Man in the 21st Century and the women who love them

It was one of those Sunday rides after Church Service with a friend. From discussing the sermon to a female friend of his. This shouldn’t make headlines but something he said struck a chord with me. This lady friend of his visited him in a “big” car and he found it threatening to men (Not him though, cos’ he wasn’t interested in her). He’s not alone in this line of thought, a colleague reiterated this claim when I mentioned the kind of cars I like. In his words “it will drive men away”.

Ursula von der Leyen, Nikki Haley, Chioma Ukonu. These names may just be other names but look closely, Ursula is the German Minister of Defense, wife and mother to seven (7) children, Nikki is the US Ambassador to the UN, wife and mother of two while Chioma is running a foremost Nigerian Recycling Company with her husband and has three children. If you’re still wondering what my point is with all these information just stay with me a little longer.

I grew up in a home with just my two sisters, there was never a time the place of our gender affected what we could or could not do. We practically lived lives to the fullest, if we had to race the boys in our streets on our bikes we did, if we had to slide down on the corridor, we did just that. When it was time for undergraduate studies our gender wasn’t a determining factor ; we studied Metallurgical Engineering, Geophysics and Electrical Engineering respectively. All thanks to my Father and Mother who were the wind behind our wings and haven’t changed.

But I’ve often heard some comments from people when I run my ideas with them, you’re too ambitious, you’re a woman, you need to take it easy, and you’ll chase men away. I remember a guy asking me why I wasn’t a primary school teacher (this isn’t to undermine the teaching profession) to enable me come back from work around 2 p.m. to take care of my children. at that time he was a prospect and I asked him what of the father, his response “You’re an African woman, when you people travel abroad you forget this”.

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In a conversation with an acquaintance the issue of the equality between male and female came up. He went straight to remind me he’s a Bible believing Christian by quoting “The woman should be submissive to the man” (he didn’t know where it was written in the Bible). On the premise of his sermon to me, he went further to say the woman is inferior to the man using the most appropriate illustration – Star Radler and 33 Star Lager Beer. The alcohol content is 2.00 and 5.10 percent respectively. Radler representing the women while 33 was for the men, I went on to ask him what content was more in the men. At the time of this writing he hasn’t given me an answer yet.

What does it mean to be an African woman? Are women truly inferior to men? What does the Bible mean in Genesis 2:18 “Then the Lord God said it is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper fit for him” Genesis 5:1b – 2 “When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. Male and Female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man…”. Can women break glass ceilings and still be wives and mothers for those who choose to? If these women are breaking glass ceilings do we have a generation of men who are threatened by them?

A man I respect said something profound. In the past, men were the hunters but now we have women who are going out to hunt too. The career path chosen by many women is giving them a platform they never had before. I know I was created for so much more, I’m trying to make sense of all of that and at the same time coming to terms with the reality that there’s really no limitation except the one I choose to place on myself as a result of Cultural or Social bias. In the next couple of days I’ll be putting up articles written by Men and Women on these issues. I hope this challenges what you have thought and believed both as a Man and Woman.

Loads of Love

JMAD

Photo Credit : Google

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The view of Ethiopia through the lens of Rosa

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Rosa kept on avoiding the camera but Mitch had a way of capturing her. This was at Istanbul waiting for the connecting flight to Ethiopia

As one of the members of the ‘Africa Study Trip’ group heading to Ethiopia in February 2015 I, like many others, was unsure of what to expect once we arrived in Addis Ababa. Whilst the trip passed relatively smoothly (excluding our interesting return journey), our first bit of drama occurred before we’d even left the confines of Addis Ababa airport with one of the group (I will mention no names…) being given an Ebola warning card. Once we’d navigated our way to the guesthouse and spent a day exploring Addis Ababa we went straight into our first meetings.

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Just finished balancing accounts. I guess i deserved a bite of Oreoes

One thing I observed was the lack of obvious corruption and bribery occurring at the street level. Of course this is not to say that Ethiopia is corruption free, but I personally saw no evidence of overt bribery or petty corruption with state officials as I personally saw whilst living in Cameroon and have heard is endemic of many African states. However, we were made aware of the fact that the state have their arms deep within Ethiopian society, controlling many areas that would be considered private in the Western world. The first few days in Addis were spent deliberating whether our communication to friends and family back home was being monitored. After several days of paranoia and the sending of carefully worded emails (not to give away too much detail about who we were visiting and when), we concluded that the Ethiopian Government probably had bigger things to worry about than a dozen University students asking some awkward questions. Despite several days when it went down, I was very impressed with the wifi in the hotel which directly contrasted with other experiences I have had with internet connections in Africa. However, the same cannot be said of the mobile network which was very patchy. We learned that this was due to the government stranglehold on telecommunications, preventing competition and maintaining control over their people.

Beautiful sunset on the way to Hawassa
Beautiful sunset on the way to Hawassa

After a busy first week of meetings I think we were all really pleased when we got the opportunity to travel outside of Addis to Hawassa in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR). Had we not had the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital we would have failed to see any other versions of Ethiopia. Ethiopia, like most African countries, is extremely diverse and I’m pleased that we were able to experience another side to the country. One of the most obvious differences was the temperature in Hawassa- much hotter than in Addis. It was also nice to witness some of the scenery on the long bus drive down, we even managed to catch an amazing sunset. Other than taking some relaxation time out of our busy schedule, we had a meeting with The Regional Council of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s. We had a lot of time there to talk through a variety of issues but expectedly ethnic federalism was discussed in the most detail. The Regional Council painted a very positive picture of the ethnic federal structure, explaining how it maintains stability in the country as local grievances can be dealt with at a local level. However, some of the students we met from Addis Ababa University explained how difficult it is to identify yourself as of one ‘nationality’ when your parents are from different regions and you may have grown up in a different region entirely. Although I could see some flaws in ethnic federalism, I did appreciate the importance of each region promoting and practicing its own language, culture and customs. We were fortunate enough to visit a museum at the SNNPR Regional Council, learning about their culture. We also visited an amazing restaurant in Addis which showcased song and dance from across Ethiopia whilst eating some tasty Ethiopian food for the last time. Some members of the group also enjoyed trying Tej, an Ethiopian honey wine. Some in the group witnessed a ‘Tej-effect’ yet everyone was pleased to notice the absence of a ‘tej-over’ the following morning.

This is our fickle attempt at trying the neck dance we watched at the cultural centre
This is our fickle attempt at trying the neck dance we watched at the cultural centre

The experience was really eye-opening and I feel I learned so much more from being in Ethiopia than I could have if I’d spent the two weeks in Bradford non-stop reading about Ethiopia. We were incredibly lucky to have two students from the Institute of Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University who were on hand to answer our many questions about Ethiopian politics and beyond.

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Nwanne di na mba

The study group are now all busy doing further research for the essays which we are all writing for the study trip module, so are engrossed in their specific aspects of Ethiopia. I would encourage anyone reading to speak to anyone who came on the trip about their area of research as by the end of the process, we should be much more informed. There have also been discussions about putting our various findings together in a presentation or document once finished, so look out for that!

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This was our not so good return experience. She ended up pushing me on the trolly. This is what happens when you have to spend close to 4 hours of delay at the airport

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I gave Rosa the name Nwanne di na mba. It’s an Igbo word that means my brother/sister in the diaspora. I wish I got a video of her speaking Pidgin and I mean Cameroonian pidgin or when she was dancing to the entire songs on the P Square Invasion Album. She even updated me on the names of some Nigerian artiste that I danced to without knowing their names. Rosa made the trip fun for me and I kept on teasing her that she’ll marry an African preferably a Nigerian. She forgot to mention her new found love in Ethiopian coffee. I hope you enjoyed reading the post like I did.

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Her new love – Ethiopian coffee with Sayaka

Loads of Love

JMAD

The view of Ethiopia through the lens of Natsu

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From L – R Me, Natsu, Carina. This was at Istanbul airport where we were waiting for the connecting flight to Ethiopia.

I had the opportunity to go on the African Study Visit 2015 to Ethiopia in February. The programme of the study visit was an intriguing experience, meeting people with various view points, each of them emphasising different aspects of Ethiopia’s political and social system (and making me much more confused on what to think than ever before) Incidentally all the information that I gained and the many questions that arose, I needed to verbalize, summarize and analyse in my essay anyways, so taking this opportunity Chijioke has given me, I just want to reflect what I felt being present in an African country, given it was my first ever visit to the continent itself.

Going to “Africa” was on my bucket list ever since I was told that both of my parents had lived and worked there. It has always been a vague curiosity of what kind of place Africa was. Living in Japan, where I come from, the continent ‘Africa’ seems so far away. Not only in geographic terms, but just far, simply far away, a place with such a exotic note.

My (and many of my friends) image use to be, thanks to TV news, cartoons and UN adds, mostly a mixture of “Lion King”, brightly coloured bead necklaces, poverty, exotic culture, bloody conflicts, great athletes, dangerous diseases etc. On top of that, I think many have generalized the whole African continent with a single image. Indeed when I told my friends that I was going to Ethiopia, most of their comments were, “Why go there when there is Ebola?” while others requested “I want a picture of a stray lion walking down the street”. I too, though we had been studying on Ethiopia beforehand, somehow still had that metal image of “rural-ness” all over the country, which I was so familiar with in the TV screens.

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She didn’t see a stray lion but she saw an Ostrich. Fair enough……..

That was why it did take me by surprise when we arrived in Addis Ababa for the first time and found large and smooth, perfect roads, and many high and western-looking buildings. There were a lot of other shocks, toilets without paper, being trapped inside an elevator, children asking for money, occasional brownish water from the taps, the load of “Ni-hao”s we received (there was a lot of Chinese people in the city) and food I wasn’t used to etc, but to find the city of Addis as a whole with its infrastructure, many nice buildings, the busy traffic and being different from the “Africa” that I had always seen on TV, was fascinating to me. Also, the dramatically changing landscapes we saw as we travelled outside Addis, from the city view to vast grasslands made me realize how unimaginably diverse the whole of the continent must be, let alone Ethiopia.

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She tried out some of the local dishes. That’s the famous Injera……. I’m not sure what her response to the taste is saying from the picture
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This was a risky one she tried, i tried it too…. The red thing in the white plate is actually raw meat… Ermm let me reserve my comments.

With the limited time we had, I know I can’t say I now know what Addis Ababa looks like, not to mention what Ethiopia or “Africa” looks like. But I think I have seen enough to tell my friends in Japan that there is much much more to the African continent than what is often portrayed in screens and photos.

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She’s keen on gathering so much information. That was our farewell dinner.

Now I have realized how very limited my image of the vast continent has been and how very little I was able to see and learn in the visit, my bucket list will probably grow significantly, making more specific details of which countries and regions in the continent to go to. It seems I really need to stop smoking to live long and healthy.

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I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as i did. It’s amazing to see the effect of just knowing a single side of the story and not just that but seeing it through a flawed perspective. There’s a lot of information in the media but we need to be analytical before drawing our conclusions. This goes beyond this post. Hopefully two more posts will be coming up on the Ethiopian trip.

Loads of Love

JMAD.

Americanah and the EU Passport

I had just landed, exhausted from the journey and anxious with the next phase I was getting into. All I wanted, was to pick up my luggage but I was shocked with the long queue I saw waiting to be cleared. While I was trying to count the number of people before me I heard ‘all those with EU passport follow me’ I smiled and I smiled again. I was having a seminar/group discussion on the topic of Colonialism a few days ago. Midway into the discussion the subject of nationality came up when a lady talked about an American festival; during the course of the debate, a guy said he was American(with the look that said yea, I know what she’s talking about). I found out today his statement got a Nigerian lady really really disgusted citing his thick African accent (I’m sure by now you know he’s African, he probably got the Green Card or something else), in fact she said he might be carrying his American passport around.

The episode at the airport and the Americanah got me thinking on the word IDENTITY. All the people with the EU passport had some privileges over those who had ‘other’ passports, the Americanah subconsciously dropped his origin which got the lady upset. Over the years I’ve seen some funny wedding pictures all in the name of getting a particular passport; while I may shake my head vigorously at it, the man in question is rejoicing over his new status.

A look at the society will reveal an increase in identity crisis, we have gotten so entrenched with Popular Culture (pop-culture) and it’s getting difficult tracing back to who we are as a people and what we believe in. Africa has often been called a nation and it always evokes emotions on the part of Africans but at the same time I’ve seen lots of Africans respond to the question of nationality with Africa. You hardly hear I’m Nigerian or Ghanaian and please if you have dual citizenship be specific of your country and stop saying African-American/British (guess I just ranted).

A friend told me of how embarrassed she felt when a friend of hers in Netherlands asked her about her culture and she couldn’t say much; she even vented out her anger when I told her parents in Nigeria send their kids to ballet classes. Is she saying ballet classes are wrong? No, but it’s not our culture. You may want to argue based on the line of interest and exposure but I will ask, can those kids comfortably showcase their cultural dance or render a folk song or give a little insight of their ancestral history. While we are busy giving our kids ‘international’ status our identity as a people is gradually phasing out. My aunt used to breathe down on me whenever the issue of language came up but now, I know better. if we are not careful, our languages will become extinct in the future. There’ll probably be a language museum where our kids are told of a language that once existed.

My mum likes to use Ibo proverbs a lot, often times at home we tease her by reciting all her famous quotes. One of the popular one she says is ‘I me onwe gi oke busu erie gi’ which simply means if you make yourself a rat, you’ll be eaten by a cat. Beyond Colonialism, let us all have some dignity and respect for who we are as a people and as a nation. No country is perfect, it’s a work in progress.

I’m from NIGERIA and I’m proud to be one. HAPPY BELATED INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!

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LOADS OF LOVE

JMAD