There must be something traumatic about a man going to family or public to declare that the kids whom he had all along assumed were his, are not his biologically because his wife had been unfaithful, had slept with and had been made pregnant by a man (or men) outside her marriage. It is a situation in which there is no winner. Certainly, the father in question clears all doubts, ends the whispers about the subject, but he is often shattered by the truth. The woman involved is disgraced, in her family and to the world. She becomes taboo to the man’s family. The kids are stigmatized forever. Indeed, all parties in the matter carry a stigma, are stigmatized and traumatized. Sometimes, forever! It is a situation that we would rather not find ourselves in, victim or villain! It is for this reason that so many men who have made this awful discovery have taken the secret to the grave!
Of what benefit would it be for a man to discover at Age 70 that his beloved first son whom he had invested so much in is not a biological son of his? Would it not be better to go away with that illusion than have one’s peace of mind shattered by an indiscretion of forty or fifty years before? I must state in unequivocal terms that infidelity in marriage is not acceptable, especially when it produces a child or children. In our part of the world, infidelity on the part of the woman receives greater opprobrium than that committed by men. It is a cultural thing.
Of late there have been two high profile cases of how DNA tests proved that infidelity had been part of the domestic life. One was a top management staff of FCMB, a tragic story that allegedly led to the death of the ‘cheated’ husband. Although the matter dominated the public space until the big man in question was asked to step aside, we are yet to hear the conclusion of the whole matter. The second had to do with a high court judge who issued a statement to the press and asserted in the language and manner of a judge that the first three kids from his first marriage were not his biological children. In other words, while living in matrimony with her husband she paid scat regard to the ‘holy’ that is often attached to matrimony. The judge went ahead to establish his virility because through the second marriage he produced four children who DNA tests show are biologically his. On social media, there have been other cases of persons not so high in social status, both abroad and in Nigeria. In one reported case, the man killed the adulterous wife and the child!
In the main, no man wakes up and suddenly goes to a laboratory to conduct a test on his kids. There is usually a reason, sometimes accidental. Last year, a man who wanted to travel to Canada with his family was compelled to carry out DNA tests on his three children. Two kids were not biologically his. If he had not applied for a visa the need would not have arisen. The judge who went public recently got a nudge from someone. The story must have been all over the place and often the husband is the last to know!
Infidelity from husband or wife must be condemned. Sadly, the Nigerian society is more tolerant of male infidelity than it is for female infidelity. Indeed, the law recognizes every child given birth to for a man in or outside wedlock. In effect, men can be philanderers. Women cannot be. They can only do so and not be caught. An adulterous woman does not receive support from her own biological family. It is a source of shame and disgrace. It is worse if the woman produces a child for another man while married to her husband. It is taboo. Of course, there are extreme cases in which a woman is secretly allowed to sleep with a man other than her husband to produce kids, especially if the husband is impotent. It is often a highly guarded secret.
In this essay however, we are concerned with women who produce kids for men other than their husbands. Not one child. Two or three. One is bad enough; but two or three as captured by the judge in question is deep evil. What drives a woman into this? Sexual over drive? Sheer irresponsible behaviour? Utter disregard for her husband? Ritual behaviour? Whatever the reason, all parties involved must exercise caution. The matter does not have to be thrown into the public domain. It ought to be handled domestically, as a family matter. Some families have been known to quietly ask the guilty wife to leave discreetly. The man continues to look after the kids because it is no fault of theirs that they came into the world through the wrong channel. The man may then go ahead and marry another wife who would give him his biological children. Not all men have a heart large enough to follow this option.
As parents, we must all be conscious of the consequences of our actions and inactions. Just one moment of indiscretion or extreme passion can ruin the lives of many. Mental health issues often arise. Who is my father, becomes a refrain in the life of the kids involved? It develops more complications later in life. Some kids of such a union simply relocate or are relocated to a place where no one knows them, followed with a name change, identity change and a new set of friends. It is not an easy path to follow!
I sympathise with Justice Anthony Okorodas on his plight. I commend him for promising to treat the kids as his by paying their fees. Parenting can continue, despite unfaithfulness on their mother’s part. I imagine that the kids won’t have a smooth relationship with their mother the rest of their lives. They could demand to know their biological father later in life. So, if Okorodas had asked my opinion, I would have advised him against going to the press to expose the filth in his domestic affairs. Most families cover, hide their dirty secrets. Something has changed in the family. Things have changed. Those kids won’t have any self-confidence around him for the rest of their lives even if he paid their fees to Harvard. Anywhere infidelity is discussed in Nigeria, the name of Justice Okorodas will always pop up. For a man on the bench, it is not a good thing to happen.
Eghagha can be reached on 08023220393 or [email protected]