N500,000 can’t do a lot , can’t fetch you a new car but it can buy you a baby boy. And for a bit less you can take home a girl . Off the shelf, almost. Waiting period could be just a couple of days. You can choose the mother from amongst a collection, and have it made for you. And that comes slightly cheaper but the order requires a deposit. If you want a set of twins, it can be arranged. The women are often fed with fertility drugs whose adverse effect of precipitating multiple pregnancy fits the design of the project. Heavy laden, waiting for off-takers.
Since the crime approximates a combo of commercial kidnapping and human trafficking, stealth in camouflage and concealment is the standard procedure. Your luck runs out, opprobrium is poured and your house is razed by a mob. Sometimes the government acts like the mob, sends in bulldozers, just like that . Your trial will come later, if it ever comes. The laws are obsolete, largely non existent. But you can always fix things, especially since the victim is the society and there is no one to lubricate, prod or pester the prosecutors. Little wonder some of these rip off artists stoically reappear weeks after the mob and continue to operate from the rubbles. But there are many easy ways to remain undetected and stay out of these little problems.
You can ‘float’ a church and create a large welfare department where girls in need are lured in for rehabilitation and introduced to the scheme. With the right name on an outsized sign post, you begin to happen. The name must entice and disarm at once. Some promise of something close to magic added to a superfluity like “ fire and spirit , bible wielding church of the Risen” will do . Complemented by a loud musical ensemble, you draw in victims and clients, ward off the police and evil suspicions. Who can read your mind?
If church is not your thing, you can ‘raise’ a motherless babies home. Things appear overnight in Nigeria and no one asks questions. Women will live in pens, behind, and their babies are traded in front, in the reception. The advantage of this scheme is that it comes with a license to collect orphaned and abandoned babies from the public. Toddlers aren’t in such high demand but their presence will help reinforce the façade. Noodles are expensive but cover is everything. Most of your clients would want to harvest the babies as they pop out. Fresh from the oven, no labels, no stories.
And because there are many plumbers who have metamorphosed into doctors over night , without a name change , and have carried on seamlessly, you can arrange a maternity home. And recruit jobless, desperate girls : prolific layers . Since it is business, with one eye on costs and another on risks , you can sow your own seeds into all the girls. That requires a sufficiently deadened conscience I must confess. If you have anything left of a soul then perhaps you may have to get one or two naïve young boys to fall for free sex and get a few coins while at that. Sperm cells have no name tags. Poor boys, brilliant medical students in America give theirs and get as much as 50,000 dollars per squirt.
The girls are kept and bred, reared. When they litter, their puppies are snatched. They may resist the separation, never mind it’s always feeble. A local hen has a deeper attachment to its chicks and will mount a better resistance than these girls . They will recover from their temporary grief. But who am I to judge these girls? Confronted by some of their grim circumstances, one may falter terribly. The peanuts they get leave them where their exploiters found them – in poverty and ignorance. And perhaps greed. Some are too broken to thread the path again, others return to try again.
You can shake you head if you will but don’t laugh. Evil demands sobriety. But is it really evil or work? We laughed when told our ancestors sold their grown brothers into slavery and got mirrors in return. Our society needs millions of mirrors for a proper communal self reflection. Our folly now is perhaps more grotesque. No female shelters, no social security net, only vain Pharisaical religiosity. Those whose own folly let them buy humans with finger wraps of tobacco have gotten wiser and now plead with us to stop selling ourselves.
Some of the customers are ritualists. And that is to be expected. Our society breeds ritualists. The society believes girls don’t count for much, the childless is cursed, lineages can be obliterated in the absence of sons. And that money can be harvested after devilish rituals of human sacrifice! Since many are stricken with the obsession to get extremely rich in a flash, ritualists must abound. A 500,000 naira sacrifice for immediate inexhaustible wealth in recompense, the worst is yet to come.
The syndicates prefer to believe they are helping only those stricken by childlessness or ‘heirlessness’.
They know they are unscrupulous. But they know the society, this society is too devoted to mammonism to truly bother. They have no after sales service so what becomes of the infants after sales cannot , they reason, constitute their moral burden. And because many things are blurred, and moral lines are so hazy around here, people can get away with evil with clean consciences. Customers won’t ask too many questions. Questions will create moral problems, they are better avoided. Ignorance, even deliberate ignorance is still bliss. Or isn’t it? Good people seeking solutions from the depraved. Before now, long ago, babies , some babies, unwanted, suffered a different fate.
In neat cartons, beside refuse dumps, done in the dark. The society has been unfair to women. Growing up in the southeast of Nigeria, in the late seventies and eighties, baby dumping was fairly rampant. Teenage pregnancy was an abomination and young girls were often constrained by stigma and poverty to dump those angels whom the society had misconstrued as badges of shame.
The society should have catered for the girls and supported them. Such tolerance doesn’t necessarily amount to moral depreciation. Real moral laxity sets in when the society despises the poor , discards human dignity and worships money. Then, the society loses moral stamina , moral bulwarks are eroded and touch is lost not only with the past but with the future. And such anomie does not only lead to the mushrooming of evil , it permits its trivialization.
Babies are now commodities? Our morality has depreciated. Who foresaw that teenage pregnancy once a taboo can become business? This is not about the new craze – the “baby mama” phenomenon, that’s a different market. Materialism has helped to dismantle our moral hedges. A trade driven by greed plies roads paved by cultural ignorance. The majority of these factories are in Igbo land and not by accident. But many are now blossoming in Lagos, Ogun and other parts of southern Nigeria. I guess widespread polygamy has left the north untouched by the scourge. But the north has its own debilitating affliction. In the far north men marry many wives and carelessly have too many children. They spill onto the streets and grow, untamed, in the wild. A different kind of production line? You deliberately produce more than you can cater for? That is grossly immoral too.
To be continued next week. Vanguard