Friday, 17 April 2015

SMS: The Pain Or The Shame -Pope Jay

 Image result for oau ife

 One of the traditions of the Students of the great Ife that has endured the times is the Systematic/Scientific/Serious Maximum Shishi simply known as SMS; the SMS is a form of punishment in which the person or people involved in the crime is/are “paraded” around the halls of residence most times beaten at each hall or at intervals in the journey. This punishment is usually the consequence of quite a number of crimes on campus ranging from Physical assault, rape to even petty theft to mention a few.

  Since my entry into this great citadel of learning and culture, I have disagreed with this punishment. I have only seen it as a form of jungle justice only justified by the idea that our predecessors had not deemed it fit to scrap this violent act. However on reading George R.R Martins’ fifth sequel in the Song of Ice and Fire book series whose movie is popularly known as “The Game of Thrones”, I saw a form of punishment that was somewhat similar to our very own SMS: Queen Cersei’s Walk of Shame. In this form of punishment, the criminal who in the book’s context was Queen Cersei walked a particular distance naked and the people of the town (King’s landing) though not allowed to touch her made jest and threw different things at her.

Image result for angola hall

On Wednesday, 15th of April, a thief was caught in Angola Hall. The case was a spectacular one because the thief and his preferred victim were actually the best of friends. I would summarize the event in a story;

  Ade and Sola were very close friends; they met at tutorial centre  while both preparing for the entrance exams of the Obafemi Awolowo University and both eventually gained admission to study English and Public Administration respectively. Ade got accommodation in Angola Hall and Sola in ETF hall but perhaps due to the serene nature of ETF and the more liveliness of Angola, Sola was almost always at Angola. In fact, he became more of an “Angolan” than most legal occupants of Angola.

In the early parts of March, Sola lost his phone when he travelled home and as time and true investigation would later unfold he then decided to steal his friend’s phone and Laptop. When caught, he later claimed that he did this because his friend made jest of him when he lost his phone. Ade who was very close to heaven after losing these valuables did not lose faith.
  He continued to search and at a point wanted to try out a more traditional approach (“ti ese ile bo” as the yorubas would say) in his search. Things however took a miraculous turn when on Wednesday, 15th April 2015 Angola Hall’s Chairman elect, Ekiti as he is popularly known, took up the case; politely demanding statements from the room mates and further conducting searches. It was one of this searches that led them to Sola’s room in ETF where they were to search his bags, Sola however in his cleverness led them to search another man’s bags making them believe that they were his. The truth caught up with him when the rightful owner of the bags saw them and challenged them, eventually showing them Sola’s bag where the valuables were recovered.

  I learnt that he was dealt with appropriately at the level of the Students Union Building but where my confusion came was when it got to the point of tradition taking its course in form of the SMS; the ones handling the case made us know that he couldn’t withstand any more beating as his health had deteriorated drastically and this I agreed with but where I didn’t quite agree was the part where he wasn’t made to suffer the shame that came with stealing.
  Over time, I have actually come to see that SMS as it were isn’t just about the physical pain and just like in George Martin’ s book; the SMS is our Walk of Shame. Showing the thief’s face to the public, people shaking heads as he was paraded, the whispers whenever he walked by thereafter… these were integral parts of the punishment.
 Having debated with quite a number of people about the SMS over time, I have seen that it may not be entirely removable from the OAU students’ community but perhaps we could adjust the Modus Operandi of this generationally handed down weapon against crime and social vices, perhaps we could make it less Violent and More Psychological; after all we are the

 Great Intellectual Fighters for Emancipation!    

(Disclaimer: The real names and courses of the characters in the story have been changed)
                                                                                                                                           Pope Jay

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