‘These true stories are beautifully
told, the pain and honesty and
hope and joy in these accounts is
strong like a song’ – Stella Duffy
SHE CALLED ME WOMAN:
NIGERIA’S QUEER WOMEN
PUB. DATE: 24th April 2018
Published by Cassava Republic
Press PRINT ISBN: 978-1911115595
FORMAT: C-format PB, 135 x 216
mm EXTENT: 360pp
GENRE: Non-Fiction PRICE: £12.
Cassava Republic Press is proud to reveal the cover for ‘She Called
Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer
Women Speak’, a ground-
breaking collection of 25 first-
hand narratives from a cross
section of queer Nigerian Women.
Edited by Azeenarh Mohammed,
Chitra Nagarajan, and Rafeeat
Aliyu, these narratives give the
reader access to the narrators’
innermost thoughts and explore
what it means to be a queer
woman within Nigeria’s often
deeply conservative communities.
Through their words, we learn
of first loves, heartbreaks and familial pressure; the struggle to
reconcile religion, sexuality and
culture; the battle to be
comfortable with one’s gender and
sexual identity within
communities that can be hostile
and intolerant; the socioeconomic
pressures and universal difficulties
faced by women in Nigeria.
She Called Me Woman restores
agency, presence and humanity to
Nigeria’s queer women by
providing a platform from which
they speak for themselves. Women
from a wide range of class, religion
and educational backgrounds take the reader on a sometimes
celebratory, sometimes troubled
but always insightful journey into
their everyday life. The book covers
the experience of queer women
from across Nigeria, with narrators
coming from Maiduguri, Zamfara,
Imo, Oyo, Abuja, Plateau, Lagos,
Ondo and more. It restores balance
in the discussion on sexuality and
gender, which can unfairly favour
queer men. It brings into
mainstream consciousness the
existence and issues of queer
women in Nigerian society,
ensuring that their stories are told and their voices heard.
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
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 means 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.
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.
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.
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 not 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.
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 Christians 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.