Thou shalt not hurt or publicly display rage, pain, shame, loss, filth or any form of brokenness.
Thou shalt despise correction and never seek help.
Thou shalt keep your face in the Strong Black Woman sunshine until it burns you to a crisp.
RUIN: A WOMAN IN HER PRIME (a pictomap of womanhood)Thou shalt BE.
Be intelligent (but non-threateningly). Be sexy (but don’t show it off like a ho). Be ambitious (but not aggressive). Be curious (but don’t nag). Be firm (but not a bitch). Be a giver (but don’t cling). Be a great parent, daughter, friend, neighbor. Be a bawse. Be rich (by magic). Be a great partner by never asking for anything you want directly. Be knowledgeable of everything under God’s sun.
BUT NOT ALL AT ONCE. NEVER SHOW OR BE AWARE OF ALL YOUR POWER. Don’t be kind and good; be “humble”.
Never get tired. Ever. Always prostrate yourself to give and forgive.
RUIN: ASCENDANT (a pictomap of womanhood)
Thou shalt allow others to define how strong, sane and sapient you are.
Allow every hardship to break and reshape you. Never be proud of crafting your fears and weaknesses into strengths.
RUIN: SCION (a pictomap of womanhood)
[If thou so chooseth]: Thou shalt have a close encounter of the 4th kind with at least one of your ova. It’s worth it 💚💛💜❤🌺🌻🌺💙🏵.
PS. Make it accidental, to maximise the horror and comedic effect.
SUPERWEAPON ( a pictomap of womanhood)
Damn all the advice to hell. You were there alone; you built the only map out.
Assemble all your broken pieces and create anew. Be your ancestors’ wildest dreams and deepest nightmares.
I LOVE YOU, HJG. God continue to bless you and entertain your madness. 💛💚💜💙💜❤🌻🌺🏵👑
Hawa Jande Golakai was born in Germany and hails from Liberia, where she spent a lively childhood before the 1990 civil war erupted. She writes crime, speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical realism) and is in an unhealthy relationship with all twisted tales. A medical immunologist by training, she now works as a literary judge, creative consultant and educator. Golakai is on the Africa39 list of most promising sub-Saharan African writers under the age of 40. She is the winner of the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for nonfiction, longlisted for the 2019 NOMMO Award for speculative fiction and nominated three times for fiction. In addition to two novels, her articles and short stories have featured in BBC, Granta, Omenana, Cassava Republic, Myriad Editions and other publications. Currently, she lives in Monrovia with her son and too many chickens.
My ambition as a child was simply limited to wanting to be ‘great’. At some point, the specifics included Veterinary Medicine which was only my passion because it had a literal pot of gold attached to it. Further study (read Masters in Veterinary Surgery) fine-tuned what (if any) greatness I may achieve (yes! Still, its ‘greatness-in-waiting’) to this highly misunderstood art and craft which has very little to do with cutting and sewing, by the way.
It would be nice to be able to say I had lofty ideals like working hard to earn a PhD while trying to juggle a busy home life but that would be untrue. I am one of those women who love work and if there’s any to be done, all else fades from my consciousness. I am also lazy. That sounds like a contradiction, right? But I have said this so often and believe it totally as I have seen it play out in my life. I hate hassles and believe very firmly in delayed gratification and will thus do whatever is required of me so that I can be left well alone to…..well, daydream, which is my absolute favourite sport.
But this PhD asked for my life and a half.
While studying to get the PhD was not an accident, being an academic most certainly was. Nowadays, I am almost one when I get into class.
I had done a Masters circa 2004, had a baby who was all sugar and spice and I wanted something else to do and, I naively assumed a PhD was one of those things. The first distraction was another baby who was a lot of work, followed by some institutional opposition because of some long-held belief that surgeons are not bound by the same rules as anyone else (very pompous lot, we are!) And then I tried and tried and the research just wasn’t as stellar as I wanted.
I had (along with most other PhDs, I suspect) visions of my work holding the key to human existence in the new millennium with award after award falling at my dainty feet. So, imagine my surprise when even within my department, others thought I should have done better. It stung and with it, came the realisation (very sad indeed) that I may have a perfectionist tendency.
My supervisor (poor man) tried to reconcile me with the reality of the conduct of research, especially scientific research in Nigeria. It did not help that the concept I was investigating is a little known phenomenon. I held onto my hypotheses tenaciously.
I had the support of wonderful people who seemingly would enter my life, play their role and exit. Almost none had a major role in my life at any point and the support I hoped to get from established quarters from where I should was non-existent. Being a worker at the same university I was attending, I was required to work on the PhD part-time and I really couldn’t have done more if I tried.
This PhD must rank as one of the most sought after if the opposing forces that were arrayed against it were anything to go by. From not having a supervisor, to getting one and forces attacking him (unsubstantiated but….) to unbelievable dreams and household wickedness of great magnitude, the road was fraught with very many dangers.
My work is mainly about some of the hitherto unexplored reasons for infertility; that a stomach incident that occurred because of lack of adequate blood supply to the gut could set up a series of events that could ultimately be responsible for derangements of almost every organ in the body and especially the germ cells which are the cells that mingle to form a new individual.
Being female, married with children had very little impact on my work in the sense that my family has very little idea about my work by choice. I leave work when I deal with the children and you really have to care before something can influence you in that way.
I had help that matched the troubles I experienced and it would be ingratitude to not mention my biggest cheerleader, my 87 year old ‘friend’. She gave money, and boy, did she harass me. Some days she was the only reason I did not pack it in. The thought of facing her to tell her I gave up was enough to stir me to try one more time. There was that person too, who told me a story of a Deanship election in my faculty and asked, ‘How badly do you want this?’ because, he said, that is what will determine what will happen, not any of the troubles you face.
And there is BFF, with whom I really ought to split this with but she has hers and a lot of other accomplishments by dint of hard work. She encouraged, coaxed, threatened and loved me till I got to the point I finally decided, ‘Ok, maybe no awards will come from this but at least, I will advance knowledge and cause people to look in this new direction’. And this really is what a PhD is about. Not the end of studying (as many are wont to think) but a new look at what has been and stirring up new vistas of study. Of this one fact, I am proud to say I did.
once attempted to travel from Lagos, across the Sahara desert to London by road with Newton Jibunoh.
9jafeminista: You sound like the very adventurous type. You’re a biker and a mechanical toys lover … You own a bike right?
Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa: Yes, I adore sports bikes and I would make them my primary means of transport if I could. It leaves you to the thoughts in your head and 1000 rpms revving beneath your yansh. I genuinely love adventure. I think being born a Nigerian limits how far I will be willing to go for adventure. That notwithstanding, I still scrape the little I can to sate my adrenaline thirst.
9jafeminista: Would you say being a man is also an advantage? I know very few female bikers.
Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa: I can’t tell. I haven’t been a woman before. Truth is I’ve only met one. I only see a few like Speediva on the road with their Yamahas. On a serious note, I think our society silently limits women’s foray into the adventurous.
9jafeminista: How many women were on that trip through the Sahara?
Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa: On the Sahara expedition we had quite a number you’ll be amazed to know, almost 15. And there was this one Sola Obiwusi who clocked more driving time than almost every other guy. She practically singlehandedly drove even when she took ill on the trip.
9jafeminista: Why didn’t you guys finish the journey?
Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa: War in Libya. Coup … in Niger. We could have become diplomatic bargaining chips with the size of our cavalcade.
9jafeminista: In the story you sent to us (coming up in our next issue) you examined the life of a house maid. Especially the under-aged ones in Nigeria would you say the girl’s experience kind of sums up the experience of housemaids? Generally
9jafeminista: What does mutual self -respect mean?
Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa: Older people to younger people, employer to employees, parents to children … masters to servants. I want to believe we believe subordinates do not have as much right to existence as superiors have. So we ride rough shod over their person, goals and super impose our wishes on them.
A maid for instance can’t ask for a second helping. She shouldn’t have an opinion, she should just be the silent mule that hauls the family’s cargo. How does one live like that?
9jafeminista: Would you say this is a result of the fact that generally women are expected to be all of the things you’ve listed above? The neck, the one that should not have an opinion? The one not allowed to go on adventures because it is dangerous?
9jafeminista: Have you ever wondered why there are more female underage helps than male?
Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa: The males are a threat of theft and peadophilia. More so we tend to believe girls do better as house helps. Even though we started that indoctrination when boys have the liberty to play football while their sisters are busy helping in the kitchen.
9jafeminista: In your opinion how are women limited and how does this affect men?
Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa: Women are limited by the patriarchal structure of the world in general. As girls, they can’t climb trees or fight. As young women they should keep their virginity for their husbands (don’t get me wrong I advocate for keeping ones virginity). They can’t leave home till they marry. They have to change their names when they marry. They have to be the one to stay at home to cater for kids while the husband provides.
I think this subjugation gives men power. But in the same breath I think an equal appreciation of our complementary roles is essential to prevent anarchy. I also think embracing fairness and having a mindset of reviewing age old ideologies will help restore that balance.
9jafeminista: Were you a Virgin when you got married?
9jafeminista: Really? Go on then… Tell us why? Have you seen it in action before?
Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa: I haven’t seen it in action before but I premise my belief on the fact that there is more to this world than the things we see and in that little grey area, super natural powers exist. I believe well over 90% of the cow horns tied in red scarves are just charlatan bullshit. But that doesn’t invalidate my firm belief that there is dark magic if I can call it that.