First of all, let me admit, that I am no where near qualified to talk about this subject...but it's a blog....
A few days ago, my dad admitted that he was a feminist - which he is by deed, but I never thought he would say it, out in the open. He was surprisingly matter-of-fact about it - or maybe I was just surprised at his choice of words. This for most would be a hard concept to grasp, I mean a tried-and-true Ohuhu man embracing such a so-called "Western" concept. But it happens. And from time to time I catch one or two other Nigerian men taking on the title of "African feminist. (But let me add, that women are just as likely to resist the feminist movement as well)
I am not yet sure how I feel about the words of African feminism and a need to distinguish it from feminism in general. It seems to me that the whole idea of having a separate "African feminism" was in order to distinguish from the bra-burning, female-on-female loving, i-don't-have-to-cook-anymore brand that had been associated with the West - which I think is an extreme portrayal that has been propagated to the detriment of more conservative liberals (anything is possible...). The root of feminism lies in the fact that being the weaker sex does not mean we have to be weaker people, which i think is the goal of both African and Western feminist movements. But for the purposes of discussion of feminism and its relevance to specific issues I have come across, I will stick to African feminism.
Why the recent interest in African feminism? Well, besides my dad's recent admission, I have been thinking a lot about my future, what I want to do, when I want to do it and suitable role models. Additionally, I have entered the blogosphere recently - and its a topic that I see over-and-over again: from V-days to BBA's embrace of on-camera rape.
Inevitably, the discussion of marriage reigns prominent in my own discussions of the future and posts on African womanhood. According to my dad, marriage is good, but working on pursuing my dreams, no matter how lofty is even better. My mom has joined the band-wagon, but the large majority of Igbo women in my life think otherwise. I have had this discussion with others, younger and older and it is quite disconcerting that many have decided to temper their really exciting goals for their lives because of pursuit of marriage. If I were to do so as well, that means that my attempts making a unforgettable, positive impact on the world (like I said, lofty), would have to be made between now and age thirty. Because after that, I would be too busy being married.
So what does African feminism mean to me, now that I, too, have admitted it? It means making a difference whether as a Miss or Mrs. I, and my significant loved one, definitely think that such is possible.
(Sorry for the cliches, also rushing to class). I've seen so many others do it - married (Akunyili, Iweala) or unmarried (sorry, most are personal friends, won't mention their names here).
Like I said in the title, this is just a first of many posts on African feminism, as hinted in Igbo (don't be fooled, my writing skills in Igbo are far better than my Igbo verbal skills....and yes, even though I was born and raised in the US - I can write Igbo...let go of your stereotypes). There are so many topics to cover, like who a woman belongs to when married, Nigeria's incredibly high birth rate, education (like my dad being told that he should not spend so much money on my education because I will eventually get married and the benefits will go towards another family...and you thought this type of stuff only happens at home - we carry it with us...or like one of my younger female inspirations who is applying to undergraduate colleges and the mother thought she should not pursue medicine but rather nursing because she might get married after graduating and need a job...hey but nurses are amazing, though) So many, so many....
see this link for pictures and more info from BBC.
Earlier in the semester, our school's African student group hosted the former Nigerian Minister of Transport (under OBJ) and now Foreign Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe. Of course, I attended, since it is one of the very few African events on campus that addresses concerns of the Giant of Africa (Nigeria), but I came in expecting to be disappointed. I mean, to find out that the former Minister of Transport was an Igbo man, and yet the condition of southeastern roads are some of the worst in the country and such has a devastating impact on the economy of the East (seeing that we heavily rely on the trading industry which itself relies on the ability to transport goods from one place to the other)...I know, I know, one Nigeria. Forgive me if I indulge in some Igbocentricity - I can't help it.
Anyway but I digress. Beyond giving a speech full of "big big grammar" (as one fellow student put it) and very little, if any substance one of the sound bites I picked up from his speech was his recounting of an interaction with an American colleague who asked him of what he thinks of his "new colonial masters," that is, the Chinese.
Hitherto, my thoughts in regards to Chinese covert plans to take over the world, one Mattel doll at a time (please I don't really mean that...) have largely been limited to the US, in regards to the influx of foreign imports which drives down the costs of American-made products. This did not really disturb me in that it I was short-sighted and thought of the benefits to me - cheaper underwear. However, I am now beginning to see the danger of such increased Chinese presence on the African continent (I mean, c'mon now, look at Darfur).
I really don't mean to the bash a particular group of people, for I consider myself to be pro-people, but the increased involvement of China in Nigeria and beyond worries me. Firstly, China's human rights records and treatment of its own laborers is nothing to write home about. One could imagine what could happen in a situation with African workers who's governments could easily be bought over with a couple million euros (according to supermodel Gisele Buendchan and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the dollar is no longer relevant beyond American shores) several abuses of workers rights could occur. This is not to say our current (US) colonial master is more humane, but at least they try to adhere to some type of checks and balances...umm scrap that, I almost forgot about the prelude the Iraq war.
Second concern is the unfair competition with African made goods. Already, Ghana has complained of the Chinese hurting their signature kente cloth trade. With Nigerian private businesses thriving, post-military rule, it would be necessary that there are some limits set in place by the government to protect its indigenous businesses from Chinese products infiltrating th market.
Well, let me stop here before I start to sound like the Nigerian version of Lou Dobbs - man that guy annoys me.
I was actually in the middle of class when I thought of a title to this blog, beyond something like "Nneoma's Blog," or some version thereof. IT had to be something that represented me and encompassed all of my interest both in the past, present, and ambitiously, the future.
So where does PyooWata fit in all this? Where do I begin?
Well "pure water" is a another word for water sold in satchets for about 10naira in Nigeria. No, I was not born in Nigeria, but like millions of others (well I would like to think that there are millions of us), I was born in the West to Nigerian immigrants. When I first traveled back to Nigeria, one thing that intrigued me was the hawking of water on the roads, corners, in front of shops everywhere.
Pure water is not nearly as "pure" as commercially bottled water. In fact, my brothers and I were warned by my mother to steer clear from this, like other dangerous activities such as eating in stranger's houses, chartering motorbike taxis (okada), playing football bare-footed - all of which we eventually did. It aims to be pure, but sometimes, depending on the vendor, the packaging could be caked in sand and it's not too difficult to find random particles floating in the water. In fact, it is probably all those different particles that gave it it's unique flavor. Hey, but it was still refreshing - just bite at the plastic and suck.
Bringing to this back to me, I think I am like this pure water, or rather "pyoo wata", in many ways. I see my one of my primary occupations right now as a becoming something pure. Right now, I am not at that state, for I am a student of many things - science, health, African affairs, art, fashion. I am also a compilation of many things - African, American, Igbo, young, old, southern, northern...and some.
True I may not be pure and maybe some of the things that I discuss may not all sync together. But just bite the plastic and suck (hey you, keep your mind out da gutter...lol), and I am sure you'll enjoy.