Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Are You Required to Produce Husband’s Consent For Passports?

January 7, 2017

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt decided you did not when they gave this judgement in 2009 in Dr. Priye Iyalla_Amadi vs The Director General of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

I think the NIS said they appealed the matter. I wonder where they are on it so far. Can’t find anything about the status. Whats the composition of the appeals court and the supreme court? Just thinking out loud.

The defendants did not really dispute the facts adduced by the plaintiff in their counter_affidavit but sought to justify the requirement of a letter of consent from the husband of a married woman who wants to be issued a Nigerian passport on the basis that Nigerian married women are classified alongside with minors by the government as persons who require consent from the head of the family. NIS argued that the requirement for consent was put in place to perpetuate the authority of the man over his wife, no matter the status she had attained in society. It also stated that the requirement was set to avoid unnecessary breakdown of marriage institution in the country.

Its important to pursue legal precedents expanding women’s rights all  the way to the Supreme Court. And those cases should attract support from women, women’s groups and women’s funds.  If you have any current information about this case could you drop an update for me? Or steer me towards someone who knows? I’d appreciate it.

 

 

Yay! It’s Official. And I Am Celebrating!

November 22, 2016

First morning I woke up dreaming I’m a caterpillar in a pupa becoming a butterfly. This morning I woke up I was dreaming I’m a lady iguana about to make a mad dash through the valley of snakes to my bae.

It’s the powerful drugs they have me on. They’re treating me for malaria, thyroid and food poisoning. The drugs are so powerful every time  I close my eyes I feel I’m in some sort of vortex doing back flips with dolphins, swimming with mermaids, or dancing on the water in the moonlight with Ganeesh

It all started on Friday. I had a really bad tummy ache Thursday night. I knew it was the dinner I ate but optimistically wished it was just indigestion and did some yoga breathing exercises. I was exhausted from the battle in the morning. By noon I was in agony.

“Eddy!”

“Ma!”

“Eddy. You got to take me to the hospital now. This is it. I’m dying” I moaned to my bewildered and now alarmed son.

He is my angel. Somehow he has been with me during my last two medical emergencies and the look in his eyes makes me fight to stick around, if you know what I mean. Yeah. I know, I’m a drama queen. And pain brings out the drama.

In my head I’m thinking – ‘I’m dying! My bad habits have caught with me there is a god and he is punishing me with a slow painful death” (because hey that’s what they taught us in Sunday School. Nasty shit)

Anyway we get to the hospital and they give me those kinda pain killers that make you feel goofy while they start diagnostics. I’m super relaxed by now so I let them prod and poke me without too much drama wondering what they will find. Cancer? HIV? Multiple sclerosis? Death?

During the abdominal scan they check my liver

“Liver is fine.”

“Right kidney is fine, no stones.” (Most of my abdominal pain were coming from that side and the provisional diagnosis was possible kidney stones.)

“Gall bladder is distended,” says the sonographer.

Alarm and panic.

“Have you eaten?” he asks.

“No.”

“Ok, thats it then. Gall bladder is in a state of fasting.”

Alarm subsides.

“Spleen is normal. Do you have ulcers?”

“Why? Do you see any?” I’m alarmed again.

“No,” he responds. Alarm subsides.

“Left kidney looks fine. Wait a minute. It looks bigger than the right kidney.” Alarm as he and his assistant measure and compare both kidneys then decide the variation isn’t abnormal.

“Ok, now lets look at your womb.”

Why? I wonder but what the hell take a look.

“Womb is ok, proper placement and size but no endometrial tissue growing.”

“Whats that?”

“The tissue that grows and sheds during your period.”

“You mean I’m not going to have a period?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I’m fifty.”

He does a double take.

“You’re the second woman I heard say that.”

“Say what?”

“That she’s happy her period has stopped.”

“What do they usually say?” I didn’t ask. I’m sick. I’m high on pain killers. Who cares right now.

 

“We can’t find anything else wrong with you.”

“I don’t want you to find anything.”

“Sounds like you had food poisoning,” he concludes and sends me back to my drug filled drip in the ward while they run blood and urine tests.

Food poisoning, my addled mind observes and wonders if I can produce a poop sample but no one asks me for one.

I doze off.

So that’s how I found out that I am officially menopausal.

Now that I’m feeling better I want to celebrate.

Its been more than two weeks and I’m back to wondering. Are there women my age out there that don’t feel happy that there period has finally stopped? I’ve been buying Tampax and bleeding every month for the past 36 years. I’m a mother and a grand mother. Hell yeah, I am glad its finally over.

No, I do not feel my usefulness as a woman is over. Because I never saw my utility as a function of my reproductive capacity anyway. And no I’m not scared by the rumoured side effects. I’ve had none so far or they have been too mild for me to notice. Then again that could just be because when I had thyrotoxicosis those symptoms were so bad they make everything else seem mild since then. Or maybe it’s the ayurveda lifestyle I use to manage my auto-immune thyroid.

So I can now consider, what does menopause mean to me and how does it change my life?  Trust me, its going to positive and fun. First of all I will fear no pregnancy. Hopefully my anaemia will abate. I guess I’ll have to watch my weight even more religiously but I’ve been doing that since I was 40 anyway which is when I noticed that I couldn’t eat like a young adult anymore ( and that basically means you can’t eat what you want without consequences.)

In many cultures menopause is a significant and positive change of life, like puberty and marriage and childbirth and parenting. In India women that have entered menopause can finally come down from the women’s quarters and talk with men for instance. And there is a significant body of research that suggests the severity of symptoms is directly linked you cultural expectations and values.

Since I create my own expectation anyway I think I’ll be fine.

Bring on the KY Jelly!  We are not afraid.

Can The Attorney General Of Nigeria Open An Inquiry Into Sugabelly’s Charges Against Mohammed Audu?

December 11, 2015

The Nigerian Law of Trafficking & How It May Apply to @Sugabelly

November 28, 2015

It would be interesting to read up on the precedents but I think that Audu and his pals can be prosecuted under this Act –

 

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS (PROHIBITION) ENFORCEMENT & ADMINISTRATION ACT 2015

Section 13 (1) All acts of human trafficking are prohibited in Nigeria
(2) Any person who recruits, transports, transfers, harbours or receives another person by means of –
threat or use of force or other forms of coercion abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or position of vulnerability; or
giving or receiving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of the person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation of that person…

commits and offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than two year sand a fine of not less than NGN250,000.00

13 (5) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in the definition of trafficking in persons in this act shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in the definition has been used.

Section 15 Any person who –

(a) by use of deception,coercion, debt bondage or any other means, induces any person under the age of 18 years to go from one place to another to do any act with the intent that such person may be or knowing that it is likely that the person will be forced or seduce into illicit intercourse with another person – is liable on conviction to imprisonment for 5 years and a fine of NGN500,000

Section 16 (1) Any person that procures or recruits any other person under the age of 18 years to be subjected to prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation with himself, any person or persons, either in Nigeria or anywhere else commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less that 7 years and a fine of not less than NGN1,000,000.

 

lonevv2

What is Grooming? And How Does It Concern @sugabelly? How Does It Concern Us?

November 24, 2015

The topic of the moment in Nigeria has been the ‘rape’ of @sugabelly. This is the full story here.

Many have questioned why she stayed, why she kept going back and why she didn’t tell someone. Some have questioned if it was ‘rape’.

The story bore great similarities to a story I read of the UK men that routinely groomed young girls for sex slavery, exploitation and prostitution. Read it here.

Sugabelly’s case seems to be a classic case of grooming for abuse.

“Grooming is a tactic of overcoming the survivor’s defenses by slowly desensitizing his or her natural reaction to abusive behaviors. The most commonly recognized context is when pedophiles use it on children and their parents, but the technique is also used in other contexts, such as confidence scams or commercial sex work. Grooming works by mixing positive behaviors with elements of abuse. At the beginning, all behaviors are positive. Slowly, abusive elements are added in amounts that surprise the survivor to an extent, but do not push alarm to a high level. Overtime, the inappropriate comes to feel normal. Because the primary aggressor’s real goal isn’t understood by the survivor, he or she often misses the harmful implication and dismisses the internal signals of alarm that do arise.

“For most of the relationship, the survivor may be eager to experience the sense of specialness and push to see the primary aggressor. This may contribute to later guilt and shame when frank abuse is occurring. Because of the staged and confusing progression, the survivor may not at the end understand that the primary aggressor has been the sole instigator. The survivor might erroneously believe that there has been a mutual progression. This is largely responsible for the tragic, well-known reluctance of survivors to report abuse.”

 

I am convinced that these men are still abusing other young vulnerable women. Even if Sugabelly isn’t pressing charges, they should be investigated. I’m sure they can be prosecuted under the NAPTIP or the new VAPP Bill. It really is time to do something.

So I Got In Touch With My Feminine – Accepting Her Was The Hard Part

February 4, 2015

Growing up in the Igbo heartland we valued industry. Igbo women are very industrious and hard working. They farm, go to market and feed the household. Their men pay rent (shelter), school fees, medical, clothes and all the other objects of a quality life. Nowadays some progressive Igbo men let their wives do civil service or bank work and buy their own clothes and trinkets.

I used to call myself ‘di bi ulo’ which in Igbo means head of the household. After all as a single mother I paid the rent, the school fees, medical, put food on the table and clothes on the kids back. And because I  made  the money I made the decisions how to spend it. I used to ask the conservative men in my training workshops why they let their women sit on their ass at home.

If you ask them why they don’t want their women to be in the more ‘masculine’ endeavours – like politics, long distance trade, government, commerce etc etc, they most frequently say they don’t want their women to be ‘manly’. Someone said they don’t want their women to be like me. I took it as a compliment back then.

When I started ayurveda therapy in 2013 I was told my physical symptoms were the outcome of suppressing my feminine energy. I didn’t quite get it then but I attempted to examine it here and here  Over the course of the past two years as I took my herbal supplements and did my yoga I started to notice a change. In November my therapist said “Your feminine energy is emerging, and it is so tender”.

(Yeah lady why do you think we buried it so deep underground in the first place.)

Feminine energy – emotions.

“Les you’re too emotional” my friend tells me as I cry on her shoulder over my latest heartbreak.

In 2005 I took an online personality test that said I thought like a man but was more emotional than the average woman. Go figure. So I’m emotional. I can accept it now. I’m feminine – thats ok.

Its not the end of the world – its a great beginning. Being able to acknowledge that I am emotional – very emotional and apparently more so than most women is actually very empowering. I’m not resisting it like I did before when I still believed that emotions were ‘bad’ – in the corporate world and in modern relationships too according to said friend.

“Roll them up into a bundle and toss them aside” she advices.

“Sister thats how I got hyperthyroidism. I almost died you know.”

“Ewo! Is that why my own thyroid is developing goitre?”

“Think about it.”

“Ah! So what should I do? I’m missing my boy o”

“Call him”

“I no go call am o. I no fit be like you. What if he hurts me?”

“You’ll survive. Look at me – I survive and I still believe in love. Just next time I’ll make sure its someone that can handle my emotional needs.”

Lovers by Tolu Aliki

Lovers by Tolu Aliki

The Story Behind the Pictures

August 25, 2014

Let me tell the story of these picture.

I wanted a professional studio shot for my LinkedIn profile and other social media. Some thing that didn’t say ‘selfie’ or ‘office Christmas party’.  So while I was in England last year I decided to do just that. I had done a couple in Abuja a few years ago but they didn’t give me digital copies so they kinda got lost. Sad, they were quite nice.

So when I saw a deal on wowcher offering a full makeover studio experience  worth  well over £399 for £9 I rushed it of course.  The hook was perfect. For this price they do your hair and make up give you pretty much all you can drink champagne and take your picture in 5 different outfits (and dozens of poses) and give you one digital print. After the appropriately staid media shot below I got a bit adventurous.

linkedin profile pic

See – THAT’S what two and half hours of hair and makeup look like.

I’ve never spent more than 10 minutes in the morning on hair and makeup. Who had the time? I was a  single working  mother. Now that I have the time I lack the interest. I didn’t recognise myself after two and a half hours of hair and makeup.    It was an amazing experience. I recommend it.

After 3 glasses of champagne and 2 hours with the broodingly handsome Italian photographer called Sergio I had to chose my Top 10 shots out of over 400. As I flipped through the shots I just dey wonder -“Who be dis chick? Na me be dat?” Some of those shots only but ever gonna be seen on my bedroom wall o!

I don’t look like this everyday.  I can’t, I wouldn’t know how to but it was a rich experience and I enjoyed it. And its nice  to know I could look just as hot as Halle Berry and Jada Pinkett  if  I could devote 4-5 hours a day. And I would if I was getting paid  for it.  We women are socialised to feel so insecure about growing up. This shoot was just what my ageing self esteem needed to fight the media images of perfect size 0 women aged 14 – 22.

The only thing that’s changed since the photo shoot is that I wear lipstick now. Well, sometimes. I’m still 10 kg overweight. I’m still a size Large (horror!) and my hair more often looks like a bird nest than anything so sleek and groomed but just for a few hours I was George Eliot’s ‘Lucy Deane’ instead of ‘Maggie Tulliver’.

I’m sure I’ll look at these pictures in 10 and 20 and 30 years time and be just as amazed. And my grandchildren will probably gasp in wonder  and say “Babs! You used to be young!”.

ADR_1463-c copy

Yeah, those ARE fishnets

 

 

What Does a Modern Nigerian Woman Want from a Modern Nigerian Man?

August 27, 2013

Okay no man bashing today, even though sometimes I find it an acceptable and enjoyable past time.  I get it that men sometimes just can’t help themselves; it must be all that testosterone and male privilege. They can be sexist, misogynistic, childish, immature, insensitive, self-centred, irresponsible and downright exasperating. But there are also men who are caring, compassionate, self-aware, intuitive, emotionally intelligent and sensitive. I know both types. But today I shall address the question that has propped up a couple of times since I wrote my last post. What do modern Nigeria women want from the modern Nigerian man?

Decision of a Young Mind by Tolu Aliki

Decision of a Young Mind by Tolu Aliki

Considering that we have careers, earns our own money and  do not see marriage or children as the be all and end all of our existence anymore and some of us even identify as feminist what does this modern Nigerian woman want from a man? Now if it was ten or twenty years ago the answer to the simple question would have been an equally simple – sex, sex, sex and more sex then I would throw in tall, dark and handsome but I have matured as have my views on life so now I know we want a bit more than just good sex (did I say good sex before?).

In addition to good sex we want good manners. We will no longer put up with bad manners in the name of feminism or Nigerian chauvinism. So if you don’t open the door, or let us sit down first or wait for us to extend our hand for a handshake first you will be considered an ill-bred lout. Good manners have nothing to do with whether a woman can open the door for herself or not, it’s just one of those quaint social customs that say your parents made an effort to teach you compassion, empathy, caring and a consideration for other people’s feelings.

Yeah your boyish charms are quite disarming and might get you a date but real women want real men in their lives, not ‘boys’, not even ‘big boys’, hell, especially not ‘big boys’. We want grown ass men who will built grown up adult lives with us, not pie in the sky fantasies. We Nigerian women are strong and fierce and we want strong fierce men to be our partners, not wimps that get sand kicked in their face. We want men who reflect the values we hold dear; hard work, ambition, decisiveness, tenacity, confidence, courage, persistence,  etc. Yes that’s right, we want men that will fight for us and with us because you know what? We’ll fight for you and with you too.

waiting to Share by Tolu Aliki

waiting to Share by Tolu Aliki

We want men with jobs that take their jobs seriously. We don’t want house husbands or gigolos; we want adults not infants as our partners. We would feel cheated if we had to earn all the money and share it with someone whose only contribution to the partnership is sexual availability, child care and domestic work (don’t you?) Only rich white people and religious zealots think parenting or motherhood is an excuse not to work. Every body works in Nigeria unless they are severely disabled or too old and even then they try to make themselves useful. Life in Nigeria is constructed around making child care and work possible. Work is not a right, it is a bloody obligation.

Of course like some men, we would rather not work, we’d much rather live a completely indolent life and still be able to afford nice clothes, good food, a nice place to live, bad habits (like smoking and drinking) and extracurricular activities (like night clubbing and dancing). However, unless you are lucky enough to have a trust fund you work because that’s what adults do to enjoy the lifestyle of their choice unless they prefer to live like a beach bum. We do not want trade-offs that tell us house work is work too and staying at home with the kids is better for them while you take care of us. We are not interested in negotiating those problematic power dynamics with you.

You have to be able to pay your own way most of the time and to help us out some of the time because as Nigerians we know that neither of us can do it alone all of the time and sooner or later you’ll need us to help you out and we’ll remember your generosity or lack of it. Just because some of us identify as feminist doesn’t mean we don’t like help once in awhile or that we can’t help once in awhile we just don’t want to have an adult financially dependent on us. We would start to resent that eventually (even if the sex is great) and treat you with less respect than we should have for a partner, just like you. It’s those problematic power relations, you know, he or she who has the gold…

However, we don’t want to be your equals, you can still pay the rent and school fees (irrespective of how much we each earn) while we’ll buy our own designer hand bags and shoes, as well as tampons and bubble gum. During summer holidays you pay for the airline tickets and the vacation rental, we‘ll handle McDonald’s, ice cream and the movies. We are not ready to go as far as our western feminist sisters and pool our earnings with yours to pay for the rent, mortgage and other big item household bills. We still have a lot of catching up to do.

White men and women frequently discuss who wakes up in the middle of the night when the baby cries. We Nigerian women are kind of possessive after carrying the little bugger for 9 months and bonding while breast feeding and changing diapers so unless we’re knackered when we will kick you out of bed to help us we usually get up because we really cherish those moments. We know junior won’t be a baby forever and we don’t want you getting in the way of our bonding. Time enough for you and him to bond when he’s a teenager.  So if you don’t ask to spend more time with him we won’t insist unless we need you to babysit when we go to the hairdressers or something like that.

House work? Simple; clean up after you, we’ll clean up after ourselves and there’ll be peace. We don’t want men to do our laundry, just do your own because we don’t intend to. Dishes ain’t a problem, wash yours after you eat or stick them in the dishwasher, don’t dump them in the sink and if you cook clean up after yourself, same thing in the bathroom. For the big stuff like vacuuming, spring cleaning, yard and garage clearing we’d rather hire an agency or get someone to come in a couple times a week and you better be ready to pay for half of it unless you want to do all of it.

When we modern women lived on our own we didn’t cook every day so we’re not going to start now just because we’ve moved in with you, we went out and ate quite often too and when you lived on your own you didn’t eat out every day sometimes you cooked. Do not suddenly insist that you are a chief in your village and cannot eat outside. Sometimes we will cook, sometimes you better cook, and sometimes we will go out to dinner. Just like before. Coming to a compromise here really seems like a no brainer.

We also want respect, so no misogynistic jokes ay dinner parties (catered), no cheating with the house girl, no overt or covert flirting with our friends, and the only place and time you are allowed to objectify us is when we are having kinky sex in the privacy of our bedroom. We’ll play French maid, cops and robbers, postman Joe and any other game you can think of. That’ll be your reward for being the man of our dreams. So long as sometimes we get to be postman Joe. 😀

In return you will have a woman that stands by you and with you through all the storms living in Nigeria brings, a trusted ally, an eager cheerleader, a personal shrink, a non-judgmental confidante, an honest advisor and an all-round team player, in short an island of stability in troubled waters. If you don’t forget to reciprocate we won’t either.

Lovers by Tolu Aliki

Lovers by Tolu Aliki

Feminism, Exclusion & The Silencing of African Women

August 21, 2013

I’ve been thinking about feminism and exclusion lately. Even before the hash tag #solidarityisforwhitewomen started to trend last week.  It all started for me when middle class white feminists made out the right to be stay at home moms a feminist issue. That was one reason why I paid close attention when the debate started; I followed it obsessively even though I knew that the issue that started it all had little if anything to do with African women. I had never even heard of Hugo Schwyzer before his meltdown triggered a conversation about men in feminism.

Ututu by Ben Enweonwu 1971

Ututu by Ben Enweonwu 1971

As if to underscore the issue of men in feminism, a self-proclaimed male feminist from Nigeria decided to opportunistically jump into the twitter debate and hold forth on the needs and goals of African feminism and protecting the feelings of white feminists  rather than honoring the obvious  anger of WOC or maybe asking why African and Nigerian women were not joining  the debate. He chose to make himself an umpire insisting women conduct a ‘clean conversation’ that does not alienate white feminists. But this is a matter for another post.

My contribution to the larger debate was minimal. While I empathized with my sisters of color, my personal experience with white feminists is limited and remote. However, I did try to point out that the voices of African and Third World women are frequently excluded by women of color in the west. An Afro-Caribbean woman who claimed western women of color had no power to exclude anybody asked me for specific examples and I felt I should save it for this blog post.

What are some of the issues important to African women that are excluded or ignored by mainstream feminism and often by feminist women of color in the west, the African Diaspora and even certain African feminists? Some of them were raised in the debate, like how white feminists refuse to accept and respect their sisters’ choice to wear the hijab.  However, some issues did not come up, like female circumcision, polygamy, infertility, adoption, and Africa’s family values.

Black and white feminists in the west and many African feminists have targeted female circumcision (and I use the word circumcision deliberately) for complete eradication. It is a crude practice in its present form, but many African women have said they support it; can we help them make it a safe option instead of telling them they are wrong? Young boys are dying in South Africa during circumcision rites; the on-going conversation is about ensuring safety not ending the practice.

Western women practice cosmetic surgery of all sorts including genital piercing and vaginoplasty, and call it ‘bodily enhancement’ or ‘body art’, in ‘primitive’ Africa its mutilation. I do not support this practice on children that cannot exercise informed choice but shouldn’t we listen and respect adults who make that very personal choice?  Having a clitoris shouldn’t be a badge of honor. Kola Boof may be problematic as a role model but she has shown that even infibulation can be erotic and powerful.

Otu Odu by Ben Enweonwu

Otu Odu by Ben Enweonwu

I am confronted daily by sisters who are desperate to find a husband or to conceive and who are risking their mental and physical health in the process.  While I believe that a woman’s worth and self-identity are not and should not be dependent on either, how can I ignore her suffering? Why should I tell her she should be satisfied with a career or that marriage or having children isn’t really important?  It’s important to her.

Marriage is an important rite of passage in many African cultures; it’s a sign of maturity and responsibility and in a lot of Nigerian communities a single person, male or female, is not allowed to exercise leadership unless they are married.  Marriage and procreation are not just individual choices; they are seen as an obligation of community citizenship. Discrimination against women in marriage is patriarchal oppression, not marriage itself.

The discrimination a Nigerian woman faces if she is married and can’t conceive is very, very real.  The ability to overcome infertility is determined by economic class.  Middle class women have the option of expensive fertility treatments or they adopt, another expensive option.  Reducing the cost and ease of adoption and fertility treatments would seem as important for Nigerian women as the right to abortion or contraception.  But are these particular issues receiving as much attention on the feminist agenda?

Motherhood provides protection for women. My ancient aunts in the village would ask ‘who will visit you and ask after your welfare when you are old if you don’t have children?’. Stories of old (and young) people dying alone and undiscovered in the west baffle us.  In Nigeria middle and upper class women can afford geriatric care and will have people concerned for their welfare so long as their money lasts even if they don’t have children. But for the working class and poor, rural woman not having children could have harsh consequences in her old age.

Negritude by Ben Enweownu 1957

Negritude by Ben Enweownu 1957

African feminists like Rose Acholonu, Catherine Acholonu , Helen Chukwuma and Molara Ogundipe-Leslie have written extensively on the importance of marriage, family and motherhood in African.  They tried to define an African feminism that recognizes and celebrates these communal values in opposition to western feminism that promoted individualism and saw marriage and motherhood only as oppressive patriarchal burdens or personal pleasures.  They also argue persuasively that the Africa worldview is not primarily patriarchal but based on equal male-female complimentarity. Are we throwing out the baby with the bath water? Yet again?

It should be noted that African-American feminists have also articulated the issues of motherhood and family as an important part of what they called ‘womanism’, an alternative to mainstream white dominated feminism and its hyper individualism. However, these African feminist scholars felt womanist acceptance of and uncompromising support for homosexual rights was incompatible with their values and tried to differentiate their brand of feminism from it, they called it motherism and positive feminism. Their work has been largely ignored as a result of their perceived homophobia.

Nigerian women have told us polygamy gives them more options and freedom but do we as feminists respect that?  In the late 80s when Women in Nigeria, WIN , a radical left leaning feminist organization that promoted women’s rights  held its first conference with market women in Ibadan they failed to reach a compromise on polygamy in their final communique and squandered an opportunity to build a powerful alliance with woman’s market associations. The matter remains one of contestation and has been largely ignored by feminists as a matter of individual choice rather than a part of the feminist agenda. Polygamy is still demonized but apparently it does work for some women.

These are just some of the many ways that mainstream feminism has ignored and excluded African women’s choices. This exclusion by mainstream white dominated feminism, WOC in feminism and African feminists seems to be less of a racial issue and more of class issue. The concerns of feminism do not seem to include the concerns of the poor and the working class as one writer has stated so eloquently here. If feminism really wants to broaden its appeal among WOC generally and African women in particular it needs to speak a language that is more inclusive and relevant.

Ogolo Metamorphosis by Ben Enweonwu 1991

Ogolo Metamorphosis by Ben Enweonwu 1991

What Every “Modern” Nigerian Man Wants from a “Modern” Nigerian Woman

August 19, 2013

Past few days I’ve been trying to write a post for today on feminism and intersectionality that drew some inspiration from last week’s big twitter debate under the hash tags #solidarityisforwhiteowmen and #blackpowerisforblackmen but that has been on my mind for a while as I have been pondering the nature of exclusion in Nigerian/African feminism. I was determined to write something profound and insightful so I decided to do some background research to lend it the necessary gravitas to be taken seriously.

The quality of the research and writing on African feminism is so high that after four hours poring through several lengthy academic treatises including the African Feminist Charter of Principles and listening to gorgeous young African women propound complicated theories I realized that I might need a PhD to be able to comprehend it all and write anything of great import. The 2000 words I had written seem shallow, ego centric and superficial in comparison. All dis big big grammar sef, how does a working girl compete ehn?

I was also disturbed by a more personal incident of an emotional nature. Emotional incidents have a way of disrupting my peace, I’m still learning how to deal with my emotions and get in touch with my feminine side. I’m still way too sensitive most times even if I do make a good show of covering it up with my tough-butter-couldn’t-melt-in-my-feminist-mouth attitude. It’s just my way of coping, I’m damned if I’m going to let anyone see my soft under belly, you know what I mean? Okay, maybe not. Anyway that post will be a bit longer in coming, I need to educate myself a bit more before I make an ass out of myself.

Part of my that piece dealt with an encounter I had with a self-proclaimed male African feminist during the debates. I say self-proclaimed because surely you should wait for people to give you the moniker after you have proven your credentials with words and actions.  Being a skeptic I question the motives of all self-identified feminist men. Are they really willing to question and give up their male privilege or is it just opportunistic grand standing that also lets them cop out of the more demanding aspects of traditional masculinity with a parachute? Really, it’s NOT about understanding theoretical feminism.

This encounter and the incident of an emotional nature led me to wonder just exactly what it is that the modern Nigerian man wants from the modern Nigerian woman. Since my post on feminism and intersectionality is far from ready I would like to share my appropriately shallow, superficial and hopefully humorous thoughts and insights on the matter of the 21st century Nigerian Man. There are two types – the self-proclaimed feminist and the cultural chauvinist but they are really the same; narcissistic, entitled, insensitive, and opportunistic.

The self-proclaimed feminist male can ask you to pay for your dinner or drinks when he takes you out with a straight face, ignore that your nails or hair need fixing and avoid helping you with heavy bags. In return he can safely indulge his love of cooking and obsessive compulsive domesticity without criticism or offers of help from you.  He can also ask you for a loan or financial support when he needs it without narcissistic injury to his ego since he fancies himself a feminist and figures feminism means it’s okay for a man to take money from a woman.

All Nigerian Men want an educated woman. They may say this is because they believe in equality for women but it’s really because they wants to be able to enjoy high quality and varied conversations with you on those nights when they can’t hang out with the boys and when you are on your period and can’t have sex. The Modern Nigerian Man wants you to have a career, not a job, and your own income. He doesn’t want you running to him every time you need to buy tampons or a pack of cigarettes. No, he is too modern to have a dependent or uneducated wife or girlfriend.

His woman has to have a career so that when he eventually starts his own business which every modern Nigerian man dreams of doing you won’t be ‘quitting your job’ but making a ‘career move’. Meanwhile, he will make you the general manager that handles all the administration, logistics and operations that actually make a business successful while he continues to generate the big ideas in the board room.  He will even magnanimously give you a generous package that includes health insurance and benefits, a pension plan and fully paid leave.

Bossing around the staff should fulfill your need to be a feminist warrior if you are one, this is okay so long as you confine it to the appropriate space. At home he wants a woman who will cook for him and help keep house. You don’t necessarily have to be a house bound chattel,so long as you do not start a gender war every time you enter the kitchen or clean. He wants a clean well organized home, as well organized as the filing system in the office you run for him; his shorts, socks and ties lined up according to color, age or whatever other eccentric preference he might have in this regard.

After work he wants you to entertain him with intelligent chit chat and kinky sex when he is feeling in the mood. When he is not in the mood you will know because he will bury his head in his laptop or answer your attempts at conversation with monosyllables. On nights like those it is safe to go out with the girls, he may even drop you off and pick you up if need be. Occasionally he may ask you to accompany him to some office social gathering. He wants you to look your best because he likes women that take care of themselves.

Most of all the modern Nigerian Man has learnt the joys of  companionship and wants your companionship more than anything. If you are away for 12 week on a business course or taking care of your sick mother in the village he will demand you cut your trip short or threaten to go elsewhere to get it and blame you without a hint of irony. Because you see, its really not about you, any woman would do and she doesn’t even have to be Nigerian.