A love letter to Nigerian Feminists – Ayodele Olofintuade

Dearest One,

How have you been? I mean how are you really?

I hope you’re making money, I hope you’re taking out time to be with friends, time to breathe and party. I hope you’re getting laid, getting well laid. But most importantly I hope you’re healthy and happy.

I understand how difficult it is to be a Nigerian, woman, to self-identify as feminist, to do this work of nation building by dismantling the patriarchy one damn brick at a time.

I understand how it feels to have reductive terms like ‘bitter aunty’, Facebook/Twitter feminist, etcetera thrown in your face each time you stand up for yourself and other women. I understand how tired you get when you open your account in the morning to the howling of trolls in your mentions, on your feed. I understand how you sometimes despair when ignorant people with the emotional intelligence of a rock and the IQ of the size of a grain of sand starts TELLING you how to be.

I am in your shoes.

But I want you to know that you’re doing alright, you’re rattling cages, things are no longer the same and it’s because you’re lending your voice and muscles to making this change. You are doing amazing darling. You are the dreams of your ancestors, you are beautiful, inside out.

Well Done!!!

Don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball. We will have equality, we will have bodily autonomy, we will have our sexual and reproductive rights. We will use our voices.We will have anything we set our sights on because we are human. We will have all our rights, we have power, we will use it.

I’m sending you peace and love. I’m sending you basket-fulls of not-giving-a-fuck.

Soar.

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Catcalls – Jumoke Verissimo

Each girl eats her own eyeballs,

floating heels,

confidence-padded into breasts,

kettle-mouth lips

blow off the steam of male gaze;

in a market world women are

crafts.

 

Her designer labels with absolute names

the reason for her aching ankles

becomes the shame,

beauty the reason for the spare time

becomes the shame.

 

The horde’s hoot hang to her feet

as she flees from a body being stripped

of a dress that homes

shame.

When a girl discovers she’s dressed in disgrace—

wearing a blemish no foundation

power

can hide—she moves away from

herself.

 

The market stalls are no shelter for men,

trading in leers that rush after short skirts

teeth spaced for the

tongue to wag;

there’s no signpost to read their

folly.

Here are men who once

bargained with brains

now they trade their hearts

as ignorance wares.

 

And when tongues rip the cloth

off the girl

the shredding men’s eyes will go

home

to cover a sister, a mother, or a

partner

shame them with another

performance

a poor showman of his market

failing

PEACE – Adeola Olagunju

I have lived a tortuous life
And since I made 30
I’ve finally found a glimpse of hope

My life has been plagued by various traumatizing experiences since “childhood”
Childhood?
No, I didn’t have any

Being left vulnerable as a child threw
me in the hands of the beasts
The beasts who abused me
The beasts who silenced me
The beasts who normalized danger

It was my fault
wasn’t it?
What was I looking for walking the
streets by myself?
But, wasn’t I just a child?

I have embodied this guilt all my life
I blamed myself for everything
For being abused
For my parent’s failed marriage
For being an “Olodo”

I live my life in perpetual fear
I carried this baggage of worthlessness everywhere I went
My life has been about self sacrificing
Over giving
Being a doormat
Serving
Taking responsibility for what is not my “issh”
Jumping into battles not my own
People pleasing
Playing Messiah
Getting busy
Fixing everything/everyone around
As it is easier to look at the other; rather than the self

Plenty toxic friendships and one sided relationships Abi…why shouldn’t I thank my maker when crumbs is thrown my way? after all love is work…

Biko, Who needs a doormat?

They took everything from me
Gave me this rage that consumes
me day and night…Anger became my only fortress

Fight, flight or freeze
Hiding and avoidant
I wanted to end this suffering by keeping my inner child in a deep place inside, and staying as far away as possible. But, running away doesn’t end this suffering; it only prolongs it.

So much weight my soul is weary

25 years after, 2 days ago
I took a cathartic journey back in time
to where I grew up in Ibadan
I went by every freaking house I was abused
To pick up the bits of me I buried there.
To reclaim my life
To find the cure for this disease
I’ve had to live with it

The hardest part; to forgive
To forgive all you “mofos”

So I can finally stop clinging to everything
that abuses, torture and drains me
So I can finally stop running
away from healthy love
( as I always find it strange)

I am breaking away!!!
Now I know I deserve better than a sick life
I am worthy
It was never my fault
And I am lovable 💚

Hey, Adéọlá, I am so so sorry.
I am coming back home to you.

It’s closure time.

26166793_10215062681904389_345533380904293351_nAdeola Olagunju is an artist and photographer. She lives and works in the universe.

stop judging our bodies! – Okwei Odili 

​When Malcolm X told a thick crowd of African Americans that the most abused person in America is the black woman, he didn’t say it under the influence of ogogoro or overfeeding.

He said it because among our people are men like Trick daddy, African American men who hate African American women. Because these men hate themselves. Because these men cannot fight for their mothers and sisters.

According to failed and now fat rapper, Trick daddy, African American women are ‘hoes’ that need to sit up before the Latina and white ‘hoes’ take all their men. 

SAD.

Let us bring it back to Nigeria where many women are bleaching.

I shared an article talking about the pressures on women in Nigeria to emulate fake/un-African beauty standards and it was a Nigerian man here who said, Are the women being forced by men to bleach? Well I’d like to tell you about someone I dated as a young woman, who actually bought me the cream to ‘tone’. I dumped him.

I will also like to refer you to mainstream Nigerian music videos by popular Nigerian males filled with non African women, who look different than us. Each one fairer than the next. Diversity is the spice of life, to me. So I appreciate everybody. But to belittle one over another, especially the queens, I can’t take.

Not everybody has the psychological strength to refuse what is subtly or not subtly drummed into their ears. So yes, because men and women rely on each other, they have the capacity to influence one another. So yes, the bleaching continues.

Africa is the seat of the diamonds and gold, cocoa and rubber, oil and super humans, yet we assist those who hate us, to hate us. How dare we assist them, to un-glamourise us, we who are queens and kings, colorful, even when we are sleeping.

SAD.

Time to stop this. Leave African women alone. Stop asking us about our hair, stop judging our bodies. Our hair, breasts, nose, hips, vagina and all are OURS. We don’t tell you what to do with your body.

And STOP that fucking picture where all we do is carry water or firewood on our heads in 2016. 

Stop comparing us to anybody because we are too damn magical for all your collective idiocies and divisional tactics.

– OKWEI-UGO ODILI.

Personhood and Bodily Autonomy: aka Who owns the breast? The man or the Baby?

One of the funniest jokes in the whole wide world, and one of the most serious question is … who owns the breast? Man or baby.

Now you might think we are exaggerating but we dare you go to any gathering where alcohol and food is flowing in abundance, and a lady with an amazing posterior, aka breast, passes by, and come back with that claim of exaggeration.

This topic has been discussed for years, accompanied by titters and uncomfortable avoidance of one another’s eyes, but it never loses it’s freshness … who owns the breast?

Ownership is the operative word here.

A sitting senator, Sani Jibril , last year did a brave thing, something that most Nigerian politicians shy away from. He declared his assets.

This honest and forthright deed broke more than the taboo of asset declaration and Nigerian politicians, it also broke the silence on what an average Nigerian man considers his property.

Senator Sani Jibril
Senator Sani Jibril – Hero of our democracrazy

Senator Sani  Jibril listed his wives and children in the asset declaration form. And instead of being outraged, Nigerian journals praised him for this heroic deed with the blazing headline Meet The Senator That Declared His Wives Among His Assets….Right Or Wrong?

Actually, the headline was  clickbait for those nosey feminists and gender rights activists, because the content of the article did not question the rightness or wrongness of his declaration. It simply went on about his ‘bravery’ and ‘heroism’.

Let’s be candid, we know that a lot of Nigerian men consider their wives and children as their property. And post-birth, women are ‘allowed’ by their husbands to ‘breastfeed’ the baby, with the ‘understanding’ that the breasts actually, really, truly belongs to him.

Don’t get us wrong, women also discuss this ‘important’ issue with a lot of tittering.

Wikipedia defines bodily integrity[autonomy] as the inviolability of the physical body and emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. It considers the violation of bodily integrity as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal.

In simple English, Wikipedia is saying that your body belongs to you, to do with as you like. Bodily autonomy is your right, as backed up by Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The question is why do Nigerian men believe they OWN a woman’s body?

Culture: They believe that once they pay ‘bride price’ this means they have bought their wives. Actually any man who thinks this way is recognized under the law as a criminal, because in a sense, you’re admitting that you’ve partaken in human trafficking.

Religion: Many clerics, both in Nigeria and other parts of the world are fond of misquoting and taking things stated in their different holy books out of context.

quoteSexism: The sexism prevalent in the country, due to the fact that a lot more value has been placed on a male child, gives men the impression that they have the right to the body of any woman they meet. That’s why the boys at Yaba, or any large market, would grab at any girl they see, sexual harassment is rampant in both schools and offices, unchecked. Because men have been taught that women are less, that they are the head, women are … sidekicks.

And why do women take it? Because of the above listed, and a lot of us don’t know that we have the power to sue harassers … and win! Check this out … Former Microsoft Nigeria Employee gets N39m for unlawful Sack after Sexual Harassment and this Supreme Court – Female Child can Inherit Property in Igboland.

Yes we understand how utterly outrageous it is that we are celebrating these victories in 2016! But it’s a start and we know we are not alone, or helpless, or have to submit to dehumanization because culture or religion or the patriarchy says so.

Now back to the question – who owns the breast? Man or the baby?

Please answer the question with the fear of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights… who owns the breast?

…You give away your power the moment you start to believe that you have none…

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