This is a statement I heard a lot growing up and still hear a lot now. From immediate family members to men, women, and even other races- this derogatory statement is made by plenty. In-fact a woman who wasn’t Nigerian, who wasn’t even Black- was the latest person to say that to me. I had to stop and tell her I found that comment offensive and incase she had forgotten I am a Nigerian woman. She didn’t apologise for her statement either. I mean why would she? She had heard way too many Nigerians say the same thing she was saying.
Nigerian men love to champion this saying, (the white lady who made that comment is married to a Nigerian man, who also said those exact words to me the first and only time he met me, so you can imagine) and even Nigerian women regurgitate this self hate a lot because it’s what has been indoctrinated into them. You will hear a Nigerian woman say “you know how Nigerian girls are, Nigerian girls are deadly”, in a really derogatory and negative way. It always bemuses me, it’s like they fail to realise that they themselves are Nigerian women. Irrespective of where you currently reside or have resided in the past.
I remember once having drinks with three guys. One was Nigerian and the other two were white Lebanese. The Nigerian man started to bash Nigerian women. Automatically I said to him, why are you doing that? He countered, ‘No but you’re not really Nigerian, I don’t mean you’. First of all I AM REALLY NIGERIAN. That I used to live in the Diaspora does not take that away from me. The fact we reject our own based on that is already problematic. If a Lebanese person comes over to live in Nigeria and lives here for 20 years do other Lebanese people say “you’re not really Lebanese?”. Nobody does that but Africans. Secondly even if I wasn’t Nigerian Oga, does that mean I should sit here and let you bash black women in front of these white men to appease them? Goddess forbid.
Anyway, he replied, ‘yes but Nigerian girls are different they love money…’ bla bla- I said to him, again, first of all you are the ones that throw money in our faces and then complain when we say we want money. And then let’s not forget that the society makes life so hard for women anyway- that they sometimes have to resort to asking men for money, which again is as a result of the conditions created by the patriarchy system we live in. How many times have you as a man had to leave a job due to sexual harassment? How many times have you not taken jobs because the employer was immediately inappropriate at interview. How many opportunities have been taken away from you because you refused to sleep with somebody? How many times have your ideas been damned and shut down in business simply because of your gender? And last and more importantly using money as a “reward” system for claiming women is something that is not synonymous to Nigeria or Nigerian women. It is undoubtedly WORLDWIDE. Men pay women for sex, men lavish women with money for attention. It is literally the only thing that they have felt they could bring to the table for the longest time. So they’re constantly lording it over our heads. Hugh Hefner and the playboy mansion literally celebrated young women locked in a mansion with an extremely old man for money. Infact underage girls too. But because they are white it’s heralded?. Now they realise it’s an insane notion and they want to turn it round as if to say we created the rules? No, men did.
I then said to him you think Lebanese women don’t do the same? You think their men don’t have supoosed issues with them? But do you ever hear them bashing all Lebanese women? Then the Lebanese guys got involved and said yes she’s right, Lebanese women love money too and they can be problematic but I love them. The Nigerian man jiving and jucking for them, then felt foolish and kept quiet. Don’t use Nigerian women to entertain yourselves and make yourselves feel superior. It’s absurd. Especially as a Nigerian man. It just shows how disconnected you are to source and yourselves. You cannot hate the very things you came from. And I don’t want to hear “Nigerian women don’t respect themselves”. What the hell does that even mean? If you believe women have to respect themselves before you respect them then YOU are the morally bankrupt one. That’s not how being a good soul works.
This attack on the Nigerian woman’s character and morale is a calculated ploy to keep us in chains and we mustn’t perpetuate it ourselves. Don’t you dare tell me “you know how Nigerian women are”.
If you mean they are stunning, resilient, powerful, strong women who never give up. Who make it work even when the odds are stacked against them. Nigerian women are the most organised female entrepreneurs in the world. No other nation has more female entrepreneurs and bread winners. Put us in the battle field we win. In the business field we win. Home front? Win. Nigerian women have built this country up and continue to build it up with little to no respect or recognition.
From the women’s war against the colonisers to the assassination of women’s rights activist Fumilayo Ransome Kuti. Nigerian women have made and continue to make great contribution to our nation. Do not see yourself as separate from Nigerian women. Whenever you speak of Nigerian women you are speaking of yourself. You are not the anomaly. We are phenomenal. Don’t allow your misogynoir stop you from seeing the greatness of Nigerian women. Stop the self hate programming dead in its thought process. You are a Nigerian woman. You cannot exempt yourself from the status. Further playing into the false negative notion of us does not make you any better.
I saw a woman at the supermarket the other day. She was being attended to by a cashier. Now the female cashier attending to me, was a bit stressed because I was complaining about a wrong price. My cashier was also attending to another customer whilst waiting on the manager to rectify my issue- this Nigerian lady left her own cashier and said to the cashier attending to me “find somebody to help me carry my bags”, as this cashier was scanning another customers goods. Because the cashier didn’t immediately drop what she was doing to call the helper- the lady shook her head as if out of pity, slightly kissed her teeth and retorted “oh Nigeria”.
It took everything in me not to laugh out loud. What do you mean oh Nigeria? Because she didn’t want to disrupt the flow of business to stop and find you a helper? Why not ask your own cashier? Why did you expect her to drop everything she was doing to attend to you in that second? How does that work? The western paradigm you often use when you make comments like “oh Nigeria”- Would you go into the store there and expect the cashier to leave the customer she was in the middle of attending to, to help you? Or would you ask for help and patiently wait till she was done to receive your help? We have got to check ourselves and our expectations. How do we perpetuate these white washed negative stereotypes of ourselves ? Do they make any sense even?
I am currently reading a tourism guide to Nigeria that was published in 1997 (my dad gave it to me). In the first chapter- in fact the first five pages and the author already insulted Nigerian women twice. Made us out to be dishonest and dangerous. I laughed at the audacity and irrationality. Under the section ‘General safety precautions’, he actually advices that “never keep a casual girl friend or woman in a room where you keep your foreign money and jewelleries”. He then further goes on to say that they should be “extremely cautious when using beauty salons”. No such warnings are given about keeping male friends or men in rooms or going to barber shops. This information is casually printed in a travellers guide to Nigeria. That is the impression they paint from the onset and it is extremely damaging.
All races have people with “bad” characters, that doesn’t mean it should be attributed to the entire race and gender- because that would be slightly insane you know. It’s wild to me that in 2021 we still don’t grasp this notion. It made me realise that time does not mean advancement. It has never meant advancement. As time goes on it is indeed possible for society to degenerate.
This onslaught on the character of the Nigerian woman is done in order to repress the powerful abundant spirit that we have. Our inability to crumble under the most dyer of circumstances. Our ability to succeed and flourish even when the odds are stacked against us. Even when they’ve attempted to snuff out our light. To come out looking like peacocks when they wanted us to shrink- is what has them all BIG mad. You cannot take a Nigerian woman fi ediat. She no fit carry last. We are way too phenomenal.
To be a proud Nigerian woman is to stick your middle finger up at the oppressive system. To be a proud Nigerian woman is to be a phenomenal woman. To be a proud Nigerian woman is to be proud of yourself.
So on this international women’s day my piece is dedicated to Nigerian women world wide. Whether you live in Nigeria or in the Diaspora. We are magnificent beings- we are not morally bankrupt. We are the very fabric that keeps this great nation going. Without Nigerian women there would be no Nigeria. Lets not continue to perpetuate self hate.
A toast to my Black queens.
A toast to my African Queens.
A toast to my Nigerian Queens.
We are MAJESTIC.
Happy International women’s day.