Slimey Guys and Cuddling Homophobes: An Academic in Africa

'when she walked out she did so limping heavily and ostentatiously, when she’d walked in not limping at all'. Things get a bit 'domestic' in Nigeria.


In other news, Julius has left the building.

This has involved a long and tortuous saga that in some ways makes it difficult to know where to begin.  There have been so many claims and counterclaims from Joy, so many pleas for forgiveness and assertions of dire guilt that it had started to feel like living in Eastenders.

Bermondsey Joyriders Noise and Revolution

The straw that broke the dromedary came on Sunday.  In the morning, Joy was begging Gerard to “forgive” Julius, who had, for various reasons, been given a bit of a bollocking about his behaviour a couple of weeks ago.

In the evening, she reappeared, all wild hair, tears and gesticulations, telling me that Julius was “crazy”, that he had to go, that he was fighting with her again, that he was beating her and trying to kick her out of the flat.

wild hair, tears and gesticulations

A little bit flustered, I asked her what she wanted me to do, which turned out to be just talking to him when he got back and telling him he had to leave.  So, at 10pm that night, George and I found ourselves having a masters-of-the-house conversation with Julius.  Who as usual was in his goddamn pants and vest.

Now, his story was somewhat different.  Aside from impenetrable monologues answering specific charges about things like using our car and trying to kick Joy out, he also said that it was Joy who was beating him (and to add verisimilitude he brought the issue up before we accused him of any violence).  He showed us a load of scratches on his stomach (actually pretty nasty), and a “wound on his head” which he said was where she’d hit him with a belt.  He said her only injury, to her leg, happened when he tried to get out of her grip and she fell over the corner of the bed.

where she’d hit him with a belt

So, we went back to Joy, who denied everything (well not everything, she’d clearly been lying about some stuff), and said “how can I hit Julius?  I am just a woman.”  This was slightly undermined by the fact that when she walked out she did so limping heavily and ostentatiously, when she’d walked in not limping at all.

I don’t know the rights and wrongs of the situation, or indeed, what’s happened.  But one of them had to go – they both said that it should be the other one – and as Joy is the one who works here that was the only option.  Oh, and despite what we’d been told, they’re not even married.

According to David, this is quite common in Nigeria, where asking the parents’ permission and performing some ambiguous “traditional rites” is apparently enough to define you as married.  David also said that Joy thought Julius was sleeping around (he probably was/is) and that any time she felt this was happening she’d do whatever she could to make life hell for Julius.  This was what had happened in the summer when I was away – and it subsequently transpired that what Joy said to David was only about 40% true and 60% lies.

Admittedly, the 40% was enough to get Julius the sack. But then that was a decision which was eventually reversed…. at Joy’s pleading.

So, the long and the short of it is we still don’t know what the hell has and hasn’t actually happened, but Julius has been given his notice and hopefully the unplanned marriage guidance counselling sessions can come to an end.

a pretty slimey and untrustworthy guy

I do feel slightly sorry for him in this situation, but not that much, because he is basically a pretty slimey and untrustworthy guy.  Don Delillo once described a character as having “the slyest sort of shit-eating grin.”  I never knew what a “shit-eating grin” actually was, but now I’ve met Julius I think I have an idea.

***

The university continues to move forward in a jumble of steps that are occasionally progressive and often just random.  But we are definitely moving.  Although the old saw about not waving but drowning does occasionally spring to mind.

I found out today that it is written into our regulations that homosexuality is forbidden amongst our students.  I’m genuinely quite disgusted by this, but given that I’m in a country that regularly imprisons people for being gay, and is currently considering further legislation, I shouldn’t be surprised.

There is something slightly surreal, though, about being in a country that is so rabidly homophobic, but where men will regularly walk around hand in hand, arm in arm, or basically cuddling.  It’s made me wonder if I can somehow squeeze a scene from Bruno in this term, but I think that might be a teddy-bear-in-Sudan-named-Muhammed type moment.

On that note, I saw a copy of Four Lions in the hooky DVD shop today.  I honestly can’t imagine who’s going to buy that here, but I’d love to see their reaction.

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