Who is in prison?

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: babawill2000@gmail.com Twitter: @Babawilly

Are the teeth imprisoned in the mouth or are they just domiciled there? Can they leave and return as they please? Do they have freedom? Should we pity them?

Sometimes I just wonder who the real prisoners on earth are. The ones who have stood before the judge and have been found out to be law breakers and thus sentenced to time behind bars to reflect on how they would do it better next time (a better crime or lead a better life?) or the ones who after a long day in the office drive straight home and lock themselves behind iron bars; metal gates, fortified doors and windows and sometimes an electric fence is thrown in. A prisoner is a prisoner, whether sentenced by the state via the legal system or self-sentenced in the name of safety and security due to the State of the streets out there.

Now spare a thought for the unborn child. Is the uterus a prison? Surely the foetus cannot leave at will. Chained to the placenta through its umbilical cord it stays put till nature announces it is time to break free. In retrospect the uterus is seen as the best place for the foetus. Tight, dark, watery and having no internet connectivity, the young foetus is without distractions and does what it does best which is to grow and develop in privacy.

Just imagine if the uterus and anterior abdominal wall was made of glass. Nosey neighbours would be gossiping about whose placenta hangs best in the street. Soon foetuses would have their own reality television shows to feed the nosey public their daily dose of other people’s business. But no, nature is wiser. In the dark privacy of solitude where there is not even a flow of air to distract, the greatest growth and development is accomplished. The foetus teaches us a metaphor that applies to our lives and that is self-imprisonment and isolation is required for greatness.  However since few have the strength of character to shun sweet distractions in other to concentrate on a life’s work, providence has its ways of ensuring that isolation is meted out to those who have been fingered for greatest.  The tool is great pain and loss. Pain always isolates people and makes them either grab tight to faith or give up. Once great pain or injustice is experienced, the victim is imprisoned.

Many world leaders lost their dads in childhood. Trapped in pain, the fight to break out of ‘jail’ starts from an early age.

There are so many formal prisoners in the world; about Nine Million in all.

The rest of us are free. Among the free are the monks who are locked away in service to God. There are many seeking world class achievements in various fields worldwide who are locked in libraries, laboratories or out on the research field and these people are not even seen by their families. Some of them don’t even see themselves for they are sold out to the cause and have little use for a mirror. Are these people who voluntarily give up life’s pleasures and knuckle down in isolation seeking perfection really free? Are they not slaves to their craft and perhaps prisoners of ambition?

At least they did it voluntarily. However some self-sentencers have their sentences forced on them.

Imagine the joy in a town when the vicious armed robber is sentenced to life in prison. The relief is soon replaced by fear. What if his gang re groups and continues where their ‘oga at the top’ stopped.

Everyone in town now steps up their home security and there are more bars across the windows and doors. The town has a self-imposed curfew with everyone in by 7pm.  Generations grow up who have never told tales under the moon light for the fear of the armed robber behind bars who has put the whole town behind bars. Both sets of prisoners miss out on natures must beautiful asset; the sky as the sun sets.

Spare thoughts for the jailer. He works in prison locked behind bars with the inmates for hours. He finishes his shift and goes home to lock himself in for the night then returns to prison the next day to walk around the prison with a million keys strapped around his waist.

It is inevitable that I think about prison. The largest prison population in the world is the USA with 2.2 Million inmates with a disproportional amount of Black people. I am Black in case you haven’t noticed. I live in the UK which has the highest prison population in Europe (approximately- 85,000).

I am also a Christian and Apostle Paul wrote parts of the New Testament in Prison. Many prophets in the Old Testament were imprisoned and it seemed to strengthen their faith. There is a spiritual dimension to imprisonment but that is another article for another day. Some of my heroes have been in prison, Martin Luther King Junior, Mandela, Fela and Wole Soyinka.

The biggest irony I find is prisoners being more healthy than the free. One of my patients on release from prison came to see me and looked muscular. He looked very well. I asked him if he had been in a health camp. He told of regular sessions in the gym, anabolic steroids for sale in jail, work and little pay. The next patient had not left the home for two weeks, was obese, loved his larger and only came out for a medical certificate to ensure that his benefits were not stopped.

I scratched my head and asked myself, ‘who is in prison here?’

Society jails the prisoner yet the prisoner’s reputation and the fear of his colleagues (in active service) jails society. A mutual jailing experience.


International centre for prison studies website – http://www.prisonstudies.org/