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Opinions Fri, 15 May 2015

KKD and the sweet taste of youth

Lo-li-ta, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul… The opening words of Vladimir Nabokov’s (in)famous novel, LOLITA (1955).

No! KKD was not the first to indulge in it – that illicit sex over a huge generational gap in an obscure place. It may have been happening even before the beginning of time.

The most famous Biblical occurrence of this was in King David’s old age (1 Kings, 1-4). When his servants saw that his old age was affecting him, they found him a young virgin to cherish and lie in his bosom and give him heat. Abishag, the girl, “was very faire, and cherished the king, and ministred to him: but the king knew her not”. Hmmm, the king “knew her not ” …

Even King David’s son, the wise Solomon, was reported to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings, 11:3). You think most of them were old haggard women with flat breasts? No way! Most of them, especially the concubines, were very young girls – vestal virgins. And these are the ones the king would gravitate towards most.

The Holy prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH) was also reputed to have taken a young girl in his old age. The first was Aisha whom the prophet expressed interest in when she was barely 6 and he was already past his 50th year. According to the earliest Muslim sources, the prophet claimed it was twice revealed to him in a dream to marry her and he had a third confirmation too. The traditional accounts say Aisha herself said she was playing on a see-saw when she was summoned to be married at the age of 9. Some of the worst polemical (Christian?) tongues even paint a picture of the prophet coming home to find his wife still playing with her dolls (this is actually contained in one hadith). You may call it “ritualized abuse” but it was acceptable at that time and it will be unfair for us to judge the prophet using our modern standards. At the time Muhammad married Aisha, he was already a prophet who communicated with God. He was a holy man who lived a righteous life and after whose life others fashioned theirs. The marriage must have seemed right in everybody’s eyes and before God. And since it was Allah who ordained it, who was he, a mere Messenger, to refuse?

But the holy prophet went on to marry ever younger girls. He ended up with 11 or 13 wives and concubines. Muslim scholars argue that many of these marriages were for strategic reasons. But what is of interest to us here is that all the marriages were dutifully consummated. The prophet of Islam was a very sexually active man into his old age and he certainly had an eye for beautiful young girls. His last child, according to the traditional accounts, was Ibrahim ibn Muhammad, born of Maria al-Qibtiyya, the Egyptian Coptic Christian slave girl sent to him as a gift by a Byzantine official. The girl’s date of birth is unknown. But the prophet was 60 when this last son, who died before the age of two, was born. The slave girl would have been several years younger than the prophet when he “knew her”.

As for Jesus Christ, he chose the easy way out of doing anything scandalous by remaining celibate all his life. But the Biblical accounts tell us that when his mother, Maria, was given to his step father, Joseph, the man was old enough to be her grandfather! But Joseph “knew her not…”.

The phenomenon occurs a lot in classical literature too. Take, for instance, Shakespeare’s sonnet 138:

When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her though I know she lies, That she might think me some untutored youth, Unlearned in the world's false subtleties. Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young, Although she knows my days are past the best, Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue: On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed: But wherefore says she not she is unjust? And wherefore say not I that I am old? O! love's best habit is in seeming trust, And age in love, loves not to have years told: Therefore I lie with her, and she with me, And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

Here, commentaries will tell you Shakespeare uses “lie” three times and each time in a different sense. There is lie as in telling untruths. Then there is lie as in deceiving oneself. The third sense is the most interesting for us here: lie as in lying with someone (sleeping with her). OK, KKD did it in a standing position. But, isn’t it the same thing? KKD may not have seen Ewureffe as some “untutored youth”. These days, the young start early and since Ewuerffe was 19, she may have had something under her belt. Some reports say she was a virgin, but we don’t know that for sure. Only KKD knows and it seems he is not telling… But did Ewureffe know that KKD’s “days are past the best”? Shakespeare was talking of true love. That cannot be said of what happened between KKD and Ewureffe. It was just bam bam and go. Perhaps if the rape case had not happened, KKD may have found it in himself to truly fall in love with Ewureffe.

And in which sense does Ewureffe have a “false speaking tongue”? She didn’t deny that they did the thing. She only said she did it against her will. But KKD and his supporters say: “This girl doth lie…” And we say KKD is a bigger liar! Well, “love’s best habit is in seeming trust”.

In our modern era, the examples are just too many to be enumerated here. There are even special pages on the internet devoted to it. When Charlie Chaplin married his fourth wife in 1943, he was 57 years old and the girl, Oona, (the beautiful daughter of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning Irish-American playwright Eugene O’Neil) was only 18 – a difference of 37 years! They remained married for 34 years until Charlie Chaplin’s death in 1977. The union produced eight children. When Charlie Chaplin died at the ripe age of 88, he left Oona a widow at “only” 52.

Each year the king of Swaziland uses a ceremony to choose a virgin bride. Since the girls must be virgins, the age difference between the king and each new bride gets bigger. The Swazi “Reed Dance," (Umhlanga) a traditional (Zulu) ceremony performed before Swaziland's leader King Mswati III, has come to be seen as an "audition" to become the king's next wife. As many as 50,000 young Swazi women perform the dance. This is a ceremony that has on display some of the most tantalizing young breasts in the kingdom.

Mugabe is 90 and his wife is 49. Berlusconi’s banga banga parties involved girls of Ewureffe’s age. Anna Nicole Smith was 25 when she married oil magnate Howard Marshall, 89. Anna may be a gold-digger but the old millionaire knew what he was buying. Anna’s breasts have been described as huge, compelling and pneumatic – “celebrated American breasts, engineered by silicon to be as broad and bountiful as the prairie”! What was 19 year old Ewureffe giving up her youth for? I don’t think KKD is a rich man.

Many others can be mentioned. Jackie Kennedy and Onassis, Catherine Zeta-Jones married Michael Douglas when he was 56 and she was 31; Elizabeth Taylor married Mike Todd when she was 25 and he was 50; Celine Dion said “I do” to René Angélil when she was 26 and he was 52; Mia Farrow married Frank Sinatra in 1966. He was 50 and she was only 21. "Glamour model" Crystal Harris accepted Hugh Hefner on December 31, 2012. He was 86 and she was 26. They are still married. We are talking of marriages. If we include just casual sex or relationship, the list is a lot longer.

Today, especially in our villages, old men are still marrying very young girls. And in the cities, young ladies are going after rich older men. The term “Sugar Daddy” is still relevant today.

Apart from older men wanting fresher bodies, women wanting security that is given by older, rather than younger, men and girls reaching puberty at a younger age than boys, evolutionary biology has other reason as to why men go after younger women and why their advances are accepted despite huge age disparities. But that academic argument is too detailed to go into here.

The reverse situation where the woman is much older has occurred too but much less frequently. When Elizabeth Taylor married her seventh, and what turned out to be her last, husband in 1991, she was 20 years older than the man. The divine Taylor, after 6 earlier marriages, was now a spent marital force at 59. Were Taylor 49, taking on a 19 year old boy, many people would have been shocked and blamed Taylor, rather than the boy. Society doesn’t look kindly on women who make alliances with younger men.

Muhammad straddles both sides of the age discrepancy. His first wife, Khadija, was 15 years older than the prophet when they married. He was only 25. It was his first marriage but her third and she was the one who initiated the proposal. Muhammad married her according to tradition, paying 20(?) camels for her. Khadija bore the prophet 6 children, two of whom died. She was a most beloved wife whose death pained him exceedingly.

Who, especially in my age group, will forget the words of Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) in Mike Nichols’s film The Graduate (1967)?

Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Mrs. Robinson: [laughs] Huh? Benjamin: Aren't you? Mrs. Robinson: Benjamin, I am not trying to seduce you.

Of course Mrs Robinson was trying to seduce the much younger Benjamin. It is implied in the film that Benjamin may have gone the whole way with Mrs Robinson. But his true love was Mrs Robinson’s daughter who was his age mate. The older lady tries to break the relationship by forcing her daughter to marry someone else. This fails at the end of the film when Benjamin comes calling through the church door and the girl flees from the wedding ceremony and runs away with her lover. So, you see, if you are an older woman trying to do it with a younger man, society disapproves and you will fail! Anyway, what many of us will remember from this film is Simon and Garfunkel’s sound track: God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson/ Heaven holds a place for those who pray/Hey, hey, hey…

When the discussion of KKD at 49, going after a girl 30 years his junior raged on, it was Nabokov’s novel, Lolita, which was uppermost on my mind. I know Ewureffe is not a 12 year old nymphet. And KKD is not a professor of Literature. He may be an “ace” broadcaster but, for all I know, he may not even know who Nabokov is.

In Stanley Kubrick’s film version of Lolita (1962), we see Prof. Humbert Humbert in a motel room with Lolita. He is putting nail polish on her toenails carefully inserting cotton wads between the toes as he talks lovingly to her but also in a fatherly manner. But KKD did not take Ewuraeffe into the toilet to put lacquer on her toenails. He knows something better to do with her.

At the end of Nabokov’s novel, Prof. Humbert Humbert is writing from prison where he is getting insane. He is there not for consorting with an under-aged girl but for murdering his rival for that girl’s affections. It is still poetic justice. I doubt if KKD will ever find himself in prison. He is not Humbert Humbert. And this is Ghana where forbidden fruits will still continue to taste the sweetest.

Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul… E-wu-re-ffe!

Kofi Amenyo (kofi.amenyo@yahoo.com)

Columnist: Amenyo, Kofi