Journalism in the service of society

The women in our lives

Always be careful of what you hear about a woman. Rumours come from either a man who can’t have her or a woman who can’t compete with her – Unkown

ON March 8 the world was agog celebrating what was dubbed International Women’s Day. The United Nation’s decision to choose one day in the year to celebrate the contributions of women to our lives is appropriate. In fact, some of us believe that one day in a year is just too insignificant to matter. However, it is not the number of days that matter but how we treat and allow them to make their voices heard.

I decided to devote this forum today to pay glowing tributes to women who have in many ways played very significant roles in our world and in my own universe. Women, no doubt, have shaped the world and our view of it in many ways than one. It is a truism that the world belongs to them and this is not playing any tricks or trying to humour them. My conclusion is drawn from the fact that I see them play very prominent and crucial roles in our society. The hands that rock the cradle is a woman’s rhyme.

Women, it has been discovered, might be late starters but when they set out to do things, they always bring their finesse into it and get it done better and with more impact. 

Those who look at other things or feel otherwise are only looking at the few deviants who are the ones the world focus on to pummel the women folk. Who are such women? The Imelda Marcos of this world who had more shoes than a whole village could wear in a lifetime. The women who exploit their nuances to hoodwink the world and twist men of power around their finger tips for their own benefits.  But those are not the women in our lives that we are ruminating about today in celebration of the International Women’s Day (IWD), which theme of this year is #DaretoChallebge. At this time of Covid-19, it is not out of place to celebrate them and highlight their work and contributions to the fight against the pandemic. The world in the last decades has been under the firm grip of men and has not fared any better. But that is not to also say the world had been better under the grip of some women leaders. However, the rhythm has to change to give the women the opportunity and the chance to contribute their quota o the shaping of our world. 

The unfortunate war against education that is going on in the northern part of our country deserves the voice and action of all well-meaning individuals and organisations that believe that we must live this world better than we met it. The war, yes, because that is what it is, against education and most especially against the girl-child must be stopped. Enough is enough. In all spheres of life, women have shown leadership and determination to excel and this must not be stopped. Images of women such as Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Amina Mohammed and others should be shown to our girl-child as model to look unto and move up the ladder of life. If they know they can conquer we would buoy their spirit with such images and make them count. 

In my own world of books, I have come across lots of women writers who have shown their mettle and have demonstrated that they know what it takes. If a list of our writers – home and abroad – are put up, one would see that the women have won more plaudits than the men! So why do we crow and think men are better? It is share boast, empty one for that matter. I am in good company when I find myself ensconced in the pages of our early writers and new and younger ones that are everywhere today. Is this not enough for us to recognize and pay tributes to them all?

The forerunners such as Flora Nwankpa, who had the singular record of being the first Nigerian and African woman novelist to be published under the prestigious African Writers’ Series (AWS). The list is endless and I only intend to list a few here and you can add your own and let us see how it goes. There is the prolific Buchi Emecheta who wrote powerful books that espouses feminism but said she was not a feminist! I believe she did not want to be pigeon holed and that was the reason she maintained that stance. But does that take away the firm message contained in her books? Does that diminish the picture of oppression of the women folk that she valiantly fought against the whole of her life?    You definitely cannot wave away Prof Molara Ogundipe-Leslie and her sterling contributions to creative writing and grammar. So is Prof Zaynab Alkali, who in the eighties became the first female writer of northern extraction to publish a novel and win a national award. The list includes Ifeoma Okoye, Catherine Acholonu, Mabel Segun, Adaora Lily Ulasi, Tess Onwuewe, Zulu Sofola, Helen Oviabgele and a host of others who could be termed as the trail blazers. 

These women in their own rights made sterling contributions to the world we live in today and their books and thoughts are still around with us to help us interpret our world and make sense of the miasma of things around us. They are the interrupters and enablers of our dreams and aspirations, the hands that rocked the cradle of our understanding.

They have left worthy legacies for those behind them who are today following and blazing new grounds and taking us into new worlds of dreams and interpretation and understanding of our complex world. They help give meanings to our experiences and direct us to our dream of a better world. The hand maidens of our collective memories who have new insights and inspirations to urge us on and encourage us not to lose hope in the face of mounting despair and bleak leadership.

These voices are in Chika Unigwe, Lola Shoneyin, Karen King Aribisala, Helen Oyeyemi, Chinelo Akparanta, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Nnedi Okoroafor, Jumoke Verissimo and the biggest of them all Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

Who among us will have any of these as sisters, aunties, daughters, wives or friends and so on and would not blow his trumpet from the highest heights? In this month of IWD, I salute all these women in our lives and pray fervently that their tribes may increase.  

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