President Buhari, of Nigeria, recently said his wife belonged to the kitchen, the living room and the ‘other room’ after she criticised his political decisions openly. When this occured, some women were livid, while others supported his claims. Several men came out to say he was correct, while others claimed he was wrong. I was tempted to ask the men in my life, where they felt their wives belonged; the other room, the kitchen, or the boardroom. Apparently, most people have accepted that the ‘other room‘ was a reference to the bedroom stating wise women have mastered the skills of manipulation in there.
Thier point of view was that the bedroom was the place a woman wielded the most amount of power. As I pondered this prospect, I considered what women of my grandmother’s generation would have to say about that. I was convinced that feminism was not new to Nigeria and I was right. Please allow me to introduce to you, five women who ignored the other room. Five women who may have acknowledged its power, yet did great things outside of it. Five women who were Nigerian, female, and feminists. Feminism is not new to Nigeria, it is not ‘madness’, it is not a new movement, and it is not something that needs to be silenced.Feminism is not new to Nigeria, it is not 'madness', and it is not something that needs to be silenced Click To Tweet
Queen Moremi of Ile-Ife
Moremi was born in Offa and married to the king of Ile-Ife; Ile-Ife was at war with the Forest people who had enslaved Ife citizens for years. Moremi was taken as a slave by the Forest people and forced into marriage to their ruler. After acquainting herself with the secrets of her new husband’s army, she escaped to Ile-Ife and revealed it to the Yorubas who then defeated the Forest people. After their victory, she returned to her first husband, King Oramiyan of Ife, and her statue still stands at Obafemi Awolowo University till today.
Queen Amina of Zaria
At sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent to her mother, Bakwa of Turunku, the ruling Queen of Zaria. Amina reigned in Zaria in the early to mid-15th century. Amina was a fierce warrior and loved fighting as a child and an adult; she refused to marry for fear of losing power. She helped (Zaria) become the centre of trade and to gain more land. Zaria’s wealth was due to the trade of leather, and imported metals. Her military achievements brought her great wealth and power, and she continued fighting until her death. She is responsible for the earthen wall fortifications, which are characteristic of Hausa states in Nigeria. They’re known as “ganuwar Amina”, or Amina’s walls. She is remembered as “Amina, Yar Bakwa ta san rana,” meaning “Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
Francis Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas was born on 25 October 1900, in Abeokuta. Her father was a returned slave from Sierra Leonne. She was an educator and women’s activist all her life and was the founder of the Women’s Union in Abeokuta. She fought for the unity and power of the market women, often coming face to face with colonialists and the Nigerian government. She was given a seat as an Oloye of Yoruba land, her legacy of honesty and truth did not die with her. She was the mother of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the aunt of Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka.
Margaret Ekpo was a seamstress who founded the Domestic Science and Sewing Institute in Aba, Nigeria. When she learnt of the civil rights movement for women around the world, she began to demand the same for Nigerian women. She also joined Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti to protest killings at an Enugu coal mine in the 50s’s. In 1961, she won a seat in the Eastern Regional House of Assembly which gave her a louder voice and a support to her activism. The Calabar Airport is named after her.
Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa
Flora Nwapa was known as the mother of modern African literature as she was the first African woman whose books were published in English. She was the first African woman publisher of novels when she founded Tata Press. She also worked in the reconstruction of society after the Biafran War, helping the displaced orphans and refugees. Her legacy lives on today in all female authors of African decent, she paved a way so women like Adichie, Selasi, Atta and Shoneyin can have a literary voice.
Many men have come up to say that ‘feminism’ is a drug that has polluted the minds of women. They have claimed that ‘modern women’ should revert to how things were in the days of old. However, women in the days of old Nigeria were bold and courageous. They fought with all their power and might. They left a legacy that has helped birth what we refer to as ‘modern Nigeria’.
Over to you
What do you think? Do you feel the above women should have stayed in the ‘other room or the kitchen’? Do you say that ‘feminism’ is too loud? Do you think that women are best at fighting battles in the ‘bedroom’ as opposed to the ‘boardroom?’
Hate it or love it; please leave a comment below. You know Dami loves to chat.