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Opinions of Friday, 17 April 2020

Columnist: MyNigeria

A story many writers can relate to

I don't know Otosirieze Obi-Young personally, but I can relate to his story and the whole bubble.

It's sad that politicians get to walk free when writers try to do their jobs.



But this is the politics of emotions. A spillover from both sides. In my recent outburst on Facebook over the matter, I portended that the fallout has been long coming and this has been the genesis of many editors sack in big Nigerian newspapers over the years.

It's like the founders are waiting for their Editors to slip and gbam! Here's your sack letter. Thanks for coming. The usual excuse is "you were too emotional and way out of line."

It is as simple as any story could get.

He published a brief report of the Kaduna's state First Lady’s supportive comments on a gang-rape threat issued by her son, Bello El-Rufai.



It didn't go down well with the Brittle Paper's founder, Ainehi Edoro, and she asked him to edit it. I can imagine how the phone conversation would have gone. Edoro would have scolded him. In this manner:

"Oto, this is wrong. You shouldn't have done this." Maybe add a bit of nagging into it - come, guys, this is a projection, I am just speculating how the convo could have gone.

She could have added in the outburst- "this is how you usually do." Leading to the dropped call by Oto.

That line I put up there is common when Founders scold Editors. It's possible Edoro could have been threatened as well. Sometimes what goes on in the Founder's head is a lot of things and politics is one of them.

I believe that the post could have been re-edited. Or be taken down and all forgiven. The point of putting a statement to recant is stooping a bit low and implies external control. If I were Oto, I would do the same by distancing myself from a paper who cannot critique society. Journalism is not public relations. Lest I forget, Brittle Paper is a literary journal.



At this stage, a peace reconciliation can work. It may not mend working ties almost immediately. For others threatening to withdraw their works from the journal as well as their awards- it's too rash a decision to make.

Emotions should not always rule your judgement. While people predicted the end of Brittle paper, you need to see the support the Founder gained after writing her side of the story.



The nature of rape is sensitive. The forceful act of taking a woman's pride is devilish. People don't rape people for sex. It's for control. I had a colleague who once said she would offer her rapist a condom to do as they please. I was taken aback. She said the key is not to struggle. Just do whatever is asked of you. At least you would live.

So I understand when that threat is taken to one's sister or mum or grandmother. For a man, he would kill you, literally. But then arguments are an emotional wreck. People who troll people online, just want an epic clapback.

I think that's Edoro's side in the matter. But in a man's perspective, you are threatening war.

The implication of the Brittle paper hullabaloo is a conversation writers and editors need to have on censorship. Edoro cannot lie that she was not trying to please the El-Rufai's family. Editors need to be able to take a stand for their writers. Stop turning down work because it hurts the Government or some people. We are not meant to be giving Entertainment journalism all the time!



Journalism is writing what is not meant to be printed. A bitter gall down your throat, a choke-hold that makes you throw-up. It's not every time we praise the corridors of power. Especially when they are not doing well.

I wish Oto a good life. Heck, I wish him a better appointment devoid of censorship.

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