What’s New on MzAgams’ Blog?

Its been a crazy few months that started this year. The story is coming up. Stay tuned. But just a few tit bits about what I’ll be bringing your way for the rest of the year.

I’d like to thank all of you that have read and commented on the ‘How To Get A Divorce in Nigeria’ Series that I wrote in 2012. It’s been great fun reading and answering your questions. And its really satisfying to see blogs inspired by that series popping up all over the place in the past couple of years. I need to update and I’ll be doing so over the next few weeks bringing you the latest decisions in family law, child custody, and related family law matters. And maybe even a something from a guest blogger.

I’m also starting a new series on Customary Marriage including Islamic Marriage. It will tell you everything you need to know about women’s rights under various customary from around the country and Islamic law and how they are evolving. I have a couple of guest writers  eager to share what they know with you.  Antony C. Diala who is writing his PhD on living customary law will be contributing.   So will Barrister Amina Abubakar who is with the Human Rights Commission.

I’m expanding and trying something new – I’ll be bringing you vlogs and podcasts of your favourite topics. Keep sending in your questions and comments. I’m here to ensure you know what your rights are as a woman within your family – the family you were born into and the family you married into.  Knowledge is power. There are a lot of lies and half truths circulating in popular media about women’s rights within marriage that are deliberately created to exploit, oppress and even cheat women. Don’t be one of those women.

Shine your eye. Know your rights. Women’s rights are human rights.

And read my blog post about protecting your assets after marriage here.

That’s not all.

Working with the theme “Women Activists; Women’s Activism” this year I’m going to interview some of the women that work hard to advance and expand women’s rights in Nigeria and anywhere else we find them. My first interview is going to be with Josephine Effah Chukwuma of Project Alert on Violence Against Women. Got any questions you want to ask her?  We’re at the cutting edge of change in Nigeria. What does it take to build and sustain an organisation like hers in an environment like ours? Find out.

I’ll probably be interviewing a lot of Ashoka fellows. I worked with them over the years and I think they’re great. They’re the best that the social enterprise sector has to offer any where in the world. You don’t want to miss anything they have to say.

Do you have any suggestions about some woman or women that are doing great work in advancing women’s rights that I should talk to? Let me know. Drop a comment. Tell me what they do and where I can find them and I will. I’m always looking for shero’s to promote. So much of women’s work is hidden and unsung its no wonder people end up  thinking we aren’t doing anything much.

Elections are around the corner. More women are expressing an interest in contest for public office. Some people say we should vote for them just because they’re women and get more women in the political space. Some people say we should hold them to the same standards we hold male contestants. Its a hard choice believe me. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Maybe we should just listen to the women contesting and hear what they say. I’ll score some interviews with female contestants and ask them some questions too.

Its going to be fun filled and informative. I promise.

 

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

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.

 

 

From My Archive: Women Can’t Mange Money; They’re Like Children Like That

 

A chance remark by a friend put me to mind of the importance for a woman, women, to learn money management.

As a feminist my demands for equal rights include a demand for equal responsibility. Then maybe I won’t have to fight for the right to participate in family decisions because the Golden Rule is still that ‘He who has the money makes the rules’. Anyway…

Feminist rhetoric aside women need money management skills, every body needs money management skills! Man, woman and child! It is after all a ‘money economy’. While possibly agitating to change it we cannot afford to ignore ‘reality’.

My paternal grand mother and great grand mother too were financially independent of their husbands. They even lent money to other women in the village. Their men did not provide money for food and they did not pay their ‘bills’ what ever type of bills they had back then! Men just ‘contributed’ once in a while and on certain ritual occasions.

Christianity must have seemed like the great revenge for the women of Africa! ‘Finally we can demand that the little pricks take more responsibility for the children.’ And they signed right up for ‘house duty’ all in the name of finding a piece of heaven! Pun fully intended!!! Go figure.

It’s all about possibilities and look it just makes more ‘common sense’. Whose ‘common sense’ I hear you ask, you see that’s just it, I guess for some it does make common sense to sit at home and let the nigger hustle in the sun. Why die early huh?

In which case put up with it and stop asking for equal rights would you already! Its hard enough to make a case for equal rights without the armchair feminists muddying the waters!

You know the ones I mean! The ones whose idea of equal rights is the right to turn a man into a money machine while they mange his money!(Did I say women need money management skills? Hmmm. I think 8 times married Zsa Zsa Gabor would disagree! Accused of being a bad house keeper she says ‘Of course I am a good housekeeper I divorce the man and keep the house’!)

Or the ones whose idea of equal rights is the right to fuck like men fuck. Which begs the question, how do ‘men’ fuck? Like you feel horny and you go and fuck the first person that your hypothalamus responds to? Or is that how women ‘fuck’?

Mind you I have nothing against armchair feminists, heck I’ve been at those stages myself. I have grown and I have learned. I believe it was Alanis Morrissette that sang ‘You Live You Learn’. Next please.

So I guess all the armchair feminists will also grow up and learn so I guess that’s cool then.

Long ago I read ‘The Cinderella Complex’ in which the author argued that women retreat into domesticity to escape responsibility, and the competitive world. ‘The weaker sex…’, ‘the fairer sex…’, ‘the princess…’, Cinderella; as a metaphor.

True or false? In this po-mo world who knows and you know something, who cares? There is such a cacophony of opinions out there all struggling for dominance that maybe your own opinion really is the best right now.

As for me, I think I want to be like my numerous grand mothers, Russian and African; strong, financially and emotionally independent, efficient and self-sufficient women that raised their kids to be responsible adults but with a twist; 50/50, equal rights, equal responsibility.

Now if you will excuse me I got to go get me some money management skills…right after I speak to my significant other about this adorable pair of shoes that I just must have! Oh baby baby,  I will sit at home quietly and bear your children just keep me in the gravy!

No they are not glass shoes…

25 March 2006

A Review of Yemisi Aribasala’s ‘Sister Outsider’ 4: The Prosthetic Penis

 

According to Yemisi, when Beyonce released her 2015 single ‘Flawless’ featuring a spoken word voice over from Chimamanda Adichie’s 2012 TED talk ‘Why Everyone Should Be A Feminist’ the wall came tumbling down and suddenly there was pressure for Nigerian women to identify as feminists.

Attempts she personally is resisting as resolutely as she resisted attempts to be ‘indoctrinated by the women in her life.’

I disagree with Yemisi’s entire analysis of Beyonce’s ‘Flawless’. She misinterprets (and  I believe others may have also) Beyonce’s use of the word ‘bitches’. It does not mean ‘women.’ In ‘street language’ it also means ‘weak men’ and ‘beta males’.

The UrbanDoctionary.com defines bitch as “An exceedingly whipped guy who does/wears/thinks/says whatever his girlfriend tells him to.”

Beyonce is talking about exercising power over men and the video shows mostly men during the chorus. She uses Adichie’s text to contextualise her dominance of the ‘streets’ and competing with the boys for dominance.

But don’t think I’m just his little wife/

Don’t get it twisted, get it twisted/

This my shit

Here she tells us that she isn’t just Jay Z’s puppet, she is reassuring us that she isn’t being sexed up and sold at the behest of her man but is exercising a choice and agency within her industry. She is expressing her intention to slay, to dominate, not women but her audience through her skill and talent.

Queen of hell? Probably. But she’s still Queen. Unless you’re being elitist don’t knock it.

Use of words like ‘bitch’, ‘hoe’ ‘cunt’ etc etc etc in popular art forms is what Audre Lordes called “…reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us.”

“What has a brilliant, questioning, grounded mind like Adichie’s got to do with Beyoncé’s glittering confetti and goddess status?” Yemisi asks.

A disingenuous or a naive question?

bell hooks gives a brilliant review  of Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ here.

Yemisi dismisses Beyonce, Adichie and New Nigerian Feminism, romanticises a hazy old Nigerian feminism suffering a ‘lack of documentation’ and then dismisses Nigerian feminists as frauds.

Then she uses feminist analysis to justify a brand of modest Victorian anti-feminism that disapproves the use of the words like ‘bitch’ and ‘hoe’, sexual autonomy and sexualization of the female form without questioning the imported ‘Male Gaze’.

I asked Erykah Badu the same question when she advised young women to dress modestly a few weeks ago. Instead of teaching girls how to fight and boys that naked doesn’t mean ‘come and fuck’ we are still asking our daughters to cover up. Still slaves of the ‘Male Gaze’.

Yemisi is telling a story of powerful privileged Nigerian woman. But is she also wearing a prosthetic penis? Why do I feel Yemisi is asking us to bend over?

 

 

These single stories of African women are disempowering and reductive and are created for the consumption of the west rather than for any real social change. – Amina Doherty

 

 

A Review of Yemisi Aribasala’s ‘Sister Outsider’ 3: Pop Culture Feminism 

 

Yemisi calls it the ‘New Nigerian Feminism’. Hadley Freeman of the Guardian calls it ‘consumer feminism’ and Andi Zeisler, co-founder of Bitch Magazine calls it ‘marketplace feminism’.

I call it ‘pop culture feminism.’ Just one more feminism in the bunch because feminisms are plenty, in Nigeria, in African and globally.

The growth of social media amplified voices of Nigerian sisters  who’ve used pop culture “as an extension of their identity politics and their activism.”

Sisters like Sokari Ekine (Black Looks), Minna Salami (MsAfropolitan), Amina Doherty, and Adaora Ijeoma Asala (Spectra Speaks) have built strong online presence and sparked robust debates.

Social Media is an additional tool to a conversation that we’ve been having for a long time. It’s social media that’s new, and not the conversation. – Minna Salami

Are these the sisters Yemisi accuses of online vitriol and being “zealous for the treads to the global stage”?

If we do not actively enter the terrain of popular culture, we will be complicit in the antifeminist backlash that is at the heart of the mass media’s support of antifeminist women who claim to speak on behalf of feminism. – Amina Doherty

“Nigerian feminism isn’t ready to discuss Beyonce.” Yemisi writes.

Did she miss Anima Doherty’s well articulated 2014 essay ‘Why Popular Culture Matters For African Feminism’ (On Something Other Than Beyoncé)?  Simi Dosekun 2012 Post-Feminist Never and Minna Salami’s 2010 post ‘On Being An African Feminist’?

She missed the 4th  African Feminist Forum  AFF held in April this year. Can’t blame her. Google it. It got only one mention from the news media. Maybe if the participants had taken off their clothes someone would have noticed.

The patriarchy controls the image we have of feminism. Whether you are an African, a European or an American woman. The stories that are news about ‘feminism’ are the outrageous ones, the ‘body shaming’ and ‘victim blaming’ ones.

A parade in 1968 saddled American and later global feminism with the ‘bra burning myth’ and in a few decades our grand daughters may well reject feminism because of how the media portrays Pussy Riot, Femem and yes, Beyonce.

The Patriarchy uses religion and sexist stereotypes to manipulate our images of feminism and women in general and of African feminisms and women more specifically.

The Patriarchy snuck in with the missionaries and shamed African women into covering up our Brown Skin and renouncing our sexual agency.

The Patriarchy makes us ask a woman to ‘cover up’ instead of making men responsible for their actions or questioning ‘The Male Gaze’ bestowed on African men.

The Patriarchy promotes the myth of a black hyper sexuality. Do you really think our ancestors were fucking like bunny rabbits just because they were ‘naked’?

We should invite Yemisi to the next AFF. Not to bully her into being a feminist – because she obviously feels bullied – but to enrich her knowledge about the diversity of Nigerian and African feminisms.

A Review of Yemisi Aribasala’s ‘Sister Outsider’ 2: A Woman’s Power

 

At first I found Yemisi’s definition of power problematic. She calls Beyonce and Adichie “the freshest, shiniest most intoxicating insignia of global feminine power.” And that’s when I get it. She isn’t taking about feminism at all. She is talking about feminine power. And she probably means Chinweizu’s ‘bottom power’.

What is feminine power? When I think of feminine power I think of the power of the female collective, as historically exercised by the Umuada and Ndiyom in Igbo-Nigeria for instance. However, feminine power is also most popularly associated with ‘bottom power’, that intrinsic fuckability  that all women have and frequently exploit in traditional gendered relations. Feminine power IS NOT feminism.

Minna Salami gives an enlightening post on ‘feminine power’ here.

Feminism is a political struggle against the patriarchy. African feminisms are about dismantling the structures of patriarchy, imperial and home grown. Its nice that celebrities and pop culture figures on both sides of the pond and in both hemispheres are recognising their ‘feminine power’ and calling themselves feminists but its not always feminism.

Still its great for consciousness raising. The 70’s were the last time feminism had this much media attention. And this time its global.

Yemisi’s obsession with fuckability also becomes clear. She, like so many of the men she calls friends seem to have been pussy whipped by the women in their lives and are resentful and intimidated by this new white man’s version of fuckability and the ‘immodest’ women that are not afraid to exploit it.

Reading her essay I could feel her torment as an awkward clumsy teenager  surrounded by fuckability but who hasn’t been there? We were all ugly ducklings till we became swans. Which woman hasn’t struggled with self image? Even the most blindingly fuckable have and do. The pressure of fuckability is a feminist issue.

That’s when she confuses me. She talks about feminist issues and uses feminist language to denounce and reject feminism but keeps mixing it up with feminine or woman power. And its that association between ‘feminine power’ and feminism that seems to put her off. She sounds nostalgic for the good old days when feminists were plain frumpy odd balls.

She sees this New Nigerian Feminism as consolidating an already overbearing feminine power. Now that I get her point (and I kept wondering what her point was) I just want to say – is that what you think?

As an ‘old school’ Nigerian Feminist I am delighted to witness the growth of this New Nigerian Feminism. I am delighted to see so many young women identify as feminist. Identification with feminism is related to outcomes like where their support and donations goes. And if there is one thing that we need is more support for feminist causes – like the Mirabel Centre.

This new feminism is also inspiring grass roots action. The outrage and action  against domestic violence and rape in Nigeria has never been louder or bolder.

 

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Supreme Court Uphold’s Women’s Inheritance Rights in Igbo Nigeria

The Supreme Court on Monday, April 14, voided the Igbo customary law, which denies daughters inheriting their fathers’ estate. The Supreme Court said it was discriminatory and in conflict with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is a verdict that would have far-reaching effects in addressing a dehumanising tradition, which can no longer be excused in a modern, democratic society such as ours. It is a practice that regarded women as lower than men.
The judgment was given in a family dispute between Gladys Ada Ukeje, who was disinherited from the estate of her deceased father, Lazarus Ogbonna Ukeje. She sued her step-mother, Mrs. Lois Chituru Ukeje and her son, Enyinnaya Lazarus Ukeje.
A Lagos High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court all reached the same decision. They confirmed that Gladys was qualified under the laws of Nigeria to inherit her father’s estate. The verdict should settle this matter forever in favour of all daughters in all corners of the country to claim their birthright, which they had been denied.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who read the lead judgment stated, “No matter the circumstances of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to an inheritance from her late father’s estate. Consequently, the Igbo customary law, which disentitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estate, is a breach of Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution, a fundamental rights provision guaranteed to every Nigerian”.