In Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’, the ransome from the offending neighboring Mbaino – Ikemefuna, had grown up to know and call Okonkwo father; having been in his (Okonkwo’s) custody since he was given to Umuofia as one of the compensations for the murder of one of the daughters of Umuofia. After a couple of years, the Oracle of the hills and caves had finally decided the fate of the boy Ikemefuna, and had decreed that he be killed. Since Okonkwo, who has come to be a father to this boy was one of the elders chosen to execute that decree, Ogbuefi Ezeudu advised him thus: “that boy calls you father, do not bear a hand in his death.” But Okonkwo wouldn’t listen. And like Brutus of the Shakespearean Julius Ceasar, it was him who struck the blow that saw Ikemefuna dead.
This was exactly what happened: He(Okonkwo) heard Ikemefuna cry “my father! They have killed me” as he ran towards him; dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his matchet and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak. Commentators have it that Okonkwo’s defiance to the Prophetic words of Ogbuefi Ezeudu was the very foundation of his undoing and he ended up in worst ways – he committed suicide later on out of frustration.
Why did I cull up the excerpt above from Things Fall Apart? It is no mean business to be looked up to. Yes, you are his/her Pastor, school teacher, lesson teacher, music coach, nurse, nanny, driver etc. His/her parents and guardian have come to trust you so much as to leave him/her in your care. You’ve been trusted to provide moral guide as a youth/teenagers’ pastor and co-ordinator, social and psychological support as a life coach, academic grooming as a teacher, health care as a nurse etc. The child/teenager therefore now calls you Daddy, Uncle, auntie, brother, etc with a lot of trust and confidence. And what did you end up doing? You took advantage and destroyed what was left in your care. You sexually abused him/her. You destroyed her Purity, you took her pride, you killed her spirit because you knew she cannot say no to you, having grown so much drawn to you.
Let me remind you, the molestation and abuse of that minor will be your greatest undoing in life, just like Okonkwo if you don’t rush now to seek for pardon from that child and her guardians and take necessary steps to make ammends. “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” Mark 9:42.
If you are a role model, teacher, mentor, pastor, priest, care – giver, life – coach etc and you’re contemplating or being tempted to take advantage of that kid/minor in your care, please don’t do it. Let me advice you in the words of Ogbuefi Ezeudu: “that child calls you father, do not bear a hand in his death”.
Written by: Bethel Chima