This one is for you Mom!

african-mother-and-child-sher-nasser

Dear Mom,

Here is something I did not admit to myself until recently!

The older I grew, the more I resented you, mom. You scolded me ALL the time! You were the one who wanted me in the kitchen, sweating and ‘tanning’ under the heat of the gas cooker (and in the unfortunate incident of gas finishing half way through a meal preparation) your old kerosene stove. You were the one who woke me up in the middle of the night to ask me if I had transferred the soup from the fridge to the freezer. When I replied that you hadn’t ask me to, it earned me mouth-lashings about my lack of insight in relation to simple household issues.

You started most Saturday mornings with scolding me for not vacuuming the seating room while NEPA was being coporative- regardless of the fact that I am allergic to dust. You shouted at me incessantly for failing to run this errand, or that errand regardless of the fact that my brothers were there, loitering- doing nothing! You were the one to shout at me for not picking up ‘that dress for the umpteenth time’, for not taking the initiative to empty the bin or do the laundry till I was asked to and most of all  for grumbling at you, at your errands! You seemed to have my name at the tip of your lips all the time! You picked on me all the time, every time or so I thought.

This got worse when I grew older and I suddenly thought myself wise, I knew a thing or two about how babies were made, about marriage and more so about being a woman. It got worse when I moved to an international school, interacted with people from different worlds, backgrounds, ideologies- I suddenly was exposed- more exposed than you, mom would ever be. I thought. I discovered feminism and subscribed to their message! So that when you sent me on an errand, I took offense that I was the one sent instead of my brothers. Why should EB, my younger brother be comfortably seated and I be sent up and down, in and around the house? I figured it was because as you said a few times ‘I don’t want you doing this in my husband’s house!’  How that sentence irritated the hell out of me (and my father!)

Daddy would rebuke you angrily, even before the words made their way out of your mouth ‘ Husband? Please if that man cannot get ‘so-so-so’ himself he had better stay in his father’s house! Is OMA with all this education going to be his maid?’ I agreed with Daddy- he was my hero. Does mother think that with all this education, I will be a housewife- running around to the whims of my husband?  He had better be able to do cook, wash up plates after dinner, do the laundry and vacuum the house, as well as fix light bulbs, put on generators and take care of his children too. No body has time for a man who will just sit down, cross legged- probably watching his favourite football team, and perhaps more irritatingly with a few loud friends, barking orders at the defender to do his job, while the husband occasionally barked orders at me to see to the wailing baby and at the same time bring them some more beer from the fridge! Not me! Definitely not me!

As I grew out of ‘teenagehood’ and into ‘ladyhood’ (womanhood is too enormous a word! Not sure I am there yet!), the waves of our tumultuous relationship ebbed, you scolded me less and I did things more willingly-  you reminded me less and less that ‘you are a woman’. I also got to understand a few more things about you. Everything I detested and didn’t want to be- ‘a weak woman’ is what you are Mom. A woman who stayed home, stayed with the kids, a woman who gave up everything, after all the education, especially one with such bright prospects,  every hope and dream of achieving the high rungs of career, rubbing shoulders with influential society women, every dream of inspiring the youth of today, moulding and mentoring young women till they are women with high career ambitions like me- ALL of this you gave up mom! Only because you took one look at me, at my siblings and she made a choice to focus on us. You chose big headed me and my equally big (or bigger?) headed brothers over money, career and influence, and you did it for close to 20 years without as much as a complaint.

Understanding why you did it only meant that I was less judgmental of you, and more accepting of your now occasional scolding. Somehow, I remained judgmental of girls my age who thought they would be willing to give it all up for their husbands and their kids ‘ What about yourself?’ ‘What plans do you have for yourself?’ I would scold, my veins pumping and my head unable to comprehend why women failed to ‘dream big’, to aim higher than their marital homes. However after a chat with a very insightful friend, I have understood better that just like working at a million dollar law firm is a full time job, which requires intelligence and dedication, so is being a full time mom! It is  something to aspire to just like any other career is- and there was nothing wrong with aspiring to ‘housewiving’ in the least. If a woman given all the options and equal opportunities believes she is happier and more fulfilled as a mother, a house wife, a stay at home mom, who am I to condemn? To scoff? To question her judgment?

I look at you mom and you had dreams- career dreams! You didnt dream of ‘housewiving’ and being co-director to father’s dreams. You had your own dreams! And when I look at myself, at my siblings and my father and why you made your choices to leave your dreams and concentrate on us and I am grateful- extremely grateful. I know that it is not every woman that has to give up her job, some can juggle both, given the right circumstances. But circumstances made you choose, mom, and you chose me- big headed, big mouthed and very opinionated me! I am flawed by that humility and selflessness.

So mother, this is all I have left to say to you- I am awed by your selflessness and humility. You were not weak mom- it takes as strong a woman to run a fortune 500 as to make that decision you made. I only hope that with all my dreams, my degrees, my exposure, my knowledge, all my future wealth, influence and etc- I will be half the person you are- half of your humility, half of your selflessness and only then will I be a complete woman.

Forgive me for all the times I thought you a ‘common housewife’. I was colossally ignorant, arrogant and mistaken!

Your infinitely grateful daughter,

OMA

‘Do anything for my man?’

Dear Destiny’s Child,

Image

Photocredit:http://beyoncegifs.tumblr.com/post/12359433242

I am often laughed at by my friends; ‘Why don’t you ever know any recent songs?’ ‘You know that song is so 10 years ago right?’‘I don’t know which is worse, the fact that you still listen to Destiny’s Child or the fact that you still struggle with the lyrics after all these years?’ Yes, I am one of those people who listen to songs for the beat and for the tune, alone! I don’t do lyrics; I even struggle with singing along to choruses of songs which are repeated at least 4 times.

dont-judge-me-290x166Photocredit:http://www.damncovers.com/author/mr-face/page/104/

The truth is that I listen to music to zone out; to get out of my ‘now’; to disappear and re-emerge in a world of my choosing! So I don’t do lyrics- they condition me to live in another person’s world- I often don’t like to! However Destiny’s Child, of late I decided to give it a try; listen to lyrics feel the ‘real beauty of the song’ as E suggested. The real beauty! Ok then, it happens that the first song I ‘listened’ to was your Cater to You; a former favourite (for the tune).

Well, I wish I didn’t! You see, before in my ignorance I was happy to just wriggle my body in the shower,  to sing tunelessly, while out of breath during my morning runs or to whistle the tune during my 30 minute hike to lectures. But now, I can’t quite listen to that song without feeling like a traitor; a turncoat; a betrayal; to myself and my beliefs!

Beyonce, I think it is beautiful that you admire and are proud of your ‘baby’’s hard work. But seriously, don’t you think you are pushing it by saying that your life would be purposeless without him? Purposeless is rather unequivocal, isn’t it? When something is purposeless,  there is no desire, value or need for its continued existence; it is good for nothing! Is any guy (or person) enough to make your life purposeless; ‘hardworking’ as he is? Also when you say ‘sit down and let me pour out my love letter’ and all I hear is a list of chores you do; ‘take off your shoes, untie your shoestrings; take off your cufflinks, what you want to eat boo?; let me feed you want a foot rub? you want a manicure?…’ Wow Beyonce! Seriously, if that is what your love letter looks like, then every house help is in love with his/her employer! Why is there no mention of him, his characteristics, what he means to you and what he does that makes you happy,  that makes you choose him over the others and makes you say you love him?. Come on Bey! You even will turn your game on— ok maybe this is what makes this a love letter. Helps usually don’t plan on doing that! (If they do, then something fishy is going on- madam, are you there?) The saddest thing is that I don’t hear how he returns all of this ‘love’? Does he pay you a salary? Cover your face with kisses every day? Or plant roses by your bedside each morning? I sure hope he returns the foot rubs! It would be nice to include that in the song! That might help me understand why this is ‘your love letter’! Saddest thing is that at a live performance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MpXNF_ndoE) you told thousands of spectators and millions in the world watching by internet that ‘Ladies you know you have to cater to keep them right?’ Ok, wow! I will come back to that later Beyonce! How do we have to cater to keep them and at the same run the world? This is confusing! You are confusing!

Dear Kelly,you just appear even more servile in this song than Beyonce! ‘Let me take the stress away from you- making sure I am doing my part’- ‘your part’ in this relationship is take away stress? Really? It is quite gross that you are willing to try anything he wants because if you are not, another woman is willing!- Okay seriously that is quite low. Ladies, if he is with you, he should count himself lucky, he is not doing you a favour staying with you seeing as there are millions of women out there, if he wants the other women, let him be with them. But you are extremely special, unique and irreplaceable when a man loves you. So if another woman is willing, she is going to have to hitch her willingness to another boat because a man in love wouldn’t be looking anywhere else! Also Kelly please, don’t promote the idea that we women should keep it tight, keep our figure right, keep our hair fixed, keep rocking the hottest outfits because we want to keep men. Some feminists also seem to hold this view ‘Why will I wear heels- just to entice men?’ NO! No! No. You don’t!

Baby-facepalmPhotocredit:http://dragonball.wikia.com/wiki/File:Baby-facepalm.jpg

You wear heels because there are some clothings that look best accessorized; because heels with such dresses give a splash of confidence and good posture! The dress usually looks classier- it looks beautiful on you. You feel beautiful. Endorphins are released- you feel happy! It is about your happiness when you wear heels, skirts, makeup, workout and etc!!! Always about you, your physical and mental health which will in turn affect your work, education and those around you. But first about you!! Not to get a guy and certainly not to keep a guy!!!

Michelle, are you you really sure you want to give your breath, strength, and your will to a man? There is nothing left to you if you give all that- I mean literally, if you give all that you will be a corpse! It is impossible. I hope it was metaphorical.  Also, it is nice that you want to stick with your man through the good and the bad, because it is a shame that some girls are only ever present in the good- which makes some guys value us by money and material things. Thinking they can buy us- that with a shiny Rolex we get ‘turned on’! The stupidity! The only other thing you said that made me cringe was ‘Your wish is my command’- very cringe worthy but I guess your sisters (Beyonce and Kelly) topped the cringe chart so I won’t keep flogging this dead horse.

Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle, I am not saying that women should never do these things for their men. If you love a man, then there are times you are going to do these things- ‘take off his cufflinks’ and ‘brush his hair’ ‘foot rubs etc’ but then that is not your purpose in the relationship as this song suggests. Firstly, just as you do these he must be willing to do these too- take off your heels, give you hot bubble baths, foot rubs, breakfast for dinner in bed- I hope he is willing to RECIPROCATE! He should never take these actions for granted. Secondly no one has to do these chores to keep a man. There are people paid to do this! By the way, what does it even mean to ‘keep a man’? That phrase is so wrong in many ways- I refuse to accept that men are pets or dogs! Men are humans, with a will and so they are in a relationship, of their will and volition (as women are too). A man should be in a relationship with a lady because he looks at her and sees something different, something he needs in his life and something he values so much he isn’t willing to lose or give up- it could be the beauty, intelligence, poise, sense of humour, confidence, etc. Hence in that relationship, no one is keeping anyone! You can’t really ‘keep’ a human being. Please, that’s kidnap!

I know this song is ‘2000 and late’ as L sometimes calls me; but then I see that songs like this have promoted a very poor model and standard for women; and even in this day and age of modernism and feminism- many still subconsciously live by this. I see a few of my friends, acquaintances and fellow ladies of world class educational status, of above average intelligence and with immense exposure and what not- BUT YET!- are very obsessed with pleasing boyfriends and men;  cleaning their toilets, rooms, kitchens, doing laundry, folding and ironing, cooking for him and his friends while they watch football, and washing up the plates while he plays FIFA, with the computer!!! WOW! I cringe when I see these- I haven’t got to that stage when I can ask these ladies ‘what in the world are you thinking???’ calmly, without betraying  judgement in my eyes and voice- I haven’t. But I figure their eyes and voices will confide ‘my dear …I’m keeping my man’ while they casually laugh and ignore my question with a wave of the hand.

NOT COOL!!!

Dear Nollywood…

Dear Nollywood,

nollywoodPhotocredit:http://www.h264media.com/nollywood-wake-up/

Good morning. You don’t look like you have any time to waste so I promise not to do so; moreover you are probably busy churning out at least 300 movies this week. This is going to be a short letter; divided into 2 paragraphs; the first expresses my gratitude for a few things and the second is a request. I hope that despite the tone of this letter, you take my concern seriously.

Nollywood, I would like to thank you immensely for being a flourishing Nigerian enterprise; you are a constant in the very volatile Nigerian economy. Also, you have been a huge booster of Nigerian’s image, culture and tradition home and abroad; telling everyone that there are various facets to Nigeria. The occasional  Igbo ‘O gini’, Yoruba ‘ Ori eda‘ or Hausa ‘na gode’ dropped even in full English movies are extremely beautiful. I am also happy that you increasingly promote Yoruba, Hausa and Ibo speaking movies- I have seen your new Afmag additions and I am grateful. I would also like to thank you for being a constant source of succour to Nigerians; in the very dismal economic and political realities of Nigeria, it is always nice to see that you give the Mexican soaps a run for their money; diverting our attention every now and then from the harsh realities; reminding us of the many beautiful aspects of our nation. It is also nice that even in thrillers and horror movies; there is a touch of humour; even our ghosts can make and answer phone calls

imagesPhotcredit:https://www.facebook.co/OyoStateYouths?ref=stream&filter=1

I will also like to say a huge thanks for your recent development- as a quick scan through Iroko.tv has shown- in keeping the movies to Part 2/3- I believe there used to be movies  back in the days that went up to Part 6.  We often got lost along the way. I think this recent development also comes from your recent improvement in editing techniques; you have been true free marketers and realised that we have no interest in following a whole church sermon, or an entire car journey from Lagos to the Enugu in movies- you have realised that our true interests are captivated where the plot is actually playing out and for that we thank you.

Dear Nollywood, now I have one request. It is not to ask you to please stop starring Mercy Johnson or Nkem Owoh as primary school kids;

mercy-schoolfunke-owohPhotocredit:https://news.naij.com/49876.html

Although there is something deeply unsettling and disturbing about these images (especially where there are millions of Nigerian kid talents), this is not exactly my request- but while we are at it, please look into this. My request is also not about character recycling; the plot of Nollywood movies just from the name of the film or the array of characters. When Chiwetala Agu, Charles Inojie or John Okafor are starring- I know that it is a ridiculous movie- made just for laughs and if there is ‘JENIFA’, I know that I am not bound to hear one correct English sentence in that movie. I don’t necessary think this is a bad thing Nollywood- although it might be nice to explore the other dimensions of Jenifa or John Okafor- I think it might make our movies more interesting. But I digress for that is not my request. My compliant is slightly more circumscribed! It is about story lines. Dear Nolly, is it one person writing all the movie plots in Nollywood? Or is that one script is used to make 50 movies? Why is it that I see a movie ‘Smart Guys’ today and I swear I have seen it before- except I haven’t- I saw a sister-film ‘Sharp Guyz’.  Dear Nolly, I am tired of watching the same thing over and over and over again- and this is my request-  I want new story lines! To be more specific, I want story lines that tell our story as a nation. I was talking to my friend L, the other day Nolly and she said;  ‘I don’t understand why we (Nigeria) have so many amazing African writers with incredible books and plays and yet the story line of our movies are still so poor.’ Hence dear Nolly, this request was born, could you please make more movies which have story lines along the route of ‘Things Fall Apart’ showing our history during the era of colonialism; or ‘No Longer at Ease’ showing our history in the immediate aftermath of colonialism. I want you to tell our stories from mouths of African classics authors such as Buchi Emecheta, Wole Soyinka, Flora Nwapa, Cyprian Ekwensi, Niyi Osundare, Elechi Amadi or our more contemporary authors like Uzodinma Iweala, Helon Habila, Chimamda Adichie, Noo Saro Wiwa, Chibundu Onuzo, Lola Shoneyin to mention but a few. We shouldnt even have to wait for books to gain foreign acclaim like ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ before we can film them. We should be proactive in telling the world our story.

Nolly, I really need you to reject scripts which are so unintelligent that my little niece who is barely 5 can point out the pitfalls in them. Promote good script writers, reject bad ones and encourage competition- encourage reading, research and knowledge acquisition when writing scripts. Nolly your movies should not be enjoyable because they are so bad they are comical but because they are intelligent, thought-provoking and insightful. Furthermore I need you to be more willing to engage in politics beyond the usual ‘bad politician frolicking with university girls’. Since you produce movies weekly, then seize advantage of that opportunity and engage more in political satire, criticize the government of the day and its policies. Nolly, you have an extremely important role to play in Nigeria; in re-educating the populace, in challenging stereotypes; breaking down destructive models of tribalism, ethnic favouritism and corruption which eat the fabric of the Nigerian society. I need you to explore and expound your potentials Nolly. You are not quite there yet!

Thanks for listening Nolly!

Yours sincerely,

A very proud Nigerian!