​The #MenAreScum/#Menaretrash Movement: Misandry or Activism? – Editorial

​The #MenAreScum/#Menaretrash Movement: Misandry or Activism? – Editorial

Two weeks ago, in Ikoyi, Lagos, a bunch of schoolgirls sat for their finals and took to the streets in celebration. A bunch of boys from a school next door, (who had just finished their finals too) also took to the streets and started harassing these school girls  They tore their clothes, stole their phones and money, and then attempted to rape these girls, in broad daylight.
This week, in South-Africa, one girl was beaten to death and then burnt beyond recognition by her ex-boyfriend  Another was kidnapped and brutalized as she tried to escape from the car of her kidnapper.

In order to draw attention to the manner in which girls and women are being brutalized by the society, to examine the different ways that the entitlement mentality, with which men and boys are raised, contributes to the high rate of violence against women, and highlight the different ways that men can help mitigate other men’s terrible attitude towards women, the #menarescum/#menaretrash movement was trended on social media by gender activists and feminists from all over Africa.

It has become the norm on social media that whenever feminists or gender activists are advocating for the rights of the woman, men (and women) barge into the threads and try to trivialise the issues 

(by personalising it), this usually descends into a troll-fest with the activists accused of misandry and warnings issued to non-feminist women to stay off the threads because they run the risk of not being seen as ‘good girls’ and ‘wife-materials’.

The #notallmen hashtag is an example of the defences raised by men to tackle what is perceived as an attack by feminists on the institute of ‘manhood’.

However, this latest hashtag has gotten more backlash from both men and women, even those previously seen as allies to the gender equality movement. The tag #menarescum/#menaretrash is seen as being unnecessarily harsh, demeaning and off-putting. Unlike previous times when the voices of feminists and gender activists gain a lot of traction during activism on social media, the voices of people protesting against the hashtag is louder and angrier.

Although gender activists pointed out that the hashtag is not directed at men in particular, but at the structures/systems that brought about inequalities and lately, spates of brutalization against women, a lot of people are not buying it.
According to @Mr Boro, a Twitter user: 


“We have an issue at hand but you repeatedly say I’m stupid and want me to accept I’m stupid and then support you?”

“The same way you feel the need to say all men are  trash is the same way I feel the need to always disagree. You can’t gag me.”

He goes further:

“You can advocate for women’s rights without putting men down. They are not mutually exclusive.”

“Shouting men are scum on Twitter won’t stop Titi, 28 in Iganmu from getting slapped by her husband tomorrow.”

A lot of activists disagree with Mr, Boro, because they believe that with more push women will come to know and recognize their rights and men will be forced to examine their sense of entitlement and privileges afforded them by the patriarchal system presently at work on the continent.

@ChineEzeks a well-known activist and advocate for gender equality;


“The hubris & ignirance to think you somehow escaped being conditioned by a patriarchal society and the privilege it affords you. Amazing.”

“You’re not trash, but you feel more displeasure about being called trash than about women experiencing displeasure from trash. Ok.”

Also calling out people about examining their reasons for being up-at-arms against the hashtag was @Aninoritse, gender and LGBTQ rights activist;


“Of course we know not all men are scum but no oo. Correct it.”

“And correct the scum among you. No o. You’re crying and claiming we are making noise.”

“This is why the narrative will never change. Men are scum/trash. Instead of you men to band together and weed out your scum.”

The narrative emerging from these engagements seems to be that advocates should not be so ‘hostile’ in highlighting the ways inequalities have put everyone at a disadvantage. That the engagements should be less confrontational/militant.

The question is, has the less militant activism worked? In all these years of gender rights activism in Africa what has really worked? Can the answer be gotten from our history? Particularly the activism carried out by women pre- and during colonialism. Were there other tools of engagement used by women before getting to the point of ‘sitting-on-a-man’(a tool used by Eastern women to correct power imbalances) and the topless protests  carried out by women in the Western part of Nigeria to protest injustices by government authorities.

 On the other hand, post-independence, women advocates all over Africa have been lobbying their various governments for change in policies for over 30years, the advocacies are slowly, but surely, changing the landscape of women’s rights. Case in point the Violence Against Person’s bill which has been passed into law and the Child right’s act, which has gained traction in several states of the federation.

The way and manner through which feminists have engaged the issues of activism worldwide is vastly different, the end result has always been highlighting and correction of gender imbalances, can we then say that the #menarescum/#menaretrash movement has been able to achieve its aim?

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VIOLENCE AND THE NIGERIAN: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN I

VIOLENCE AND THE NIGERIAN: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN I

The Nigerian is a violent person. It is a wonder why “violence” has not been inscribed into Nigeria’s coat of arms, along with other words like “progress” and “unity” and “faith”.
The Nigerian’s relationship with violence begins early in life — you will not get what you want unless you are violent. A severe smack by a Nigerian parent to the person of an unwitting pesky baby, the momentary pause in the baby’s movements, the facial expression of betrayal on the baby’s face, succeeded by an explosion of a combination of cries of pain and helplessness. The Nigerian parent, undeterred, fails to register the protest of betrayal and smacks some more, simultaneously placing a single finger across his or her lips and shouting at the uncomprehending child to be quiet or “chop” more licks of the backhand.
This, is Nigerian Parenting 101, ordained by personally by God (or the Nigerian variant, as cynics are quick to point out), who does not mind the parent taking a bribe here or there, or doing something else not to be mentioned in certain types of company, to take proper care of their baby. Parent wants child to be quiet and will not stop smacking until child is quiet or stops the act that prompted the smacking. The child may comprehend in good time, as the months and years go by, violence’s importance in getting what one wants in the world, and internalizes this most valuable lesson.
Adolescents will however always be adolescents — forgetful breed that they are. Many babies will forget this lesson with the passage of time, some will stand up to their parents, either unknowingly or knowingly (perhaps after they have been told like I was told by a close friend when I was a teenager — “If you’ve not started disagreeing with your parents, you have not started growing up!”) The spanking gives way to full blown “discipline” which some unduly scrupulous lawyers whose heads have been filled with Westernisms may otherwise term “assault”. “I feed you in this house! I pay your school fees! You must do what I tell you! You must agree with everything I say!” is the admonition that accompanies the blows from the Nigerian parent to the now growing child. Sometimes, “I will kill you in this house if you don’t do what I tell you to do!” is the icing on the cake, the real yellow card, which for some becomes the red card and means of quick dispatch to the great beyond. This, is Nigerian Parenting 401, advanced level. These blows are dealt with a wide range of objects — brooms, clothes hangers, the koboko (the weapon of choice of the Nigerian society’s disciplinarian at large called the Nigerian military officer), iron rods and cutlasses (both said to be favoured by some officers of the Nigeria Police Force during “interrogations”), pestles for pounding yam, electric wires, the list is almost endless.

Adolescents can be quick learners too, actually, although they may be quick to dispose of old knowledge. If they have younger siblings, their parents have laid down a wonderful template for bringing younger siblings under control. “That story is not true!” younger sibling says to older teenage sibling. “You dare not disagree with me!” older adolescent sibling rebuts and gives younger sibling a thorough beating for daring to think for himself, just as his or her parent before them. The chain goes on, and may be reinforced when they see parent get into fisticuffs for a thing as mundane as two cars bruising each other, with parent at the wheels of one of the cars, mundane in the sense that reason should always trump force in such disputes. The lesson at this stage of the child’s development is clear — force shall always be better than reason, in the Nigerian scenario. To engage reason is folly, the Nigerian adolescent learns fast.  
The teenager becomes an adult, a man or a woman, after eighteen, or so says the law. This man or woman, will be called boy or girl, until he or she has children because a person who has no children of theirs, or is unmarried, has no mind of his or her own (it is the Nigerian way). One way to escape this denigration is to grow ancient features as quickly as possible. Only old people are permitted the privilege of a mind, and respect, although these features may not earn one stripes with the Nigerian armed forces; violence from them knows no discrimination. Elderly men are known to have been dealt koboko blows from time immemorial, by soldiers, for some offence as earthshaking as parking wrongly, or overtaking vehicles at military checkpoints. 

If the teenager, going on adulthood, is lucky to have tertiary education at a state-owned school, they may meet lecturers happy to entertain views divergent to theirs — a most unlikely event, even for those privileged enough to attend private tertiary institutions where it is widely reported that independence of thought is tacitly discouraged. There is a small respite from violence at this station in life, because many universities make expulsion a penalty for violent students, but as usual, this applies to those who have no godfathers. Elections into student union bodies are not for the faint of heart.

If you an aspirant who is apprehensive of being caught out as a violent individual, you can always have a crew willing to get its hands in the mud on your behalf. In the late nineties and noughties when I was a university student in Nigeria, no serious contender for any office at the national level of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) went to the national convention of that body without an assortment of weapons and charms to physically overcome the other. Many of those who occupied NANS executive positions at the time are now to be found in many political “high places” of today, including the National Assembly of the country. There was cultism as well, not the American brand of fraternities, the type of fraternities that killed difficult university lecturers and fellow students. The number of students who went on to graduate from these schools based on their abilities to muscle their ways through, become absorbed into the workforce due to educational attainments they cannot intellectually defend, and then climb to the top of the ladders of their organisations, corporate and public sector alike, will be an interesting statistic to behold, if an international or local NGO with or without a cause can manufacture a figure that will become the official standard. 

– Bolaji Olatunde

On Yorubaname.com, Diversity and a paucity of women in governance: An interview with Kola Tubosun

On Yorubaname.com, Diversity and a paucity of women in governance: An interview with Kola Tubosun

Kola is a feminist married to a feminist (don’t have a heart attack neither of them is transsexual) a11058389_10153108316234235_1325312141973476939_n   teacher, father and a firm believer in diversity. He’s a culture advocate who is gradually working his way into becoming one of the foremost authorities on the propagation of Yoruba Language. 9jafeminista caught up with him on Facebook post election and we decided to have a chat with him.

9jafeminista: You’re a writer, a teacher, a husband, a father, editor of a couple of online magazines, you recently ran a successful fundraiser online and launched Yoruba names dictionary… Where do you find the energy to combine all these and quite successfully too?

 Kola Tubosun: Hmm, When you list them like that, it sounds like a huge deal. In actual fact, most of what I do are regimented. I work in the school from 8am to 4pm. I try but am often unable to do much else during that period. But miracles happen. Then I have some time usually between 4pm and 7pm to follow up on other personal commitments. It got overwhelming at some point, so I had to re-strategize at the beginning of the year. I recently hung up my pen as the editor of the NTLitMag but I know that it hasn’t fully excused me from other responsibilities on that publication, and to writing in general. Good planning, sleeping, and exercising, help.

9jafeminista: When Nlitmag was launched I felt it was an ambitious project in a Nigeria that was really on a large scale, indifferent to the arts generally. Would you say a lot of things have changed since those days?

Kola Tubosun: Well, the magazine was carved out of NigeriansTalk itself as a way to showcase literature from the usually unheard voices and perspectives in Nigeria and around the continent. It wasn’t meant to be “large scale” as such, or anything, but merely a platform to let deserving voices be heard on a monthly basis. We have achieved that aim over the two plus years that we ran it, reaching thousands of readers and writers. Now it needs a new leadership and a new direction and I look forward to seeing where else it can go.

 9jafeminista: Although you’ve tried to downplay how hard you work and the way you manage to deploy your different talents effectively. I’m curious about your latest baby… The Yoruba names dictionary. How did you birth the idea, why do you think it is important that we have that kind of website now, how relevant is it in today’s village we still erroneously consider a world?

Kola Tubosun: When I think about it – and I have done that quite often these days – the idea has always been there. My father always said that there are no stupid questions, so my memory of growing up around him throws up several instances of my restless curiosity about words, names, events etc. He patiently explained them to me, and I’ve retained a lot of those imparted knowledge. However, at adulthood, I realize how much of the information held by adults will disappear with their demise, and how much we’d have lost by buying into a “globalized” culture that celebrates monolingualism (and monoculturalism) at the expense of our own language and cultural experience. This I find totally unacceptable, And when I realized that I have in my power to change things, I also realized how late it seems and how much earlier I (and many more people with similar skills and motivations) should have been on this. To be fair, many have (See Tunde Adegbola, Francis Egbokhare, Ron Schaefer, Tunde Kelani, Akinwumi Ishola, etc), but note that they’re all adults. Where is the new breed? Where are the leaders to take the mantle into the new generation?

So, to answer your question specifically, this Yoruba Dictionary of Names started as an undergraduate project while I was in the final year at the University of Ibadan in 2005. But it is an extension of a number of years of looking for something like this. They say if you look for something and you can’t find it. Create it. In 2015, ten years later, I finally found enough people to make it happen as I’d want it.

And to your final question: how relevant will it be? Let me answer this in a minimalist way, and saykola that even if all the dictionary does is provide a way for ME to be able to find the meaning of any Yoruba name that I want whenever I want it, and for my son’s benefit as well, I will have succeeded. However, I assume that it will have the same (or more) benefit for a lot more people in the world, and that is an added benefit.

9jafeminista: Well you’ve made your point about how globalisation appears to be snuffing out diversity. Could you talk a bit more about that?

Kola Tubosun: As per globalisation, this is – just as the name implies – a global problem. The problem is in a false belief in the acceptance of ONE culture and language as the panacea to the problem of global distrust and misunderstanding. That if we all speak English (or that we all do anyway), we won’t have as much problems in the world. People who make that argument however don’t say yes when you substitute “English” in this case for, let’s say, “Hausa” or “German”. I think it’s fueled by a kind of laziness (or to be charitable, “conservatism” – a belief that things are already how they are. Why change?). The end result is the extinction of thousands of languages and, along with them, cultures and worldviews that could only have added to us.

On the one hand, the predominance of English is there to help communication and global interaction. Nothing is wrong with that. But the attendant consequence of discounting our own languages (or feeling ashamed about them) is the drawback. Go around Nigeria today and find out how many parents still speak their language to their children. Then find out why. You’ll be ashamed.

9jafeminista: Let’s talk about Nigeria’ and her multifaceted problems mostly fueled by the patriarchy. I know you followed the recent elections that ushered Muhamad Buhari in as the president. The absence of women in our political space was emphasized by the only woman running for the presidency Remi Sonaiya … And we know how that went… How do you think we can address this problem?

Kola Tubosun: Nigeria’s experiment with civil rule is new, and so can be excused for dragging its feet on some of the crucial indices of progress. I’m buoyed by the fact that women have, even in our recent past, proven themselves capable of doing great things in the public space. I speak of Dora Akunyili, Oby Ezekwesili, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, among many others. Ours is a patriarchal continent, for the most part, and it will take a while for our politics to reflect anything different from our centuries of socialization and conditioning.

9jafeminista: Half of the voters are women as at the last census… So why this tokenism? A kind of ‘just take and shut up’ thing successive governments have done. The way lip service is paid to “the female-gender” (whatever that is) and the past president’s boast of being a feminist… But we need more women in governance! Were can’t keep using our ‘young’ civil rule as an excuse

Kola Tubosun: You’re right, and I think more women should vie for positions of power. But I don’t think that we want women to be voted in JUST because they’re women either. I preferred Obama in 2008 to Clinton, but only because I believed him to be more capable. If the US election today is between Elizabeth Warren and anyone else, I’ll choose Warren. Also, because she’s put herself out there, and because she’s capable. We have many capable women in Nigeria, but where are they in the public space?

9jafeminista: Doesn’t this take us back to the question of patriarchy? Especially when you think about godfatherism in our political space and glass ceilings preventing women from achieving their true potential

Kola Tubosun: True. And we’re not alone. I find it interesting, for instance, that it has taken America this long to even consider a woman for that top position, in the number of centuries they’ve had presidents. Talk about institutional patriarchy! We at least had a woman presidential candidate just 16 years into our new democratic experience. It’s not perfect, what we have. Actually, it’s terrible, considering the number of strong women we’ve had in our history, from Madam Tinubu to Mrs. Funmilayo Kuti. But I believe that the problem is a societal one. Our government is a representative of who we are. It’s like a chicken and egg situation. Writers are already doing their part. Artists should follow. And we as a people should stop encouraging Nollywood movies that cast women as helpless, hapless, creatures when they are not being cast as witches or husband thieves. We should begin to tell their stories as strong agents of positive change in the world. Things won’t change if we merely expect it to.