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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