had had no cause to think of this classmate, not to talk of their having anything in common. He quickly perished the thought and continued on his trip. Not long afterwards, his car developed a fault and all efforts by the ubiquitous “road-side mechanics” to kick it back to life failed. He was advised to tow the vehicle to a nearby city where he was assured a mechanic workshop there would fix the problem. Getting there, he filled the job card and was ushered into the Manager’s Officer. Lo and behold, seated right behind the desk was his classmate whose thought had run through his mind a while ago. He was stunned! Who, what, why the thought of this guy? Happenstance or is this what you guys call God at work; perplexed, he asked another Marxist friend-turned born-again Christian!
Days ago, Peter Abelard’s name suddenly crossed my mind and I immediately began to ruminate on some of his thoughts that I had read decades ago at Ife in one of Harry Elmer Barnes’ three-volume “An Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World.” I could never have thought that Erelu Bisi was going to make the quotes cited above a week after. Thanks for technology – and for Goggles – I had no difficulty refreshing my mind and getting the salient points from the life and times of Abelard needed for this piece. Abelard (1079 – 1142), French, was born the eldest son of lesser nobility in La Pallet in Brittany. At one and same time a logician, ethicist, philosopher, and theologian; he was a leading thinker of the middle ages. He has been described as the pre-eminent philosopher of the 12th Century and perhaps the greatest logician of the middle ages. He was equally famous as a poet and composer and was ranked one of the most pre-eminent theologians of his day. In all areas, Abelard was brilliant, innovative and controversial. He was described as a genius. He knew it and made no apologies. His vast knowledge, wit, charm and even arrogance drew a generation of Europe’s finest minds in Paris to learn from him.
Philosophically, Abelard is best known as the father of nominalism. For contemporary philosophers, nominalism is most closely associated with the problem of universals, but is actually a much broader metaphysical system. Abelard formulated what is now recognised as a central nominalist tenet: Only particulars exist. It is from Abelard’s claim that only words (nomen) are universal that nominalism gets its name. His pride or arrogance triggered a lot of jealousy in others and caused him so much grief and troubles but, perhaps, the greatest disaster of his life was self-inflicted: His love affairs with Heloise. About 1116, Abelard began an affair with Heloise, his student and niece of Fulbert, the canon of Notre Dame. She was to become one of the great minds of the 12th Century in her own right and theirs was the great tragic love story of the middle ages. They fell in love, had a child, secretly married and exchanged a series of letters that have become the stuff of legends. Unfortunately, they kept their marriage a secret from Fulbert, Heloise’s uncle, who thereafter exercised the traditional right of aggrieved families in such cases and had Abelard castrated. Yes, Abelard got castrated! We shall soon return to that.
The aggrieved parents of a child who was defiled recently demanded the castration of the vile predator. Readers of this column and my “TREASURES” column in the Wednesday edition of the New Telegraph newspaper would also have read about my niece whose four-year-old daughter was defiled by the driver of the school bus conveying the toddler to school in Osogbo, Osun State. The opening quote above is that of the wife of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. I would need her to tell that quote to Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State. Erelu Bisi should also please enlist her Osun State counterpart into the war against paedophiles and vile sex predators running rampant all over the country – and not only in Ekiti.
Back to Abelard! His foibles, hubris and academic excellence apart, I also far back then took interest in the polemics that set the thoughts of Abelard apart from those of, say, Anselm of Canterbury, St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas Aquinas. Augustine (12 November 354 – 28 August 430 AD) says: “Understanding is the greatest reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that ye may understand.” Anselm (1033 – 21 April 1109) posits: “I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving, that You have made me in Your image, so that I can remember You, think of You, and love You. But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults and darkened by the smoke of sin that it cannot do that for which it was made, unless You renew and re-fashion it. Lord, I am not trying to make my way to Your height, for my understanding is in no way equal to that, but I do desire a little of Your truth, which my heart already believes and loves. I do not seek to understand so that I can believe, but I believe so that I may understand; and what is more, I believe that unless I do believe, I shall not understand.”
Let’s cap it with the opinion of St. Thomas of Aquinas: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Beat that if you can!
In contrast, Abelard posits that you must ask questions so that you can believe: “The key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting, we are led to question and by questioning, we arrive at the truth…The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting, we come to the question, and by seeking, we may come upon the truth…It is by doubting that we come to investigate, and by investigating that we recognise the truth.” Abelard’s “Sic” and “Non” (“Yes” and “No”), while not denouncing the existence of God or contradicting the efficacy of faith, insists on the place of reason in man’s activities, spiritual as well as physical. In “Sic” and “Non,” a collection of 158 controversial theological questions and compiled writings from authorities, some for “Yes” and some for “No,” Abelard posits that readers should be able to dissolve the apparent conflict between authorities and come to understand the answers to the questions posed through rational discussion. Abelard’s very first question was: Must human faith be complimented by reason, or not? Abelard, surely, is precursor to Martin Luther whose 95 theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences pasted on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Saxony and addressed to the Archbishop of Mainz, dated 31st October, 1517, sparked off the Reformation that effectively gave effect to the splitting into two of the veil of the temple at the giving up of the ghost by Jesus Christ, thus allowing all and sundry unrestrained access to the Holy of Holies. The freedoms, liberties, and fundamental rights that we enjoy today take their roots from ages and personalities past.
Regrettably, those rights are viciously on assault these days by sex predators. Rape is on the increase. Paedophiles are on the rise. The impunity of these vicious elements is helped by the complicity of the law and duplicity of those in authority. Miffed, Erelu Bisi has advocated more stringent penalties, including castration of the beasts in human skins. I agree no less! Your head is on your neck, Ma’am! This is the second time I will be agreeing fully with Erelu Bisi. The first was many years ago when her dress sense and that of the then deputy governor, Adunni Olayinka, gave colour and pomp to Ekiti and I said so. Bisi and Adunni were like blood sisters and ideological soul mates. Before I could honour their IV, Adunni passed.
Castration as suggested by Erelu Bisi is not new or strangely out of place. Abelard’s example above shows it is as old as the history of mankind. In the olden days, our palaces in the South-West had a retinue of the castrated called eunuchs, who kept the harem of the obas. Their ranks were made up of slaves and free-born. They were castrated so they would not “tamper” with the oba’s wives kept in their custody. Whereas there is the saying that you cannot but find bastards in a big palace, the culprits would not be the eunuchs. I wouldn’t know whether that practise is still in place in our palaces today.
Society has been viciously assaulted by cases of sex-for-marks in our institutions of higher learning and the stalking of innocent students by predator-lecturers. It is not only widespread but also spreading like wild fire in the harmattan. If nothing drastic is done, it will soon become an epidemic of unimaginable proportions. At one end of the pole are randy and shameless lecturers who, like Abelard, would not mind sleeping with their students, negating the saying of old that elephants do not eat the grass under their frame. At the other end of the stick are indolent, lazy, and indulgent students grovelling for marks and enticing debased lecturers not worthy of their academic gown. Both were there in our days on campus decades ago, but operated in hushed voices. Today, however, they do their thing with impunity. When you add this moral laxity with the other paucities that whack the Ivory Towers, we shall have only appearance and no substance left in due course. While it is alright to punish randy lecturers, we will be making a grievous mistake if we allow their consenting liaisons to go scot-free. Except both are brought to book, the scourge will not be extirpated.
On January 15th 2019, the four-year-old daughter of my niece was defiled by the driver of the school bus driving her from school. It was her second day in that school and the school’s name is said to be Charleston Group of Schools, Kelebe, Osogbo. My niece had just relocated from Ibadan to Osogbo and the wife of the proprietor of the school in question, one Mrs. Eniola Badmus Adeyemi, had been her acquaintance. The accused is one Oyelakin Oluwatomisin. He was arrested and sent to Ilesa prisons after his name-dropping efforts failed. Since then, however, the case has deliberately, I want to presume and have so alleged to the Osun State government, suffered diligent prosecution. The magistrate once threatened to dismiss it for lack of diligent prosecution. She had since granted the accused bail and he comes to court harassing, threatening, intimidating, insulting, taunting, tormenting and traumatising my hapless niece. Surely, it is not “Ileri Oluwa” that vile paedophiles be allowed to roam the streets of Osogbo free. The case comes up again on 21st October. No matter how highly politically-wired the accused and his godfathers may be, justice will be served, God willing!