When Beyoncé released Flawless and featured Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in 2013, it was a small step for humanity but a big step for Nigerian music and literature. A simple excerpt from Chimamanda’s TED talk about teaching our girls to shrink themselves was heard by the great Beyoncé and her god status transferred to Chimamanda by association and feature.
But while Nigerians and everybody in the Nigerian and African literary scene celebrated, a new wave of hate surfaced on the internet with a lot of men and women; Nigerians mostly coming for Chimamanda and everything she stood for – Feminism and the basic idea that the girl child should have the right to choose a future for herself and chase after this future without fear.
To the basic religious fanatical, African and Nigerian man which is a lot of men, a woman only exists to serve the every whim of a man. The man; while a symbol of hope and stability also doubles as a child; insecure, scared and incapable of a lot of things like controlling his temper or his sexual urges.
While the internet hating of Chimamanda can be seen as banter, it’s deeper than that. It is a dangerous representation of the rest of untwitter Nigeria.
While tweetstorms and educational tweets go out from everybody that is sensible in attempts to bring the light of common sense to everybody on Twitter, the rest of Nigeria might not enjoy this necessary education. From basic idiotic tweets like “A woman can be rich, but not too rich”, to intentional validations of domestic violence, rape and even murders, our collective futures as Africans is in danger especially as we look to move from old institutions and mindsets that seem to keep the African continent dark. One constant though is the hate the Nigerian and African women face for just being women is monumental.
The biggest takeaways from the Twitter rants of so many bitter Nigerian men include but are not limited to
- A man’s ego is generally fragile and the African man is insecure: Chimamanda might never reach the level of aptness she reached when she said in her TED talk “We teach our girls to shrink themselves.” Suddenly, Nigerian men in all of their black man pride are the biggest demanders of humility and modesty. Over the course of the weekend, a Twitter user stated that “Nigerian women can have money, but not too much money”. So many variations of this have been disbursed over the internet and in real life as advice against the greatest damnation in the world; an unmarried or unmarriageable woman. Over time, friendly advice like “Don’t let your daughter do her LLM because she won’t find a husband”. The most important question that needs to be asked back is “what should I be doing with a man that is offended by my progress?” but the good gods; all of them forbid that a man’s ego be touched. As the average African man exists as a carefully curated salad of flaws he has patriarchy, years of systematic oppression of women and religious institutions on his side. Up until a woman with the same or better set of skills comes around. While scientists have said that animals have the basic instincts of fight or flight in them in times of danger, they forgot to mention the now universally acceptable chants of “Ashawoooo” that debuted in Tejuosho market in Yaba but is now trying to gain international appeal with a brief cameo I witnessed in an underground train in San Francisco last year. The moment a challenge shows up but doesn’t have a penis, the average African man will show his insecurity in so many disgusting ways.
- Man-hating and feminism is not the same thing: So we can be clear and understand where we are, feminism is looking for equal opportunities and treatments of members of both sexes. Man hating is basically a movement for the hate of men and should not be confused with feminism. Chimamanda and her feminism have been labelled as the cause of a lot of ills in the society; ills like female pride, female esteem, female excellence but there might be another sect on Twitter. Women that do not like men because of tales of heartbreak, experiences of heartbreak. This is not feminism. It is basically – self-preservation; I and my kind have been hurt by you or your brother or your best friend or your kind and have decided not to like you. While toxic will be a story for another day. Man hating is not feminism.
- Conditioning is difficult to break and things learned over the years are difficult to unlearn. Sometimes women are antifeminism because it’s the only truth they know. A lot of African traditions and imported religions practised in Nigeria and Africa today put women in a second and unequal seat to men. When these ideologies are passed on from generation to generation, it’s very easy to see this as the natural order of life. We forget that slavery was natural just a few hundred years ago.
- We need to learn, unlearn and relearn as a people. Outside of Twitter in Nigeria, it’s the dark ages where domestic violence, rape and even underage marriages still prevail. There is a lot of work to be done. We as a people need to know and understand that somethings do not make sense and as they don’t, they shouldn’t be done. New laws need to be put in place to tackle child marriage and to enforce the death sentence for rape as well as serious punishments for domestic violence. Despite rocky relations, all of Nigeria seems united on antifeminism fronts and this status quo needs to change.