Dear Aunty Chimamanda… By Kemisola Agoyi


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.

Yours sincerely,
Agoyi, Mary Kemisola. (Dr)
A Junior Colleague,
Journalist, Advocate and Feminist

June 2018

(Photo credit – Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace, IFMSA)

Discussion9 Comments

  1. No offence some of the ladies pushing the responsibility of “Assertiveness” to the men…seems to be one of those affected by the “watered down” definition of feminism with trivial view. Trivial Trivial every where…. Real issues are being coward away from… rather a lot of so called Feminists “create” causes that just require them sit in there rooms and type English, preach what ladies love to hear, and gain followership.

    At the end of it all, measure the REAL change contributed, REAL… Zero.

    Not every feminism issues are as a result of victimisation …

    – Encourage women to learn coding (no one is stoping them but naturally guys take interest in these and end up having most of the programming related jobs)

    – Encourage women to join politics (I agree there are barriers… but truth is men face barriers joining too) even at ordinary student union level check how many women voluntarily indicate interest.

    P.S I would attend to a lady’s need first if I need to choose between one and a guy and I know a lot of men who sacrifice for women too.

    Most parents would rather borrow to have their daughter in comfortable hostels but the guys can comfortably be asked to manage whatever comes (all in the name of you’re a guy: an impression of adaptability and strength that unfortunately relegates us men to struggles we have mentally believed are normal)

    I can go on and on..

    But note; If we don’t fight the right cause the right way from the right perspective we are creating further imbalance and newer form of problems for the generation to come

  2. It’s a really wonderful letter to her. I believe her talking about opening of doors, chivalry and all looks like misplaced priorities;I see it from another perspective tho. Maybe she’s trying to start from the grassroot.Maybe she believes it’s because Men see Women in a certain ways (This business of Chivalry). So maybe she’s attacking the problem from the grassroot. (Just my maybe’s).

  3. I love your letter to her.It addressed a lot of things that do need to be really addressed.I see it from another perspective tho. It looks like misplaced priority to many people – what she said. Maybe she’s trying to address the issue from the grassroot;from what I have seen, in a way all these problems arise from how women are held and viewed. I watched the interview with Trevoh Noah and what she implied was treat everyone equally. Can everyone be treated equally?

  4. This is a lovely write up of what should be.
    As according to the English dictionary:
    1. (obsolete) The state of being feminine; femininity. [from 1851; less common after 1895] ▼ show
    2. A social theory or political movement which argues that legal and social restrictions on women must be removed in order to bring about equality of the sexes in all aspects of public and private life.
    Thank you Kemi for the insight & clarifications.

  5. So much sense. It’s high time we embraced the things that matter & not argue on irrelevant stuff that will fall in place when all girls are educated and empowered.

    That one menstruates doesn’t stop her brains from functioning properly.

    Leadership is not male!!!

  6. Waoh
    So true
    Many women this days once they talk about feminism it’s usually for personal benefits. They won’t even mind bringing down another woman just for this own personal fame, power etc.
    Feminism includes all genders, races and sexuality.

    It’s sad the purpose of feminism or being a feminist is gradually going down. Honestly I believe we are the problem.
    It’s sad

    It’s more of a competition now. My dear even the women that shout it, I personally have experienced a bad turn of events from women that talk about feminism.

    Once they get in power they begin to pull down other women, pls how can you help the poor and vulnerable ones if I can’t see yourself equal to your fellow woman.

    We don’t work to keep each other standing at all. Once it’s not us then it should not be the other.

    I personally just help whoever needs help. Male or female. I defend who ever needs it, I protect who ever needs protection and I can provide.

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