He walked into the consulting room uncertain. A young teenage boy with curly hair and what could be described only as a beautiful face. He had the typical biracial complexion- honey gold, and which, in this environment, meant he was of Yemeni or Sudanese descent. He was followed into the room by a man in uniform. For a moment, I could not place the grey khaki, and then it dawned on me- Hisbah; the famous moral police of Kano. What could this boy have done now?
I smiled at him hoping to ease the tension but he just stared at me, blankly. The Hisbah officer equally looked lost. He looked everywhere but at my face as he narrated the problem. He spoke hesitantly, in adulterated English language when he spoke about the patient. Musa was 16 years old. The Kano State Hisbah Corps had been notified when a neighbour heard suspicious noises coming from an uncompleted building adjacent to her house. She had gone to investigate and decided to call the attention of the moral police. Musa was seen to be having sexual intercourse with another older boy while other boys watched.
The Hisbah authority promptly rounded up the boys and took them to their office for further investigations. Medical tests were required to check for sexually transmitted infections. Each of the boys had been escorted by a Hisbah Officer to the hospital and the universe had decided that Musa would come into my consulting room that day.
In Hausa language, I gently tried to elicit the entire history from him. I noticed he was uncomfortable with the escort as he kept darting apprehensive looks at him. I asked the Hisbah officer to kindly excuse us. He looked relieved, happy even, to oblige.
Musa was the 14th child of his parents. His father was a wealthy businessman who had only completed his primary education. His mother, the fourth wife, was from Yemen and had no form of either Quranic or formal education. He was her 2nd child and in his final year at secondary school. Musa spoke calmly and bluntly as though resigned to his fate. After school hours, he narrated, he used to join the other boys in the neighbourhood in playing football. Three years ago, an older boy who was the captain of their team had started giving him extra attention. He (the captain) invited Musa to hang out with his friends and he had felt honoured hanging out with the ‘cool’ older boys. The young men who ranged from 17 to 21 years, would often smoke weed, listen to music and argue about the latest premier league games. Occasionally, Musa noticed that the captain’s hand would accidentally brush his thighs or his back. Later on, he would progress to caressing his curly hair while they watched movies together. Musa admitted to feeling uncomfortable at first, scared even, but did not want to break their new found friendship. He was 13 at the time.
When the captain introduced him to gay porn and started making sexual moves, he ran away and did not return to the field for a week. The captain went to his home, under the guise of finding out if he was well and lured him out. He apologised and showed Musa the phone he had bought him. From then on, he wooed Musa with gifts until he felt obliged to return the favour. Musa was gradually introduced to a life where he was given money in exchange for sex. The older boys took turns and bragged about it. They showered Musa with more gifts and praised him. After a while, he got used to it, he confessed. He began to enjoy it and sometimes did not ask for money when it was over. This had been going on for the past three years.
Musa spoke in low tones and with a dispassionate demeanour but that did nothing to help my emotions. I was already a bundle of nerves and when I noticed my hands shaking, I quickly hid them in the pockets of my ward coat. Somehow, I summed up the courage to discuss his troubles with him. Did he understand the implication of what he was saying? Was he gay? Did he have feelings for the opposite sex (girls)? What did he want me to help him with?
I did what I was asked to do and examined him. I also ordered some blood tests. Suffice it to say, I did not get much sleep that night.
Musa and Hisbah official returned the next day with his results. He was HIV positive. He had been counselled at the VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing) unit but still looked lost. He did not understand what it meant. Was he sick? And if so, why did he not have symptoms? I tried as best as I could to explain to him how the virus worked in the human body but he just stared at me blankly. I realised he was in Denial. I referred him to our PEPFAR unit and asked the Hisbah official: what next? He refused to divulge any information about what would happen to the boys but promised to let the parents know.
I have seen and heard of many cases of sexual assault in my life, but none has ever scared me like the story of Musa. The cunning, treacherous way the captain seduced him and changed his life forever. The true definition of a sexual predator.
I never heard from Musa or the official again. The matter was settled out of court.