on african feminism...akuko nke mbu

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....


  1. Misan said...:

    Welcome to blogsphere! great blog! and thanks for contributing on The Afro Beat.

    I've been meaning to read Joys of Motherhood (for some time now), and that's what i originally thought your post was about.

    I'm definitely one of those who shy away from any "-ists", especially feminist (due to the bra-burning stereotypes you so eloquently described). I do however agree with your definition of the African feminist, and would add that they are those who strive to empower the powerless in our society - women, children, the poor, the sick, the cast-offs - while still living fulfilling lives (not dictated by marital or child-bearing status).
    That's the sort of feminist i would strive to be if I ever decided to embrace an "-ist".

    by the way, what's the meaning of "Akuko nke mbu"?

  1. nneoma said...:

    i like your expansion of the definition...and let me repeat that your blog is well...hot. in regards to the definition...it means the first story...implying there are many more stories to come in regards to this particular topic. As the stories continue (or blog entries rather...I am not sure how to say blog entries in Igbo) I will add more to the definition of what African feminism is.

    It's been long that I read the book, the Joys of motherhood (I think I read it when I was 13). From what I am remember, it recounts the tale of a woman who is faced with the burden of inequalities of being an African woman...as it plays out in her home life and her work (though I could be confusing this very brief synopsis with Emecheta's other book Second Class Citizen which is like the same tale, but told in the West). I would recommend it. I think that was my first introduction to the need for African feminism...

  1. Misan said...:

    speaking of which, have you delved into THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS? another "women, we need to get our act together asap" book on some levels, and "humans beings are just plain dispicable" on others. either way, a good read.

  1. nneoma said...:

    definitely going to look that one up this Christmas break

  1. pamelastitch said...:

    wow...I am loving your blog.

  1. Juliet said...:

    Hi,...ok, im just starting to this your blog and i wanted to start from the beginning...
    although this comment has nothing to do with the topic, the part where you said you were from Ohuhu cought my attention...this means we are practically sisters! but anyway, lemme continue reading. im loving this so far.