The title above was what my wife confronted me with after the 5:30 am Mass on the 28th of January 2024 at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Parish, Awka. As we were returning to our seats after the offertory, I encountered what I considered an offensive sight: a young man with long plaited hair. He appeared to be an exceptionally troublesome individual, with distrustful eyes. Deliberately, I decided to address what to me was the foolishness of his inverted sartorial display by asking him for his head covering, like other women.
After the Mass, while waiting for the Mass server to return my balance for the Fides newspaper that I had purchased, he approached my wife and requested her to warn me with these words: “warn your husband, tell him that I do not take nonsense.” I regretted not meeting him eyeball to eyeball. I would have engaged him in conversation, asking about his profession and other matters in a convivial atmosphere. “What did you do to him?” my wife inquired. Although she did not support me, I explained to her that the reaction of that young man brought me joy, as it indicated that my actions had an impact on him and would lead him to reflect in his saner moments. Conversion is a process that involves a chain of events— observation, rebuke, protest, reflection, and a gradual return to a sense of propriety. My wife was concerned because, according to her, when the young man spoke, his eyes flashed lightning-like Jove’s thunderbolts and seemed to pierce in all directions as if he would have fought me if he saw me.
As a chief executive, I have had the opportunity to invite some job seekers to my office. Interestingly, their dressing, confidence, courage, and even their demeanor are all part of the interview. Due to the inadequate upbringing of today’s children, you may find some of them attending interviews with braids and wearing suggestive clothing not realizing that no serious Chief Executive would procure temptation for himself. Unfortunately, this marks the beginning of their failures. This brings us to the fashion trends of today’s men.
Many years ago, when I met my former Rector in the Seminary, who was then the spiritual director, Msgr. Jeremiah Ikegbusi, he recounted how times had changed. He mentioned that during our time, parents raised children with proper values for their continued development, but nowadays, they bring up children without any trace of home training. This explains why irresponsible fashion trends are fully embraced today, unlike in the past when only a few followed such trends. What are the definitions of these fashion trends?
Today, in addition to poor behaviour and a total lack of respect, fashion is defined in terms of nudity. Like in Eden, our girls are mostly naked, and they do not seem to realize it. Once one opens some social media platforms, one is bombarded with all sorts of filthy words from those who are seeking followers. I was once shown a woman advertising what is now baptized as “ Kpekus”, as other wares are advertised! Why is it that only nudity and filthy language attract more followers than refined content?
We are burdened by an environment where characters like Bobrisky, who would have been ostracized in the past, are now followed and even defended by those who share his views. They often justify their actions with what they term “body positivity” and the freedom to choose what to do with oneself. If suicide is a crime, one not allowed to take one’s life, logic demands that one is not entirely free to do with oneself whatever one likes. What is particularly confusing in a country like Nigeria is that despite the laws regulating certain behaviours, law enforcement agents has yet to use Bobrisky as an example by arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning him, thus demonstrating that society remains the custodian of its values. This suggests that even those who should enforce these laws lack values themselves or have grown insouciant. Daily, in the name of LGBTQ, some young men openly declare themselves as homosexuals and lesbians, and yet they are not only celebrated but also allowed to influence others. Instead of seeking meaningful ways to contribute to society, our people are seeking easy ways to make money through boisterous indecency.
Women are naturally distinguished by the symmetry of their figures, the gracefulness of their bodies, the length and waviness of their hair, and the pleasing lightness of their movement. When a man, like Bobrisky, unnaturally attempts to transform himself into a woman in pursuit of fame, something is clearly wrong with him. Our people will start naming white men and women that did the same as if they are stamps of approval.
About two years ago, I wrote and suggested the arrest of one “Onye Eze” Jesus for indecent exposure in the name of “Isa uchu.” I commended the Anambra State government, then under Gov. Willie Obiano, for promptly taking action, but I regret that he was not prosecuted and jailed. The current situation calls for drastic action. Why does the government allow charlatans like those at Oba,l and Asaba to continue deceiving the people? For the well-being of the society, the government should either look for existing laws or enact new ones to put an end to their activities. Why should a few renegades be allowed to lead the youth astray in the name of making money without working, by promoting terms like “Oke Ite,“ “Ibubo”, “awelle”, and the like? What our youth need is not foolishness but encouragement to be inventive, industrious, and thrifty.
That young man whom I asked to cover his head probably did not understand what he was doing. He likely braided his hair because others were doing so, without a moment’s reflection about propriety. The same goes for men who wear earrings. To illustrate how low their thinking is, the culture has been hijacked by individuals like them, mostly “keke” drivers, “agberoes”, masons, and others. Have you not noticed that many of them dye their hair in various colors, braid it, and generally carry themselves with an air of importance, as if they belong to the “ndi na amovu” forward tribe? Such individuals think they belong without realizing that such indulgences were already seen in the past and died out when such fashion failed the test of reason to be sustained. What is heartbreaking is that they are not enlightened enough to realize the folly of their actions.
Also on the rise are breast enhancements and related indulgences. I consider those who undergo any type of body enhancement, including buttock and breast augmentation, as suffering from low self-esteem—all of them. They are so fixated on these enhancements because they seem to be in vogue, without considering the regrets of those who underwent such procedures in the past.
Society should not allow those who are deceived or ignorant to persist in their madness in the name of fashion. They live under the illusion that celebrities like Flavour and Osihmehn dye their hair and engage in such inverted sartorial displays, as if their participation lends legitimacy to nonsense. The truth is that many of these celebrities are not at all suited to the dignity Nigerians attribute to them. Do these pointless hairstyles affect the quality of their music? Did musicians who gave the world timeless lyrics like Don Williams, Kenny Rogers, Osadebe, and Ebenezer Obe embrace such inverted sartorial displays? What about fiery lyricists like Smokie whose words were irresistible to the ears?
The current generation often fails to grasp that there is nothing inherently novel in their actions or lifestyle choices. Breast enlargement, homosexuality, lesbianism—these are not recent phenomena. There is actually nothing new under the sun. Many years ago, philosopher Aristippus advocated for embracing pleasure, epitomised by his motto, “I possess, but am not possessed.” Conversely, Antisthenes, the founder of Cynicism, emphasised stripping away material attachments to free the soul, as reflected in his motto, “I do not possess, in order not to be possessed.” He lived a modest life, prompting Socrates to jest about his apparent vanity. Diogenes, a staunch follower of Cynic doctrine, famously admired the simplicity of animals and sought to emulate it by living on the ground, subsisting on whatever he could find, and openly engaging in natural acts in plain view. Let our youth know that even going naked is not an innovation. There is nothing they do today that has not been done in the past. Society always provides us with the alternative of vice or virtue, but good sense, maturity, and discernment enable us to choose rightly.
Society continues to drift aimlessly; the tragedy is that most of those who should offer direction are themselves immersed in vices. During my undergraduate studies in Philosophy, Prof. Mmaduabichi Dukor conducted a thought-provoking exercise in one of his classes in Symbolic Logic. He singled out a student with dreadlocks and asked him to ponder how his parents would perceive his appearance compared to his peers. Such gestures can prompt individuals to reflect deeply on their actions and reconsider their inauthentic choices. Similarly, I hope religious leaders, like Reverend Fathers, can delicately address such matters, encouraging introspection. I have not heard any of them express disgust during mass as the number of male braided hair threatens to equal those of women. We must urge young people to uphold discipline in their conduct, moderation in their desires, and objectivity in their thoughts.
Have you observed how some individuals profit from promoting indecency and vice? Consider those who establish clubs and facilitate environments conducive to the exploitation of women as objects of desire or even prostitution. Despite the harm inflicted on countless lives, they ultimately profit financially. Is it appropriate for us to commend such individuals? Yet, sadly, they often receive praise and recognition in our society, which has a more negative than positive effect.
In conclusion, Msgr. Ikegbusi rightly lamented the decline in proper home upbringing. As a parent, it is crucial to reflect on what we are imparting to the next generation. What kind of society are we nurturing?