My experience with the Mirena Coil 

In light of all the conversation surrounding intrauterine devices after the recent US elections. 

I feel I need to write about my experience with IUD’s, specifically the Mirena coil. 

It’s not been fun games definitely and I’d hate for other women to rush to it without knowing about all the side effects and potential drawbacks. Prepare for some TMI, sorry but I need to do my duty to fellow uterus owners 

(sorry mum)

 For me a life with a Mirena coil is better than what I used to suffer from before. Those that are close to me know the ordeal I went through on a monthly basis. Half my life was spent preparing for my period, and I missed so much school due to my cramps.

 It got so bad and affected my attendance so much  my secondary school had a dedicated room set  in the school nurse area that I used to make use of regularly every month. 

I’d be vomiting and crying. I was on the highest dose of codeine for six years. It was that bad. 

The Mirena Coil has reduced this pain so much, and given me a new lease on life. I never knew a life without chronic pain could be possible. 

My  parents cried when my first period came after the Mirena was inserted and I did not shed a single tear. It was painful still but, I have a high pain threshold now and I could deal with this pain. 

Health wise, I have a very close relationship with my parents, I mean I have no choice, after going through all I’ve been through for the past two decades, they know everything. 

It helps that they’re also both in the Healthcare industry with mum being a nurse for almost 40 years and dad having a PhD in immunology. 

Dad used to be my main supplier of trifles and McD whenever I had my periods. And he kept track and used to remind me to get new prescriptions whenever he guessed they were running low. He knew my cycle like the back of his hand, probably also because he used to leave work early many many times to come pick me up whenever school called to tell him I was crying on the corridor or was passed out in the nurse’s office. So he learnt to anticipate. 

*Honestly I could never repay my parents for all they have done*

However the Mirena coil has still got me on tramadol and naproxen for those random times I get debilitating cramps. After I got it,  I was put on oral morphine for breakthrough pain. Yes the pain can get that bad once in a while. 

And there’s also been the horror of the never ending period. Yes, you read that right. I had a heavy period for one and a half straight months after insertion. I lost so much nutrients I ended up with angular stomatitis. 

And even till now I’m getting periods that have no  business appearing at the time they’re coming,  basically my cycle is drunk and I cannot make head or tail of it. Planning is impossible and I get no warnings, I have one day periods, 3 day periods, one week periods, 5 periods a month… Or as the medical community calls it (lies I tell you), ‘spotting between periods’ . I refuse to call it spotting though as I don’t know when it stops being spotting and becomes a period. Whatever it is, it’s heavy and unplannable. 

For some women, Mirena coils can cause debilitating period pains where there wasn’t before. For others it stops their periods.
 For me, a week after implantation I was taken in an ambulance to the hospital for unbearable pain like I’d never experienced before and I got admitted. I was on gas, IV paracetamol, morphine, tramadol and diclofenac. 

My family was horrified and I was delirious enough to say some unrepeatable things to my poor long suffering dad. 

But in the grand scheme of things, my pain now is on average a million times less than it used to be

Months after this, I still get pain, I’m still on pain killers, my period hasn’t disappeared but my cramps have lessened.

 And for me it’s a price worth paying. 
For other women not used to the cramp life, it’s gonna come as a shock if you’re unlucky enough. 

Also insertion can be a bitch, I got mine done under general anaesthesia after a minor procedure but more often than not IT IS A PAINFUL MINOR PROCEDURE that involves widening the cervix but doctors don’t mention that unless you press for information 
Please please research your options on all the contraceptives out there, especially if your aim is to help with pain control. 

And there are many more risks like increased PID chance, perforation of the uterus, ectopic pregnancies etc that I haven’t touched on. 

I don’t normally talk about my health publicly but I sincerely hope this post helps those that are considering getting the coil. 

We are tired

Police brutality against minorities hasn’t just suddenly increased in America. It’s always been there, modern technology just makes it easier to disprove the lies and refinements of the rotten maggots that populate the halls of power.

It was the police (great grand parents and older) that used to kill and scalp escaped slaves during the 400 years of slavery for profit. It was the police (grandparents of the current generation) that used to allow their families to lynch black people till the 60’s (this barbaric practice only started to be frowned upon in the West during the 50’s.) my dad was born in the 50’s.
It was the police members (parents of the current generation) and chiefs that ran the local kkk chapters, donning the white uniforms at night and the blue ones at day time.
It was these same police chiefs, members of the kkk and active during the civil rights era who retired and whose kids took over and are still there today.
Thesr butchers and white supremacists were never brought to trial, justice was never served. Instead my people have to gaze upon their faces immortalised in sculptures and university mottos, in every walk of life they are reminded that their life is cheap and murderers can get away with it as long as the murdered is black.

This is the result of hundreds of years of state sanctioned ethnic cleansing. But it’s been prettied up and disguised. It’s roots are still showing though, like a bad dye job. ETHNIC CLEANSING.

And you wonder why black people distrut the police. BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN A SYMBOL OF PROTECTION, THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A TOOL OF OPPRESSION.

My solidarity to my brothers and sisters in that country that since its inception has let the collective blood of over a hundred million black and brown bodies. This is why America cannot know peace. It’s hands are bloody and the complicity of whites continues to enable this.

Fuck you and your white privilege that enabled you to sit comfortably behind your computer screen and defend state sanctioned killings.

Fuck you and your white privilege that enabled you to determine that these people’s lives weren’t worth enough to get a fair trial.

Fuck you and your white privilege that enabled you to rationalise the death of a fellow human being even when all the evidence points to them not deserving it time and time again.

Fuck you and your fucking privileged existence that makes you think that we don’t get a right to fair trial because we have rap sheets.

Fuck you and your fucking white privilege that has makes you think that my life is somehow worth less because I have a different level of melanin in my skin.

Infinity fuck you and your white privilege to the point of shuffling off this mortal coil that makes you blind to the fact that these same police captured Dylan roof alive and diffused the Waco shootout without killing a single biker even though they had killed each other.

Eternally fuck you for continuing to enable the despicable actions of the police by removing the humanity of their INNOCENT victims. Being black is not a crime. BEING AN ETHNIC MINORITY IS NOT A FUCKING CRIME and we shouldn’t have to pay with blood.

FUCK YOU

#AltonSterling
#BlackLivesMatter
#TamirRice
#WeDemandJustice
#WeAreNotBloodSacrificesOnTheAltarOfWhiteSupremacy
#EricGarner
#InnocentUntilProvenGuilty
#BlackIsNotACrime
#PhilandoCastile
#ExistingWhileBlack
#EndPoliceBrutality

Colour-Blindness in the modern world

 

Colour-Blindness in the modern world

Thesis

There is a growing trend in the race movement of the modern world to claim a “superior” position of colour blindness which is a destructive stance as it provides an easy way to ignore minority issues for the ethnic majorities and often leads to the belief of reverse racism being real towards whites in western society.

Introduction

Historically speaking, the definition of racism in the minds of the common populace has revolved around the obvious kinds of discrimination, those that call for the killing of coloured people by the local KKK, burning of crosses, refusal to share public space with a minority. These are all the obvious forms of racism that people are aware of. There are however more subtle forms of racism that have entered the public domain in recent years. These insidious forms seem to be growing in terms of general acceptance in the population as opposed to the other more confrontational forms that have slowly and thankfully gone out of favour in modern society. For example, it has become frowned upon by the general population “blacken up” as a way of portraying African/black characters. The use of the word “nigger” is no longer socially acceptable by Caucasians and there are affirmative action policies that are seeking to redress the balance of power held by Caucasians in positions of power as well as in schools and higher learning institutions.

Out of this movement to level the racial playing filed, a growing trend has emerged especially amongst ethnic majorities to take a stance of colour blindness. This ideal, although well-meaning to start with as a legitimate millennial movement against racism in the modern world has now devolved into a catch all phrase which people use. Mainly as a way to discredit the experiences of ethnic minorities in society. It has now become a phrase used to silence the minorities when an accusation of racism, either institutional or racial bias, are seen in a situation. This stance claims that the person who holds the view does not see colour and as such cannot be accused of racism as said person treats all races equally.

The phrase has most recently been used extensively and heavily by Caucasians against African-Americans fighting for an end to the institutional racism that exists in the American justice system. It has become a way of shutting down discord during conversations, by immediately stating that they treat everyone equally. This stance is an admirable stance to have, especially by ethnic majorities. The problem with this stance however, is the fact that we do not live in a post-racial world.

 

Body

The stance of colour blindness is problematic to say the least and regressive as a movement against racism. It renders the people who utter the phrase blind, figuratively to the struggles of the ethnic minorities. It invalidates their pain and assumes that they start life on a level playing field with Caucasians. In this essay, I will attempt to trace the roots of the word which began as a movement against racism; from the beginning of the civil rights movement to the birth of the millennials and the ideals of a post racial world being superimposed in a race dominated world, and the claims that reverse racism is real towards Caucasians.

For centuries in the west, mainly in North America, ethnic minorities, especially African-American people were victimized, enslaved, brutalized and were owned as property. After the abolishment of slavery, the status quo did not change much for centuries after with African-Americans being denied decent schools, hospitals and decent government services. This led to a majority being uneducated and stuck in a cycle of poverty for generations. As a result extreme poverty continued to dominate the lives of the minorities and most led the lives of share croppers and maids, not far from conditions that their grandfathers experienced as slaves centuries before.

Schools and public services in America especially were segregated to black and white schools until the famous Brown vs Board of education, 347 U.S. 483 in 1954. It ruled that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional. The decision overturned a previous decision, Plessy v. Ferguson which allowed state-sponsored segregation in pubic education. This ruling in 1954 was a major victory to the civil rights movement and paved the way for racial integration in schools.[1]

Full racial integration was not achieved until after the civil rights act of 1964 was passed a decade later.[2]  This led the way for the rise of affirmative action policies being extended to African-Americans in a bid to redress the atrocities of the past. Unfortunately however, this has given rise to the myth that African-Americans gain the most out of other under-privileged groups as a result of the policies and it is frequently used as a way of belittling the achievements of African Americans in society today.

As Anthony M. Platt put it in his paper on the rise and fall of affirmative action, this policy was not originally intended for African-Americans, it was introduced as government initiated intervention to stop injustices against individuals or groups whose suffering was not self-inflicted; to correct the injustices caused by systemic discrimination; and to prevent its recurrence. Such a broad definition meant that people of different classes, ethnicities, racial designation, gender and sexuality who had been denied rights based on these factors were covered by the policy.[3]

It can be deduced from this definition of affirmative action that the majority of people who benefited from this policy were certainly not African-Americans but mainly white lower class Americans. In fact according to the United States labour department, the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action have been white women. The department estimates that 6 million women workers are in higher occupational classifications today than they would have been without affirmative action policies.[4]

As a result of this perceived injustice in affirmative action policies, counter protest groups sprung up, rejecting the ideas behind it. Their main grudge was the misguided opinion that African-Americans have to do less and achieve less compared to their white counterparts. They argued that the university policies of reserving places specifically for ethnic minorities from under-privileged backgrounds was a form of discrimination. Their claim was based upon the ideas that living in a post-racial world at the end of the civil rights movement meant that no special treatment should be given to any one race. They argued that it was reverse discrimination against whites. And this movement was bolstered by some former liberal scholars who published books in the early 90’s criticising Affirmative Action as a negative policy.

According to them, Affirmative action and other colour-conscious policies betrayed the original goals of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. They saw it as a perversion of the colour-blind society promise. They saw it as a colour-blind policy of antidiscrimination being transformed into a policy of compensatory justice.[5]

Advocates of this movement have been called racial realists by Professor Alan Wolfe [6] in his book review of “Someone else’s house” in 1998. An extract from his review is below:

“In the past few years, however, there has emerged a challenge to the liberal consensus among liberals (or former liberals…they are united on two important points. One is that whites have not resisted demands for racial justice but have accepted tremendous progress in race relations. The other is that those who claim to speak in the name of African-Americans do not always serve the interests of those for whom they supposedly speak.” [7]

The books Alan Wolfe criticise in his review put the blame of continued racial segregation on the shoulders of civil rights leaders like the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who were public and vocal supporters of Affirmative Action policies and pursued race-conscious solutions to societal problems.

This played into a new feeling in the white community of reverse racism as well as a victim mentality in which they refused to see or acknowledge the still heavily racialized world we live in today. In a way, they rebelled against the status quo by pursuing a different, if misguided movement against racism.  The demographics that felt this the most were the “millennials”, those that had gone to universities with ethnic minorities and had seen affirmative action policies at the universities they attended. This group perceived themselves as the victims in a world which was increasingly catering to just ethnic minorities. The belief that racism didn’t exist anymore and affirmative action policies were unfair to them in a post racial world was and is widespread amongst this demographic. This was the beginning of the Colour-blind movement in mainstream society. [8]

As Joe Kincheloe put it in 1998, this idea or “benign” response works to deny and, therefore, erase the identity of the subject(s) of the response. According to him, Colour-blindness is a luxury that only those who are very secure in position of whiteness and power can have. This idea ignores the treatment that many people of colour encounter. Together, the defensiveness and denial of this “benign” response function to maintain the status quo while absolving the white reactor’s responsibility for any bias to race that him/herself carries[9]

As many scholars have pointed out, the myth of reverse racism has become a tool by the oppressors to oppress the minorities. Through claims of colour blindness and the rejection of affirmative action policies due to the myth of it conferring an unfair advantage on a group, whites in America especially choose to go down the route of subtle racism.[10]

Conclusion

The idea of colour blindness started out as a noble, if slightly skewed way of dealing with racial inequality by treating everyone as if they started on a level playing field. Its roots were indeed noble as a movement against racism in the modern world. However, over time the movement has morphed into one of the single biggest racial challenges in the modern world and as the views become entrenched, it becomes more of a stumbling block to the minorities it claims to help by being impartial. It is an idea that can only work in a post racial world where everyone starts life on equal footing. Unfortunately, we know this to be untrue, the criminal justice system is still heavily biased towards whites and against blacks to the extent that whole books have been written on the subject in the dawn of the new Millennia[11].

As a result of this, its proponents, whilst claiming not to see race, choose to discredit the voice of minorities that protest the unfair advantages at the start of life conferred upon individuals based on the virtue of their race. In this way, this movement that started as a movement against racism has now devolved into a blind movement that impedes the people it proclaims to help due to continued ring fencing of white privilege. Or as Lopez put it; the current trend of colour blindness allows racial remediation while protecting the status quo[12]

Footnotes

[1] Hartford, Bruce. n.d. 1954. Accessed November 15, 2015. http://www.crmvet.org/tim/timhis54.htm#1954bvbe

[2] “Civil Rights Act 1964”. 2015. In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington: Helicon. http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/heliconhe/civil_rights_act_1964/0

[3] Anthony M. Platt, The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action, 11 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol’y 67 (1997). Available at: http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndjlepp/vol11/iss1/4

[4] University, North Carolina State. 2010. NC State University Affirmative Action in Employment Training. Accessed November 18, 2015. https://www.ncsu.edu/project/oeo-training/aa/beneficiaries.htm

[5] Brown, Michael K. Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society.( Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 169.

[6] Political Science Department, Boston College. 2015. Alan Wolfe. 20 November. Accessed November 23, 2015. http://www.bc.edu/schools/cas/polisci/facstaff/wolfe.html

[7] Wolfe, Alan. 1998. Enough Blame to Go Around. Book Review, New York: The New York Times.

[8] Carr, L. (1997). “Color-blind” racism. (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications)

[9] Kincheloe, Joe L. White Reign : Deploying Whiteness in America. 1st ed. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998).

[10] Anderson, Kristin J. Benign Bigotry : The Psychology of Subtle Prejudice. (Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.)

[11] Bell, Derrick A. Race, Racism, and American Law. 4th ed. (Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Law & Business, 2000.)

[12] Haney Lopez, Ian. “Colorblind to the Reality of Race in America.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 53, no. 11 (2006): B.6-B9. (Pgs 1-2)

“This Is What They Did For Fun”: The Story Of A Modern-Day Lynching – BuzzFeed News

I came across this article on a break from writing my essay (funnily enough, my thesis asks: Why is the practice of colour blindness amongst ethnic majorities as a way to deal with racial inequality such a problem in the modern world?). I’m in the mood to rant, I am angry at the injustices. If you’re not ready for this, then click away.

 

Craig Anderson was headed home to celebrate his birthday with his partner. Instead, he became the victim of a brutal and violent form of racism that many in Mississippi had thought long gone.

Source: “This Is What They Did For Fun”: The Story Of A Modern-Day Lynching – BuzzFeed News

 

An excerpt from the article:

 

“Sarah Graves’ mother, Mary Miles Harvey, wrote a letter to the court saying that she didn’t raise her daughter to be a racist. At Graves’ sentencing hearing, Judge Harvey Wingate called Harvey to the witness stand to ask her about the letter. He noted that Graves had told investigators that when her and her brother’s rooms were messy, Harvey would tell them they were “living like niggers.” Harvey denied saying that.
“I would have said Negroes, not niggers,” she said. “I just meant that their rooms were nasty, like a pigsty.”
Wingate asked her what she thought the word “nigger” meant.
“An ignorant, nasty person,” Harvey said. “I was taught in school that a nigger was a nasty person, and a Negro was a black person.”
I thank my lucky stars daily that I’m not African American. WHen they protest institutional racism and violence, people tell them they’re too sensitive.

They tell us as black people that we’re seeing racism in everything. We’re too sensitive, we use the card too much. We’re too quick to call it racism

Imagine this happening 5,000 times over to your grandfathers, rapes on an unimaginable scale to your grandmothers. The perpetrators getting off scot free, and in some cases becoming respected members of society.

We like to think that the plight of black people ended with the end of the slave trade centuries ago, but we conveniently ignore the fact that these people were still to all intents and purposes treated as animals till just over 50 years ago.

And in some “modern countries” institutional racism still exists. We tell ourselves to never forget the Holocaust, never forget the Great War.

In the same vein we tell blacks to get over half a millennium of slavery, jim crow, segregation, exploitation, pillage and barbaric acts committed against them.

The Belgians were cutting off hands of indigenous citizens (including very young children) in the mid 1900’s. The British committed atrocities against the Mau Mau in Kenya in the last half a century. The mere thought of brining up what the white Afrikaners perpetuated against the natives is enough to bring tears to my eyes.

 

When I talk about racism, people tell me to shut up, to not always play the race card, to give it a rest. They talk about how black people have been “free” now for years and we still commit the highest proportion of crimes in developed countries. They lean on these excuses of blacks being violent and uncivilised. It’s their crutch. It’s their way of burying their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. They pretend we live in a post-racial world

They forget that intergenerational trauma exists. If we accept intergenerational trauma for non POC (WW1&2 survivors and Holocaust survivors). Why do we ignore it as a factor in the issues affecting blacks now, especially in North America. Why do we ignore the trauma caused by segregation and centuries of White power in the form of the KKK terrorising black people? Why do we ignore the effects of racism that has meant less funding for schools in deprived areas? Less funding for services committed to the mental well being of POC? Why do white people ignore this?

 

WHY do I as a black person have to be “dignified” and “respectable” when protesting the deaths of:

Dontre Hamilton (Milwaukee)

Eric Garner (New York)

John Crawford III (Dayton, Ohio)

Michael Brown Jr. (Ferguson, Missouri)

Ezell Ford (Florence, California)

Dante Parker (Victorville, California)

Tanisha Anderson (Cleveland)

Akai Gurley (Brooklyn, New York)

Tamir Rice (Cleveland)

Rumain Brisbon (Phoenix)

Jerame Reid (Bridgeton, New Jersey)

Tony Robinson (Madison, Wisconsin)

Phillip White (Vineland, New Jersey)

Eric Harris (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

Walter Scott (North Charleston, South Carolina)

Freddie Gray (Baltimore)

But you  can throw a riot when your team loses and its alright?

Why can the detestable womam quoted above feel free to say such things in a court of law as proof her daughter was not raised a racist? YES I KNOW, NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE.

 

But if the screams I hear on the internet are to be believed, a vocal minority are tarnishing the ‘good name’ of a silent majority of the race. WHy don’t the silent majority rise up and show the world that these racist bigots and hate crimes are not supported by them? Why dont they come out and strongly oppose these crimes? Why don’t they take responsibility? This is ironically a charge the white majority has levelled against the muslim community time and time again after terrorist attacks.

Down the Rabbithole

“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?” Aunty Ifeka said. “Your life belongs to you and you alone.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun

” A woman’s polite devotion is her greatest beauty.” Unknown

About one and a half years ago I read a post on a popular Nigerian facebook group. This post detailed the gruesome murder of some Nigerian female nurses in America at the hands of their husbands. These women left their husbands and tried to forge a new life for themselves away from controlling and jealous husbands. Their reward was death. The debate as to whether this stories were real or manufactured is open to debate. what is not however was the response to the story, especially by the men.

Snapshot of typical comments on the post

Snapshot of typical comments on the post

Enraged at this blatant injustice I had to comment. Now I will be the first to acknowledge that my comment was incendiary, adding fuel to the fire,

My reply and the shitstorm it generated on the page

My reply and the shitstorm it generated on the page

Shortly after commenting on this, I stopped following the page. One of the reasons for unfollowing was the sheer amount of misogyny the men openly displayed. I was told that red lipstick denoted a prostitute (Now I don’t know about you, but red is my signature lipstick. Dior 5th Avenue specifically, I like the good stuff in life), trousers were a sign of loose morals, a woman had no say in politics, amongst other comments. I forgot about this comment and the page itself as a whole until June this year when my brother brought my attention to a video posted on the page of a woman in the commercial capital of Nigeria (Lagos) stripped half naked and in the process of being tortured by a group of men. The video is too horrific to post the link here and I was shaking with rage and frustration after watching it; This woman along with two others were accused of stealing peppers, which they denied. The men proceeded to torture a confession out of them by pouring scotch bonnet powder (very hot chilli powder) into their eyes and then vaginas. The fact that these ‘normal men’, not police officers, not community officers, not law enforcement in any way, thought it was alright to torture a human being is not the disturbing part of this tale. No, the truly disturbing part was them adding scotch bonnet powder into their vaginas, they targeted them as woman, trying to inflict the maximum amount of pain on them, did not care about the fact that this could potentially kill them, they did not care about the psychological trauma these woman would go through and the agonizing physical trauma they must have suffered. One of the poor women later died as a result. This video as gruesome and as heartbreaking as it is, restarted my interest in women’s rights in Nigeria.

I have been pondering the significance of this event for many weeks now and I have spoken with as many nigerian men as I could (mainly dad, grandfather, family friends and brother) about this issue and women’s rights as a whole. Although my family is progressive by Nigerian standards, their views of women are still somewhat archaic, not quite modern enough for my tastes. What I have gleaned from the many talks and arguments is that a lot of Nigerian men are happy for their wives and daughters and women to shatter glass ceilings. However when they come back home, they gotta leave the power woman and the strong woman at the doormat. Once they step into the home, they have to revert back to being subservient. the men’s egos are simply too fragile to tolerate their partners being successful.

Now of course, Nigeria is a “deeply religious” country (the degree of religiousness in a country where corruption comes second nature to breathing is debatable). Some might say, more religious than the vatican judging by the amount of global churches that have roots in the nation. And unfortunately a LOT of the misogyny displayed in the country is down to the interpretations taken from the scriptures about a woman’s role in society.

A woman, in Nigeria has to be a good cook, patient, loving, virtuous, silent, etc. And the most important trait in a woman according to Nigerian society is the desire to get married. A woman in Nigeria cannot aspire to be a CEO or a highflier without first marrying. Similarly, a woman is not considered successful until she is married with a good dozen children in the nursery, regardless of the degrees or fortune she has amassed. A good woman does not intimidate (note the fragile egos of the males) her partner with her success, and a woman who is too successful runs the great risk of not finding a man to marry her.

This idea of marriage being the ultimate goal of a woman is so prevalent in Nigeria that you would often find mothers telling their daughters off for bad behaviour by threatening them that they will never find a man to marry them. Women that are not maternal, not loving in a traditional sense, who are ambitious high-fliers and/or just don’t conform to these societal identity of femininity are discarded on the rubbish heap, most often labelled as unnatural, or my personal favourite; witches.

There are more female “witches” in nigeria than corrupt politicians if these claims of witchcraft are to be believed.

This idea that a woman’s main purpose in life is to be effectively a brood mare and a slave to her husband is like a rot in the fabric of Nigerian society. There is nothing traditional about it and there is nothing religious about it. If indeed it is a sacre held tradition, then traditions are meant to be broken. Not so long ago, the Igbos traditionally sacrificed twins at the altar of the oracles as they perceived them as unnatural.

The hashtags #BeingAWomanInNigeria and #BeingFemaleInNigeria started to trend on twitter earlier this month and it could not have come at a more perfect time for this article. I encourage readers to search for these hashtags on twitter and read the hilarious yet painfully accurate descriptions of the struggles of being a woman in Nigeria.

A selection from channel 4 of the #BeingFemaleInNigeria hashtag

A selection from channel 4 of the #BeingFemaleInNigeria hashtag

Nigerians are big on religion, Nigerian men even more so when it comes to justifying their views. Some quote the bible like they were present when the original scrolls were being written. Favourite verse being;

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything

I do not take issue with households following a religious way of life, what I do take issue is with households using select bible verses to justify oppression towards the womenfolk in their homes. Twisted Interpretations of these verses result in men who associate red lipstick with prostitution, trousers with loose morals and intelligence with confrontation. If I had a penny for every time a Nigerian man tells me he could never marry a woman like me, I’d be richer than the country itself. So many of the men I clash with on a daily basis online use the bible as a resource to back up their points yet have no qualms declaring their use of the occultic against me for not being agreeable. One minute a christian, the next a “devil worshipper”. I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds this funny.

Like I mentioned earlier, a lot of these men’s egos are so fragile, they cannot bear to have a woman more successful than they are, more intelligent than they are and they absolutely hate a woman that has a mind of her own. When confronted with a woman with a mind, the default setting in the minds of these men is to insult, targeting the femininity of the woman first, hence the prevalence of the label witch to describe women.

I’ve had a few experiences of this peculiar male defence mechanism. One promised me that he would behead me and use my head for a money making blood ritual and the other assured the audience that I hate men because I was raped 70 times in my infancy by my father, brothers and uncles. This in his twisted mind explained why I was so vocal in my defence of the murdered victims of domestic violence. Seeing the response of Nigerian men to my post has helped me better understand the mindset of the average Nigerian man, it has also helped me to understand how the barbaric act filmed on camera could have happened. In a culture where women are treated as second class citizens, it seems a woman and her vagina are fair game to these individuals.

Ask most Nigerians if domestic violence is endemic in the country and I can guarantee that most respondents will say no. Nigerians living in the diaspora love to paint this rosy picture where men don’t kill their wives and domestic abuse does not happen when confronted with ugly stories of domestic violence in the British media. And for a while I used to believe this lie too. In fact I used to argue its merits with my colleagues. Now I know for a fact that nothing could be further from the truth. Domestic violence is endemic in Nigeria. it is regarded as dirty linen that no one talks about. the media in Nigeria does not cover stories about women being murdered by their partners. Listening on the grapevine however tends to paint a clearer image. Stories of wives disappearing, visiting the hospital with unexplained bruises or ending up dead in mysterious circumstances are not unheard of.  This hidden epidemic of domestic violence goes on in the society with impunity and the perpetrators almost always get away scot free, marrying another wife in many cases. In situations where the wife is not killed or harmed, she is often left by the husband literally holding the child as he abandons them. In a country where there is no social security net, no child benefit and a weak court system, getting the man to pay child support is impossible. This is another common occurrence in Nigeria with separated women (not quite divorced as divorce is still a societal taboo….a sure fire way to label the wife a witch for life) living away and eking out a living whilst supporting children.

Most Nigerian women are expected to submit to their husbands in everything from marital rape to family planning. The balance of power is so uneven that many men take mistresses and pay for sex with prostitutes, blatantly keeping other women whilst expecting their would be wives to be virtuous and virginal. In churches there is always messages devoted to women about keeping their virginity whilst the men are left to sow their wild oats. If religion was truly the reasoning behind such a demeaning view of women then surely the sermons and the preachings would equally target both sex and premarital sex would be frowned upon in both sexes. As we all know, a sin is a sin is a sin. No sin is bigger than the other under christianity, so why do our men hide behind religion as a reason to expect holiness and other angelic qualities from their partners whilst they themselves are involved in sinful acts, both before marriage AND after. Why do Nigerian men see it as their right to choose to give their partners’ freedom? This was a recurring theme in the facebook argument I had, A great deal of men thought it was their God given right to chose to give their partners their freedom. And I spent a great deal of time explaining to them that the freedom of their wives was not theirs’ to give, their wives already had their freedom and as they are not slaves in the marriage, why should their husband be able to choose whether to grant them their freedom?

As I round up this badly structured ‘essay’ about women’s living conditions which started out as an angry rant and has slowly developed into a slightly legible article, I have one more question. Why do our mothers raise us Nigerian women to always see ourselves as less than men? Nigerian men are complicit in their treatment of their partners. But I cannot absolve blame from the mothers. Why do they not encourage us to see ourselves as individuals in our own rights? Why do they encourage us to tie our worth as human beings to the men in our lives? Mothers have a responsibility to raise daughters that see their own self worth and are not dependent on the approval of a male gaze to get fulfillment in life.

The aim of this article was to try to highlight the issues facing women in Nigeria, however it has devolved into a pseudo-rant about the conditions of women. I apologise for the structure but not for the content. I hope it was legible and readable, because lord knows I vomited my thoughts onto a keyboard. This post won’t win journalistic awards, but I sincerely hope that many men, especially Nigerian men would read this and maybe reconsider their stance on gender equality in the country.

of-course-am-not-worried-about-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie

Global Well Being and The Media

An essay I wrote almost 5 years ago now about the role the media plays on how Africa is viewed. Still just as relevant now as it was then. I have had to convert it into wordpress form and as a result, the picture in it is very unclear, the references were also not added at the end of the essay. Enjoy!

New Orleans: a vibrant city, bursting to the seams with culture, the birthplace of jazz and legends like Louis Armstrong, and the gateway to the Mighty Mississippi River. No other city is quite like it, with its scintillating nightlife and burlesque shows, waterways that criss-cross the entire city, a mix of races and culture too numerous to quantify, all fused into one city. The temperature is just perfect. The most unique multicultural city in the US which has both sweeping plantation homes as old as the city on one part; and some slightly less grand city dwellings on the other.  A democratic political system where people can aspire to be presidents and marvel at the distinct French-creole architectural style. The name alone conjures up new beginnings and a bucketful of hope….

I’ve never been there though. How is it that I can describe the architecture, history and social life as a native inhabitant might? How did I know about the Mardi gras celebrations and the French-creole architectures? The more I thought about it the more I realised, I hadn’t set out to broaden my horizons, and neither did I find out about New Orleans to be able to participate in a discussion about American carnivals. In fact I hadn’t actively sought out information about it. I hadn’t ‘googled’ it and sat through page after page of interlinking Wikipedia articles. It was simply there. A huge database of information consisting of random snippets from various films, documentaries and cartoons condensed into a general knowledge of the city. I didn’t know about the Mardi Gras until I watched the Disney film: “The Princess and the Frog”. (Twins, 2010)  As a result I didn’t have to think to describe New Orleans, even though I’d never tasted the air or smelt the Mississippi’s unique scent.

Trying to visualise an African city however posed a different set of challenges. It wasn’t a lack of information or underexposure to stories from the continent. The crux of the problem was negativity.  I had to consciously sift through the countries to find the most positive. Every time I tried to think of a city in Africa my mind immediately started playing back documentaries about desertification, famine, civil war, genocide, even the Hollywood film: “Black Hawk Down”. (Pathay, 2001). I realised that my subconscious was selecting the country I knew most about. My mind was stuck on Somalia. I was halfway into my brainstorming before I realised my level of ignorance on the small matter of cities within Somalia.

It occurred to me that while the media brought stories about the country they never described the country farther than on an international level. Apart from Mogadishu I had no idea of the other cities. I was guilty of failing one of the fundamental judging points I used for strangers. On my first day of secondary school in the UK a well-meaning girl came up to me and gently asked where I came from. To which I replied Nigeria. After elaborating further, she was able to get a grip on the location. Puzzled, she asked me how a country could exist within another country. This was when I realised that she had a view of Africa as a country not a continent. I can’t blame her for it though as we were both young and naïve. However a similar occurrence happened in year 10 when a girl asked me which type of hut I used to live in as she had seen some on holiday to Tanzania. This question I found much more difficult to understand. A quick Google search reveals why she asked:

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The similar results section in Google asked me to specify my search result even farther to “Kenyan poor houses”. Whilst this was no fault of Google, it was simply displaying the most common search terms to do with Kenya. People do not generally expect much in the way of infrastructure from Africa, this stems from the images beamed to us through our news channels and television screens. Ultimately when they search for Kenyan houses on Google they specify the search to show what they perceive as a normal African house…or “poor house” My father once cried out in exasperation when a BBC correspondent was interviewed in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. He was moved to tears of frustration when the correspondent was interviewed in front of an open market in the rundown outskirts of the city. I was younger then and I did not realise his frustration. The BBC chose to show archive footage of a run-down area to support the correspondent’s report on the country’s politics. The city of Abuja is a mega-city custom built out of the lush savannah, a similar feat to the construction of Las-Vegas with stunning architectures and it is one of the most modernised in Africa. Whilst the BBC may have not acted deliberately, they inadvertently fed into the belief that Nigeria’s flagship city is nothing to write home about. It was then that I realised that our perceptions of the Third World, especially Africa are mostly shaped by what we see, hear and read in the media. The media does not deliberately go out of its way to portray Africa in a bad light; it reports on the latest famine in Somalia, the latest genocide in Rwanda and atrocities in Libya because it wants to inspire, it wants people to act and donate or buy fair-trade because it cares to make a difference. The problem however is that too much of the same kind of story is not good for a place. Just as my description of New-Orleans sounds too sweet and sickly, so does my description of Somalia sound too violent and harrowing. I don’t advocate that we simply bury our heads in the sand and pretend that people are not threading a fine line between life and death in Somalia. Neither am I suggesting that we go out of our way to portray Somalia as a Garden of Eden, like my idealised view on New-Orleans.  In reality New-Orleans is still recovering from the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina, race equality is one of the worst in America and many ethnic minorities live in places similar to a Third World city.

“On September 22 the Census Bureau released information from their 2010 annual American Community Survey based on a poll of 2,500 people in New Orleans. Not surprisingly, the report was ignored by the local mainstream media since it speaks volumes about the inequality of the Katrina recovery. The survey revealed that 27% of New Orleans adults now live in poverty and 42% of children… The new spike in poverty signal that blacks are not sharing equally in the employment benefits of recovery dollars. Indeed, the city may be creating a new generation of chronically unemployed poor who were previously part of the low-wage working poor.” (Hill, 2011)

For a MEDC the figures above are unacceptable and it shows the gap between minorities. As stated The media largely ignored this as it portrayed the city in a bad light. Without doing any independent research of my own I would not have known that such levels of inequality exist in the United States. Yet I know that thousands of people have fled Somalia due to conflict and even more have died from famine and related causes. I know that as recently as a few weeks ago, hundreds of people died and thousands were displaced when a ‘tribe’ went to war with a neighbouring tribe over stolen cattle (ABC, 2012). I didn’t research it but the news media chose to broadcast it. The danger in press practices like this is that people fall into the trap of a ‘single story’. According to a prominent Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; a single story is dangerous as it only shows one perspective and the audience have to form their own perceptions from a narrow point of view. (Tunca, 2009)  She goes further to say that most people in the developed world have a single story of Africa.

My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals. (Adichie, 2009)

In the speech she implies that the media is guilty of perpetuating a single story of less developed countries. They might be well meaning but ultimately through the use of terms like ‘tribal’ which depict a backward race they are helping to form stereotypes about Africa.

Ultimately we need to ask ourselves what part the media plays in forming our ideas and stereotypes about wellbeing in LEDCs. Are we guilty of fostering our perceived notions about wellbeing and wealth on a different culture? In the UK, to marry a woman a man might have to produce an engagement ring and the bigger the stone, the better according to conventions. This society puts value on precious stones, jewellery, houses’ the ultimate holiday to the Bahamas etc. It is a product of the country’s history and geography. In the UK water is seen as a common commodity as we have rivers of it. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, to marry a woman you need to provide the family with a certain number of livestock, tubers etc. In countries like that holidays, diamonds, big houses with the latest gadgets and fashionable clothes are not valued as they are not of top priority. This is not because some cannot afford it. But it is because by its very nature a society values what it does not have an abundance of. For example in the UK precious stones and gold are status symbols because they have to be imported making them expensive. In Somalia land is not valuable but water is, if a rural living Somali man was given diamonds it would be more worthless than water, it does not feed his prized cattle or make the rains fall. We cannot judge a country’s level of wellbeing by comparing what they have with what we have, as cultures are the product of environment.

“In developed economies virtually every activity has been commercialised…national accounts of any western nation include payments for personal beauty care, which for the US is around $60 billion a year. Such an item would hardly feature in the accounts of African nations. However, this does not mean that African men and women living in villages do not enjoy ‘beauty’ treatments – activities are not commercialised. In 1996 Britain spent some $33 billion on beer, wine and spirits…the consumption of palm wine, local spirits and other indigenous alcoholic brews in African villages is not incorporated in national accounts…in capitalist societies, virtually all aspects of culture is monetized and incorporated in the national accounts…total annual expenditure on marriages and funerals in the US runs into several billions of dollars a year…people marry in African societies in elaborate and joyful ceremonies and the dead are buried with appropriate ritual, little of these activities get into the national accounts… Leisure and entertainment sectors account for a large proportion of the GDP of western nations, but in the GDP of poor countries these universal components of life hardly figure…When considering the material conditions of people in Africa, a distinction should be made between absolute poverty and relative poverty…” (Obadina, 2008) 

There is no denying the levels of absolute poverty in Africa but is the media guilty of perpetuating a single story to us in the information they choose to show. Are we guilty of succumbing to the single story? Maybe we should ask ourselves, how many times we have seen pictures of Africans living in poverty and assumed the continent is a single story of catastrophe. Although well-meaning, how many of us have fallen into the trap of the single-story portrayed by the media and changed our default position to one of pity? In this are we guilty of robbing a continent of its dignity?  Our generation and the generations before got it wrong, however we can still try to rewrite history. By re-educating the new generation of children and teaching them the dangers of single stories, it might be too late for our generation but we have the opportunity to mould the future of our children. As countries become more diverse we need to teach our children the dangers of a single story so they do not get left behind in the ever evolving politics of the dynamic modern world we live in.

Race relations in America

So to commemorate my new blog, I decided to repost a rant I had on facebook a while back. I don’t have the time currently to write a blog, even if I do make one whist I was supposed to be revising for my 11 exams 🙈.
I promise I will get round to posting actual blogs but for now my first post will be a repost of a rant *sorry*. But it’s relevant as ever in the wake of the #BaltimoreRiots; enjoy…

The whole justice system in America needs reform. The same young officers that were holding the water cannons and unleashing the dogs during the Civil rights movement are now heads of police departments. The same officers involved in Selma, Alabama boycotts etc are now police chiefs, sheriffs, heads of crime units.
The same young members of the kkk during segregation are now senior officers in the police and judiciary. If they did this in their youth, what makes us think that they’ll take the killing of unarmed black men seriously?
The end of segregation should not have been the end of the Civil rights movement. It should have been the platform to launch into phase two. The end of Jim crow laws and black laws and segregation did not mean the end of racism. These people just stuffed their hate, prejudice, racism, kkk membership into sacks. These sacks have now frayed over the resulting decades.
Obama having the audacity as a POC to become  president loosened the neck of the sack significantly, after all he should have stayed in his lane according to Fox news and the GOP. and now all the hate is pouring out from the moth holes and gaping frayed edges of that sack.

It’s there for all to see, the Republicans and tea party don’t hide their racism, the police don’t hide their face when they kill, the judges don’t flick when they hand down disproportionate sentences for POC compared to Caucasians.
That country is rotten to the core and the stench cannot be hidden with the perfume of “post racial world/I don’t see colour” utopia some like to perpetuate.