The Olori of Ife just said some things that have left me speechless. Before the new Ooni of Ife was crowned, I had never heard of the Ooni of Ife. After his coronation, I remember watching a video of him talking about why it’s important for us to buy Nigerian. He talked about Nigerians not being proud of products that are made in Nigeria, and he basically said a lot of things that I liked and agreed with. I judged him as being a progressive king, a man in a traditional position who embraced culture with both eyes open. That was my judgment of him.
Then he got married, and although I did not pay much attention to the wedding or the celebration, I was happy that the Ooni had found a wife. [I didn’t know at the time that he had a wife already, but that’s beside the point]. I just loved his swag.
I heard a little while ago that he was coming to the US with his wife. It was hard to miss that news because it was everywhere. I cannot count how many times I received the message on What’s App. Although he was in my neck of the woods (Maryland), I just didn’t go. I saw several clips of him on Facebook/YouTube, and I was happy that it was him because I was sure he would come here and make us proud, that he would not come and act like Americans are demi-gods, but that he would stand tall in all his Nigerianess. I don’t think he disappointed (unless there’s a clip of him disappointing us that I have not seen).
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for his wife, the Olori. Let’s just say I respected her a whole lot more before I heard her speak. According to the Olori, she is not in support of gender equality. But the Olori was wrong.
Why The Olori of Ife was wrong about gender equality:
1. She said, “We can’t be equal; we can’t be men; we have our roles to play,” – But gender equality is NOT about women wanting to be men. In spite of what society tells us these days, it is actually impossible for a man to be become a woman, or for a woman to become a man.
2. She said people who believe in gender equality think that what a man can do, a woman can do better: But again, gender equality is NOT about women doing what men can do. To reduce gender equality to being about who can do what better is to insult every brave woman that has been championing the cause of women.
3. She said we (women) are limiting our potential of where we can be by saying that we are equal to men: Huh??? So women would go further if they just concede to being inferior to men?
4. She said she doesn’t say to her husband that she wants to be king and hold his staff because he’s the king and she’s the queen: Errrr, duh. Of course, you cannot want to be king because you are not king! The Ooni of Ife is king because of who he is and the family he’s from. The people (or the Force) chose him to be king. She’s his wife. Saying she wants to be king based on her gender is not even an option.
5. She said women need to stay in their lane because when they leave their lane to be in someone else’s lane, two things will happen; they will either be behind or in front of the person: Before nko? When you switch lanes, do you climb on top of the person in the next lane? You automatically have to be in front or behind. Anything else would be a vehicular accident.
6. She said men are hunters by nature, so there’s always a tendency for them to be ahead of us: What does being a hunter by nature have to do with gender equality? What are they hunting sef? When a man gets paid more than his female colleague who does the same work as him, it’s because his employer is bastard baby, not because the man is a hunter.
7. She said women are a force of nature and can do just about anything: This is a contradiction to everything she said previously. She said women cannot be equal to men. So how are we supposed to do everything if we cannot even be equal?
8. And the one wey pain me pass was when she said that relationships and marriages are breaking because women want to be men and are taking roles that aren’t theirs: No, ma’am! That is not why marriages are breaking. Marriages are breaking because women are learning that they do not have to die there. We still have a long way to go, but some women are determined to not live the lives of their mothers. Our mothers and grandmothers were enslaved and tortured in the name of marriage. Some of them were beaten and killed physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially, and although they saw it coming from hundred miles away, they did not leave because they did not know they could leave. Some women today have chosen to not die there, and their men cannot take it. Kpom Kwem.
What the Olori of Ife needs to understand is that she’s only able to stand there and hold that mic because some women have gone before her to make it possible. If not for the actions of those women, she will simply be seen and not heard because women have nothing to say. Does she even know how many African-American women were raped and killed for her to be able to stand there and talk?
What the Olori of Ife needs to understand is that whether a woman decides to kneel down to serve her man everyday, or whether she decides to throw the food at him does not have a bearing on the gender equality movement. What a woman chooses to do in her home does not further or hinder the cause of gender equality.
What the Olori of Ife needs to understand is what gender equality really means: it means that when Simbi and Eze have the same qualification and both work for Verastic LLC, doing the same job, they should both get paid the same amount. Eze should not get paid more simply because he has a piece of muscle between his legs.
What the Olori of Ife needs to know is that women are already doing this supposed thing that men do. How many families have women as breadwinners? I remember my neighbors in our former house in Nigeria. They had six or seven children, and I never knew that man to have a job. His wife, however, woke up early every morning and carried kunu on her head to the market, and she made the best damn kunu. But who got all the glory? He did. Because he was a man. What lane was he on when he left his wife do all the heavy lifting?
A little while ago, we did not know who this woman was; today, she’s the Olori, a woman in position of power. What she says, while rejected by some (*cough* me), will be bought hook, line, and sinker by others. Somewhere right now, there’s a woman dumbing herself down, killing her ambitions, and settling for the life she never wanted – all in the name of staying in her lane.
Like my beautiful African-Americans say, “stay woke!” Stay woke, ladies. Think. Think critically about the things you do with your life, so you do not enter one chance. I do not blame the Olori of Ife for saying what she said because she cannot give what she does not have, but it will not hurt for her to learn what gender equality (and feminism) really mean. I know she did not say these things to mislead women, but because that is unfortunately all that she knows. We, as a gender and as a nation, need to know more.