Thursday, 27 October 2011 08:37

Nigerian Woman @ 51: 51 Hilarious Cheers To Nollywood Heroines!!!

Written by 
Omotola Omotola
“Our Deepest fear is not that we are inadequate
Our Deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
….we ask ourselves…who am I  to be so brilliant
 So talented, so gorgeous, so fabulous
….who are you not to be?”. Humanist, philosopher..Marianne William

Is the above quotation not an apt depiction of feminine heroism par excellence and the fear and humility that usually accompany woman achievement anywhere in the world? Suppressed by black woman 1religion, culture, and tradition for centuries, women tend to feel afraid at the edge of success. They seem to wonder if the success would attract disdain from sexists’ world. So they are disposed to be humbled by the achievement. For great achievement or talent many women have paid so dear.

In my previous article on “Nigeria @ 51”, I did accord Nigeria women all over the world the well deserved recognition for actually being the firsts in all Africa. They are indeed the first in all areas of female empowerment in Africa. Just at the close of 20th century, young and beautiful Nigerian women fabulously stepped on world stage to re-write the history of Africa as well as the state of the art. Many outside Africa watch how powerful, how articulate and brave women of African descent could be.

They massively stepped up to the continental challenge as well as the national call for re-branding Nigeria. Just at the nick of time when the international community were branding  Nigeria most notorious country of scam artists, these energetic young women ( and young  men) rose to the  national  challenge without too much words. Sure “If you want things done call women; if you want things said, call men”, said an American congress woman

One could see the quick  and consistent rising of most of these Nollywood girls (That is what I call them on screen) from being stage shy at the beginning to some bold, determined and forward looking world class actresses.  Now each of them could walk into Hollywood and ask for a script. Genevieve was nicely appreciated by the talk show guru, Oprah Winfrey and she does not deserve any less. Her acting career takes almost the Western pattern of starting early in life. For a surprise she never got distracted by cultural limitations and gets cuter with each production till this day. Others in her shoes exist too.

Each Nollywoodian deserves a special documentary for the uniqueness and refreshment they all ushered into the unhappy world. It is amazing how Nollywood movies became a house hold entertainment world over at a time families all over need to deal with global economic crisis. When most residents of America seem to have gotten tired of the corrupted  depiction of humanity on wild imagination. (Yes humans fly over seas and moving vehicles; gun shots leave dead bodies carelessly on stage and wild romance  defies all imaginations); Nollywood came in  to bind the  spirit of pan-Africanism amongst Caribbean  and other Africans in Diaspora. Nature was brought on stage and people see the way we lived, the way we are living and the way we will live to live in future.

In virtually every business place in New York City and homes, people marvel at the movie stars ingenuity and their environment. In a beauty shop for instance, a customer screamed at the beautiful and exotic furnishings.”You mean this is Africa?” When some of the stars started coming over seas, they got wild and thrilled fans. I know that was a great motivation to fire on! Their success made us all proud.

At this juncture, I am directing this anniversary piece as an open letter of congratulations to all Nollywood great ladies. We are all in the media business together. What happens to them concerns us all.

“To each of you Nollywood ‘gals’ ,from Genevieve to all you later stage diamonds of Africa, I say; hold on strong to your trophy which is the first in the continental story of war, hunger, decease, culture, and  crude politics torn Africa.  For a decade or more you gals stole the world with your art and by so doing retold a story of a so called dark continent of Africa.  You re wrote that history without constitutional conferences, and are on the verge of wiping the euro- lies; the lie that the African woman is only sex toy for gratification of cultural male sexists. You gals have told the world without a memo to the international court that this is the century of African woman. You have detoxified all the Eurocentric fallacies or exaggerations based on the low performance of most African men in leadership.

The consistent failures of African leaders with resultant bloody wars that leave women and children in   perpetual penury as underdog of the world have put us so down that other races associate Africans next to animals that hardly deserve good life. Apparent inability of most of our leaders to provide basic economic needs of Africans for centuries has made Africa a charity center from well and ill intended nations. The pitiful story of Africa tends to leave an African child with unspeakable inferiority complex overseas because of exaggerated depiction of Africa on the media.  

black woman 2 In college classrooms in New York, my classmates were shocked when I scored an A that was the prerogative of white American classmates, barely few months I arrived in US. They never believe we have places as sophisticated as New York City or large tastefully decorated homes like in America. As far as their  hypocritic ignorance could stretch, we slept on tree tops and still struggle for food with wild animals. The African Americans and other black Diasporan Africans of America were misled to see their root as a despicable place to return or miss.

This page would run off if I have to tell you a bunch of ‘BS’ purported against us and our heritage.  Right here in New York, now if you sometimes see an African child born in the US, he or she would immediately correct his perceived identify if you call him a Nigerian, Ghanaian etc, by saying; “Oh I am American …but my parents are from Nigeria” These children are struggling with self esteem, to distance themselves from their root because of the image of their root. But guess what! In a matter of a decade you wonderful damsels alongside some classy distinguished African men of art, re defined our heritage, our people, our values. You gals have printed a legacy of change, education, class, poise and dynamism for the African women in Diaspora. You sprang unto the stage and the world starts having a second look at Africa, and African woman in particular. She is no more perceived as a mere baby boomer or helpless victim of polygamy or forced marriage or so called genital mutilation or lesser human beings in the homosepian’s hierarchy. You have re-channeled the destiny of black woman world over. I tease my African American friends that they live in America and can hardly speak correct English while my gals in Africa toy and manipulate the possibilities of the language. What makes Nollywood different is that you gals are educated actresses.

Unlike in overseas, where one needs not go to college to be in Hollywood. You are educated African gals with class. So the future is already too ripe for unlimited possibilities. You are still writing the history but your firsts steps are in the best direction. To stamp out the entire BS about Africa, that is why nothing should stand on your way! Not even a failed love or marriage probably with an inferiority complex ridden semi ignorant lover or ex whatever should come between you and Africa. You are setting new agenda for Africa, telling and showing that Africans do not condone any form of abuse, be it political and social. Like I always tell my friends that even the voodoo scenes are followed by instructive ending. The police or the law always come in to arrest the ultimate criminals, an indication that we do not depends on the “gods” to strike the evil doer. We have come to appreciate some good sense of legal consequences. At the end of the movie titled “Executive Mess” for instance many viewers here were happy that the dirty politicians who were spending fortune on women are arrested at the end of the movie. They were not left in the hand of the gods.

The theme Nollywood explores goes beyond Africa into humanity: Evils of women to women: evils of modernity to womanhood: abuse of powers; and the surpassing theme of culture conflicts. What else can one expect from a practical teacher?  Yes “Drama is imitation of life” said Aristotle.

I have read your perils too from Ekerete Udoh’s Diasporan star. Some of you have had it rough with men in your private life. The media sometimes tells the story the wrong way and got you agitated but ignore that and if you can just present your side of the story. I am of the media and so my advice is to ignore some stories and see it as part of the fame. Only the famous attracts the media.  The last Headline...”As Mercy Johnson weds…why female celebrities are draw to wrong men...And the pain they endure... made me to pick up this pen in your defense.

Names of those who have dealt with such agony included; Stella Damasus, Monalisa Chinda, Stephanie Okereke, Nadia Buari, Eucharia Anunobi, and others not mentioned. The circumstances were related and the publisher did a good job of a bad experience. He is certainly at your sympathy unlike the western equivalent here that trails celebrities to their grave. . You towers above the gossip that follows your love failures; you are just humans and have to feel it, whether you spoke to the press about it or conceal your tears or get uneven representation of the story, it is all part of the greatness. For only the great gets such heat!  Only God knows how many times poor Harley Berry or Linzy Lohan faced the press for the men that broke their hearts. When the report say, so and so have been abandoned. It is just the media craze of attracting more readers, otherwise, who should abandon who.....realistically? If you ask me I would tell you in the words of Attorney   John Cochran that their   heads did not fit so they were acquitted!  Or their psychological status did not fit into the class you ladies have cut naturally, so they quit possibly after struggling to pour the old wine into the new wine skin. Their situation seems pathetic. Just pity them do not get angry at them.

The guy who played false to call off true love is simply a romantic felon that should be forgotten as fast as he leaves the stage...Oh giveblack woman 3 me a break!  What humanity or pride is left in a man who abandoned a disabled child for instance? When average American Caucasian father fails, he cries on the TV for forgiveness. When a rustic African father fails, he runs into oppressive culture to hide to look for non realistic reasons.”Oh this is African culture” says who? So our culture is to go anti clock wise right African men? To do that which humanity abhors? To keep traditions that stamp Africans as monkeys that dump children like shit and run away, waiting for magically grown adults to come for paternity reference in 21st century?

Know you gals that your aura of humanity transcends decamped lover‘s mean thoughts or actions.  Great men do great things… not cheap, dingy and sneaky stuff. Edmund Burk wrote: ‘There never was a bad man that has ability for a good service”. The best service to a lover is to be true to her or him at all times, even in the face of challenges like having a disabled child.

Failed love life and relationships should not define who you are my sisters.  It has happened to virtually every grown woman everywhere in the world. Be your own hero and ours too. When these African men with culturally induced gender complex tries to toy with your emotions in any way, try and brush them off and move on...  Forget your heart broker because, wimps and bigots are never vectors of change anywhere in the world.  American guys on the Wall Street would brag.

.”America is the home of brave men those that are not afraid to invest millions in a second knowing he may lose it or gain twice. In a case where the court asks divorce seeking wife what she want first from cheating husband, and she asks her lawyer to write off two third of his money and assets.  Some bad wives of cheating celebrates ask for almost all the money at divorce. The court grants her that and the guy picks his brief case and walks out of ten million mansion in LA or Manhattan saying: “Let it go for the sake of my child …I want her and the children to be comfortable...I did her wrong” Contrast it with Nigerian men who killed their wives in America because of mortgaged homes they are likely to quit for children and mother.  When such news comes up many Americans hardly believe that these psycho African guys are not crazy to kill wives for homes located at hinter places in the US. Most African men still struggle with their past and psychologists believe it takes life time to outgrow.  Abraham Maslow and Erick Erickson believe in the fact that young adults manifest the psychosocial behaviors of the nurture environment into adulthood. Social status of a woman may not make any difference to the way such men would treat a woman.  

Great African women are better appreciated by outside world. So as stage pioneers, know that pioneers bear the first bullets. The bullets get tender and softer and finally go to norm. You would not even feel any obstacle soon as the world cheers you up. New York Times once reported that “Women seem to be the only hope for Africa”. When Liberia got the first woman president in Africa, now Nobel Prize president like President Obama.  This statement was in relation to politics but it seems right as you gals are stage women of guts and it takes supper-guts to insist on a change in our culture, most pioneers are often branded enemies even by those they are fighting for.

I am sure even some women would not say well of you ladies as some of us here have experienced too. African women are not always great supporters of each other in empowerment issues.  Most of the time whenever an African woman gets abused in America, it is always by another African woman or husband. If there is a street protest, you hardly see African women coming out to lend support. They are still scared of the culture and general opinion against them.  They are always the first to give the unkindest cut sometimes too.  I remember when women would describe the female politicians in Nigeria as prostitutes.  That is how not so educated women fronted themselves and started misrepresenting women. Thank God that is changing now as more PHDs gets involved in Nigeria administration. But that is ok for now. So pioneers bears the double wound sometimes.

Know you girls that you are our heroes and those of you who have   mourned lost love are mere   victims of psychologically defective men …SOME GUYS ON socio-cultural CROSS road. Look time is coming when Nollywood marries Nollywood and parents would not mind or the guys would go to the Registry first before telling their mothers. This will draw the class lines as it has done in America. Here Hollywood marries Hollywood and even Billionaires would not have the chance of getting attention from a Hollywood s super star.

I can see the daring ego in the younger men in the Nollywood. Pioneers suffer the first fall out of any adventure. Some of us here seem to be on that roll and have been treated so badly even by fellow Nigerian women who should support us. It is part of the adventure which sharpens perseverance.  An American woman is more disposed to supporting women on the lead than African women. Some American women would still not support their fellows. Some woman told Senator Hillary Clinton to go home and bake cookies when she came out for presidential campaign. Then her female power house sent out press release shutting her down and said the world would be dark place for women if not for the likes of Hillary.

So would it be for African women if all the women “make just babies and bake cookies”.

 black woman 5My little advice is to always be the great ambassador of change as you try to carry all along even the ‘other woman’. If your husband inherited children treat them well and keep open communication with ex wives. Never let any man make you hate another woman. You do not know what lies she was forced to believe like you. Reach out to her and make her feel appreciated. That is the challenge of great education. No human being is worth life time enmity with another woman. Our ordeals as gender group remain same all over the world.  When I was leaving for US, the last interview at the event of “International Day of Women” was with Chief Mrs. Adanma Okpara, wife of former premier of Eastern Nigeria, Dr. M.I Okpara. After relating her political experience, she told me to always use my privilege to help African women. I still remember her hugging me goodbye with: ‘Please you have intelligent pen and use it to enhance the privilege of under privileged. ..Hold the hand of those who could write their name to teach them how to write their names: write letters for those who do not know how to write; read letters for those who cannot. That may be happiest moment of their struggled life…Use your privilege to enhance another woman, and do not hurt any woman because of any man...be your sister’s keeper and forgive their ignorance.” Same duties I extent to you all this day.

Those who are married please be the actress on stage and real respectful woman at home. I believe in Alice Walker concept of feminism, which is womanism. Be the real woman who can cook and do other culinary activities for there also lies the joy of womanhood. It does not make any woman a slave. Please be the hero of your situation and be our heroes too. We all love you. “Take God whereever you go and where you cannot take him do not go”  Be brave and be assured  you have our support  and all those of  great  Nollywood Strong Towers, those gurus of theatre  behind  the stage, behind you ( Pete Edochie, Olu Jacob, Enebeli Enebeuwa, Ken Okonkwo, Kanayo-Kanayo,etc) . You all are the reason for the only genuine laugh Nigerians have ever had since 1960.

Accept 51 glorious cheers from all progressive Nigerian women In New York city!!!

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Chinyere Ojide

Chinyere Elvi Ojide, a journalist. columnist and budding author of 2 books simultaneously. Chinyere writes in most African news papers in New York and a few American print press too; a regular columnist of "Sound off". very capitivating column in USIMMIGRATION news. She is a member of the Association of Africam women scholars USA. Sje earned masters degree from University of Nigeria Nsukka and diploma in journalism; she is currently student of Information science in New York. her bit is mainly on family, woman and womanhood, having worked briefly as assistan woman editor in Nigeria before coming to US. How ever she versatile and up to date with current issues in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.