I have often been accused of being a feminist.
Truth is, I am not really sure what the word means as I am yet to look it up in the dictionary (weird I know, so I’m considering adding that to my imaginary bucket list for the year) and for now, I am still not interested in knowing.
I do, however, try to be my own person and I learned very early in life to work really hard, demand for and ‘fight’ for the things I want (in love and peace of course).
Should anyone be wondering if these thoughts are as a result of some pregnancy-related hormonal imbalance, I can assure you, they just might be…
However, a recent post I came across on Twitter by @EditiEffiong, is partly to blame for my current inspiration. In this series of posts, Editi talked about the sacrifices and challenges his grandmother had to endure to ensure his mother was educated and how she, in turn, struggled to ensure he was educated. He ended his series of posts by saying:
“Feminism matters. If you are an African woman, you cannot say “I’m not a feminist”. The odds are stacked against you. At the very least, be on your own side“.
Now I am not certain about the importance of feminism for the African woman (I still do not understand the concept and right now, the only concept that is of interest to me is birthing. Mmhmm!) however I can certainly corroborate his assertion that for the African woman, the odds are stacked against her from cradle to the grave.
One of such odds is what I call ‘shadow-living‘. At first, she is conditioned to live in the shadow of her parents (mummy and daddy know best). Then as a married woman, she first lives in the shadow of her husband (husband knows best and comes first) and then in the shadow of her children (children come first). As she gets older, she lives in the shadows of the society (others know best). It seems everyone around her is an expert at managing (and mismanaging) her existence.
Sadly, if she tries to be her own person, there is an onslaught of unpleasant labels she has to deal with: witch, stubborn, prostitute, ambitious, disrespectful, crazy, abnormal, possessed (Nigerians are VERY religious like that), disgrace and whatever colourful names the mind can conjure.
I know because I have been called all those names…
Interestingly, I have noticed a high number of educated African women that seem to follow this trend and I am not convinced education is the answer. I think there are 2 elements constantly at war here:
1. Fundamental influences – preset ideologies, expectations and limitations.
2. Personal convictions – what do I want? What was I created to do?
Ironically, there seems to be no winning between choosing either to go with the flow (Fundamental influential living) or being your own person (personal convictions). Why? because no matter your choice, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…
So what then is the best option here?
Living in the UK which is considered an ‘advanced society’, I have observed that the struggle between fundamental influences and personal convictions is not unique to the African woman.
Most people want the spoils but few are willing to fight for it.
You were created to be uniquely YOU and you alone are equipped with how best to be YOU.
Fight for YOU.