Detanglers and silk caps are now ways of expressing confidence in our richly textured Afro hair. If you were a woman of African descent at a certain time, you knew no other reality than relaxers, hot irons, hours under hot dryers, braids, wigs to be fashionable or even accepted.. It’s refreshing to see pride in natural hair have a resurgence..Hopefully it stays and doesn’t go away like the Afro movement of the 60s and 70s.
Other people wear their hair naturally, it should be a choice for us too. Myths about African women having short hair have been debunked with knowledge about how the pomade we’ve been sold for long hurt our hair growth. Now more and more women are relearning the hair care methods of our grandmothers, the miracle of coconut oil, natural hair styles in addition to recent advances in hair care. Our hair grows to great lengths and bulk when cared for properly.
Our hair grows to great lengths and bulk when cared for properly.
You can have healthy hair too. And be respected when on it. You shouldn’t lose a job offer because you express your natural self. You should not be forced to conform to European beauty standards in the public and in the home. It is disconcerting to hear that some African men ask their female partners not to wear their hair in its natural state. Hair is one of the ways we resist racism as it has been one of its tools for far too long.
Sefi Atta in a calming voice tells us the story of Deola a woman who grew up in the West and decided to come back to Nigeria. It details her experiences reuniting with relatives, adjusting to inconvenience like power outages, falling in love with the energy and warmth of home and finding love.
A narrative that explores the life of a young successful woman moving across continents and absorbing the tumultuous changes that come with it.
Long before the contemporary levels of awareness and progress of the #MeToo era, the menace of sexual violence has been a normalized part of life for far too many women, girls, and some boys and men in Nigeria.
For a nation which places culture, religion and good values on a tower with its spire in the clouds, the impunity with which sexual offenders commit crimes and get protected for it is incongruent. The hypocrisy brings bile to the throat. Victims suffer many times over and the damage is often irreparable. As if the turmoils of being a Nigerian weren’t enough to make life bleak, these victims and survivors have to contend with stigma, emotional and physical effects their entire lives. In some cases, the cycle of abuse continues as they go on to be perpetrators.
This book is a short read but is packed with facts and research on the problem of rape and other sexual crimes in Nigeria. It debunks myths that have kept the problem alive for this long and counters the societal acceptance of sweeping it under the carpet. Solutions are highlighted on how to achieve a society free of these horrific acts via taking precautions, preventing sexual violence and changing the poisonous mindsets that cause it.
We are shown that rape is an act of violence, a display of power and control over a victim’s body and life that includes injury and sometimes death and thus should not be chalked up to the simplism of sexual attraction. We see that women as old as ninety and girls as young as three have been victims of rape. There have even been newspaper stories about eight-month-old female infants being raped. The list is endless. A case was reported just this morning by LinkaNG, a Nigerian health communication start-up.
Contrary to what some would like us to believe, staying at home is not a guaranteed way to avoid being raped in Nigeria. Many victims are attacked by their closest relatives and supposed loved ones. The home is therefore not the safe haven it should be. Boys and men are victims too. There are numerous heart-wrenching accounts of boys as young as four being violated. In addition, the statistics show that the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men.
the shame associated with the crime is borne not by the perpetrators but the victims.
One needs not to be an academic to appreciate the value of research. And this particular one is a feat considering that in this country, the shame associated with the crime is borne not by the perpetrators but the victims. The victims and families who reported these cases must be commended for their bravery. It is extremely traumatic to relive events like this and the law isn’t always on their side. Not too long ago Nigerian Twitter was awash with a report of a father whose young daughter was raped at school and during the process of making a case, he had to pay for the medical tests of not just his daughter but that of the perpetrator!
Image credit: Lum3n.com from Pexels
This book draws on work by Project Alert and Mirabel Centre two of the organizations making strides in ending sexual violence in Nigeria. The stigma attached to the victims makes it difficult for bodies like theirs to get data for this research. Another Nigerian organization leading change in mental health and sexual violence is She Writes Woman founded by Queen’s Young Leader,
Hauwa Ojeifo, a survivor herself who has shared her experience and works tirelessly to help countless women.
With this, hopefully, more awareness will be raised and more progress would be achieved. It wouldn’t take up to an hour for most readers. Which is just as well as everyone would benefit from this. Sexual violence is closer to home than most of us want to admit. Let’s work together to have a nation and world free of this evil. Nigerian writer and social critic, El Nathan John provides a synopsis of the pervasion of violence in the country in this poignant Twitter thread.
Rating: 4/5 stars
____________ Thanks to Oyinkansola Momoh of Muslimah Style Guide for lending me this book for a quick read and of course providing access to a valuable library. . With love, Oumissa 040419