It was a breezy Tuesday evening. One of those rush hour periods in Rivers State, Nigeria when vehicular movement is ironically slow. I was in a commercial bus heading towards Rumuokoro junction from (yet another Rumu)Okwuta. The drama that played out in the bus would make any Nollywood actor wax green in envy.
“Call me later I no dey town now, I dey Nassarawa State, when I come back next month I go give you your cash,” was the whopper that hit me from the rear of the bus. So brazen was the lie that for a second or two I was actually sure I was in Nassarawa State. It was the Bole kiosk that I sighted when we got to Rumuigbo junction that yanked me off the flimflam that the young man who told this lie had thrown me into. It was only then that I realized that the driver had been playing an Oliver d’ Coque song. I turned around to steal a glance at the notorious rear area of the bus and I saw the passengers all nodding their heads, drumming their fingers and stomping their feet, including the man that had just told the white lie.
Just then, a gold coloured Toyota Camry emerged very recklessly from the right side of the road behind our bus and made an attempt to overtake us. It is not proper to overtake another vehicle via the right but through the left hand side, where the driver can easily spot you. There was also a truck moving in front of us, on the right side of the road. This resulted in a slight skirmish with our vehicle and the other one screeching to find some balance and honestly I thought this was some careless driving. The song on the lips of the passengers soon faded into manifold abuses. We all turned to see who it was that caused the fracas, and we discovered it was a lady! The reaction was instant, unanimous and caustic.
“Mscheeeew! And na even woman sef,” chorused the passengers, as we sped away. They gave her several ‘wakas’, some looked at her angrily, others brandished their clenched fist at her in a manner suggesting violence. The dark skinned lady was decked in a suit and appeared to be confused and tired. ‘What difference would it make if it was a man?’ I thought. I was to say the least, uncomfortable with the reaction of the passengers. Rosa Parks and Margaret Ekpo must have turned in their graves if they could see that sort of attitude.
I do not intend to hold brief for the women folk neither have the women ‘sorted’ me to fight for their cause. I only want to remind us that ‘Male Dominance’ is still in existence in our society. It plays out in schools, churches mosques, offices, homes etc. “She can’t do it, she is just a woman, or “How could you have done that, common woman like you?” Are frequently asked questions.
Every human being should be able to enjoy respect from others and be given equal opportunities irrespective of tribe, religion and gender. Africa seems to be different. Here we thrive on hard work and not creative headwork, so the women who are seemingly weaker, nay, more tender than the men are often deemed irrelevant in some sectors, even in religious groups. Today, some religions have become a bridle on women; careers have become a glass ceiling and many marriages have become a museum to a lot of creative women.
Despite the foregoing, I don’t agree with the sentimental advocacy played by women rights activists on a number of issues. I believe that Nigeria has made commendable efforts in correcting the gender imbalance, and I also believe that women liberation shouldn’t involve and include the misnomer of ‘deliberate, calculated single motherhood’. I believe that women should not vacate their domestic responsibilities while fulfilling their purpose without any form of discrimination and inhibition. I believe also that being a man doesn’t naturally confer superiority and competence on a person. There are several women who have towered higher than the men in giftings and talents and deserve all the respect from their male counterparts.
I do not want to dwell on the giftedness of the womenfolk as that will be tantamount to stating the obvious, the records are already there: Kimberley Anyadike, 15 yrs, she became the youngest African American (and she is a Nigerian) female to fly a plane across the United States. Margaret Ekpo; she fought for her people’s right at a dangerous time when even the men were silent. Malala Yousufzai; 15 year old Pakistani girl, and a foremost activist against the religious and cultural discrimination against women in Pakistan, fighting her battle and even recently being shot for her activism in a country where men are hiding in fear. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti; she became the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria before several men did; the list is endless.
Competence and incompetence is no respecter of gender and if a woman is incompetent, she is so because she makes herself so and not because her gender makes her so.
Who run the world??? Girls!!!