By Magnus Eze
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, wife of the Mines and Steel Development Minister, Kayode Fayemi, is a clear voice for African women.
Her feminist struggle got another notch recently when she gathered the high and mighty in Abuja in furtherance of women’s cause. The occasion was an evening of reading, from her book, ‘Loud Whispers’ at the upscale Thought Pyramid Arts Centre, Wuse 2, Abuja.
It was indeed a ‘who is who’ event, beginning from the author’s husband; Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Bawa Bwari, his Industry, Trade and Investments counterpart, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, Deputy National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Segun Oni, Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, and former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Dr. Aliyu Modibbo.
Others were Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri-Eruwa; her Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) colleague, Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, large number of diplomats; gender activists and notable names in the literary world including winner of 2017 NLNG Prize for Literature, Ikeogu Oke.
Former Presidential spokesman and author of ‘Against the run of play’, Segun Adeniyi livened the evening with some ribs-crackers during his illuminating conversation with the author on the essence of the book. This was after the soothing voice of ace broadcaster; Moji Makanjuola; who anchored the programme, had set the stage.
In Loud Whispers; a collection of articles authored by Adeleye-Fayemi from February 2016 to September 2017, she takes the reader through the world of feminism.
According to her, most of the dysfunction currently experienced; especially in Africa, is as a result of the need for power and dominance by one gender over the other; with little consideration for the changing social dynamics. Feminists want a world that is equitable, where there is equality of opportunity, and where roles and responsibilities are negotiated and shared based on context and circumstance. They know that healthy relationships are the bedrock of any community.
In the article, ‘Feminism 101’, the author addressed 10 myths about feminism and feminists that people have bandied about over the years. She listed such misconceptions to include; that feminists hate men, feminists do not marry or cannot stay married; feminism is alien to Africa, feminists are anti-religion, and that they are elite, educated women; fighting for themselves.
Other issues are that feminists want to control the world like men; that they are rude and arrogant; a bunch of crazy, confused women who are against culture and tradition as well as that feminism has nothing to do with women’s empowerment.
Here, she paid tribute to a crop of men who had greatly supported the feminist movement; and in their capacity as professionals, scholars, husbands and fathers; had done a great job of proving that men too can stand in solidarity with feminists.
Those in this category include Kole Shettima, Otive Igbuzor, Ogaga Ifowodo, Chidi Odinkalu, Kunle Ajibade and Kayode Fayemi.
Knowing the author, many would think the book will not treat other issues except those related to women. But other issues are actually treated in varied articles in the book such as ‘Tempus Horribilis (a horrible season)’ written on May 7, 2016, in reaction to the spate of killings, kidnapping, revelations of mind-boggling corruption in the system; carnage on the roads and other bizarre happenings across the country.
Adeleye-Fayemi believes that the leadership at all fronts has much to do in rediscovering the nation. Her advice: “Let our political leaders lead by example and truly serve the people instead of expecting to be served. Our leaders have a social contract with the people which they have to honour. The terms of the contract with the people include provision of security, justice and opportunity. Our religious leaders should look into these serious issues and dedicate themselves to helping the poor and needy instead of endless schemes to relieve them of their scarce resources. Why is it that we have so many places of worship, so many ‘People of God’ and scale of our inhumanity to one another is increasing exponentially? Our traditional rulers should play their role as royal fathers and limit their entanglements with politicians.”
The author’s word for Africans thinking of migrating overseas is that “There are no streets in foreign lands paved with gold. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities that can be harnessed. Yet there is a lot of pain, hunger, despair and death.”
She urged the Federal Government to adopt citizen-centred diplomatic strategy that keeps inventory of every Nigerian irrespective of how he migrated to any country.
The activist said: “We need to think about those who lose their way in foreign lands and do whatever we can to save them from dying like unwanted dogs on the streets. Even animals in most parts of Europe and the US are treated well and millions of dollars are invested to reduce the number of stray animals.”
Another interestingly didactic piece is “Pythons do not dance” written on September 23, 2017, at the heat of ethnic tensions and fuss over the military operation in the south eastern part of the country, code named “Operation Python Dance 2.”
She admonished that the resources and energy going into laying the groundwork for a monumental crisis in the country should go into seeking ways in which the youth can be gainfully employed and cease to be ready tools in the hands of the devil.