ChickenBones: A Journal

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We had expected my father to swear thunder and brimstone, or even to send my mum packing for daring to pull down his ‘board’ and by implication for challenging his manhood and authority, without proper and due consultation. But he didn’t, he quietly went inside the house and sulked like the wounded lion that he was. I thank God that my mother did not abuse the power and paradigm shift.

 

 

Feminism in Africa

By Uche Nworah

 

You must have read or heard by now that writers have peculiar styles and are also influenced by political and philosophical thinking and ideologies, hence it is easy to read Edwin Madunagu and identify that he is a Marxist, also Ndaeyo Uko is easily exposed as a satirist in his writings, Ama Ogan in her days at the Guardian was an avowed and unmistakable feminist, and so was the late May Ellen-Ezekiel (Richard Mofe-Damijo’s late wife), based on their writings and views.

I have always struggled with my self in trying to discover who or what influences my writing, I have read some of the different philosophers and thinkers but do not completely agree with all their principles and ideologies. I have therefore chosen not to align myself to any political or philosophical school of thought, at least for now.

But clarke (not his real name) has not. clarke is a fellow doctoral student at the University of Greenwich, ever since Dr. Hall in his Research Methods class advised that as doctoral students, we should read extensively in order to critically support and underpin our thesis in known theories and paradigms, I have watched clarke brand and re-brand himself week after week from being a Marxist, to being a positivist and most recently a pseudo - positivist. Lately he told me that he thinks that he has finally seen the light and that feminist may well and best describe him.

Sometimes I wonder if clarke knows what he is talking about, I doubt if he indeed understands what these critical theories are all about, one thing though is that I have come to like and admire him and his intellectual honesty. He is not your typical know – it - all academic (he teaches nursing and healthcare at the same university). Anytime he attempts to speak in class especially during seminar presentations; his reasoning and argument ensures that we all get a dose of the clarke humour medicine. He is now officially the class clown.

What has clarke got to do with this article? Well, everything. Firstly I have been struggling, just like him to identify a theorist, philosopher or paradigm to underpin and align my thesis with, however an accusatory email I received a while ago after I wrote an article on the rising profile of Igbo women as well as my tendency to play up women issues in some of my writings have made me begin to wonder and aloud too if I am not maybe, a feminist.

I took this issue up with Professor Ainley recently; I wanted to find out from him if men could also be feminists. Thankfully, despite his long academic rhetoric in trying to provide a simple yes or no answer to a simple question, I was able to come away from the discussion with the impression that men could support feminist causes and issues without necessarily being branded feminists. I have since found out however, that men could also be feminists.

So once again, I wish to share with you a thought that has been bothering me lately, this bothers on the issue of sons and daughters. Hopefully, I will not be called names again this time by the gentleman (you know who you are) who felt that my article about Igbo women empowers Igbo women and could therefore stir up trouble in Igbo families and homes. As if the women are not empowered already, wait till you hear my mother’s story. I don’t know if the gentleman in question is afraid that my article will incite the womenfolk to another round of riots, just like they did back in 1929.

Even as I write this article, President Obasanjo has appointed another Igbo woman, Mrs.Irene Nkechi Chigbue as the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE). She takes her place among the Igbo amazons.

Back to my mother’s story, my father is one of those Igbo men, typical if you know what I mean. Growing up, I remember how proud he was that he had four of us (all boys) first before the two girls came. I can still recall how we had to endure his antics of dressing us all up in the same set of clothes and shoes (we used to call them papa’s uniforms) and then ‘matching’ us all to his friends and associates, proudly announcing his handwork (sons) at every house we visited, I used to feel that we were some sort of museum pieces on display during such round trips.

Trust my father and all the other Igbo men of his generation, he really kept my mother busy on the home front and ensured that she was a regular guest at the maternity ward of the Aba General Hospital every other year. To compensate my mum, the Lord of the Manor opened a restaurant for her in front of our family house (where else?). A ploy still used today by Igbo men to ‘tie’ their wives down.

What was funny about this was that, around this time, although the girls (my sisters) had already been born, but still my father went ahead to, wait for this. He brazenly named the restaurant after himself and affixed the phrase and sons after his name on the signboard.

I can still picture the big blue coloured signboard, which for a long time was a regular feature of the nworah residence, until fate and fortune dictated otherwise.

My mother is your typical ‘obey your husband’ kind of housewife, as was obtainable back in the days but when fortune smiled on her, and her business began to blossom, things began to change. By some act of fate, probably heaven’s way of teaching my father and the other Igbo men of his time a lesson, he began to suffer dwindling fortunes in his business to the extent that my mum took over the running of the household financially.

Instinctively, although we were still young, but we knew where the money was now coming from (trust children to wise up fast) and so we (the Nworah children) switched alliances and allegiances.

I will never forget the look on my father’s face, nor the smirk on my mother’s when my father came home one day to find that his beloved signboard had been knocked down, (picture the pulling down of Saddam Hussein’s statute in Baghdad) and in its place was now a new shining board announcing amaka restaurant to the world.

We had expected my father to swear thunder and brimstone, or even to send my mum packing for daring to pull down his ‘board’ and by implication for challenging his manhood and authority, without proper and due consultation. But he didn’t, he quietly went inside the house and sulked like the wounded lion that he was. I thank God that my mother did not abuse the power and paradigm shift.

She still managed to remain the devoted and caring mother and wife (I didn’t say housewife), proving that yes, women can do all that and still keep their homes, and remain loyal and submissive.

This trend of male child preference over female children is still largely obtainable in Igbo land and also in some other parts of the world, hence most men still affix and sons to their business names. I have never seen any business with and daughters and I still wonder, why not?

I still don’t know if I am a feminist.

uchenworah@yahoo.com

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 3 November 2007 

 

 

 

 Home  Uche Nworah Table  Mau Mau Aesthetics   Love, Sex, and Erotica

Related files:   Black Brothers And Their White Chics   A Rejoinder To Black Brothers And Their White Chics   Feminism in Africa     Some Brothers Do Have 'Em   Women We Hate 

 Equality in African Relationships  Negro Psychosexuality  Exploring Sexuality from a Black Perspective   Contemporary African Women Struggle With Love