Kissing up to Kiss Daniel – A review of Mama

Kissing up to Kiss Daniel – A review of Mama

The adulation and objectification of Women (aka Shorty, Ukwu, Waist, Ada, Mama, Baby, Bebe) in the hip-hop industry, is a daily subject that masculates the musicality of the masculine artists in this genre.

Once a vixen got lectured on the visibility of misogyny in the hip-hop industry and was asked how it feels to be the subject of hyper-sexualisation and objectification. Well, all she wants is her money and this of course, aligns with the feminist theory of Bodily Autonomy, as long as she is of age to decide what she wants to be, video vixen or rocket scientist, all join.

But then this could also bring about the question: How does one differentiate trying to fit into the image of the woman as a sexual objectfrom when a woman is sexually empowered?

Usually, when a woman is not being sexually objectified in the music industry, she is depicted as Miss Needy; the beggar who sticks to a man because of money or Miss Bitchy, the woman who uses her sexual wiles to take everything a hardworking man has spent all his life gathering. This has been delineated in songs like PSquare’s Chop My Money. Atimes the woman is portrayed as this totally innocent person who has absolutely no need for material wealth, but only NEEDS to be loved. This is encapsulated perfectly in Davido’s ‘Aiye’ – she no wan Ferrari, she no wan designer, she say na my love o!

Whether she’s an angel or a bitch, the woman portrayed in almost all the songs, produced in the Nigerian music industry, is almost, always IN NEED of something,

But, this is not about PSquare or Davido or any other artist that may or may not have contributed to the longevity of misogyny in the music industry.  This is about Kiss Daniel and his ‘single hit’ called Mama.

This Mama, who is a reflection of a built beauty; tall and thin, silky and smooth skin, seamless straight hair and hair-extensions, becomes the role model of the African woman. You must take note that she is not only unconventionally perfect, she is also always available to use her perfect body parts to make you feel better about yourself. She is not thinking, well… nobody expects her to think . She is a thin thing begging to be entertained, but then she doesn’t say it, she should be seen and touched, but not heard. So, she uses her sexualized parts to paint an ideal picture, where she fits in perfectly as an object; an object that is desired because of her nudity and the beauty she had to nearly kill herself to attain.

Women’s depiction in musical videos doles out expected behaviour for the woman, just like the stereotype that stands taller than the true story. A good woman is the woman who cooks all, and not the woman who knows all. She should be primed and neat, reserved and hot for her lord only. And for Kiss Daniel to really know if this woman cherishes him or not, all she has to do is wash his plate.

He is the seeker, she is the prize. Although he has seen all the qualities he needs in her (being that marriage is the ultimate reward a man can give a woman), she still needs to wash his plates in order to prove her worth, and also fetch water.

The reason Kiss Daniel emphasizes these two very important domestic activities is because nothing shows love than for a woman to shun all gadgets like dishwashers and pipe borne water in favour of drawing water directly from a well and hand-washing all HIS dishes.

To be Kiss Daniel’s Mama, biko my sister, fetch water for him and wash his plates!

Where Kiss Daniel veers off from the usual narrative that’s the staple of the male dominated Nigerian music industry is that he did not put her in a position of NEED, in this case, Kiss is the supplicant and she the one doling out the cash.

She can afford to buy him an Infinity. She is not a lover in need. She is not Miss Dependant, she is Miss Independent.  .

Adichie avers that masculinity is a hard, small cage, and men are placed in this hard small cage. The truth remains that strength ought not to be measured for any gender, and Kiss Daniel notes that he can be in captivity. This song is noteworthy because it stands out in this one aspect, although it fits in, with every other narrative that seems to oil the wheels of the Nigerian Music Industry.

And with this glowing review, Kiss Daniels might get bolder and admit, one day, that his ‘Mama’ doesn’t necessarily have to handwash his underwear to prove her love to him.

Or P-Square might end up singing –She can chop my money,She no wan chop my money, Cos she got her money

Peace out!

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Ada Chioma Ezeano

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma – through the eyes of a feminist

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma – through the eyes of a feminist

In three hundred and one pages, Chigozie Obioma weaves a tale about a family, the family of Eme Agwu, a Banker, who leaves his family in Akure because his employer, the Central Bank of Nigeria, transferred him to Yola.

Back in Akure, his first four boys break free and do the things boys do and more, while under their mother’s watch. An apocalyptic prophecy followed this freedom tumbling the family into a seemingly endless tale of horror.

When you pick a copy of The Fishermen, sit down, and make sure you get a bottle of chilled beer. It will help in the digestion of all the well-manicured sentences in the book, as the book is an intelligent book that says what it intends to say and doles out words, unsparingly, like a generous mother.

While you’re reading it, you will discover that this resplendent book is about the women that waited on their husbands to survive. Women who watched their empire fall apart because of the absence of their husbands, because they have been raised to be nothing but women; primed to depend on men for their survival. And if, per chance, the man of the house leaves, these women wear the gait of a wet mouse and murmur about being left alone with growing boys, and in the case of death, they become petty traders, hawking groundnuts, and raising malnourished sons, having a sea of endless wants and telling tales, running around their houses naked till their almost insane son rapes them, and kills their other son, and finally run mad.

When you encounter the numerous tragedies that are splattered on almost every page of the book, close your eyes to how it pulverizes and pummels the female characters, and simply shrug, after all, they are women; another name for ‘the insignificant other’.

It is horrendous to break a tear for them, and please do not even sniffle like them because it is very womanly to shed a tear.

Real men don’t cry.

Be a REAL man.

Always bear in mind that The Fishermen is a book about a ‘head honcho’ of a father who leaves his home in Akure because his employer prefers him to be in Yola. As he leaves, he leaves his six children with his insignificant other who is ‘only fully realised in presence, the woman whose maternal vigilance falls apart with her husband’s momentary absence’.

It is, therefore, natural that while she carries her children in the earthenware pot she carries on her head, while focussing on the other things in her hands, her four boys break the pot and run free. Bouncing around with their ball to hit the disabled, shatter glass windows, and then when the ball becomes what it shouldn’t be, they become fishermen, fishing in Omi-Ala, that dreadful river where even adults dread to go.

And so, in there, they fish out the madman who utters an ugly prophecy that will fiberize the four fishermen.

And these women, when they weren’t able to bear a child for their dead husbands, wouldn’t mind seeking solace in the loins of a ‘mad’ man, after all, a mad man is also a man. A mad man is better than a drunken husband who comes home naked and couldn’t bring money for his sick child, a man who visits violence on his family when asked to perform his fatherly duties.

Such a man is better off killed with a chair.

Obioma’s The Fishermen depicts the consequences of pushing women to the margin of the society. And even when Eme Agwu sketched a pattern for the future of his children, the functionality of gender, as it stands today, isn’t thrown aside. Ikenna was to be a pilot, Boja was to be a lawyer, Obembe the family’s doctor, Benjamin a Professor, David an engineer, and Nkem… a woman.

This can be an immediate indoctrination for the female child to believe that she is a second class citizen, the one who functions like the vassal conditioned to serve the suzerains, and who in likewise manner, favour their hard deeds in a superior way. In similar vein, the women are expected to serve the men in their lives, and then depend on them for their survival; a system which readily showcases an imbalance of power.

The first sentence shows the boys’ new career as fishermen and the event that sparked up this choice: ‘…father moved out of Akure.’ And the realization of this news created a new mother for the Agwu family. ‘Mother emerged a different being. She had acquired the gait of a wet mouse, averting her eyes as she went about…(9)’ She also missed the church because she was busy priming her primary duty as a woman: taking care of her husband. The news, that her husband would be leaving their six children and the home with her, shook her. She says all she could to dissuade Eme as he drives out of the life they know, but Eme is almost sure that his wife could do it, that she could run the home without him.  Eme, just as the many men who are not aware of the gender problem in Africa, wasn’t aware that in his absence, mother isn’t human enough to keep her boys together because the society had socialized her to shrink herself, to silence herself, to always wait on the man. She is a falconer, who sees all, she staves off all ills from the hills where she stands, however, she couldn’t see that her young birds were fishing curses from the cursed river, Omi-Ala, and she still would not have seen it if her neighbour, Iya Iyabo, did not burst the boys secret.

In fact it is ignorable and forgivable.

The Fishermen does nothing to challenge the society.

The book is a perfect example of why we need to re-evaluate our postures on women and their place in the society. It shows a need for us to reign in our impulse to stereotype the Nigerian woman especially in this day and age and particularly in works of literature.

A society will be safer if it glories in the functionality of its women rather than in their passivity.

*Published by Cassava Republic in 2015, Obioma’s debut novel, TheFishermen, was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

Ada Chioma Ezeano