It implied that peadophilia, a psychiatric disorder, deserved to be recognised as a valid sexual orientation and attempted to rationalise and endorse it in what is being considered, a very inflammatory and woefully misguided piece of literature.
From what we know, the piece was a complete work of fiction which, according to the author, simply caused people to look at things from a different perspective but was it a step too far? How far should works of fiction be policed by our own moral standards and at what point do we curb an author's freedom of expression?
The piece, which was including in their 'Inclusivity' edition had readers in uproar and was soon yanked from the site.
Writing about their decision to include the piece on their platform in a series of tweets, Enkare Review wrote:
Publishing the story Little Entertainment Centres was in no way purposed to promote or endorse pedophilia and we recognise the reaction and distress caused by putting out this story.
We don't publish stories for clicks or simply for shock factor and the editorial team equally found this story unsettling, triggering and explicit. We however thought it important, but made three large oversights.
1.) We did not include a trigger warning at the onset regarding the content and 2.) We failed to properly handle the particular sensitivity of the story involving children. and 3.) We did not have a ready to go Inside Fiction piece
We often publish our fiction pieces alongside a segment titled Inside Fiction to give more context to the writer's process, the character development and the ways that the story then lives in the world in our current reality.
Our intent in publishing this piece is to create a space for discussion around sexual abuse, trauma, paedophilia, religion,tradition among other themes that arise in this short story.
This piece likely gives you a headache, makes you angry but hopefully also makes you curious about this world that was built. We will be putting down the story temporarily,to be followed by a re-edit and accompany it with an Inside Fiction piece.
At best, it was a non-apology and attempted to defend their choice to publish in the same breath as offering a half-hearted, expression of regret.
The piece sent ripples through the literary community who took to social media not only to disassociate themselves from the platform altogether but to condemn the choice to include the piece at all.
The author, Jekwu Anyaegbuna, posted a link to the story and wrote that readers would find it ''very offensive'' and ''tongue-in-cheek'' yet nobody was prepared for how triggering and explicit the piece would be. He went a step further to call Enkare Review “fearless” and then “the boldest, most intelligent and the most resilient literary journal in the whole of Africa,” because they published the story.
It seemed the author was reveling in the trouble his piece would cause. However, the devastating consequences it would have for himself, Enkare Review and the literary community as a whole, perhaps he didn't anticipate. The piece raised pertinent questions about where we draw the line between fiction and morality.
Crudely titled 'Little Entertainment Centers', the piece quickly drew a barrage of criticism, not only because of how it romanticised peadophilia, but also because of how it aligned peadophila and homosexuality, a misguided argument that has long been used to cripple the LGBTQIA movement.
Some even accused Enkare Review as using this as some sort of twisted marketing ploy. Chinwendu Nwangwa, author of After Dark said, ''You see what Enkare review did? I think it’s not about the art. It’s about publicity. It’s about marketing. I think they know controversy sells, that is why they’d accept that thing Jekwu Anyaegbuna wrote and publish it.
There is this claim about inclusion but this is not inclusion. You don’t equate paedophilia to homosexuality and call it inclusion. This is Nigeria, a country where members of the LGBTQ community are experiencing life threatening discrimination still and you now go to publish a story that drags paedophilia into the mix. No, it’s not inclusion. It’s adverse activism. It’s not art. It’s selfish marketing masquerading as meaningful art.
One more thing, the story is actually a non-spectacular disgusting over-reliance on the whole “sex sells” theory to make people interested in the work. Even if the idea was erotica, it was poorly delivered.''
In the wake off the scandal, Enkare Review's Managing Editor Sanya Noel resigned. As the editor who chose Jekwu Anyaegbuna's story to be published, he faced the swift consequences of his actions.
For decades, literature has been a vehicle to discuss many controversial subjects and the ability to write it from any viewpoint is what makes literature so exciting. However, in this day and age where political correctness is the order of the day and people find themselves under more scrutiny than ever, is there a place for writers to explore such volatile subjects or is it simply, too much?
One important purpose of literature has always been to allow us to safely test our moral limits against the grain of what we condemn; crime and immorality such as murder, incest and others which have all been explored in various forms of literature.
Whether as primary or minor themes, words are safety gloves which allow authors to speak on these taboos, pulling them from their nests of outrage. No-one was actually killed, cheated on or abused so it can't be that bad right? Wrong.
There is immense power in the tongue and hitting close to the mind also means hitting close to the heart and a subject as sensitive as peadophilia and abuse should be handled with the utmost care.
The uproar was proof that, even under the guise of fiction, people are not willing to tolerate political-incorrectness.
In summary the world of literature has just as much responsibility as any other body to ensure it upholds the moral standards of the society. For Jekwu's piece to be published was the height of irresponsibility and to write such a flippant piece about a gravely serious subject was plain wrong.
To allow the molestation of children to be described in such painstaking detail was tasteless and if it had fallen into the wrong hands, who knows the repercussions it could have had!
Whilst we acknowledge the scourge of peadophilia in our society, we should be using our voices to condemn and not encourage. We should endeavour to be a voice for the victims and not the perpetrators.
*Pulse has reached out to Jekwu Anyaegbuna for comment.