Saturday, January 19, 2008

The meaning of 'a light disagreement'

A friend's former washaman-cum-gateman called her a few days ago. He was begging for her to get him a job, as he'd recently been sacked. She asked him why he had been relieved of his duties. He said that he had had a 'light disagreement' with someone and they'd fired him. He then continued to demand that she help him find work. She responded that she couldn't help him until he told her exactly what had happened and what the light disagreement had been about. Seeing that he was hitting an insurmountable barrier to his needs, he decided he'd tell her. Apparently, he had beat up a woman. However, he added quickly, 'she didn't die o!' In other words, it was a 'light disagreement' because the woman he beat up did not actually die in the process.

Elsewhere in the world, this man would have been locked up long ago...


Anonymous,  1:37 pm  

Elsewhere in the world the man would not be a 'gateman/washerman', elsewhere in the world people eat frogs, elsewhere in the world its sub-zero temperature FFS!

We know what it is like in Nigeria, we were born and raised there after all. No point you pointing out the obvious every 2 days now is there?

Anonymous,  3:14 pm  

okay. we let our cook/steward/thief go on wednesday. Before we did, we went to his house to confirm that he hadnt pilfered other stuff apart from our money. Money was his thing you see..he kept taking money out of the kids' rooms. N1000 here, N2000 there- even when my son as his most ingenious and hid his pocket money in a tear in his mattress. So, we started leaving money deliberately, openly on the bookshelf upstairs- N1000 get the picture. Anyway, Paul got fired. The next day, he came to "thank me" and "appreciate all i had done for him" (his words.) But he wanted to know, and he looked me directly in the eye, that " a if a person is washing in the machine, and they find money,-or if they are ironing and they find something in a pocket, and keep it, is it stealing?". I kid you not. I said well Paul, is it your pocket? is it your money?. He pursed his lips and looked away. by the way,once after a particularly painful loss of 1k my son had asked him for it back, and he'd said he "couldn't remeber where he kept it". Son was insistent, Paul said he'd give it back when he got paid. The day he got paid , my son got his money back- and Paul threw in for good measure "you dont even need it". Nuff said. Point i am trying to illustrate is like the washerman/wife beater, because "she didnt die, oh", Paul/the cook/steward/thief doesnt think he's doing anything wrong because he's "finding the money in the kids room/washingmachine/ pockets when he's ironing". He was upset that he was leaving our employment with a bad name. hmmmmm.

NA wah o!,  3:47 pm  

I enjoy reading your "Obvious" observations.

They stop all of us from beginning to accept these things as normal behaviour. I know so many people who come back to Nigeria and start doing the things they abused the rest of us for, when they were abroad.

Please don't mind these anonymous people who complain about the content. It is one thing to say "I disagree with your observation" but to complain that you shouldn't be making observations....on your own blog... my goodness. The effrontery of Nigerians.

What a stupid assumption that everyone reading the blog was born and raised in Nigeria!

Take a look at the readers of the blog on sitemeter, they are worldwide.

Anonymous,  2:22 am  

Jeremy, did the woman he beat up press charges? If she did and the police did nothing, then you have a point. If she did not press charges (as happens 'elsewhere in the world') the man likely did not and never will face the law, and walks away scot free.

victims have to speak up when they feel they have been wronged

Former Employer of Light Disagreer,  9:55 am  

Let's call him by his name shall we- Mohammed.

Mohammed was my washman/estategateman first before he got recruited in the Airforce where he beat up this woman nearly, but not quite to death and got fired for it.

Let's face it, alot of bad things happen 'elsewhere in the world' and a lot of progressiveness also.

Elsewhere in the world,people would protest against norms that would allow brute Mohammeds to beat up a woman and worse still have the impudence to talk about it freely. Through such protests, laws are enacted that put brutes like Mohammed behind bars.

I have repeated the story of my phone conversation to nearly countless people and guess what, I grew up here too.

But not 'pointing it out every two days' is akin to saying, it's ok, we lose and there's nothing that can ever be done about it, and that is where the greater folly lies.

Anonymous,  12:39 pm  

Ok so after "pointing it out" to us . What has happened? How does that make us more progressive. There is no point highlighting stuff if we will not proffer solutions & see the man get his punishment.

Jeremy 1:05 pm  

The point to be made is the power or non-power of discursive effect.

The question of whether one particular incident is brought to justice or not is less significant than the issue of whether violent acts like this are naturalised and normalised within discourse - "this is Nigeria, what's new?" statements and the like- along the lines of the first comment, or whether they are agreed to be unacceptable. It is when there is a critical mass of discursive contestation that the demand for social justice acquires traction with legal precedent and pre-reflective collective expectation etc.

We need to move beyond a simple case-by-case analysis of examples, to examine the way in which such examples are discussed and contextualised.

bad belly,  1:09 pm  

whether it makes us progressive or not is another matter. but what it does do is to make us more vigilant. To be more conscious about the things we take for granted.

To anon, so what we know it happens all the time? It is precisely because 'we know what it is like in Nigeria' that we can unwittingly reproduce that very norm that ordinarily we'll not be happy about. It is this very ordinary things that we must always highlight, it is where the seed of transformation lies.

Anonymous,  4:53 pm  

so jeremy you admit it wasn't reported to any policing authority? how then can you say that it's business as usual?

the victim needs to speak out to get some help. It;s the same everywhere. if she didn't report it, we don't know what may have happened to this man.

Anonymous,  9:04 pm  

Elsewhere in the world, this man would have been locked up long ago...

In my neck of the woods a public school student angry at being redirected by his teacher simply spat in the teacher's face. Imagine a mouthful of adolescent spittle in your face. The enraged teacher hit the teenager. To cut a long story short, the teacher was disciplined, threatned with being charged to court for assault of a child and had to make public apologies to the ill mannered teen and his family. Elsewhere in the world, thay student will be repremanded first by his family and then by others.

Unhealthy generalizations are not cool. Jeremy, try to make your point without sweeping unproven generalizations. I seriously doubt that you have been everywhere else in the world.

Waffarian 6:25 am  

As usual, let us argue about the fact that Jeremy was "generalising", not the matter at hand, which is always the case in this country.

The attitude of the gateman/washerman is disgusting, and that is the kind of attitude that encourages the abuse of women in that country. She is not yet dead, so it is okay for the abuse to continue and the abuser to go unpunished. When is it now a crime? When the woman is dead?

That is the issue I think we should be discussing, not Jeremy's use of the English language, which is not at all important or interesting for that matter!

Anonymous,  3:06 pm  

This is an odd story indeed. Whilst gender violence is not new, the idea of a domestic beating up 'Madam' is very unusual.

Is it that the guy had a light disagreement with Madam after beating up a different woman (say a wife, girlfriend etc)?

The way the story is being told is as if it was the beating that was the 'light disagreement'. This is highly impausible. If a domestic beat up his boss, I would say there is much we are not being told - about how the working relationship deteriorated, was there provocation etc.

Either way the guy should have been sacked, regardless of the context.

I am just curious to know what really happened. Story doesn't add up, as presented here.

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