Have You Seen Her?

Five young men stood in the clearing, each bloodshot eye marked by a white chalk ring, an unending circle of love.

As they swayed to blood rousing beats from a fusion of flute, drum and fiddle, their black loin wrappers shimmered under the blinding sun.

Shaved heads tilted back, chiseled muscles vibrated as their hoarse voices rose in a collective roar.

“Please, have you seen our sister? She’s the first fruit of our mother’s womb. Pray tell, for we must know if you have seen the one whose ringing laughter filled our father’s home.”

Heavy silence from those watching threatened to suck up the air.

“We have not seen her,” they cried. “Not since the day she left our mother’s bosom, waving as she held on to her new husband’s hand for a journey of no return.”

Faces contorted, their twirls and stomps sent up showers of fine red sand. “Who knew giving out a daughter was such a dangerous thing to do?”

Covered with sand grains, the swaying crowd shook heads as tears ran down their faces.

“Did you ever see our sister in that faraway land?” Their roar asked. “Was she happy? Did she talk about us? Despite the time and space, we never forgot about her.”

Stilled by the lone wail of the oja flute, the young men held out upturned palms. “They told us the earth opened and swallowed her. No one said the hands of her husband pushed her into the hole.”

“Our eyes are heavy because we have not seen our sister. And the fresh grave yawning before us says we shall see her no more.”

Yejide Kilanko © 2014

Misogyny, Nollywood and the rest of us…

From the Editor’s Desk: For the next sixteen days we will be featuring the thoughts of sixteen Nigerian Feminists on the state of Domestic Violence in Nigeria.

Nollywood will have a plot where a woman is raped, then will proceed to spend the rest of the fucking storyline focused on how absolutely devastated her husband is that his wife was raped. He can’t look at her. He can’t bring himself to sleep with her anymore. Marriage is fucked, cos hubby just can’t deal with this terrible thing that happened to him. Meanwhile, what is the actual victim doing all this time hubby is all torn up? Consoling the bloody idiot, begging him to please look at her, sleep with her, eat her food, let go as she’s let go. Kai!!!!!!

The other day, what else did Nollywood throw up? A man beats his wife whenever he’s possessed by the beating demon (sent by a woman whose sole aim is to destroy the marriage). Once demon temporarily leaves man, man will be all lovey lovey again with his wife, till the next demon possession. Oh, as you might guess, the demon-sender is the neighbour who’s always asking wifey what she’s still doing in that marriage after hubby has panel-beaten her. Of course, story ends when the prayerfulness of wifey gets demon permanently casted off & winchy winchy neighbor dies (you know that happens when demon-sending backfires nah).

Lawdhavemercy!!!! If many people weren’t digesting this trash, if many people aren’t being guided by media, this’d all be a big fucking comedy.

– Ugo Chime

Vweta Chadwick on Women, Poverty and Empowering the Girl

9jafeminista: Project Asha was started in 2008 at Ajegunle and has so far empowered over 300 teenagers through skills acquisition and other means it’s now 2015, how would you describe this journey?

Vweta: The Empowering Women of the Future (EWOF) project,  one of ASHA’s initiative  started in Ajegunle in September 2012. Since then, we have worked directly with over 500 teenage girls, young women and senior citizens (women) through rehabilitation services, skills acquisition, community outreaches and public dialogues and focus group discussions.
However, ASHA was birthed in 2004.

9jafeminista: So how has the journey been?

Vweta: It has been inspiring, challenging, innovative and very rewarding. I have been blessed with the stories of girls and women, who have endured some of the most inhumane acts. I have witnessed how these victims became survivors, and, how, from a place of familiar pain, now reach out to support other potential victims. This has impressed on me, I think, the need to transform my pain, no matter what it is, into a positive experience.
And I’ll cite an example with the EWOF project. In 2012 when I first stepped in Ajegunle, I underestimated some of the challenges confronting the girls and women in the community. In my mind, once ASHA is able to get sponsors for the girls education, and educate them on their SRHR, the work is done. However, this was not the case. Issues such as poverty, kept playing up. A mother who is barely able to feed often sacrificed the education of her daughter on the altar of street hawking. The promise of an education and job, we soon discovered, becomes fantastic when poverty and hunger is biting.
Another challenge was some male aversion towards the girls and women in the EWOF program. With information and knowledge comes power and control, over our bodies and choices. This disturbed the power dynamics in many relationships and even marriages. And, in the most cases, it was unwelcome.
And back to poverty, it is one thing to know your rights, but often, you need financial independence to assert that right. A woman for example, who is in an abusive relationship with a partner she is dependent on financially often has to endure such abuse because she has no agency to assert her rights. If she decides to leave, where would she go? If she’s had kids, how would she feed them and meet hers and their needs? Poverty poses a huge barrier, not only to girls education, also to girls and women’s rights.
And these challenges brings me to my experience of being innovative.
To address the problem of poverty, ASHA Sheros Academy was birthed in 2013.
This is a vocational and skills acquisition academy for girls and women in the Ajegunle community. Many beneficiaries of this academy have received small start off grants from ASHA and some of our partners towards starting their own businesses.
I believe this was innovative because, by empowering women economically we helped them create an enabling environment for their daughters to attend school. To put it simply, the mothers no longer needed their daughters to hawk goods. She could return to the classroom.
Seeing these leaps and bounds in girls education and women’s agency is truly rewarding and it is definitely worth every bit of energy and time.

9jafeminista: What prompted your move to start this project? Did you ever live in Ajegunle?

Vweta: Early in 2012, I was volunteering for the Lagos Empowerment and Resource Network (LEARN)  at a school in Alapere, Ketu, as a sexuality education facilitator.

I noticed that the number of boys in class was significantly more than the number of girls. I’m talking about a ratio of 5 boys to one girl. And this was the case in the senior and junior classes I facilitated.

Naturally, I was curious, so I asked the class why? Many of the reasons cited were – teenage pregnancy, many of their classmates have had to drop out of school because of the accompanying discrimination and often expulsion that comes with being pregnant while in school. Many others also had to assist their families economically, this they did by hawking or engaging in petty trade, which didn’t allow them to attend classes.

So I asked, where are these girls from? Teachers and students said the majority of them reside in Ajegunle. Later the same year, I visited the community for the first time, and EWOF was born.

9jafeminista: In a new bulletin released by AfriDevInfo between 54 to 85% of women are denied education in the NE and NW of Nigeria,  http://www.afri-dev.info/sdgs-education-gender-conflictextremism-development-nigeria-female-male-education-scorecards-day-of-girl-child-2015/,  even in the more ‘progressive’  parts of Nigeria SE/SW/SS the percentages are still high.
We know that there’s very little NGO’s like yours can do to improve the lot of female children in the country especially with the governments apathetic attitude towards developing women,  in spite of the fact that they make up almost half of the country.
Are there ways that ASHA is engaging the government? Any advocacy directed at the ministry of education and women’s affairs?

Vweta: We believe in both bottom-to-top and top-to-bottom approaches, ASHA recognizes the effort government has expanded towards access to education for every girl and boy by way of free basic education, however, like I pointed out earlier, girls need to be enabled to access such opportunities, And, we are doing our bit by empowering girls and their mothers with vocational skills and maximization of near-at-hand economic opportunities.
We have repeatedly called on government at both the state and federal level to remove barriers that impedes girls access to education such as discrimination against teenage mothers, tackling the issues of insecurity especially in North-Eastern Nigeria so that girls seeking education are not victims of reprisals as has been seen with the lingering case of the Chibok girls.
Furthermore, we have consistently called for an all inclusive educational establishments where girls with disabilities can have unimpeded access to basic and qualitative education. Equally, ASHA is a member of Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSECAFA) and is actively seeking partnership with like-minded organisations to promote girl’s access to qualitative education.

9jafeminista: You have a program coming up on the 1st of November,  can you talk a little about it?

Vweta: Project ASHA is keen to demonstrate the uniqueness of its NGO Model which makes it stand apart by generating funding creatively instead of going fundraising cap in hand. Whilst we welcome direct philanthropic donations, our main source of income is a social enterprise revenue generation model. This is expressed in Article 8 Part 4 of our constitution.
The first Empowering Laughter is scheduled for 2pm, November 1st, at the Oriental Hotel. Lekki.
This event is headlined by Ali Baba, and will be anchored by Princess Comedian and Mc Bambino. Other confirmed acts include Timi Dakolo, Buchi, OzzyBosco, Oke Bakasi, Koffi, Toby Grey, Ronnie, TJ Hays, Mr Johnbull, Gordons and MC Abey. Attendees will be required to pre-purchase a ticket to attend the event to cover the costs incurred and further ASHA’s work with vulnerable and marginalized women and girls in Nigeria.
Nigerians who do exceptional work to inspire hope and transform lives will also be recognized and awarded that day.
Empowering Laughter represents a win-

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win outcome, whereby the public pay a fair fee for our services which they enjoy, while also helping to promote the rights of the at risk people we work with.

Azafi Omoluabi-Ogosi on Handshake deals, Her love for books and Parresia

9jafeminista: You started Parresia about five years ago as a working girl, with some years as an editor with Farafina and absolutely no experience as a business woman. How would you describe this journey?

AOO: The groundwork, the thinking, the conceiving and all the molecules that would make up the structure of Parrésia Publishers Ltd, began in 2011. So that’s four years ago not five. Yes, I worked as an Editor for Farafina Magazine before then and Yes, I absolutely had no experience as a business woman. The only thing that made sense was the fact I loved books and I wanted to see more of them published. And this only happened after Femi, my brother, asked “why would you want to start a Literary Agency, when you can go the whole nine yards and publish books?” So I said Okay in that clueless way I normally do and Parresia after the name was chosen, was birthed with the help of Richard Ali who came on as co-owner.

The journey happened and that’s why I almost gave up at one point when I discovered publishing isn’t just about loving books or getting them published but making money out of it, which ensures your operational side stays lubricated.

9jafeminista: Oh wait! So you mean the rumours making the rounds in literary circles that Richard Ali owns Parrésia is true?

AOO: They aren’t rumours Richard Ali co-owns Parrésia Publishers. When Parrésia started, it was a company between friends. I was the financier and he would be the operations person. It was a handshake based on mutual respect Yes. A lot has also happened to create several impressions. But you don’t see me for instance going up in people’s faces laying claims or saying the company revolves around me. No, you won’t. What’s important is I love books, I print Books. I see it as a business which must survive. The titles, the ownership structure, are Secondary. I’ve never been in a forum where I had to emphasise my role or my importance, if I was, I wouldn’t be caught doing it anyway. Parrésia is about the passion for Books and not the fight for ownership nor the extreme importance of its titles. And this is something I learnt and I came to adopt from Farafina. The structure was flat. The titles of the individuals did not matter. Getting the work did. That is what was important.

9jafeminista: Do you think this handshake kind of agreement can bring about bad blood?

AOO: Yes! But we [Richard Ali and I] understand that this is based on the fact that Parrésia was a fledgling publishing house when it started but in such a short while it has become one of the big publishing houses to be reckoned with. [But this largely] depends on the Individual. If in the beginning, I chose to use the title Managing Editor because I felt more comfortable with it, and out of necessity (because things have evolved) I now use CEO and Managing Editor despite the fact that I think it’s totally cumbersome. So certain things had to happen to ensure bad blood was not allowed to spill physically.

9jafeminista: Any plans to make an improvement in both service delivery and structure?

Life constantly evolves and so will Parrésia. We have things we keep working on. Ideas we keep having and mistakes we keep making in the process to be better. Parrésia is still a long way off from being a Company that can stand in line with let’s say Farafina or Cassava Republic. There’s still so much to do, but we’ll get there. And what’s important is we have the Passion to make it succeed.

9jafeminista: One of the common things the new publishing houses in Nigeria (those that evolved in the 2000’s Farafina, Cassava Republic to name but two) is their love for Nigerian literature and determination to spread our literature across the globe.But as we know this doesn’t mean that these you guys have bottomless pockets or unending sources of funding, how have you managed to keep Parrésia above the waters of incompetence, the governments apparent disinterest in Nigeria’s struggling publishing industry and all the other risks associated with this industry?

I’d like to say it isn’t just Nigerian Literature Parrésia is interested in, African Literature too. But yes, what is closest to the mission is to see the best of Nigerian Literature published first. In our first year or second, Toni Kan predicted that if we were not careful we might end up shutting down. He was right. So right, I had my first major desire to throw my arms up and walk away. But then things have a way of working out. I have a very supportive family and they came to the rescue. Especially my husband. From this experience, I learnt to be more careful.

Then there’s the Origami Imprint which is for self-publishers. This imprint manages to keep our account from being red even if there’s nothing in it at the end of the day.

9jafeminista: One of the falsehoods usually peddled by ‘anti feminists’ is that women are jealous of one another’s successes, would you say you’ve found this true of yourself?

AOO: Hell no! Although I think Women should have a more united, indivisible front. My friend and sister Ayodele Olofintuade recently officially announced her publishing company. To be jealous of her or any other progressive woman would be a show of daftness.

9jafeminista: And finally, how would you describe your transition from a working girl to a business owner?

AOO: From Fawning to Naïve and then a Total Wreck to Facing My Demons, Fighting and most importantly staying Focused!

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fuckboys: Editorial

Fuckboys are a special breed. These set of people have one mind, one hope, one future. They have truly transcended the barriers usually imposed by class, gender, race, sexuality, religion and marital status. And we at 9jafeminista have this to say – ‘fuckboys of the world unite!’

We have noticed, however, that some people are doing it all wrong, they have aspirations to join the Fuckboy Club but they are struggling, and people, the struggle is real.

Luckily for you, we at 9jafeminista have spent years observing and studying these special set of human beings and have been able to come up with seven simple habits that will take you into the Kingdom (yes it’s a male dominated thing) of fuckboyism.

  1. Group think: Fuckboys do not have one original idea in their heads, anybody who thinks outside of this rarefied group will have a lot of problems fitting in and might suffer from a social disorder called ‘relational aggression’ the result of which is ostracism and heaven forbid you be ostracized or have to stand out or be considered different. You have to monitor trending topics and contribute accordingly. Fitting in has never been so easy, all you need is a phone and internet connectivity then support the most popular opinions.
  2. Bling: It is important that you dress the part. Successful fuckboys worldwide are known to wear designer clothes and accessories. You need to let people know that these items are high end stuff. You need an Instagram account to post your many pictures of clothes, accessories and their labels MUST SHOW. Fortunately you don’t need to be too rich to wear all these things, Aba boys and the Chinese have made these things dirt cheap. The logo of your designer must be displayed in a very obvious position.
  3. Religion: To be a fuckboy you need to belong to one of the many religions, but if you’re a Nigerian, you need to be either a Christian or a Muslim. Do not join groups like the Hare Krishna or claim you’re a Buddhist. You don’t need to go deep into these religions or read their many books. The point is to be able to refer to a bible or Quran passage to back up some of the ignorant things you say.
  4. Sexism: Highly successful fuckboys are sexists and you need to get this shit right. You have to say a lot of shit like ‘women are the weaker vessel’, ‘men should provide for their families’, ‘unmarried single ladies of a certain age are sluts’, ‘feminists are men hating, bitter, forever single women who have failed at marriage’. Not only do you have to say these things you need to actually believe they are true. And they are Universal Truths, according to fuckboys. Everybody knows that women are the worst drivers in the world and real men don’t cry. Women are irrational creatures, real men don’t wear pink. Refer to point no 1 above if you’re in doubt, group think is the ish.
  5. Homophobia: Another important aspect of being a fuckboy is homophobia. You need to have an irrational hatred of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. You need to ignore the fact that your uncle, dad, mum, sister, brother, friend, cousin or even you belong to this group (although they try hard to hide it). You need to believe that all queer people wear baby pampers and are out to ‘recruit’ you. Whenever you’re out drinking with your friends or exchanging bants with them online, always make sure you drop words like, ‘pink is such a gay colour, I will never wear pink.’
  6. Trolling: Get your troll game on. You need to perfect this game. Anybody who disagrees with you or troll fuckboy cabal must feel the wrath of the gods. You can learn trolling by simply retweeting other fuckboy cabal members, then you up your game by responding to people you disagree with (mostly women and feminists – either male or female). And the final step is by starting a troll game ALL BY YOURSELF. While trolling you can cast doubt on the ‘masculinity’, ‘marriageability’ and ‘richness’ of your victim. Make references to the body parts of your victim eg ‘see your droopy breasts’, ‘your yansh is too flat for the big grammar you’re speaking’, ‘carry your pimply face off my tl’ etc. You must be vicious, no prisoners taken. Use sentences like ‘anti go and marry’, ‘you’re nothing but a hoe’, ‘your body count must be over a million by now’. When people talk about rape take it personal and call them liars, ask them what they were wearing when they got raped, talk about the time a girl or a boy came to your house at 9pm and refused to give you ‘show’.
  7. DM Sliding: Follow a lot of girls and women, especially the type you know can never give you the time of the day, slide into their DM’s or inboxes. Make your opening words very attractive, you can start with stuff like ‘Hey beautiful, who’s preeking you?’ or send dick pics, if the girl refuses to reply to your dm, kindly go and insult her very well so that she will know that you’re not to be trifled with. You can also do this in real life by catcalling ‘fine girls’ and when they ignore you yell insults at them, take particular care to talk about how they are dressed like ‘prostitutes’ and how they are ugly, also tell them that they will never find ‘husband’ because they will never find someone like you.

This list is in no way exhaustive, there’s the fact that fuckboys believe marriage is the only reason women were placed on earth, that women must have children because that’s the whole essence of their being. Support the ‘pro-life’ movement. Make stupid comments on how women should behave, dress, be…

We wish you luck in your bid to be the best fuckboy ever!

Things Fall Apart and the African Feminist’s Manifesto

In the past few days I have found myself wading through torrents of feminism – the murky, the combative, the conciliatory, the prescriptive, the anxious, the embarrassed, the conservative, the misinformed, THE BADLY MISINFORMED, the ABJECT IGNORANT, the level-headed and the very level-headed.

I confess I was more enervated from resisting the temptation to respond to the arguments flying all over my head like drones than from actually responding. Some time ago, I made a personal vow to never argue either the basics of gender or sexuality with Nigerians. Those who already know do not need the rudiments. Those who do not know are sincerely ignorant and cannot be persuaded. It is a waste of time to convince anybody.

Like Barrister Tade Ipadeola said on a thread, feminism is one of the theories that have been badly taught in Nigerian institutions and one that has equally been badly received. I concur to that.

Last month in Ibadan, someone gave me a book –a festschrift actually- written in celebration of a Nigerian feminist professor. It was a 600 plus paged book. I started reading the Introduction written by some women. They were talking about male gaze and in the same paragraph blamed sexual violence on the way women dress. I closed the book and left it somewhere. Whatever else the book has to say has been destroyed by the poorly thought out and judgmental introduction chapter.

In the past few days however, I have come across so much talk about feminism that I am ready to make an exception just once to talk about feminism; just this once to inform those who have badly received feminism. We need them to understand that feminism is not about mundane exchanges about whether a man or his wife is supposed to cook; that feminism does not begin and end with Facebook posts; that feminism does not threaten the perfect “African culture” or “African marriage” they endlessly rhapsodize about. Instead, what it does is open their eyes to the imbalances they are wilfully blind to.

No knowledge, no philosophy, no thinking, is worth its name if it does not make one uncomfortable or threaten what is believed to be ‘normal’.

One of the arguments I hear over and over again is that there is no patriarchy in African societies; that our mothers were in no way oppressed; that black women are merely copying white women who, in private, are subservient to their own men. This argument has no clear gender divide. Women, especially those cocooned in the privileges their education affords them, rant endlessly about why we should speak of equality and not feminism. These women, ever afraid to be seen as having achieved anything based on gender kick against the appreciation of gender differences and the peculiarities of challenges that arise they spur. This makes me wonder how many generations it will take to undo the insidious effects of male domination in our society.

If you want to speak about equality in African society, draw near and I shall tell you the stories of my grandmother, mother and myself. We –three of us- represent different generations of women; we faced different challenges and I can share a narrative of how the changes in the material culture define what each of us thinks of “patriarchy.”

As an older female child in a Yoruba household, I can tell you that my age gives me certain privileges over my younger brothers. Yoruba institutions are primarily age –not gender- based. Yet, when I step out of my house in Ibadan and walk in the larger Nigerian culture, I am subject to a different dynamic.

One way or the other, we embody the contradictions of the gender relationship in our various ethnic traditions and the larger ones precipitated by forces of colonialism, globalization and other factors that order our contemporary world. These things are more complicated than the simple binary of man/woman; black/white; African/non-African to which some folks reduce every conversation. “Patriarchy” in Africa has never so been simple and shallow. If only people would take time to learn about feminism and its routes through African scholarship, we would have far more meaningful and sensible dialogues.

I understand the frustration of feminists when those who do not know jack, proudly confess they have not read shit, hand out verdicts on feminism.

To illustrate the complications of gender relationships, I turn to Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. In the book are three women who symbolize different (and contradictory) conditions (and positions) of women in our society at every point.

There is Ani, the earth; Chielo, the priestess; Ojiugo and Ekwefi, Okonkwo’s wives. If you want to argue that the Igbo society Achebe presents is patriarchal without any redeeming value, then you are confronted with the question of why the men would revere a female god. Why should a society like that give any woman regard enough to worship her? If you want to argue that Ani is just a metaphor, an idea, an immaterial being whose principles can structure the culture only because she is disembodied, what do you do with Chielo, a woman so powerful men feared her? If you want to take both Ani and Chielo as the quintessence of African women – powerful and unaffected by the lopsidedness of patriarchy, what do you do with Ojiugo and Ekwefi? In the book, both of the women suffered measures of physical abuse but their conditions were never resolved. Okonkwo was reprimanded for beating a woman in the Week of Peace but not for the act of violence in itself.

Think about it, there is no time that these women are not archetypes of sort and represented in our society.

While you are busy praising the Nigerian society that has “made” women like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and busy comparing her to every other woman as example of female power in contemporary society, remember, for every Ani, there are women like Ojiugo and Ekwefi whose abuses are not even a subject of conversation. Why did Achebe even create the character of Ezinma (Ekwefi’s daughter)? Why did her father look at her and wished she were male? What underlying critique do you think he was passing across about gender and social prospects?

So for the Nigerian anti-feminist who says feminism is unnecessary because women have never had it so good because they see the Ani and the Chielos of this world, I say leave us who profess feminism to speak for the Ekwefi/Ojiugos. If your life suits you as it is, like Barack Obama’s insurance, we say “keep it!” Nobody is asking you not to cook for your husband or to marry a woman who gets an orgasm from watching the pots boil in her kitchen-office. That is your life but your life is not everybody’s life. If you know how much the world that you thrive in has benefited from feminist ideology, you would think twice before running it down to embrace that illusion of your perfect African life.

An open letter to paedophiles – Ayodele Olofintuade

It is unfortunate that I cannot open this letter with ‘Dear Paedophile’ because the furthest thing you are is ‘dear’. Yes you are human, and you have feelings, but when it comes to criminality, you are in a class of your own. So many things come to mind when I think of you, things like murderer, thief, rapist and most importantly, evil.

I can tell you categorically that there’s no amount of blood that can wash away your ‘sins’, no amount of self-flagellation, of fasting and praying can give you rest, because what you do is ruin lives. You take pleasure in other people’s pain, you take pleasure in the pain of the helpless and the vulnerable, you are beyond contempt and if there is truly a hell, I know you are already living in it. This hell is not the one designed by the religions, this hell is within your head, in the constant headaches, heartaches, in seeing all the things you love wither and die in your presence. You are already suffering from loneliness, dissatisfaction with yourself, and things can only get worse.

I know psychiatrists have tried to excuse your lack of self-control as a sickness of the mind, but you and I know you are not suffering from any mental illness, we both know that what you are is evil, pure and simple.

Psychiatrists may claim that you might have been also raped as a child, that you might have suffered while growing up, but news flash, so were a lot of people that had their childhoods taken away by your groping hands, sticky fingers, by your lack of self-control. We both know that you could have stopped this cycle of pain, if indeed you had been abused as a child, but you CHOSE not to, you CHOSE, to perpetuate the pain, we both know that having sex with children is the only way you feel POWERFUL.

Yes this is about power. The thrill you get when you take a young child of 5, of 7, of 13, a child who is vulnerable, who knows next to nothing about the evil that lurks in the heart of men and women like you and you crush that child by raping him or her.

No you do not love any of those children because we do not rape the people we love, let’s for one sick moment imagine that you actually, truly, love this child, why can’t you wait till such a child reaches the age of consent, why can’t you wait till such a child becomes an adult and can clearly define what he or she wants.

But your pleasure is taken from somebody you have decided is weaker than you. You enjoy seeing their fear, you enjoy taking their childhood and crushing it in your palms, you are the Biblical devil, the Satan in the Quran, you!

It doesn’t matter if such a child is your own, or somebody else’s all you desire is to kill the essence of this child, to impose your sexuality on this child, to break the child, to maim her or him, taking away any opportunity of such a child growing up freely and happily.

Many people might suppose modernity is the root cause of your evil, that you have access to the internet, to the image of children dancing shoki, but we both know that this is not the case, you and I know that you’ve been practising your evil for years, with the knowledge that in a country such as Nigeria, the likelihood that you’ll be caught or sent to prison for a long time is next to nil.

You thrive in dystopia, you love the way things do not work, and that is why you choose people who you believe cannot talk that is why you choose the weak the vulnerable, the one year old, the three months old child.

No you’re not sick, you are EVIL.

Did you also give to the Mirabel Centre? Oh you’ve not heard about them? Well that’s practically the ONLY centre in Nigeria where the victims of your wickedness are being put together the best they could. But if you’ve heard about them, I bet you did send some money to the fund that is being raised, all these noise, I bet you threw them a couple of naira notes, something to shut up all those infernal feminists.

That money means next to nothing to you, but money can’t buy you a conscience, or the power that you need to desperately to shore up your total lack of self-esteem. That is why you constantly need to rape children.

I wonder how you manage to live with yourself, how you cope with the self-loathing, the knowledge that you haven’t found what you’re looking for- love, self-acceptance, power… that you will continually search for these things inside of yourself and see…nothing because that’s what you are, what you’ll always be…NOTHING!

PAMELA ADIE: LGBT RIGHTS ADVOCATE, FEMINIST, QUEER

9jafeminista: Did you ever feel different while growing up?

Pamela Adie: Different. That’s a word I was very afraid of while growing up. I never felt different per se. In my head I believed I was “normal” like everyone else. Growing up was enjoyable. I was allowed to be a kid and I was a kid. I played outside a lot, ate a lot of food, played with my siblings, had lots of toys, a loving family, hated school (LOL) and loved riding bicycles and crashing toy cars… So, my growing up years were lots of fun.

9jafeminista: Why were you afraid of that word? Different that is…

Pamela Adie: I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be like every other girl. Society indirectly prescribes ways in which females should behave and as children we never question that. We just do as we see and as we are told. So, to be different was scary. I mean, who will be friends with the girl who is different? Since I wanted lots of friends, different was scary.

9jafeminista: Would you say you’re still afraid of being seen as different now?

pamelaPamela Adie: No, I’m over that now. Sometimes I think I am different personified. Everything about my appearance screams different. For starters I have Locs and that sets me apart already because many Nigerian women have long weaves or braids. Very few of us carry locs. Right now, I enjoy the fact that I walk into a room and everyone can see that I’m different. I stand out. It’s a lovely feeling! Sometimes, poeple see different as bad. Different is not neccessarily bad – it’s just different, and that can be a good thing.

9jafeminista: Would you say this feeling of being different has influenced your career choice/path?

Pamela Adie: Not so much my career choice, but certainly influenced my passion – advocating for equals right for the LGBT community and women. These two groups that are very marginalized, but my LGBT brothers and sisters are often discriminated against because they are different. This is a great injustice. Treating people differently because they are different is very dangerous and that fuels my passion.

9jafeminista: As a Nigerian and a queer woman what do you think of the narratives around sex and women in our part of the world?

Pamela Adie: Africans in general, and most particularly women, are taught not to talk about sex, not to be sexual or express our sexual desires. This is a taboo topic ingrained in our minds, right from when we’re children. I believe suppressing sexual desires or not talking about sex is harmful to everyone, and women in particular. Some women go through life having never experienced an orgasm because they cannot tell their partners what pleases them or where they would like to be touched. As a queer woman, it is more difficult to talk about sex.

It’s already considered a taboo to be queer, and sexual orientation is generally a sensitive topic. However, we find that narratives around sexual orientation are mostly portrayed in a negative light. I have always believed that if I do not like the story, I can change the narrative by contributing to it.

9jafeminista: In what ways are you doing contributing to these conversations?

Pamela Adie: Well, I recently started a blog, www.dizzlesbay.blogspot.com, where I tell personal stories about my struggle with my sexuality and how I got to the point of self-acceptance. I feel it is important for queer people in Nigeria to hear these stories because it gives hope. Most importantly, people need to know that they are not alone. I share my stories with the hope that others will be inspired to do the same. Together, we can create positive narratives around sex, sexuality, and women.

It is also important to expose the negative effects of homophobia and draw attention to how it affects everyone, not just queer women.

9jafeminista: What do you think of the impact feminism has had in Nigeria? Would you say we’ve made a lot of headway just are things still the same?

Pamela Adie: I believe even an inch progress is progress nonetheless. For starters, we are at point where we can have a discussion about feminism. That in itself is a positive thing and the conversation should be continued. I have had interactions with many people and when the issue of feminism came up I discovered that a lot are ignorant about what feminism is about. A lot of people think that feminism is only supported by lesbians or women who can’t find husbands and what not. I try to bring them to the point where they understand that feminism is about men and women having equal access to economic, social opportunities. Then I see the ignorance begin to fade. So, while significant progress has been made in changing attitudes, I think a lot of work still needs to be done in education and enlightenment to bring about the change we desire.

9jafeminista: How did it feel acknowledging your preference for women and then having to come out to members of your family?

Pamela Adie: When referring to my sexuality, I don’t like the word “preference” because it seems to suggest there is a choice. But my sexual orientation is not a choice I made. That is just how I am. So, acknowledging my sexual orientation to myself was a very interesting experience, and you can read all about it on my blog. More than anything, I felt FREE! Many people do not realize that for queer people, we first have to come out to ourselves before we come out to anyone else. That process is empowering. I also describe how I came out to my family on my blog, but I can tell you that it was scary and unpredictable. I did not know what to expect. But it was very rewarding because it opened my eyes to things I did not know existed in my family.

9jafeminista: Thanks so much Pamela for taking us into your world. One final question, what are your sentiments about the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act(SSMPA) passed last year by former president Goodluck Jonathan?

Pamela Adie: The SSMPA is a discriminatory law, and serves no purpose whatsoever. It is the kind of law that discriminates against people simply because they are different, not because they harm anyone. Furthermore, it infringes on the rights of all Nigerians, not just LGBT Nigerians. It is a harmful law and it should be repealed.

In which Rita Onwurah tries to defend Nollywood and why she’s not a feminist

9jafeminista: Why Nollywood?

Rita Onwurah: I’ve always been fascinated with film and wanted to be a screenwriter.

9jafeminista: How did you chase this dream down? It couldn’t have been easy.

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Rita C. Onwurah

Rita Onwurah: I had heard about Emem Isong from 2002/03 and had been a part of one of her productions then. So I’d always wanted to meet her, but then, she was out of the country so I couldn’t meet her. Fast-forward to 2004 and I finally got to meet her through my friend Uduak who happens to be her sister. So when I met her and told her I was interested in writing for film. She said she’ll call me up when something comes up. But then I had to travel for NYSC and then came back to work for Farafina, I was there for 4yrs. Then I quit and decided to face screenwriting fully. The opportunity came when Emem needed to shoot a movie and needed a story. I had a story Id been working on, I presented it to her and the rest, like they say, is history

9jafeminista: Would you say your gender has in any way affected your rise in the industry?

Rita: I don’t think it has. I’m good at what I do and I get referrals because I’m good at my job.

9jafeminista: We know that Nollywood has taken a lot of flak for badly written, badly acted movies, and I know you’re one of the few who have worked at writing world class films. In which ways have you tried to change things from the way they are?

Rita: I guess everyone tries in their own little way. The genesis of every film is a story/ script, the story telling is important and it falls on the screenwriter to make a good story happen.

9jafeminista: From what you said earlier women helped you gain traction in the movie industry so what do you think of this narrative that women are usually jealous of one another?

Rita: Well I wouldn’t term it as exclusive though. If there are women jealous of each other, there are women supporting each other, in my journey in Nollywood, women have been most helpful and supportive

9jafeminista: In what ways have you been instrumental in helping other women?

Rita: Well I give advice to upcoming female screenwriters who are starting out in the industry. Sometimes, I refer them to producers who are looking for scripts and my hands are full. I do recommendations for them as well. The sky is big enough one can’t feel threatened by the presence of another writer. There’ll always be demand for content and truth be told, no one person can meet them all.

9jafeminista: You’re young intelligent, hip and pushing frontiers in nollywood with your skills. Would you say you’re also a feminist?

Rita: I don’t like being typecast. I’m not struggling for a man’s position with him.

9jafeminista: What’s a man’s position?

Rita: I just want to be respected for who I am & what I can do.

9jafeminista: We know that … But what’s a man’s position?

Rita: Maybe I didn’t phrase it correctly. Let the men do them. And let us women do us.

9jafeminista: What do men do? what do women do?

Rita: All that ‘weaker’ sex thing is annoying. Let me be respected for what I can do. Not necessarily my gender

9jafeminista: You do understand gender stereotypes though … Men change tyres, can’t cook, don’t cry kind of thing…

Rita: That gender matter can be very restrictive sometimes and annoying. If a woman can do it, by all means let her. Don’t say she’s a woman therefore she can’t

9jafeminista: Do you in any way challenge these stereotypes in your writing or you’re letting things be?

Rita: I challenge them. But I do it wisely. There are ways one can pass the message across without awakening the ire of people

9jafeminista: Can you give me an example of how you negotiate gender norms in your writing?

Rita: In most male written scripts in Nigeria, there’s a certain stereotype thats given to a woman. She’s either dumb, a gold digger, indecisive, weak…I like to write my female characters as human but strong. She’s the strong mother, the hustling wife, the corporate exec calling shots in the office. Even if she’s in a position of weakness, she’s still strong. Not easily bossed around, can hold her own

9jafeminista: So in a quiet way you’ve been changing things and perspectives. What are your sentiments about mass produced videos that seem to follow the same pattern … Of justifying the abuse of women, women as witches and bitches, stigmatization of women who don’t have children… These are recurrent themes in Nollywood and from all indications it seems that things won’t change anytime soon

Rita: I’m not a fan of those things at all. These guys have no idea about the power of the media, and how they’re feeding a stereotype. For them, the average Nigerian woman is a witch, a bitch or a prostitute and that’s so wrong. Those mass production guys don’t care about the message they’re passing. For them, it’s all about the money. But I’ll take Achebe’s advice when he said “If you do not like the story that is told, write your own.” So I’ll continue to write and eventually produce scripts and stories that edify women and not vilify them.

Editorial: Five reasons you should never be a Feminist

For going on to two weeks now, we have watched happily as discussions about feminism took over the Nigerian cyberspace.

There have always been periods on both Twitter and Facebook that people trolled feminists. A lot of memes are used in these attacks and most of them play up the same old narratives of feminists being angry, sexually frustrated women, bitter people who have most likely failed in their marriages and other relationships and are trying to ‘recruit’ other women to join them.

According to Naija cyberspace feminists are most likely pretending to be lesbians and forever single ladies who will probably never have children in their lives. As per the few Nigerian men who ‘claim’ to be feminists, it’s likely they are ‘biologicaly modified’ (frankly our understanding of English is not that deep so we won’t be able to translate what biologically modified means).

Now to the reasons why you should never be a feminist

  1. You won’t find husband: We know you’ve heard this over and over and over and over again that any woman who is a feminist is not likely to find ‘husband’. Well, the Nigerian pundits of what feminism meansFB_IMG_1435761414205 are correct. There is no way a man who considers himself husband material will want to marry you, not because of any other reason but because they’ll be too intimidated to try… but you will definitely find a partner. Someone who loves you not because of your cooking skills, or because you tolerate abuse, or because you don’t mind being cheated on or because you fear them. You will find a helpmeet someone who will support your career choices, split household chores with you, cheer you on when you need it most. You will find your best friend, because every woman who has found herself will always find love.
  2. A lot of people will not like you: Another truth! There’s no getting round this shit, a lot of people will not like you, and the only reason you will mind is because you are still seeking validation. As long as you want strangers who can in no way support you when you need help the most to ‘like’ and ‘validate’ you, you will make a miserable feminist, so don’t even bother. But if you are ready to embark on a journey of adventure and self-discovery, when you’re ready to live life on your own terms, by your own rules, long as you are determined to be your own person, then you won’t need anybody to ‘like’ you. In fact it’s likely you’ll lose a lot of friends, but at the end of the day you’ll find a supportive group of people who are accepting of who you are. People who know they are not perfect, real human beings who are ready to be there for you in real, tangible terms, the funniest part of it is that, see all those people who don’t like you? They respect you.
  3. You will be seen as an angry woman not a lady: There is no getting round this, feminists are angry! They are angry with the way things are and they are angry enough to want things to change. Feminists rant on twitter, they rant on Facebook, they blog continuously, go on air and talk till they are blue in the face. They will keep talking until the world listens and understands why we need equality in all spheres of human endeavor. No matter how reserved you are people will troll you, they will push you, they will do everything in their power to drag you down because you are seen as an enemy. More importantly you will be angry at the kind of grammar that will be used to insult you. For fuck’s sake can’t they simply write in their local language or even pidgin English? All these languages are perfectly acceptable. We suspect at 9jafeminista that these people speak really bad English to befuddle you and make you question why Nigeria had to adopt English as an official language when Hausa, or Ibiobio will do as well. The good news is that you will be angrily happy as you see that things are changing, that more people are coming to realize how harmful the patriarchy is. Your grammar will also (hopefully) improve because you might have to use the dictionary often to figure out the fuck they’re on about.
  4. You might be called a lesbian: Let’s be candid, all these narratives are overused and dried out, however, due to the fact that we are an intolerant lot in Nigeria, calling a woman a lesbian is a real scary shit and a big deal. But not all Nigerian lesbians are feminists and notBrianna Cavanaugh all feminists are lesbians. Some are bisexual, heterosexual, transgender, some are even asexual. Some lesbians support the patriarchy, just as some heterosexual, bisexual, transgender women are supportive of the patriarchal system, either because they do not know any better, or because they benefit from the patriarchy. Beyond this, if you are scared of being labelled something you are not, or you’re afraid of some people, then you are not ready to be free from the prejudices of other people. Long as you allow some people to threaten you with hellfire and brimstone (We can assure you they will and they do not have the keys of the gates of heaven or hell) then you might as well not bother.
  5. You will not be able to join the illuminati: Sorry we have to break this to you, but joining the feminist movement will not automatically confer on you the grand opportunity of joining the illuminati. Let’s be candid, who wouldn’t want to join a group that is all powerful and gives you everything you want (according to Nigerians). The Illuminati (according to Pentecostal illuminati beyonce signChristians and Nigerian cyber bullies) are a powerful group of people who are beautiful and wonderful and rich (money is important to us as Nigerians). In spite of their protestations a lot of Nigerians want to join the Illuminati, I’m sure they are thinking, in their usual oxyMORONIC fashion that they can join the illuminati, become rich and then go and confess their sins to Jesus and he will forgive all their ‘sins’ and therefore they won’t go to hell(since all illuminatis have pledged their souls to the devil). Unfortunately my feminist wanna-be, things don’t work out like that o. You are not going to join any group, you’re mostly on your own, a one-man-army, a loose cannon. You might, of course get to build a system of men and women who will give you tips, send you links, teach you, mentor you… but … it’s mostly a journey to self-discovery, self-affirmation and fulfillment.