Has feminism come to stay in Africa

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The eternal Afrobeat Maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was truly a Prophet who lived far ahead of his time. When he railed against African leaders – military, political, business and religious most especially, the living conditions in Nigeria were not this bad but he was visionary enough to foresee the mess that his dear country would be plunged into by the ‘vagabonds in power’ as he called them.

He wasn’t just about political activism as he had a soft side for the affairs of the heart too. His sexual appetite was legendary which only made him human and an archetype of that behaviour of artistes. He also prophesied about African feminism when he sang the hit song ‘Lady.’ The song talked about gender equality and the fact that the modern lady wanted to be different from their mothers who were submissive to their husbands. These ones wanted to square it up with their male folk counterparts in every sphere of life.

The lot of women has evolved from being home makers with them been seen but not heard to competing with their male counterparts in decision making at all levels. Once upon a time even in the United States, the home of women’s rights, women were seen more or less as chattels by their hubbies. In the 19thcentury America, women couldn’t own properties in their names, couldn’t vote, couldn’t do a business without the express permission of their husbands and in some cases couldn’t travel without seeking their spouse’s consent.

The Seneca Falls convention which held between July 19 – 20 1848 in New York was the first women’s rights convention which discussed the social, civil and religious rights of women.

The lot of women has changed in the west with divorce laws now being in their favour and them asserting their own as leaders in virtually all walks of life.

Africa due to westernization wasn’t left out as some women who were privileged to travel to the west for their studies became determined to domesticate what they saw there back home.

They rebelled against being home makers as they saw it as a waste of their highly prized education. Even if their hubbies were extremely wealthy, they preferred to earn or make their own money to give them a measure of independence and fulfillment.

Some of them preferred to hyphenate their maiden names with that of their spouses so as not to lose their identity. It didn’t matter if they were obscure prior to their marriages. Some bolder ones preferred not to change their surnames at all opining that it was a western import which was not Biblical or traditionally African.

The media was a great ally in the propagation of this foreign import as successful women were portrayed as those who earned or made their own serious money even though the children or their hubbies suffered for it – it simply didn’t matter. The concept of the independent woman gained serious grounds in Africa in the heady days of the 1970s till date.

The female celebrities in the entertainment sector most especially also aided in accentuating this idea through their western inspired lifestyle which their fans copied whole-heartedly.

Divorce which used to be a huge societal stigma suddenly became acceptable as women were encouraged to leave their marriages at the slightest provocation.

The harsh economic realities no thanks to corrupt political leadership even helped this cause further. Women were suddenly more favoured as marketers, customer care representatives and jobs that required soft emotional skills more than their male counterparts. Even when both sexes were hired, the largely male customers preferred doing business with the females which exponentially boosted their earning power. Naturally, arrogance crept in and the newly economically empowered wives found it a herculean task to be submissive to their poorer husbands.

The idea of the dispensability of a man which is one of the gospels of feminism became attractive to these relatively wealthy women as in many cases men have been reduced to mere sperm donors in their insatiable bid to have kids. Science and technology further helped their cause as egg freezing where busy career women could have their eggs freezed and have their babies later is now a reality. There is also artificial insemination where the sperms of willing males are inserted into the woman. In most cases the women make it clear that they don’t want the men’s presence in the lives of their children. They are simply viewed as mercantile commodities that can be paid off and kept silent for life.

I watched the highly rated Ted talk by award winning writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled ‘We should all be feminists’ and it is clear that her success as a writer is backed by the fact that she panders greatly to feminism. I have critiqued all her works with the exception of ‘Americanah’ and they have powerful western appeal due to its high feminism content which makes her the poster girl for Africa.

I advocate gender compatibility as opposed to equality as someone must take charge. There can only be one captain of a ship at a time and the chaos of having more than one caused by feminism has made the African society slip into a gargantuan mess.

African women must learn to totally respect their men and see them as partners in progress rather than as competitors irrespective of their economic status disparity. The earlier we as Africans learn to carefully pick and choose what is best for us from the west taking into critical consideration our local peculiarities, the better for us all.

Tony Ademiluyi writes from Lagos and edits www.africanbard.com

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Articles by Anthony Ademiluyi