(Cross-posted on Nigerian’s Talk)
Let’s face it, when it comes to the state of our country, we Nigerians are like infants refusing to admit that we’ve pooped.
How else can we explain that despite being such an aware group of people, we also are collectively so complacent? After all, Nigeria surpasses many nations in submerging politics and society. Gather a group of Nigerians of any social class and you are guaranteed a perhaps somewhat biased, but nonetheless informed, political rundown. There is no denying that we are aware of the crap in our backyard.
However, instead of abhorring our failures, we have labelled them as ‘The Naija Factor’, a factor, which in its essence describes a defeated and futile resistance to injustice.
This same factor also cripples the Nigerian woman from achieving equal status as a member of Nigerian society. Gone are the days when the likes of women like Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti, Charlotte Obasa, Oyinkan Abayomi and Margaret Ekpo featured as prolific feminists of their time, advocating gender equality in politics, in franchise, in business, in leadership and in the household.
Today, those struggling for Women’s Rights are barely given a voice, whilst Nigerian women remain second-class citizens. The attitude of complacency that is built into ‘The Naija Factor’ seems to have shut its heavy lid also on the cause of Nigerian women’s emancipation. We have come to complacently accept the very institutions, which systematically produce women that despite equal legislation, such as the right to education and the right to vote, still have a long journey to reaching the social status of their male landsmen. All too often, within the justifications of our social institutions, such as those of marriage, family and religion, we lazily accept the belief that a woman is inferior to a man.
To end on a positive note, and I believe there are many that could be highlighted, I’d like to reflect a sense of ‘neo-Nigerianness’ coming to life, a non-complacent attitude brought forward by events such as the demonstrations in Abuja and Lagos which took place this year, or the difference in opinions surrounding the Nigerian 50th Independence Day celebration, such as this and this and this to name only a few Nigerians talking. These conversations are necessary and a sign that we are moving in the right direction, into times where Nigerians are getting tired of operating within and contributing to the decay of Nigeria. Ultimately this is what binds us; the fact that whether we are celebrating or criticizing the celebrations we all have an analytical opinion of Nigeria at 50.
I hope that a similar wave of activism will also take place towards challenging the obscene patriarchy that Nigeria is, and that we have allowed to become part of the factor which is tremendously resistant to change, ‘The Naija Factor’.
Happy birthday Nigeria! Long life, prosperity and equality!
This short film/musical is a coming-of-age story about an African girl who’s private struggles with identity and patriarchal authority, lead her to the pivotal moment when she must publicly choose the path to her future. She must negotiate the dangerous obstacles that naturally result from the clash between tradition and modernity. Set in 1940’s Nigeria, this story is inspired by the life of women’s activist, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, the mother of political musician, Fela Kuti.—