Is this Kenneth Jude the same as my student?
Akwa Ibom Teen Queen Tragedy
By Kenneth Jude
With pomp and panoply, dainty steps, measured gait, a high heeled footwear to boot, curly lashes, a thoroughly polished face handled by experts, choreographed comportment, a flowing gown, finished off with a fragile but spotless skin, Miss Abasiodiong Eyo stepped up to the rostrum to be crowned Akwa Ibom State Miss Teen Queen in November last year.
At the momentous occasion, she was clutching at seventh heaven. A bubbly face, butterflies in her tummy, she was on cloud nine. She had every right to. Emerging first in such a contest is never a walk in the park.
It is preceded by weeks of rehearsals, buying or hiring of clothes/costumes as the case may be, getting to read some stuffs to avoid such elementary errors like inability to give the full meaning of NTA that some of their senior would-be queens once huffed and puffed, and lots more.
Sadly, a little over three months later, our teenage queen descended from the throne the same way she ascended it. She was stripped of her title with dispatch shortly after semi-nude pictures of her found its way to Facebook.
The pictures, needless to say, came in different shades, shapes and styles. One showed her puffing a phantom cigarette; smoke hovering over her face, the queen giving a posture like a Hollywood gangster, an afro hair on her head, a double-pocket denim jacket with loose buttons, eyes ajar, a necklace resting snugly in between her chest balls, her bosom bowing in submission like a fallen hero, our teenage queen lost and slayed the aura of royalty.
The pictures, it was learnt, were for her birthday that was to come few days later. Like pre-wedding pictures, this one is called pre-birthday pictures. Wherever we learnt this one from remains a mystery one is yet to unravel, even as some people have jocularly called for pre-burial pictures to be introduced this year to balance the equation.
Hours after the obscene pictures of Abasiodiong surfaced with many guys ogling at it, news came that she's no more the queen. Dethroned. The second runner up, Miss Meggy Linus, we were told, had replaced the fallen queen. Anon, emergency saints and critics emerged, hauling all manner of invectives at the errant gal. No word, no matter how indecorous, was spared as she was berated for dressing overboard.
Trust us to jump on the bandwagon of those throwing stones at someone caught in crime. We enjoy it with gay relish. This is even when many do worse things. We keep straight faces, bedecked in well ironed starched robes and waltz away in streets as if we are on our way to celestial abode, just because our peccadilloes are under wraps.
This piece is not intended to, in anyway, defend the dethroned queen. No. I won't and can never be a party to such offensive and utterly degrading images of a gal who was on the cusp of turning 20. My grouse is with those who see our young ladies' post similar, if not worse images on social media and dignify same with flowery comments. "oh babe, you look takeaway, my pie, my angel, miss sexy, I 'heart' you, I'll die for you, your hot legs are killing, my this, my that..."
When we say all the above on raw pictures of our impressionable young girls posted on social media, what message do we pass to them? Aren't we simply telling them to "reveal it more?" We urge them on when we give them thumbs up for stepping out half-dressed. And so, what they do, having seen how 'great' comments followed their semi nude pictures, is to take their game to another level hence what we are seeing today.
In families today, how many parents call their daughters to order when they dress in revealing attires? Are the mothers even leading by example with their dressing? Don't we have mothers that tell their daughters to dress to 'kill?' Do the ubiquitous churches we have at every other corner pay attention to dressing by the female folks, taking cognizance of the sensitivity of their bodies? How many elders will caution a young gal on account of her indecent dressing? Aren't they the same people that make overtures at them, pay over the odds to make out with them? Get them phones at exorbitant rates? Rent apartments with all modern fitments in tow for them? Buy and encourage them to acquire more bum shorts and other degrading but offensive rags? evening party garment by custom made
Truth is, our society glamorizes what it should condemn and frown at, hence the bizarre has become the norm rather than the exception. And the society is happy. Go to night clubs today, majority of revelers there are young gals in their teens. What they wear makes Satan cringe in disbelief. Adults who should advise them are the ones toasting them, after which they are abused and used. They call them babes while their wives snore away at home. Their future hanging precariously in the balance, the "happening" babes smear it all with bottles of alcohol accompanied with marijuana (Indian hemp), while the semi-spoilt ones make do with sticks of cigarettes.
What Abasioding did is a function of what the society has turned into. Most of the pageantries we have here and there demand contestants appearing semi-nude to stand any chance. Do gals who wear long skirts (even innocent trousers) contest for miss something? Isn't it for ladies who can bare it, and sometimes, sell their womanhood for a mess of pottage? How many queens make it to the top spick-and-span? Do most of them not sleep their way to the top? Let's not deceive ourselves. The truth, from time immemorial, has always been bitter! But the truth, as it were, should always be told!
In the days of yore, parents monitored what their children watched on TV. When you're watching TV or film with your parents, you look the other way or pretend that you want to ease your self by leaving the room when lewd scenes are shown. But today, all that has gone. No thanks to the advent of internet and smart phones. A child as young as seven is already exposed to things some of their parents got to know after their universities. Curiously, It is even the children that will call their parents' attention to such obscene scenes. They'll be like: "mummy, see, mummy see!" We have a tough work on our hands.
When a child is allowed to wear anything she likes, she thinks that's the right thing. The next thing is for her to advertise it on social media for us to see and appreciate. That's what we have, in one way or the other, permitted. We can only reduce such incidences in the society when you and I, parents, religious leaders, caregivers, et al, summon the courage to tell our teenage girls to dress well. When they dress in a manner that is provocative that sends dangerous signals, we should be able to politely caution them, but not condemn and make them look like hell candidates. I know some "modern" babes see you as "old skool" when you attempt this. Don't be deterred.
We must understand that teenagers are prone to doing many things. Many a time, they think they have 'arrived' hence can do anyhow, dress anyhow and talk anyhow. These attributes are concomitant with this age hence those of us that have passed through that cycle should be able to put them through, because many things done at this age is propelled by ignorance and exuberance.
In her letter of apology, we all saw how contrite Abasioding was. She admitted her failure to be queenly with her pictures. She regretted it all, but reasoned that her case would have been treated with "kid gloves," apparently because she's a "kid!" She has a point. Or doesn't she?
Her remorseful letter may have come after the deed has been done, but yours truly was touched by that letter. It came from a penitent heart. She understood the damage done by her irregularity, and rightly apologised. Said she: "I know I could apologize for days on end but it may not eliminate your thoughts on me, but I take solace in God Almighty & in His grace, I continually seek strength to endure the pain i currently face. Knowing my actions upset many tremendously,
Please, I am deeply sorry. My fault, I am human & not a saint without blame."
If the above was not sobering, consider this: Dear friends,
help me if you will, "not to drown in this Deep Blue Sea". We Teens must grow, and thrive for a better tomorrow.
As a child raised from a Christian home, I seek for forgiveness from all who I must have offended, I am not entirely perfect so let me not be crucified over an ignorance I now regret.
It is my fervent supplications to God that my apology over this sad episode of my life be ACCEPTED by all who I offended by this ugly incident.
Once again, I AM DEEPLY SORRY, PLEASE ACCEPT ME BACK AS I AM."
Now, she has been stripped of her office as AKS Miss Teen, she can't get it back. Is it humanly to forgive even when we may not forget and, in her words, "accept her back" knowing full well that none of us is squeaky clean? In the Lord's Prayer, a line says, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Jesus atoned for our sins by paying the ultimate price when we were still swimming in the cesspool of sin. The prodigal son got a heroes welcome from his father after he regretted his childish actions and returned home on bended knees.
Let's not direct any stone at Abasiodiong again. The trauma she's facing now is enough headache and baggage. All said, I don't think we set good example as Christians when we throw the baby away with the bath water. Let's save her future because her life does not subsist in miss anything!
Kenneth Jude is a Public Affairs Analysts and two-time AKS NUJ Best Columnist of the Year!