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Rape is not a joke

My personal goal is for Africans to be respected around the world before I die. While we Africans can certainly blame slavery, colonialism, racism, etc. for our troubles, if we want to be respected we need to be worthy of respect. We need to be exemplary human beings.

Recently a Nigerian comedian made a joke about dating white women vs. dating African women which ended with a “joke” about raping the African woman. The joke was tasteless and stupid, and the comedian has apologized.

But the fact that he would think this way, and that others would laugh about it, shows that rape culture is all too alive and well in Nigeria. I don’t know how this man was raised, but I was raised to believe that men should respect women and that, above all, they should not violate women. Moreover, around the world women are reclaiming their rights as human beings – this is the healthy and important work of first generation feminists. Going forward, the morally respectable cultures and subcultures will be those cultures that authentically honor and respect women and which harshly repudiate any suggestion that violence against women is acceptable or legitimate.

As a woman I’m disappointed in the joke and the response that it received. As an African, I’m even more disappointed.

I believe the comedian’s apology was sincere – it was an act of stupidity rather than viciousness. But there is justice in judging a culture by its humor, and the fact that the comedian thought he could get laughs by a rape joke is as much an indictment of his audience as it is of him.

I hope that we will see more and more moral leadership from both male and female Africans going forward, both high profile individuals as well as ordinary people. I would expect that we all want to deserve respect, and we should confront those among us who do things that are not worthy of who we really are.

P.S.: See here for an excellent, passionate diatribe on the reality of rape to give you a very vivid sense of why no one should EVER joke about it.