Udoka Okafor
The Silhouette

We all reach a point in our lives where we are faced with ideological decisions that test our conception of what we strongly believe to be right or wrong. These ideological decisions, though they wander and plummet in the realm of the conceptual, can have very pragmatic consequences. I was faced with such a decision in September, and dare I say, that my view of the ideological and the pragmatic has never been so uniformly synced.

Back in September, I received the Redsuit chant book from a source that I will not be relaying to the public. My source had come about this chant book, had read it thoroughly and was in complete awe with the content of the book. I was told that there might be a possibility that the chant book itself or some of the chants contained in the chant book were obsolete even though it was compiled as recently as 2010. My source further warned me of the ghastliness of the content of the chant book. But, no fair warning could have prepared me for what lay within the pages of the chant book. What I thought of as horrid in that moment was in relation to something wholly less vile.

These chants were abhorrence and insecurity personified and they represented discrimination at its core. The chant book went on to trivialize serious issues such as child abuse, sexual violence, and misogyny – issues that we can all agree deserve our utmost attention, no matter your internal conception of morality. All of these issues were trivialized under the pretext that they were ‘jokes’. But, no matter how I read the chant book, the fact they were written in ‘jest’ could not somehow alleviate its depravity.

I decided to publish the chant book because I recognized that its content represented bigger issues that we need to address as a community. The issue lay partially in whether the chant book was still in use or not, and this is a question whose answers remain coloured. Although many have categorically denied ever using the chant book, I have received a few messages on my blog that make me think otherwise. A few people have said that on some occasion they have vocalized some of the chants and saw nothing wrong with them. But I will not assume to make what may turn out to be unfair presumptions at this point.

The bigger issue that I recognized was how a community of persons could actually presume to compile such revulsion in jest. What lay at the core of the case was the empathy gaps that seem to exists within persons of unshared realities and how this gap makes some people feel unsafe. But, when we learn to, as a community, lessen these empathy gaps, until they are virtually irreducible, then we can make our society a better and safe place for everyone.

When we address serious issues such as this in jest, we ought not to simply take our perverse tickle for humour into account, but we ought to consider what people, whose realities are being represented within these ‘jokes’, will think. What you feel is irrelevant insofar as you do not take into account the victims/survivors of those experiences.

I absolutely recognize that the Redsuits as a society have done a lot of good things and nothing anyone says can discount that good. But morality is not a sliding scale. The good things that you have done don’t somehow work against and balance out the harm you have caused, whether intentional or otherwise. Your good and bad interact with each other in ways that can help people understand the type of community you want to be. But, to the extent that they are being judged, your good and bad ought to stand independently.

I have been receiving a lot of angry and harassing messages on my blog and hate mail.

I can tell that quite a few of you hate my guts, and some of you might even hate me as a person. People have said the most horrid things to me. They have frustrated my mental composition and left in a constant fear of confrontation, verbal or otherwise. This endured state of trepidation is affecting my ability to focus and it is continually accompanied by sleepless nights.

I try to appear calm and composed but I am neither of those things. However, I will not apologize for doing the right thing and I will not give in to the fear, irrespective of the personal costs to myself. I do not dance to the tune of intimidation and fear. I dance to the tune of morality and a search and fight for justice and what I believe to be right.

I have been told that everyone will be better off if the chant book had remained hidden. Now that I have exposed it, I am responsible for the injustice that follows. But an injustice is not an injustice because it is somehow known and widely propagated. An injustice can occur whether anyone knows about it or not, and we must all as a community find ways to deal with these issues, whether we care for it or not. Yes, when a tree falls in the forest it does make a sound regardless of how many people are there to hear it.

I will not be privy to a cover-up especially when I believe accountability and transparency to be one of the greatest virtues. My stance on this issue will remain unchanged irrespective of how much you try to intimidate me and make me feel unsafe. I want to use this opportunity to thank my friends for their support through this ordeal.

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