I took an English class last fall; it was an eye opener. English as i like to think, is my forte but this time around it was invigorating. Suffice it to say, I learnt a lot!
Now I know some are intricately curious as to where i am going with this hullabaloo. I crave your indulgence as i am getting to it. During this English class, we read a book titled “Decolonizing the mind” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the Kenyan novelist. In this book Ngugi was stressing the importance of letting go of the vestiges of colonialism that still assails us Africans. He preached a gospel of nationalism, if i may imbibe terminologies from my western civilization class. He was opposed to living life like the colonial masters, instead of staying true to our heritage.
Looking at this perspective it would mean returning to our God given heritage. Now, i don’t know what your opinions may be; it may differ from mine but i have some discord with this theory. While i concur that we should love our heritage, respect our roots, learn our language, learn our native food and the likes…there are certain things that are vested deep into Africans that i wish we could rid ourselves of. I want to focus on the sexist point of view and i’ll like you to feel free to challenge me where you might opine differently. This is a platform for free-thinkers after-all.
I am vehemently opposed to the notion of women being subjugated, treated like second class citizens, sometimes like possessions. Yes, i am a feminist down to my myeloid tissue but this is honestly a curious aspect of our culture that i need to understand. The belief that our place is in the kitchen, that we are not at liberty to express some lexicons because we would be dimmed inappropriate, the total horror associated with speaking up to our men, the abomination linked with reaching for great heights and the likes. Believe it or not i have argued with so called intellectuals who still belief in this barbarism; they vow never to marry a woman above their station whom they may not be able to control. Now, I do not seek to make this a war of gender but i want various opinions on this. Why would a female be declined education because of her anatomy? why should she be relegated to the position of pumping babies as her sole destiny? Why are females treated so unabashedly in the African society as pleasure materials to the men and nothing of more import? I ask, why?
While a boy is free to gallivant and be as loose as the bird of the air, a woman must be reined in and monitored at every turning point in her life. Now i am all for decency among girls, the mothers and future of tomorrow but who gave such a law that they should be judged when they choose to live their lives. The men! They are labelled promiscuous because they are free-thinkers; we place them at the altar of propriety and sacrifice them with the slaughtering knife of chastity. some bizarre tribes still place white sheets on the matrimonial bed to have proof of her purity or chastity.
Do we define chastity based on her status of virginity? Do we reduce the worth of the males based on any such criteria? How does this affect a woman that she wants to explore her body? A man is tapped on the back for his conquests and successes in garnering women but a lady is taught to never speak up. Never express yourself ,be subjugated, they say. All these in the name of decolonizing the mind, you are African after-all. I laugh. Chastity, purity, decency all this i advocate for, so don’t get me wrong. I just seek to understand on what bases do we judge a woman like an inferior being because she wants the same heights the men seek.
Why should she chose the kitchen over a career, why should her sole aim be marriage and procreation when she could have that and so much more. The sad thing is that most women are complacent and content to live this life of second grade citizen. They do not question the anomalies and seek for a reform. I seek for a reform. I want to understand why i should decolonize my mind if it means returning to archaic and barbaric practices that have held us back. I believe we can hold unto our heritage, the parts that are propelling us forward anyway, while discarding every trace of the primitivity that would seek to tie us down.