CALABAR: JUDGING THE BOOK BY ITS COVER

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-By David Inung Ejim, Edited by Shadrach Unakang

The trend of carrying beards and facial hair by men is one that has global acclaim. In Nigeria, this trend has formed part of social life especially in tourist locations like Calabar where men and boys are seen flashing their beards fashionably.

In recent times, Cross River State has been plagued by security challenges from inter-cult clashes in Calabar, inter-community crisis in Odukpani and a high rate of armed robbery. It is natural that in the face of all these, the people would desire government intervention but never would any one bet that government action will be clearly superficial. Obviously, the government is leveraging on the biases in mind-sets to make a show of addressing the crises.

The average individual feels and holds the perception that appearance is representative of a person’s behaviour – this is indeed foolish in the very sense that a fundamental mistake is made if we put into consideration what we were once told while growing up about judging a book by its cover. The conclusion that someone’s cult affiliation can be determined by the way they keep their beard or that someone’s clothing makes them guilty of a security threat is clearly beyond reasoning.

The Calabar case is one where all pretentious assumptions of innocence are thrown away, given the way young men are manhandled by soldiers when arrested. The Governor who ought to be the number one protector of the constitution of the state and to  promote the wellbeing of his people abandons that for a place of making moral judgements about people’s hairstyles, dressing and clothing choices. While this should never have happened in the first place, it is very disgraceful and should in the shortest possible time have been called to a halt. A critical thought will tell how abhorrent and tragic it is for a highly educated Governor to give such directives or even if such directives were misunderstood would be silent in the face of that misunderstanding. No apologies, this is one of many things that indict our education system pointing clearly to the fact that while Professorship might seem to have conferred erudition on someone, it does not equally confer common sense or simple wisdom.

It is more fashionable to be brutalised, abused, indicted and manhandled by the army in the paradise city of Calabar than it is to look dapper in beards, facial hair or styled hair. Keeping beards and hair is in some cultures aesthetic and in some religions an obligation symbolic of piety. This is evident of human fickleness and the relativity of morals and moral judgement in that the same trend that holds pious for a particular demographic is the same that connotes negativity in Calabar. It is expected that more people out there should call attention to this human right abuse and needless brutalisation of young people  in Calabar.        

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