By Valentine Obienyem
The story of sexual harassment in our institutions of higher learning is no longer news. The one coming from Obafemi Awolowo University, involving a Professor Richard Akindele and his “harassed” student is presently trending.
Since creation, man does the unthinkable to satisfy his sexual desires and drives. In the past, Diogene, that lovable apostle of pleasure, saw nothing in sex that should make it somewhat revolting. Like hunger and thirst, he saw sex as a harmless human appetite to be indulged in without qualms. Gossip assured us that he himself performed the act like other animals.
Lest we think Diogene strange, be assured that others have their own sexual predilections and habits. Suleiman the Magnificent, one of the greatest Islamic warriors, had about 300 concubines. When they expected a visit from him they attired themselves in their finest robes, and stood in line to greet him; he saluted courteously as many as time allowed, and placed his handkerchief on the shoulder of the one who especially pleased him. That evening, on retiring, he asked that recipient to return his handkerchief.
Manu warns man about woman: “Woman is by nature ever inclined to tempt man; hence a man should not sit in a secluded place with his nearest female relative, and must never look higher than the ankles of a passing girl”.
To make paradise attractive, Islamic theology says that the righteous will be given seventy-two virgins (houris) each for their enjoyment – the lure of sex.
I read where a monk mourned his inability to hold on to scriptural passages memorized many times, only to retain the picture of a fair form he saw but once – a chance contact with the world during few sallies out of the monastery. This tells us how strong the passion of sex is. Behind the lives of many men, we witnessed a routine that is pretentiously defined: playing and quarrelling, going wearily to work and to school, stealthily to brothels, humbly to prayers.
To satisfy his sexual drive, man has done everything, mostly undignifying — homosexualism, lesbianism, pederasty, paedophilianism, et cetera. Some people even consider it legitimate that they should visit brothels without shame than that which would in any case be attached to immoderation. Itching youths are even advised, sometimes, to appease the flesh with calm promiscuity. Thus, harlotry is a well-plied profession with many specialties.
A youth or even teacher boiling with hormones triggered by the presence of fair forms will wonder why he should not give free rein to his sexual desires as the OAU Professor allegedly did. Due to the inherent dangers of sexual excesses, many things have been invented to check them, ranging from the law to custom and morals. If not, youngsters may ruin their lives before they mature sufficiently to understand that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume them in chaos as it is now doing to the Professor.
The fore-going may help us view the action of the Professor with understanding leniency even as we know that part of his role as a teacher is to inculcate manners and morals in students — for on graduation, the certificate attests to academic excellence and moral rectitude. However academically sound the Professor is, he has failed on one task of a teacher – morals.
I have read several comments about the video. Some deride the Professor without the possibility that the story might not be as straightforward as presented.
Let’s ponder these questions:
1. Did the student truly fail the course?
2. If she did, did she make moves on how to remedy the situation rather than quietly re-take/re-sit the course?
3. Who initiated discussions on ameliorating the failure: The Student or the Professor?
4. Was the Professor eying the student pre-possessively before she failed his course or should the failure be attributed to the Professor’s orchestrated move to get the girl to come to him to reverse the result?
5. Is the said girl notorious among her mates or another innocent student dragged into the quagmire of sexual controversy?
6. Did the reflex at any time suggest she was ready to pay any price to get off the hook on that course?
7. What was actually the point of disagreement: one or five rounds?
8. Has the Professor taught her any other course before that incident, and if so, what was the nature of their relationship?
These are necessary questions and I believe answering them will assist in re-constructing the entire drama to meaning and satisfying resolution.
But a word for the Prof, which I learnt from one of my teachers, Rev. Fr. Collins Okeke: “There are certain acts that cannot be justified by the philosophy of human frailty, not because of the act but because of the act and the actor.”