Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why I Think Nigeria Is No Place For A Woman With Dreams.

As i was passing time on twitter, i saw a retweet by my sister. Someone had tweeted "Nigeria is not a place for a woman with dreams" and i asked my sister who the lady was and she told me she didn't know, nevertheless i retweeted/favourited the tweet and exclaimed how much the tweet expressed my feelings. This is something that has bothered and is still bothering my heart. 

Nigeria is most certainly not a place for anyone, not just a woman who thinks there is something extraordinary in this life waiting for them. Why? Simple. We kill and destroy every chance of success our neighbour has, out of spite or culture or religion. In one way or another, we destroy the youth by repeatedly telling them who we think they have to be. Like being any other person i.e themselves would kill them. As a graduate student, in the words of my beloved aunt "you have reached a stage shaheedah where marriage should be at the top of your list", this is a woman who wants the best for me and loves me very much and in her display of affection, marriage is the best thing that could wish to happen to me. Ignoring the fact that i have a Bsc in Engineering and i am an aspiring writer. Ignoring the fact that i could be so much more than the next bride in the family.
In the little community i.e people i speak to, i have seen every proof to assure me that Nigeria is no place for a woman with dreams. Mainly because we have taken culture and used it in place of common sense. I have conversations with a lot of people concerning the future and almost every average Nigerian girl you meet while calling her future plans out to you goes:

1. I finish school (not specifying high school, undergraduate or postgraduate)
2. I get married and start a family
3. I maybe find a job.

That is a pretty good list to me don't get me wrong, i mean, we should all aspire to have an education, have a job and when we feel the time is right, start a family, or not at all even,  whatever works for us. BUT for this to be the list for every average Nigerian girl just tells you that this has been repeated to us several times so much that it has lost its meaning. We are like brainwashed robots just following what we are told regardless of the fact that we have high functioning brains that are supposed to be used to do the thinking for us and not be spoon fed second hand bullshit. When you ask any adult why they teach that, they tell you this, that is how it is. I finished school and got married, that is what you should do too. I am talking from the view point of a Nigerian woman because we are the ones who are told right from the time we could walk that we are going to grow up to raise children and take care of the house. I have never ever in my over 20 years of existence heard a Nigerian parent tell their son "Listen, you have to learn this because very soon you will be a father and have to start raising children and taking care of a house". Our culture has told us that that is the best a woman can do in Nigeria. If a woman should God forbid be anything extraordinary like have a career then she is seen as the outcast, the rebel, the one that defied the odds.
People are so blind to how empty and meaningless their lives are that they have nothing else to do but obsess over someone else's life. There is a cycle of emptiness going around the women in Nigeria it saddens my heart to think i am expected to live this kind of life, a life without purpose, a life where you wake up everyday, repeatedly until waking up without a purpose just seems pointless. Having an intellectual family is a blessing, having both an intellectual and supportive family is damn near Gold.
When we have moved pass the barrier we have built for ourselves using our culture as an excuse, some other conservatives tell you in a very popular hausa phrase "haka addini ya ce" meaning "this is what the religion says". The reason i chose to be a feminist, or rather i think the reason why feminism picked me was because i was sick and tired of being told what not to do because religion says so. I have done alot of research, i have read the holy book and read several books by prominent Islamic thinkers and philosophers since i realised i was a feminist on religions standing when it comes to the topic of feminism. Contrary to popular belief, religion has never restricted a woman from being somebody, from being more than a housewife, if anything, religion has pushed us as people not only women to seek for knowledge and achieve greatness. Religion has never specifically mentioned in any book that women should not have dreams and they must be housewives. If i can recall correctly the holy prophets wife was even at a battle, your religion teachers will remove that out of your curriculum and tell you that God has forbidden women from leading and taking up any post of authority. Recently to build another bridge over women and elevate patriarchy i was told that religion teachers are teaching that the prophets first wife Khadija was not older than him, in fact he was older than her and it is a popular misconception. Anyway, i am not discussing religion here. Basically what i am trying to say is, people in Nigeria have repeatedly used culture backed by religion to tell women that they could never be anything extraordinary. Sharing your dreams with people gets you a kind of cynical laughter that would ice out your blood and make the taste of your dreams bitter on your tongue.
Last issue is spite. A Nigerian hates to see his brother succeed. No. Some people live to poison the hearts of families whose dreams are for their children to live a full life. They are like little birds dropping poisonous seeds in the ears of Nigerian parents out of spite to remind them that a woman with dreams is no wife material. A woman should not aspire to be very successful because she will intimidate men hence she will grow up in her fathers house with no husband. Realise how they give her no alternative to leave and find her dreams, like the only place for a woman is either her fathers house or her husbands. Always under the wings of men. Nigerian women are made to believe that being ambitious is not part of our culture and tradition, being an intellectual or "too smart" is not an attractive trait.
Marriage of course may not necessarily mean the end for most women. A lot of women can have both marriage and a career but we all know that when women postpone their dreams for the pursuit of marriage, then it will just be a habit to keep postponing, waiting for marriage, then it is about waiting till after the baby comes, then waiting till after the next baby and before you know it, it is late and most women end up feeling they can't do anything productive when they have passed their primes. If a woman can find a way to balance both her career and family without having to give up one for the other, then good, very damn fantastic but if not then it is just another sad story.
Nigerians are afraid of anything that seems out of the ordinary for them. Anything that is not considered as "normal" and is not something Nigerians are used to is automatically a "sin". We are all afraid of change in one way or another but without change then we might as well have stayed in the stone age. With civilisation comes change, comes breaking out of the cycle of everyday life. Civilisation gives room for greatness, yes it has it's qualms but without change, nobody would achieve anything in this life.
I advice every Nigerian woman not to settle for anything less than she thinks she deserves. Any woman in fact, not just Nigerian. Do not succumb to the pressures of family forcing you to take on a job you do not like and engage in relationships that do not elevate your heart. There is nothing wrong in wanting the best for yourself. There is nothing wrong with having dreams and ambitions and wanting to live a life filled with meaning and purpose. Do not just wake up everyday. Lazily. Wake up everyday with a purpose, with a goal to achieve

I read a peace of statement that i felt the need to share with as much people as i can, men and women, Nigerian or not.

"I advise you to stop sharing your dreams with people who try to hold you back, even if they are your parents. Because, if you are the kind of person who senses there is something out there for you beyond whatever it is you are expected to do-if you want to be EXTRA-ordinary-you will not get there by hanging around a bunch of people who tell you you are not extraordinary. Instead, you will probably become as ordinary as they expect you to be.
- Kelly Cutrone "

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Things i am coming to terms with as i am finding my way inside of this Labyrinth we call LIFE

I am still coming to terms with the fact that It is normal for me to care so deeply about something that seems pretty fucking logical and right to me while others could care less and to them, that seems logical and right. I am still trying to accept the fact that not everyone can give a shit like I do and that is OK. It's OK for me and it's OK for them not to give a shit. I am still trying to accept and respect peoples choices for what they are. The hardest part is acknowledging everyone has a right to do,say and care about anything just as much as I strongly believe in my rights. I am still trying to unlearn some things I was taught as a child for I now know how wrong things are. I am still trying to forgive myself for not forgiving others. It is all a process and a journey for me. I am making an effort. I am still working on teaching myself to love. Unconditionally without prejudice or compromise. I am still trying to unlearn how to fold my beliefs into paper planes. I am trying, I am hurting but I am trying, I am working on accepting the fact that not everyone will believe in my beliefs. I am still trying to accept peoples dismissal and nonchalance whenever I tell them something I strongly believe to be right and true. I am coming to terms with the fact that people will love what they love no matter how ridiculous it is to me and i have to be OK with it. I am still trying to learn to always not expect people to be interested in what i am interested in. I am still coming to terms with diversity and individuality. I am still trying to accept that somethings are completely out of my control. I am still trying to master the art of being an adult. I am trying and making an effort. I am still trying to see things from my mothers point of view and place myself in the conditions and environments in which she grew up in. I am still dreaming of fixing everyone. Maybe nobody is broken and I am just the broken clock. Nevertheless I think out loud and I am still dreaming of changing the world. I am still trying to rid myself of all the anger. I smile way more and I love love and I think, that is a step. I am still trying to accept people for who they are and not try to convince them to be like me or my image of human. I am still trying to forgive myself for the pain I caused myself. I am still asking my body to forgive me. I am trying to understand and as much as I want to run away, I am still trying to stay and make a change. I am still trying to understand my society. I try to listen to my friends more and I am still thanking them for being there even though they think I am crazy. I am still trying. Most importantly, I am making an effort, i am opening myself up to change and improvement. I am trying to teach myself to always always see the Noor in peoples eyes.
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Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Other Mother

I am going to tell you
about my other mother
the one i met
at the bus stop
the one that told me
with the sincerity of sunlight
that i, was a little her
she told me
about her life
the good and the bad
and how she survived
this is my other mother
the one that did not birth me
the one that showed me
and kindness.
she spoke forgiveness
and we shared oysters
under the starless night
over cups of jasmine tea
with sugar drops.
she told me galaxies
and i saw heavens
behind her smile
as bright as day.
Several miles away
in a land
where they speak
the language of my book
there lived a woman
who did not know me
who did not birth me
under the skies in March
she gave me life.

i am a daughter
with two mothers
one suns
one moons
my left and my right.
i am a daughter
who finds mothers
in women
on the street
who speak smiles
and call me "beautiful".
i am a daughter
whose mother is earth
who is never lost
for the ground raised me.
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She was
A deeply trouble
who smoked
in an alley
and wore
black lipstick.

She dances to music
only she could hear
and adorns her hair
with little white lillies.

She wore spiked boots
and smelled of rain
when it kisses
the sand.
Underneath her skin
are beds of roses
waiting to be watered
by caressing palms
in hopes
one day
she might bloom
a beautiful
rose bush.
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Coming to Nigeria is one of the things i sort of never look forward to anymore. I do not remember a time when coming back felt like a home coming to me.
Do not get me wrong, my family means the world to me. I would go to the end of the world and back for each and everyone of them. There is just a sense of incompleteness, in a very i-do-not-belong-here kind of way.
So with working on my writing, i decided to dig into my inner self and find lost emotions and memories and i have discovered really new things. I realised why coming back to the house i grew up in(well partially) is such a nightmare for me.
I left home to go to a boarding school at a tender age of 9(i turned 10 in my first year at junior high). For 6 years, i only ever came home on holidays, and with holidays, there is always this feeling at the back of your mind which every boarder knows i guess, the feeling that your time at home is limited and soon, you would be going back to being locked up in a school with hundreds of other kids.
I think my sense of homelessness came from there. I never really felt at home ever again in my fathers house. Always feeling more like a guest, always having to ask where things are, who changed/moved stuff and so on.
After my 6 years at a boarding house. I turned 17 in my first year at University. I went off to school to pursue a degree in Engineering across the globe in a land where people did not look or sound like me. ISTANBUL. I immediately feel in love with this beautiful city. Yes i have had ups and downs, i have had moments when all i wanted was to go far away from Istanbul but i realised i always dismiss the feeling with a simple "nah i belong here".
Fast forward to the time i started discovering myself, it all started when i decided to invest more time in myself and less in other things that do not add meaning to my life. I made a pact with myself to think deeper and feel deeper and hopefully write better(well, my quest for meaning has always being to make my writing better).  I started realising that going to Nigeria which is supposed to be home to me had started becoming less and less appealing. I found myself begging my family to always come over so i do not have to go. Istanbul felt more like home to me and i am always eager to go back whenever i go for a visit.
At first i thought it was because i loathed the politics in my country but then i found out that my feelings went deeper. I realised that, whenever i go home, i change every single time. I am growing and expanding my mind and i am becoming more objective to things and asking questions which every Nigerian knows is "a sign of disrespect". We were all raised in a society that teaches us not to question our elders. Once a person is older, it automatically makes him right. Again, do not get me wrong, i love being a part of this rich culture, that does not mean i am willing to accept every ridiculous thing and force is upon myself when i know very well i am not ok with it.
Coming home meant putting on a show, being less of myself, keeping all my objections and questions to myself so as not to cause trouble. It meant i had to make myself uncomfortable so as not to upset my family and friends. It is so hard believe me and so hurtful when people make ridiculous comments like "you know you are not white right?" or "what you are saying is a sin" or "you are being disrespectful" when i am actually just being myself.
We live in a society where culture and religion trumps common sense and logic. Religion is the most sacred thing that happened to mankind if only we took time to reflect on it and realise just how beautiful belief and worship is. In Nigeria, one is not allowed to question religion, automatically places you at the brink of hell.
Tribalism, one of the worst things that happened to Nigeria. We are all tribalists in one way or another. I was at a family gathering during Eid and my family were talking about how atrocious it was for any of us to marry anyone outside of our tribe. We are Hausas and i was told never to go for a Nupe man for they do not like us. I was so upset about this for i have alot of wonderful Nupe friends and i took it upon myself to ask my friend who is Nupe what he thought and to my utmost surprise he told me it was true, as much as Hausas do not like to get married to Nupes, Nupes do not like to get married to Hausas. For the life of me i still do not understand how we could pass segregation and tribalism from generation to generation.
We are so judgemental. Everyone in Nigeria thinks they have something to say and so they must subject other people into listening. Being judgemental is deeply rooted into our being that we do not see how wrong it is. I have people around me who says things and i ask them "did you hear yourself? put yourself in their position". Most times i am just lost for words.
I think what Nigerians need to work on is their outlook on life and the human race. At the end of the day we are all one, if you are going to go with the religious ideology that we all came from Adam and Eve, fine, we are one and if you want to go with  science, believing we are all just a bunch of same composition of atoms, fine also, all in all, we are all one. We are no better than the crickets chirping away outside my window right now.
I am writing this because i am upset at my own people. A place where i am supposed to feel most welcomed always leaves me with a bitter yearning for the land where people do not look or sound like me. Makes me want to go back to my home, in Istanbul. This does not mean Istanbul people or rather Turks are any better, we all have our flaws but at least, i am surrounded by people who try(some make an effort and some don't) to understand me.
My advice to everyone is this, the moment you get the chance the leave the land where you grew up in, take that chance, leave, travel, meet people, most importantly, learn from them as i have, be with an open mind, LEARN, READ AND LEARN.
My article may not be expressive enough, but there is just so much my little fingers can type.

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Written by my little sister Mimi

My 13 year old sister(Mimi) wrote this and i was highly fascinated at her thoughts. Forgive any grammatical errors for i will not edit her words. I am posting it as she wrote it. I asked her if i could post it on my blog and she agreed.

"In Nigeria, we are facing a lot of things like viruses(Ebola), war, religious crisis, bomb blasts. On the first thought, i just don't understand how Israelis will be attacking Gaza(Palestine), is it because they are stronger than them or what, i just don't understand. One the second thought, why do people kill each other, is it that they don't have a heart or what? they are humans just like you are, just think about it, wait a minute, like boko haram, what is wrong with them? They should just think about it, someone passing and then they, Boko haram stops to kill him/her. Do they know how painful it is to lose your loved one? am sure they don't know, they've never experienced one. Shedding innocent peoples blood, blasting places, innocent people die who have done nothing to them. If they had at least talked to them, just don't take action. On the third thought, what do you want to do with girls, kidnapping innocent girls, raping, killing, and changing their religion. If they don't have intention believe me, they will still be of their religions. Shekau the leader of boko haram, it is not everyone that wants to be muslim, we are living in a world of freedom of rights."

And then it ends abruptly here. This is her first article ever, although it is haphazardly structured, i think we can all understand the message she is trying to convey(or rather her thoughts). These are thoughts we all have had/are having. We have reached a point in this life where kids write articles questioning war, rape,murder. It is a very sad world we live in. Truly sad. 
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I come
From a generation of women
Women whom
Keep giving
Women whose hips
Are wide with giving.

Women whom love
And love
And love
They have no love
For themselves.

Who have never
The words
“I love you”
But say it
A thousand times
With hearts
Wide with

-Why African Women Have Wide Hips
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