Dear Aunty Chimamanda (Ngozi Adichie – The King Woman),
I am an avid follower and fan of your works, interviews, etc. Reading your ageless works and listening to your speeches in the past on feminism has inspired and ignited the passion of what I now do over and over again. However today, I am not sure of the ideologies behind what you say any longer. It is either our first love has changed or you have your peculiar reasons or you have allowed yourself to be carried away by the glitz and glam of fame thereby shifting your view from the original purpose… Feminism.
Believe it or not Aunt Chi (God-aunt, like I fondly call you) of every 1,000 Nigerian today that speaks about feminism, maybe only 2 to 5 percent of them truly know what feminism means or what the struggle is about and of the skewed view of the 95 to 98 percent you have contributed at least 50 percent if not more, consciously or unconsciously.
I love your works. I love what you do and if not for you, a lot of us would not have our voices today. If not for you, many people may not have even heard the word “feminism” and for all this, we appreciate you. But for every soul you have made aware of feminism, you have created at least five (5) others with a watered-down, unnecessarily dragged and trivialized version of it, to be honest. And this is what I write to you about.
As much as you have brought our struggles out for the world to see, you have also coloured it and dragged it down into the mud of “chivalry”. I mean how do we compare death to sleep? (It’s not even ethically right but I’m not sure what ethics you follow) How do we bring something as serious as feminism and fight for equity or equality and trivialise with chivalry?
Aunty Chi, you have made people – both male and female – get the wrong views and opinions of we feminists and what feminism is about. You have allowed them loathe the word and everything attached to it – either good or bad. You have allowed them tag us; tags we wear proudly with dignity but Aunty Chi, sincerely, in all of this media razzmatazz, you and I know that – women are being disadvantaged continually, dying daily in their numbers, girls are being deprived utterly and females are still being stigmatized and discriminated against unjustly – which is what true feminism is about. Feminism that is inclusive, unbiased and for global development – It’s more than what meets the eyes.
I, one of your children – the daughters of Chimamanda – as they call us would want you to go back to your first love. Speak for those girls abused under culture and tradition, those women deprived by society and females limited by structures, policies and law.
Aunty Chi, “we” or rather “I” want you to take seriously the serious things – serious! Address the cogent and important issues, direct the limelight back to what matters because I know you can do it, you can make the difference, as you are the “face, truth and law of feminism” in this era.
When there are issues of women not having equal participation in national politics or policy making or women earning less and working more but you decide to speak about who should open the door for who or who should give sweater in a cold. Aunty Chi, with due respect, this is a case of misplaced priorities. Deal with current, more relevant issues on gender equality and equity like:
Inclusion of women in politics and policy making (50-50).
A stop to all forms of harmful gender specific practices (religious, health, social and cultural).
Banning of single women getting accommodation in Lagos.
Unlawfulness of women working more but earning less.
Removal of restriction of a woman getting to or aspiring to certain levels and positions.
Ban on women to not vote, work, be voted for or explore their potentials to be useful to themselves, the nation and the world.
Rigors of barrenness or having a male child.
Girl child education.
Equal job and position opportunities.
Inability of females to access complete health care services and so on.
PS: These problems or struggles are not limited to Nigeria.
Please stop disappointing or putting to shame the per cent minority of us – feminists that still look up to you as you build a legacy that is strong, true and will long stand. Be focused and stay focused on the relevant issues, the serious issues that take lives and kill potentials.
A Yoruba adage would say “the candle lit would give light to the world around it but can’t see its own bottom”, but we see and we see well. The truth can be harsh, the truth is bitter.
Aunty Chi, you may read this letter and not feel the same way or you may have a different view or response to this. This is totally allowed and acceptable, because I belong to a profession where hierarchy is taken seriously and writing to a senior colleague in the field is a privilege. So, if I’m not on course and getting a point incorrectly, feel free to reply to this heartfelt note, as I would love to read back from you.
Agoyi, Mary Kemisola. (Dr)
A Junior Colleague,
Journalist, Advocate and Feminist
(Photo credit – Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace, IFMSA)