Are you a woman of Nigerian extraction? From the North, South, East or Western parts of the great country, once referred to as the Giant of Africa? Do you happen to be of African descent or a dark skinned woman living and/or working in Nigeria? If yes, it is with great displeasure I announce to you, that you are invisible. Like the ancestors of our fathers, you are (largely) unseen. You may be felt; the actions of your work may be seen, but you my sister – your person; your physical form is unseen. If the correlation to our ancestors breeds any form of happiness in you, I’m sorry to cut short your joy because unlike our ancestors, your wisdom is rarely sought; rarely appreciated and highly underrated.
Do you by chance think your position in the home- bearer and rearer of children; homemaker; housekeeper; bed warmer and maybe even breadwinner – accords you the opportunity of being respected and your opinions sought? Well, sister of mine, wait until there is that extended family meeting where issues are to be discussed and matters settled. Then, you will realize that spirit beings like you congregate to backrooms and soothy corners, toiling away over hot stoves, not to be seen by the men who make the decisions that determine your future, until it is time for you and your kind to serve them what will make them stronger! You see, Sister, you are a nurturer not a decision maker. You may be seen; but be sure not to be heard!
You’ve given birth to your babies. Loved and raised them, to the best of your ability. Alone or with a spouse or partner, still the successes of your children belong to their father and their failures, to you, their mother, who like the spirits, thwart good things and bring evil the path of good men.
You may be one of many who have put in their best in public like they have done in private. Women with careers in formal and informal institutions; one of those in the arts; in business; in engineering; in banking; who believe they are validated by the accolades gotten from the contributions that have made to their teams. If you sit in an open plan office, you’d sooner know that indeed you are like air the men breathe. Not seen, not felt but necessary for their survival. The strangers who visit your office and only greet your male colleagues cannot be blamed because, you my spirit sister, are invisible to them.
No matter the height of your achievements, as a person, a sister, a wife, a mother, you never rise beyond the mud of prostitution. Especially, if you are single, your sweat and toil are never seen for the men say you climbed the ladder by laying on your back. If you are married, they ask you “Why bother to work so hard. You should be at home, caring for the kids”.
You remain incapable of ever paying for a meal. Continually fed by men, is what the waiters think. They present the bills to the men even when they see they have no wallets. To them, your big purse only holds finery, make up and the lot.
It may seem like a tough climb, my dear African sister. You may need to continually prove yourself. Despite invalidations, still you rise, a little higher each time, getting a little better every time. Remind yourself to take stones thrown at you at you, for you’d need it to build yourself a mound. For the mound will be useful in getting over the challenges. Never for once should you think of quitting or considering the need to conform to whom society wants you to be – faceless and voiceless- For to conform is to sell our daughters future and to keep them shackled to a life of mediocrity.
Wynyfred is a simple fellow yet passionate feminist who tries to apply Occam’s razor in her daily life.