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« The Second Amalgamation of Nigeria under Obasanjo: PRONACO is why the Federalists always win | Main | Hats off for Maryam Babangida »

March 14, 2005

Feminism and the man

Uche Nworah You must have read or heard by now that writers have peculiar styles and are also influenced by political and philosophical thinking and ideologies, hence it is easy to read Edwin Madunagu and identify that he is a Marxist, also Ndaeyo Uko is easily exposed as a satirist in his writings, Ama Ogan in her days at the Guardian was an avowed and unmistakable feminist, and so was the late May Ellen-Ezekiel (Richard Mofe-Damijo’s late wife), based on their writings and views.

I have always struggled with my self in trying to discover who or what influences my writing; I have read some of the different philosophers and thinkers but do not completely agree with all their principles and ideologies. I have therefore chosen not to align myself to any political or philosophical school of thought, at least for now.

But clarke (not his real name) has not. clarke is a fellow doctoral student at the University of Greenwich, ever since Dr. Hall in his Research Methods class advised that as doctoral students, we should read extensively in order to critically support and underpin our thesis in known theories and paradigms, I have watched clarke brand and re-brand himself week after week from being a Marxist, to being a positivist and most recently a pseudo - positivist. Lately he told me that he thinks that he has finally seen the light and that feminist may well and best describe him.

Sometimes I wonder if clarke knows what he is talking about, I doubt if he indeed understands what these critical theories are all about, one thing though is that I have come to like and admire him and his intellectual honesty. He is not your typical know – it - all academic (he teaches nursing and healthcare at the same university). Anytime he attempts to speak in class especially during seminar presentations; his reasoning and argument ensures that we all get a dose of the clarke humour medicine. He is now officially the class clown.

What has clarke got to do with this article? Well, everything. Firstly I have been struggling, just like him to identify a theorist, philosopher or paradigm to underpin and align my thesis with, however an accusatory email I received a while ago after I wrote an article on the rising profile of Igbo women as well as my tendency to play up women issues in some of my writings have made me begin to wonder and aloud too if I am not maybe, a feminist.

I took this issue up with Professor Ainley recently; I wanted to find out from him if men could also be feminists. Thankfully, despite his long academic rhetoric in trying to provide a simple yes or no answer to a simple question, I was able to come away from the discussion with the impression that men could support feminist causes and issues without necessarily being branded feminists. I have since found out however, that men could also be feminists.

So once again, I wish to share with you a thought that has been bothering me lately, this bothers on the issue of sons and daughters. Hopefully, I will not be called names again this time by the gentleman (you know who you are) who felt that my article about Igbo women empowers Igbo women and could therefore stir up trouble in Igbo families and homes. As if the women are not empowered already, wait till you hear my mother’s story. I don’t know if the gentleman in question is afraid that my article will incite the womenfolk to another round of riots, just like they did back in 1929.

Even as I write this article, President Obasanjo has appointed another Igbo woman, Mrs.Irene Nkechi Chigbue as the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE). She takes her place among the Igbo amazons.

Back to my mother’s story, my father is one of those Igbo men, typical if you know what I mean. Growing up, I remember how proud he was that he had four of us (all boys) first before the two girls came. I can still recall how we had to endure his antics of dressing us all up in the same set of clothes and shoes (we used to call them papa’s uniforms) and then ‘matching’ us all to his friends and associates, proudly announcing his handwork (sons) at every house we visited, I used to feel that we were some sort of museum pieces on display during such round trips.

Trust my father and all the other Igbo men of his generation, he really kept my mother busy on the home front and ensured that she was a regular guest at the maternity ward of the Aba General Hospital every other year. To compensate my mum, the Lord of the Manor opened a restaurant for her in front of our family house (where else?). A ploy still used today by Igbo men to ‘tie’ their wives down.

What was funny about this was that, around this time, although the girls (my sisters) had already been born, but still my father went ahead to, wait for this. He brazenly named the restaurant after himself and affixed the phrase and sons after his name on the signboard.

I can still picture the big blue coloured signboard, which for a long time was a regular feature of the nworah residence, until fate and fortune dictated otherwise.

My mother is your typical ‘obey your husband’ kind of housewife, as was obtainable back in the days but when fortune smiled on her, and her business began to blossom, things began to change. By some act of fate, probably heaven’s way of teaching my father and the other Igbo men of his time a lesson, he began to suffer dwindling fortunes in his business to the extent that my mum took over the running of the household financially.

Instinctively, although we were still young, but we knew where the money was now coming from (trust children to wisen up fast) and so we (the Nworah children) switched alliances and allegiances.

I will never forget the look on my father’s face, nor the smirk on my mother’s when my father came home one day to find that his beloved signboard had been knocked down, (picture the pulling down of Saddam Hussein’s statute in Baghdad) and in its place was now a new shining board announcing amaka restaurant to the world.

We had expected my father to swear thunder and brimstone, or even to send my mum packing for daring to pull down his ‘board’ and by implication for challenging his manhood and authority, without proper and due consultation. But he didn’t, he quietly went inside the house and sulked like the wounded lion that he was. I thank God that my mother did not abuse the power and paradigm shift.

She still managed to remain the devoted and caring mother and wife (I didn’t say housewife), proving that yes, women can do all that and still keep their homes, and remain loyal and submissive.

This trend of male child preference over female children is still largely obtainable in Igbo land and also in some other parts of the world; hence most men still affix and sons to their business names. I have never seen any business with and daughters and I still wonder, why not?

I still don’t know if I am a feminist.

uchenworah@yahoo.com

Posted by Administrator at March 14, 2005 11:07 AM

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