By Sunmola Olowookere
Child marriage is going on in our neighbourhood, right under our very noses, yet no one is doing anything about it. We are quick to castigate those engaging in it in the northern part of the country. However, it is going on in the south, yet everyone is minding their own business.
At the earth of the story is the herbalist who lives in our neighbourhood.
He is in his 70s. He is reputed to be good at what he does and is also rich. Although he tries to be genial with his neighbours, still they fear him because of his profession. He is a popular herbalist in the city because he advertises his services on radio. People come from far and near to consult him.
He has up to four wives. Strangely, none of his wives is in his age group. The reason for this is not known. His oldest wife is his daughter’s age, while three of them are in their teenage.
None of them are older than his first set of children. These ones rarely come to our neighbourhood. They are older and are established in their various settings. No one knows about their mother. We assume that either she has died or divorced the herbalist.
None of the residents can correctly guess the number of his children. They are numerous and of varying ages. His youngest is six months old and there is certainty that he would still have more because his wives are still of child-bearing age, and he could even marry more if he chooses to.
He claims that he got his teenage wives through donation by their parents. One of them was brought to Baba for treatment for mental illness, and after her treatment he instructed her parents to be bringing her fortnightly for check up, saying she would still need treatment for a long time.
The parents were happy to see their formerly deranged daughter exhibiting some level of normal behaviour. That was when they decided to bequeath her to the herbalist so that he could become solely responsible for her well-being.
However, the second one offered herself as a life offering to Baba after he saved her from the jaws of death because she was severely sick and at death’s door when she was brought to Baba.
After she survived the sickness, she decided to marry Baba. The last one was given out in exchange for services rendered when the bride’s mother, who came to see the herbalist, could not get money to pay him for services rendered.
His house is a bungalow with 12 rooms( face me, I face you) and they all live a communal life. To someone that does not know the wives, it is difficult to differentiate them from the children as they all roam the streets together.
We suspect that it is a gimmick to ensure that young guys do not go after his wives. However, little does he know that the residents are afraid of him. Who would dare him? We have heard of some residents that died of mysterious illness after going against him.
Leave a Reply