#WivesNotCooks: RE “SO YOU WON’T COOK?”

I first saw the hashtag #WivesNotCook when a Facebook friend made a response post on it, which she titled “SO YOU WON’T COOK?”. When I read the post, right from the first paragraph, I cringed.  I wanted to ignore it as I have ignored most things Nigerian lately. However, the post has been shared many times on Facebook, mostly by Nigerian men, who are using it as a reference point to chide women who support the hashtag #WivesNotCooks. Many have even used it as a point to bash single women, single mothers, divorced women and blamed all woes imaginable on feminism.

The post and the comments it generated made me realise we really have a long way to go in educating even the educated about the meaning of feminism. I understand that sometimes when we don’t want to engage, we still owe it to posterity to engage on some issues. Hence, why I decided to write this response to dissect the post and point out the problems with it, as it relates to feminism.

14067659_10154421374501873_6548088197135927608_nFirstly, we must understand that anyone can be a feminist and everyone should be a feminist. It’s the decent, humane position to take on gender equalities.

I was so surprised that someone who self-identified as “an unapologetic feminist” starts her argument against the hashtag #wivesNotCooks with these remarks-

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I am an unapologetic feminist but I also know how to differentiate feminism from gender roles.

And reiterated again-

Learn to differentiate gender equality from gender roles.

Feminism is about deconstructing gender roles. Yes, feminism is about fostering the rights of women in the workplace and the society at large. It is about standing up for women’s rights to be who they want to be. The right to education, right to earn same salary as men for the same job. Right to vote. Right to be free from gender discrimination. The right to live with dignity and respect. However, how do we achieve gender equality without breaking down the barriers of socially constructed gender roles and stereotypes?

What is gender role? According to Wiki ,

gender role is a set of societal norms dictating the types of behaviors which are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex or sexuality.

Google translation

noun

plural noun: gender roles

  1. the role or behaviour learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms.

“women’s traditional gender roles translated easily into caring for the sick, and nursing became a female profession”

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines gender roles as

socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

From these definitions, we can see why challenging gender roles is at the heart of feminism.

No one should be expected to do anything simply because of what lies between their legs, be it a dick or vagina.

Our value and contribution to our homes, workplace or society should not depend on what type of genitalia we have.

Feminism is all about breaking down gender roles. We should not use our own preference of how we run our home or life to determine who is a feminist or not. Your preference is your choice. Your opinion on what women or men should do is just that, an opinion.

Feminism is much more than an opinion; it is an established ideology.

Feminism advocates for gender equalities.  Gender equalities is intricately tied with deconstructing gender roles. To achieve gender equality, we must dismantle gender roles and stereotypes.

Gender stereotypes are products of gender roles.  If we acknowledge that feminism is about advocating for gender equalities, we cannot distance feminism from gender roles. We cannot achieve gender equalities without breaking down gender hegemony, and dismantling gender roles and stereotypes.

We live in a Patriarchy that fosters the belief that men are somehow inherently superior to women, and therefore places men above women. If asked, many men would quickly say that they don’t think this way, but ask them simple questions, such as-

– What makes a good wife?

– What do you think of single mothers?

– Must a woman know how to cook to be a good wife?

– Would you be worried if your wife gave birth to only girls but proud if she gave birth to only boys?

-Do you consider sharing household chores with your wife a necessity or a favour?

-Do you expect to be praised for helping with house chores?

-Do you expect a woman to have sex with you because you took her on an expensive date?

-Do you expect your daughters to learn to cook but don’t expect same of your son?

-How do you really feel about gender roles?

In one breath, they don’t think they are superior to women, but on the other hand, they expect women to fulfil gender roles., even when these gender roles are oppressive to women.

Everyone stands to benefit from deconstructing gender roles, be they women, men, transgender, queer or whatever gender identity they identify as.

Gender roles places expectation on people to do certain things based on what type of genitalia they have. This is so wrong, especially in this day and age.

I am a feminist of the world, in fact, I can defend women equality for the world but when I get home that line is drawn and it is very obvious for any discerning eyes.

NO. Feminism is not a hat you put on for show in public and throw off when no one is looking. When you say you draw the line at home, you are saying that feminism is incompatible with making a good home.

For a woman who identifies as “an unapologetic feminist” to say this, is sad. It basically feeds into such tripe that feminism breaks homes. Feminist can’t have a happy home because eek…Feminism.

Feminism is about empowering women in the workplace, at home, in the larger society and wherever it is they live their life as a woman and a human being.

If you are expected to play the socially constructed role of a woman first before being treated as a human being, be it at work or at home, then you need feminism.

Don’t ever put off your feminist hat because by so doing, what you are saying in that instance is “I ‘d rather be a sub human than be treated as a human because I want to keep my man, home, or in-laws happy’. You can still do these without taking off your feminist hat.

Feminism is not incompatible with expressing your passions for cooking or doing whatever makes you happy for your partner. The difference is, you should not feel forced to do so because you are a woman, but do so because it is what makes you happy. Let it be your choice, not an enforced role.

 

Do what you have to do to keep your marriage flourishing and intact and keep feminism at work place and out of your home because at home it would wreck that home. Men’s egos are too fragile and once bruised it is difficult to couple back.

If your man’s ego is too fragile to endure the fact that you are a feminist outside and inside your home, maybe that ego really needs bruising. Your man should grow up. Or you should wear your big panties and be the feminist you are, not just at work but at home as well.

This misconception that feminism wrecks the home is just so misguided, so false and so damaging to the feminist cause. How a self-identified, unapologetic feminist keeps saying this, beats all reasoning.

Feminism does not wreck home. Repeat after me, Feminism does not wreck home. Say it again and again, until you rid your mind of that misconception planted by the patriarchal, misogynistic society we live in.

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I am submissive to my bros, in fact, it is so bad that some female friends when they first land at my home, they are so surprised that, even after my madness on social media that I still have a home that is adorned and headed by a man and I also allow that man to act his role and at ease too. This is how a good and true feminist should be, even I could say so.

No, No, no. You don’t get to define what a good and true feminist should be based on how you run your home.

If you want to be submissive to your man, it is your choice.  It does not make you less of a feminist.

If you don’t want to be submissive to your man or whatever the gender of your partner, it is your choice. It does not make you more of a feminist.

Feminism is about having the right to choose. Feminism is about exploring your passions without pandering to socially constructed gender roles. Feminism is about having that freedom to not be afraid to be who you are for fear of being judged for deviating from gender roles and stereotypes.

Don’t ever tell another woman this is how a good woman should be. Just don’t ever! That is the most ‘unfeminist’ thing to say to another woman.

Please, ladies, bae, babes, learn how to cook, if not for your man but for yourselves, except you want to form that big girl that eats at the Oriental and Ocean Blues but can’t really sustain that lifestyle when the chips are down.

Why is this advice only directed at woman? Should this not apply to every adult?

It is expensive eating out all the time for everyone, regardless of gender.

Specifically asking women to learn to cook is just reiterating the socially constructed gender role that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

I am not so keen on cooking but I do cook because it is the economical thing to do. I also believe whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well. So, while I might not go buying cookery books or searching YouTube for food tips, the foods I chose to cook for myself and my son in my home are done to the best of my ability.

When my son left home for University in another town, I packed his bags full of frozen food and soups to last him a few weeks.

However, after his first year in university, my son learned to cook for himself. His reason was that he found out it was expensive to eat out. Even Pizzas every night isn’t cheap and not as satisfying as pounded yam and equisi soup.

He learnt his way around the kitchen, explored the limited options of African raw food materials in a town with supermarkets that mostly cater for its white occupants.

When I travelled with my mum to attend his graduation ceremony (oh, he graduated with a First-Class degree in Law, as a proud single mom, i mention this at the slightest excuse), we wanted to celebrate in a restaurant, and he told us he had made food at home. He made Jollof rice, fried rice, beans and plantain. He also had equisi and vegetable soup ready in case we wanted Eba or pounded yam. And his food was delicious.

Like his father, he knows his way around the kitchen. Like his father, he is not the type that would demand a woman cooks for him. He knows cooking is not a gender thing.

Eating good food and learning to cook it for yourself or your whole family has nothing to do with your gender. Every adult needs to eat good food, therefore every adult regardless of gender, needs to find a way to fulfil that need. It could be by learning to cook, earning enough to eat out or hire a cook. Whatever works well for you. What is wrong is to impose an expectation on anyone simply based on their biological sex.

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You must cook because your man must be fed well or else someone else would be feeding him well for you. Your children must be nurtured with good food because that is your role as a female gender.

No, you don’t owe your man the responsibility to feed him. You are his partner, not his cook. Your biological sex does not automatically make you his assigned cook.

Why is the fear of someone else feeding him the reason for a woman to learn how to cook?

If a man chooses to eat outside, be it food, pussy, or even dicks, no amount of home feeding or fucking would change his mind.

This is another way of blaming women when their partner strays. It is common to hear admonitions masquerading as concerns, such as-

“Oh, he cheated on you, where you not giving him enough attention?”

“Why didn’t you cook his favourite dishes?”

“Why didn’t you satisfy his sexual desires all the time?”

Nope, a cheat is a cheat, be it man or woman. Don’t blame the victim of a cheat. Blame the cheat.

Live your life the way you want to. Do not generalise and condemn the other half of human species because they didn’t live up to your expectation of what a ‘Good African Woman’ should be.

Women are not put on this planet to meet men’s expectations.

The purpose of a woman’s life is not to cook for men.

Women haven’t failed in life because they can’t cook.

And they certainly haven’t failed because they don’t have husbands.

I am a 42-year-old single mother. My son is 22-year-old. He is a Law graduate and a CEO of his own registered app development company in UK.  I have a degree in Law from Nigeria and a Masters degree in Gender, Sexuality and Human rights Law from UK. I have worked as a human rights advocate and trade unionist for 15 years. I have been at the top of my career at national and internationally level and at a point, at the very bottom, when i started afresh in a strange land. And now back in upwards swing of my career again.

Many of those guys who shared the post made went ahead to gleefully call single mothers, like me, losers and misguided feminists. Divorced women who identify as feminists were called names. They blame their single and divorced status on feminism.

As early as I could remember, I have always found the concept of marriage not to be for me, and I made that clear early in life. Nothing has happened to change my mind. Is this down to my Feminism? No, absolutely not. It’s more about how I don’t want the society to define my relationship with a piece of certificate. I can see the allure of marriage in terms of tax savings and legal rights to visit and make life decisions for your partner when they are incapacitated and not able to act. However, I’d rather campaign for a change in the laws to grant same rights to long term couples who have no desire to go through the marriage certificate route, than go get married just to secure these rights. This is not about feminism, it is my personal preference.

I was in a long term live-in relationship with the father of my baby and my last long term live-in relationship was with a same sex person, a woman.  In both relationships, I certainly was not the cook. Did I expect my partners to cook for me? Capital No.

In both relationships, both partner loved cooking. The father of my son, an Urhobo man, loved cooking his local delicacies, the soups tasted divine. Even though I loved eating these delicacies, I wouldn’t even dream of learning to cook these dishes. It has nothing to do with Feminism, it’s just that I do not have any passion for cooking.

The woman I was in a live-in relationship with was a Calabar woman, and oh, did she love cooking? Of course, she did (I can see the stereotype there, apologies Calabar women!). She preferred to be the one making the food. It has nothing to do with gender roles, she was simply the better cook and yeah, she preferred making her Calabar dishes to eating the Yoruba dishes i made with my basic culinary expertise.  Again, this has nothing to do with feminism, it was a matter of prudent choice. I don’t think it is reasonable for an adult who is not incapacitated to wait for their partner to come home to cook for them when hungry just because they expect the woman to be the cook.

Where Feminism comes in the hash tag #WivesNotCooks, is when women are expected or mandated to be cooks. This is an ascribed gender role. Feminism is about breaking down gender barriers and deconstructing gender roles.

A woman can be a wife without being a cook.

A woman can be a cook without being a wife.

A woman can be a wife and be a bad cook.

A Woman can be a good cook and not care to be a wife.

A woman can be a wife and a good cook

When you use the word ‘Cook’ as a noun, and you expect your wife, based on her biological sex, to fulfil that role, you are perpetrating gender stereotype.

Feminism is about getting rid of gender stereotypes. It is about freeing women from the shackles of gender stereotypes. Everyone stands to benefit from deconstructing gender roles.

Women would be free to make their choices and able to reach for the highest pinnacle without social barriers or being judged for the choices they made, be it the decision to be a stay at home mother or the CEO of a global tech company.

Men would be free to explore their more sensitive side without fear of being judged and called the gender slur ‘ ‘pussy’. Free from gender roles and stereotypes. Free to cook for their partners. Free to understand that they don’t have to be ATMs for women as we no longer live in a gatherer/ hunter society.

The only people who stand to lose are people with the power who are reluctant to let go of their Male privilege.

It is no wonder that the many people who were gleefully sharing the post and attacking the hashtag #WivesNotCook were men. They shared it with so much gusto, screaming,“women listen to an experienced feminist. Cook for your husbands.”

When as a feminist, you write a post about feminism and the post is being shared with much approval by men, maybe you really should rethink your position.

People with power aren’t so eager to let go of their power and privilege. Maybe something in your post is enthrenching that power structure rather than challenging or deconstructing it.

It is like when a black person makes a post about racism and white people are the one gleefully sharing that post with the caption, “hey black people, listen to this respected black person on racism

In such instance, you can be sure that the white person has seen something that validates their reactionary position on racism, something that entrenches the hegemony, something that excuses them from looking at their white privilege. They are therefore eager to say “if a black person says this, then you ‘BlackLivesMatter’ fanatics must be wrong. Listen to what my ‘AllLivesMatter’ black friend is saying!”

If men are gleefully sharing what you thought was a feminist post on social media, I’d say, read it again, have a rethink. The post is probably not feminist at all. There are most probably words in it that entrenches gender roles. People with power and privilege are not always excited when their power and privileges are threatened or challenged in anyway. If majority of men are happy and praising you for your ‘matured feminist’ post, you can be fairly sure that it wasn’t a feminist position.

But cooking at home as a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, and whatever else you may want to classify me as, when it comes to that role I take it as mine and very seriously too.

The thing about this is that it is a personal preference. A passion. It has nothing to do with feminism. It should not be an arbiter to decide who is a good feminist or not. It shouldn’t be used as a measurement to decide who is a good wife or not.

Bottom line is, people are different. Women are different. Expecting all women to love cooking and entertaining is so unnatural and unfair. Judging women on their cooking ability or passion for cooking and entertaining is ludicrous and gross in this day and age. Do you, and let others be themselves.

It is no wonder that men jumped on this and use it to declare that women should listen. Of course, they would say so because it entrenches gender role. It is a statement clearly proclaiming that a woman’s role certainly encompasses cooking and entertaining hubby’s friends. It is balderdash.

Is it any wonder that Nigeria’s president proclaimed to the world that his wife’s role is in the kitchen and the ‘other room’?

Men talk about wanting to give women equal rights but say there is a limit to this “equality madness”.

First, who says, equality is yours to give?

Men do not own equality as a matter of right., just as White people or Heterosexuals do not own equality.

Equality is not yours to give out or hold back as you please, just because you are at the top of the hegemony.

As the great Abami Eda, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, sang, “You cant dash me human rights. Human right na my property, So therefore you can’t dash me my property”.

Equality is our joint property.  We all have equal stake in it. This idea that it is for men to give women equality is part of the problem. This is why we still have men saying things like, “My wife must cook for me.

No, your wife is not your cook. The fact that she is married to you does not mean she must do anything. She is still a human being with freewill.

What you should talk about is the expectations you have of each other, not one based on gender roles but one based on mutual discussion, respect and appreciation of each other’s personalities and passions.

Maintaining a home as a couple is a shared responsibility. In this age, the decision of who takes care of certain home responsibilities should not depend on whether you have a dick or a vagina.

Gender roles hold us back, stop being so limited in your thinking, break down that gender wall and let’s embrace a society where people are free to be themselves without the constraints of gender stereotypes.

You are not a decorated trophy but strong, opinionated women that know what you want and that includes being submissive to your men. Sorry babes, we are just wired that way.

No, we are not wired that way. The society, these stereotyped Mills and Boons romance novels, Disney and Hollywood movies based on socially constructed gender roles, made us believe we want to be submissive to a man.

No, we are not all the same. Not every woman wants to worship at the altar of a man’s fragile ego.

Not all women want to  wait hands and foot on their husbands.

Not every woman wants a man as a partner, some women do have same sex partners.

We are no longer in the hunter/gatherer era where men must go hunt and women stayed home to do the cooking. The world is much more advanced than that. We evolved out of that era a long time ago.

Women don’t have to cook to be worthy of being called wife material.

Men don’t have to be ATMs to be husband material.

You don’t have to be loud and argumentative to be a feminist.

You could be as quiet as a mouse and still be a strong feminist.

You could be loud and argumentative and still be a feminist.

You could be a good cook who cooks at home for her family and still be a feminist.

You could be a good cook who does not cook for her family and still be a feminist.

You could be a single mother who cooks for her cchildren and still be a feminist.

You could be a single mother who does not cook and still be a feminist.

You could be a single woman who loves cooking and still be a feminist.

You could be a single woman who hates cooking and still be a feminist.

Your Feminist credentials do not depend on your ability or willingness to cook.

Gender roles are constructed by the society, they are not biological.

Be nurturing, be submissive, be dominant, be whatever you want to be in your relationship, so far it is with mutual consent and no one is put in harm’s way, it is your life, your choice. However, do not seek to impose that choice on others.

Feminism asserts the right of women to choose to be what they want to be, devoid of social constrains, barriers or gender expectations. Feminist is not a bad tag; wear it with pride, at all times.

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Miss Anambra’s Sex tape and the hypocrisy of Nigerians

As much as I try not to be so bothered with the ignorance displayed by fellow Nigerians daily, sometimes some things come up that one can’t in good conscience ignore because they are issues too important to ignore. The online assault on Miss Anambra by the homophobic, ignorant, religious extremist Nigerian mob is one of these issues. Now I must put my two cents in.

Since the alleged sex tape of Miss Chidinma Okeke, the winner of the 2015 Most Beautiful Girl in Anambra pageant competition, was leaked, there has been heated debate, fury, condemnation and all sorts of righteous silliness.

The sex tape showed Miss Anambra sexually pleasuring herself with a cucumber in the company of another lady, identified as her friend, Miss Adaobi Nzekwe, who was also a beauty queen,  third runner up of the face of democracy, Anambra, 2014.

The tape was released without the consent of Miss Chidinma Okeke. She initially came out to state that she was not the one in the video and that the sex tape was released as a revenge porn. It was also alleged that she was drugged and the video filmed under duress. If the video was filmed under duress and she was drugged, this must be totally condemned. Forcing women to make porn videos to use as a sort of hold or collateral against them is horrible.

In a message posted on her Facebook page Chidima Okeke wrote-

The moment I made public this intention to speak with journalists, I have been under threats by my blackmailers and traducers.

They are seriously threatening to shoot me at the press conference if I ever open my mouth to say the real truth about the ugly episode.

Ms. Okeke has since been dethroned because of the scandal. It is indeed sad that many have found jubilation in pulling the lady down, calling her Cucumber lady, all because she had ‘Lesbian sex’.

First, with all this nonsense talk about it being a lesbian sex, it is pertinent to state that the gender of the person we have sex with does not necessarily define our sexual orientation. The fact that two women were sexually pleasuring themselves does not make it lesbian sex. What is lesbian sex anyway? These two women could be bise264251_240895435929789_1041013_nxual or heterosexual women exploring their bodies and sexuality. No need to label sex based on the gender of the participants.

I am bisexual, I don’t have bisexual sex. Lesbian sex or heterosexual sex. I have sex.  I make love. I fall in love. Not a bisexual love, lesbian love or heterosexual love, just plain old love. Most people understand love and sexual desires. It isn’t any different because the people concerned are of same gender. Some people are Lesbians, Bisexual, Trans, and they have sexual desires, fall in love. Just get over it already.

Now, to the infamous cucumber. Why the outcry about Cucumber? The way Nigerians were shouting about the use of cucumber as a sex toy, one would think it never crossed their mind that such phallus shaped fruits and objects are often used by women around the world to give themselves sexual pleasure and Nigerian women are no exception. Cucumber, eggplants, candles etc are often used by women for sexual pleasure, especially by young curious women exploring their bodies. There is no harm in that and for goodness sake, it is their body. Their body, their choice.

Chidinma Okeke has now been dubbed the ‘Cucumber Lady’ by Nigerians. Don’t go hating on her and her cucumber just because you know your little willies or that big log you call a dick has never made a woman genuinely moan like the cucumber did. For all you know, your girlfriends or wives are busy using cucumber and other phallus shaped objects behind your back to satisfy the void you have not been able to fill. Maybe that cucumber is what is saving your marriage or relationship.

Instead of being so judgemental, why don’t you go learn a few sex tips? Maybe you could get your woman a nice shaped cucumber or get her a sex toy like a dildo or vibrator and use it together with her? For all you know, it might be the first time you experience your woman genuinely orgasm. What’s there to lose? Certainly, not your manhood, unless you are stuck in that patriarchal, sexist age that thinks only a dick should give a woman pleasure.

The condemnation Nigerians have poured on Miss Anambra since the release of the sex tape is nauseating.  Nigerians scream against the so called ‘Lesbian sex’, calling it “perverted” and “end of times signs”, yet the video has gone viral. It was officially reported as a top trending issue on Google search. That’s how much Nigerians love their ‘Lesbian/gay sex’, even though they want to stone the gays to death.

Considering that in 2014 Nigeria’s government enacted an anti-same sex relationship law which stipulates 14 years’ jail term for anyone who engages in same sex relationship and 10 years for anyone who advocates for LGBT rights, yet Nigeria rank has the third consumer of gay porn in the world. The hypocrisy of it all astounds.

The men who are busy wanking and jerking themselves to the sex video are the same who scream blue murder online, asking for Chidinma’s Okeke’s while envying the cucumber.

What is it about a woman owning her body and pleasuring herself the way she wants to that turns some people into judgemental assholes? For goodness sake, it is her body, not yours.

Revenge porn is horrible, patriarchal and designed to further shame women. It asserts that women have no right to enjoy their bodies, or honour their desires. Revenge porn is vengeful. In this modern day, the only reason revenge porn still holds power to shame women is because we still live in a patriarchal, sexist society where women are taught to be ashamed of their own bodies and sexual desires.

It is sad that some people keep calling the act of two women engaging in sex with each other pervert. Sex is natural. Desires are natural. There is nothing unnatural or perverted about experiencing sexual desires with another consenting adult, regardless of the gender of the parties involved. It is high time we stopped being so hang up about gender. Biological sex is not a restriction to sexual attraction or love.

If the action of others does not cause you any harm, stop interfering in their personal business.

In a country where traditional rulers abduct young girls and forced them into marriage, a country where randy old men are happy to use their religion to justify why they marry children as young as 10 years old, it is the highest level of hypocrisy to call for the heads of two consenting same sex adults for daring to have sex. And Nigerians have been calling for their heads as these nasty, ignorant comments on Facebook shows-

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Those nincompoops need to grow a brain. They need to understand that Homosexuality, Bisexuality or Transexuality is not Un-African or Unnatural. They need to accept that their religion is not the law. The world would be a much better place if they crawled back into their caves and never showed their homophobic, biphobic, transphobic faces in civilised society again. We should learn to Live and Let’s live.

Related link-

Debunking the myths: Is Homosexuality, Bisexuality or Transsexualism Un-African or Unnatural?

 

Celebrating My Uncelebrated Nigerian Award!

On Saturday Sep 24th, 2016, the Nigerian community in UK organised an award dinner ceremony to honour 56 uncelebrated Nigerians in five different categories as part of Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary.

I was proud to be nominated for the award and was really honoured to receive the Uncelebrated Nigerians Award for contribution to Legal, Security & Law enforcement.

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In my acceptance speech, i dedicated the award to Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and Queers in Nigeria and diaspora. Every Nigerian deserves to be free from discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT Rights are Human Rights.

As I have always maintained as coordinator of Nigerian LGBT in diaspora against Anti same sex law, and in my book- Freedom To Love For All: Homosexuality Is Not UnAfrican :

“Every Nigerian deserves the same right as every other Nigerian, irrespective of class, sex, race, gender identity or sexual orientation. Consensual adults do not deserve to have their love criminalized. Let us spread Love, not Hate.”

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The theme of the award was: Recognising and Honouring Nigerian Heroes who have excelled in numerous fields of endeavour

In his speech, Ayo Akinfe, Coordinator, organising committee, Uncelebrated Nigerians Awards said:

This event, the Uncelebrated Nigerians Awards, UK is not just another occasion as for the first time in our history, unheralded, honest toiling Nigerians in the UK are being recognised for the contribution to society. These unsung heroes, or silent stars if you like, work across all sectors of the economy including local government, the National Health Service, education, the civil service, entertainment, the media, etc, contributing immensely to Britain’s gross domestic product.

These 56 awardees who have distinguished themselves quietly nail the myth that everything about Nigeria is bad or that all we have to offer the world is violence, insecurity, fraud, dishonesty, 419ners, drug dealers and criminals.

No one sees these silent stars, no one recognises their toil and sacrifice but everyone sees the Boko Haram terrorist, the advanced fee fraud criminal and the Fulani herdsmen armed with AK47, Let the clarion call go out from here today, that we are an embodiment of honest, hardworking, good, toiling and decent people.

Very succinctly put, I must say.

Striking a pose on the red carpet with Ayo Akinfe, coordinator , UNA organising committee.

Striking a pose on the red carpet with Ayo Akinfe, Coordinator, UNA Organising Committee, UK

The award dinner ceremony was a night of good entertainment, yummy Nigerian food, good music, nice comedy and overall great atmosphere. It was a very well organised and successful event. Kudos to the Uncelebrated Nigerian Awards organising committee for their hard work and dedication in organising this successful event. Thank you for finding me worthy to receive the award.

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Flaunting my curves on the red carpet cos if life gives you curves, flaunt them.

Flaunting my curves on the red carpet cos if life gives you curves, flaunt them.

 

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UK Black Pride 2016: Transforming Our Community

UK Black Pride was held on Sunday 26, June 2016 at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London, with the theme “Transforming Our Community”. It was a blast with positive vibrations, diversity and thousands of vibrant people.

It was such a joy to be at UK Black Pride, 2016. It was fun in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with lots of foods and drinks to share, great music, great dance steps, lots of twerking and yeah, sexy, lovely people! LGBT BMEs do know how to party!

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Did someone say Why Black Pride?” [Read more…]

Online Dating: Serving up Choices and Confusion

Dating in this generation has a whole new meaning. It is all about choice or rather the illusion of choice, leading to confusion, pain, and a life wasted on swiping profiles for the next hit. This Facebook note by a Facebook friend, got me thinking about dating. As a single woman, i must say, i agree totally with his take on it. In this age of online dating, it is all about the illusion of choice and the uncertainty that comes with it. dating

Back when i was a teenager growing up in Nigeria, 20 something years ago, dating was not even a thing. You were either in a relationship with someone or you were not. It was straight to the relationship phase. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy asks girl, “Will you be my girlfriend?”, if girl likes boy, she plays coquettish long enough to not appear desperate, then says yes, and bingo, they are in a relationship. No dating as it is known today, no testing the waters, that was done at the ‘eyeing her/him up’ stage. The courtship stage did not normally involve alone time together. Maybe time with friends and families where you both sussed each other out, until one of you makes the move. [Read more…]

BeingFemaleInNigeria: The viral hashtag, the tweets and my take on it

#BeingFemaleInNigeria is a hashtag that went viral in Nigeria just barely hours after it was first tweeted by members of a small book club. The hashtag started trending in many countries including UK. I would have loved for the hashtag to read ‘BeingaWomanInNigeria’ because the word ‘Female’ has its own social construct problem. However, i am over the moon that this very important conversation, which got the whole nation talking, was started by a very small book club.

The book club members had gathered to read their book of the month, an essay titled ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Nigerian award winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. According to a member of the book club, Florence Warmate, the discussion got very interesting and members started sharing their personal experiences of sexism in Nigeria. They decided not to leave it there but start a conversation on social media about what it is like being a woman in Nigeria.

Florence Warmate posted her first tweet on the subject using the agreed hashtag #BeingFemaleInNigeria. Hours later, it was trending on twitter. It was interesting that a small group of women could ignite a national discussion via social media in a matter of hours. Clearly, it was a discussion Nigerian women (and some men too), were dying to have. [Read more…]

The curious case of Rachel Dolezal

When Rachel Dolezal was outed as a Caucasian woman in blackface, the story almost broke the internet. Several daystumblr_inline_npu43mC6mM1qfb043_500 later, we are still trying to put the pieces together. So far, the story has served as a platform to discuss racism and cultural appropriation. However, it has also served as a platform for transphobes to pontificate on gender and redefine transracial.

Rachel Dolezal, 37 year old part-time professor in the Africana studies program at Eastern Washington University, was outed by her Caucasian parents, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, as a white woman pretending to be black. Following the social media attention, Rachel Dolezal handed in her resignation as president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). She tendered her resignation without any sign of remorse, later followed by an exclusive live interview with NBC News where she insisted-

I definitely am not white, I’m more black than I am white. That’s the accurate answer from my truth.

Rachel seems to think her chosen truth trumps facts. You can choose your truth but you can’t choose your facts. She seems to have a history of choosing her truths with total disregard for facts.

On several occasions, Rachel Dolezal has claimed to be the victim of hate crimes. However, Investigators have not been able to find evidence to substantiate her claims. In fact, it was an effort to connect the dots in her latest hate [Read more…]

South Africa and Xenophobic Attacks: Simply No Justification

On March 20, 2015, xenophobic attacks broke out in Durban, South Africa, some disgruntled South Africans turned on their neighbours, viciously attacking foreigners, mostly immigrant black Africans. This set in motion a wave of anti-immigrants attacks. The locals accused migrants of taking local jobs. They wanted the foreigners out of their country. Since the attacks, many deaths have been recorded and thousands of foreigners have fled for their lives, with many rendered homeless and in hiding.

A Mozambican man, Emmanuel Sithole was stalked, stabbed and murdered on the streets by vicious South Africans, According to reports, many including policemen watched while he pleaded for his life.

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The Nigerian consul-general in South Africa, Uche Ajulu-Okeke said  – [Read more…]

Periods: The Shame and Shaming

I am not a fan of the menstrual cycle but i understand it is a natural part of making new human lives and this is great. If there was any intelligent designer, aka God, women wouldn’t need to bleed every month for new human lives to be possible, and this is one reason i can say God is not a woman.

It is sad that the society portrays menstruation as an obscene, dirty thing women should be ashamed of. As a teenager, I was scared and ashamed to go into chemists’ shops to purchase sanitary pads and it did not help that the people behind the counters were usually men. Most times, I found myself going from one shop to the other, praying and hoping there would be a woman behind the counter. If the shame i felt could kill, i would have died at the spot!

Thanks to feminism and the liberation it brings, I now buy my sanitary pads and tampons with pride. Gone are the days I made extra efforts to keep my sanitary pads hidden under the bulk of my shopping, now i make a point of not hiding it under any grocery/shopping. This ‘little’ act feels like liberation from century old shackles. [Read more…]

Bullies Are Not Born; They Are Made.

Our society is not doing enough to address bullying of vulnerable young people, especially young people with disabilities. I grew up in a society where even teachersstop-bully-logo laughed at and maltreated students who suffer from learning disabilities.

There was this particular case, which even decades later, still makes me furious. Whenever I hear of children with disabilities who are bullied by adults, I instantly think of this boy in my junior high school class in Nigeria, who was constantly bullied not just by students but by teachers too.

The boy, I think his name was ‘Jamiu’, was always falling asleep during class sessions. We were told or rather, there were rumours that the boy was bitten by Tsetse fly and as a result had ‘sleeping sickness’. For years, I was terrified of flies.  Obviously, the child suffered from some sort of sleeping disorder, and he constantly fell asleep in class.  Teachers told us to mock him for falling asleep during class sessions. Teachers made him stand in front of the class where he was humiliated with the whole class staring at him like a freak. Since it was our first year in high school, we were between the ages of 12 and 13, but it seems the boy was much older. He was also bigger than most of us in the class. However, I rarely heard him speak. He seemed to bear his constant humiliation with stoic fortitude.

This young boy had learning disabilities and did not perform well in class. He sat at the back of the class. Looking back now, it seems that young people who had learning disabilities were always sat at the back of the class. The ‘bright’ ones were always sat at the front rows, while those who did not perform well were pushed to the back seats. The further down you are, the lower you are in the hierarchy of ‘intelligence’.

I used to feel so sorry for the child but also I was terrified to go near him for fear of ‘catching’ this sleeping disease. I felt sorry for him because he could not have been [Read more…]

Jamie Olivier; Hands Off My Continent’s Jollof Rice! #Jollofgate

 

Like many West Africans, I was aghast when I saw the picture of what Jamie Olivier tried to pass off as Jollof rice. Twitter was set ablaze by the B1aijQDCEAApYGlrighteous fury of West Africans, protesting the audacity of an international white celebrity chef, who dared to plagiarised (and badly so too), West Africa’s much beloved dish, Jollof Rice. To an outsider, this might seem like much ado about nothing, but hey jollof rice is not just any rice, it is a national treasure, a national signature, and as #Jollofgate fury has proved, it is an African pride. Touch our Jollof rice; we will come at you with united fury! [Read more…]

Culture is not an excuse to perpetrate injustice; LGBT Rights are about Human Rights not Culture.

As part of the celebration marking Black History/LGBT Month, I was interviewed by  Tundun Adeyemo, presenter of the program ‘Outspoken’ BookCoverImage new vistaon www.africaukradio.com. Below is a text of the interview, also available on her blog.

October is Black History/Lesbian Gays Bisexual Transsexual Month. In parts of London, people have been marking this in various ways. To help us give that some perspective is author Yemisi Ilesanmi who joins us from London to talk about her book and why homosexuality is not just an European concept.

Hello Yemisi, Many thanks for joining us.

 1- You have written this book ‘Homosexuality is not unAfrican.’ Why did you write this book?

Thanks. I wrote this book to counter the erroneous impression that homosexuality is Un-African. This is a rhetoric that many African politicians keep sprouting in their bid to defend the discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and Transsexuals. With the upsurge of anti-gay bills springing up in many African countries, it became imperative to provide necessary information and create awareness on the issues of sexual orientation especially homosexuality and bisexuality. Information is power and education is key to human development.

In this digital age, where information is easily accessible, it is sad to know that many people especially Africans still fall for the homophobic, biphobic and transphobiic rhetoric that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. In the book Freedom to Love For All; Homosexuality is not Un-African, I put together a collection of my essays debunking the myths that Homosexuality is Un-African.

First, I started by clarifying the meaning of sexual orientation and providing accepted definition of the different kinds of sexual orientation and gender identity that we [Read more…]

Closets Are For Clothes; I Am More Than My Clothes: I Am Coming Out!

Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day! According to Wikipedia

 National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as a gender identity or sexuality minority. The day is observed annually by members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies on October 11

Whether you are Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian, Gay, or even Atheist, coming out of the closet is always often a difficult experience for many. Most Logo_ncod_lgtimes, it is a decision that subjects us to a lifetime of discrimination, isolation, ostracism, and judgements not just from the society but unfortunately, also from those we care most about i.e. our family members and friends.

For me personally, all the isolation, judgemental remarks, ostracism, discrimination or jail terms in the world are not enough deterrents to keep me in the closet about my sexual orientation or non-belief.

The Freedom to be me, Freedom to love, Freedom to express my love and shout it from on top mountains, Freedom to assert my sexual and gender identity, Freedom to proclaim my non-belief in religious nonsense etc. are things I will not trade for the safety of the closets.

I cannot and must not let my Freedom to be me be curtailed by people who rejoice in wallowing in ignorance and hate.

Closets are for clothes; I am more than my clothes. [Read more…]

Video: LGBT Rights activists demonstrates at Nigerian Centenary Awards, UK

Speaking during the demonstration, Yemisi Ilesanmi said:

We are here to speak out on behalf of all oppressed Nigerian LGBTs who have been denied a voice in Nigeria. We are here to put a face on Nigerian LGBTs. We are here to remind you that LGBT Nigerians are not criminals and are worthy of celebration. We are here to remind all those who criminalised us and are turning us into asylum seekers that we will not be silenced. We are LGBT Nigerians and we are proud.”

The demonstrators left the guests with the message “Nigerian LGBTS and LGBT rights supporters are not criminals and we will not be silenced in our fight for our human rights. We hope as Nigeria celebrates its hundred years of existence, its people will also celebrate diversity and do away with homophobic, biphobic and transphobic laws.”

Blogpost  link– http://wp.me/p3uryi-AZ

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