Feminist is not a Slur

Do you know who my icon is? The person I hope to be like or be better than someday? It’s not Michelle Obama, not the President of Croatia and definitely, definitely not Beyonce. The person I look up to the most is my mom. I’m aware how cliché this sounds, believe me. But who says cliché has to be a bad thing?

Mom grew up in a backwater village in Anambra state, the only child –until she was 13- of nobodies. Her father was a trader, her mother sold akamu. She always tells me of the ridicule she got from her neighbours in her face-me-I-face your apartment. Who did she think she was, spending all her time reading and being the best in her class? What use is a girl that doesn’t know how to make fufu? While other girls in her village were settling into their “roles” and trainings as future wives, my mother decided she wanted to make something of herself. She resolved to be more than just someone’s wife. She planned to climb up the social ladder and not “marry up”. At the BIG age of 13, she decided. She worked hard, got a scholarship that put her through secondary school and university. All while her classmates were married off to one “rich” man or the other. Today, those mates with their “rich” husbands are uneducated traders with no form of independence. All their worth is attached to the number of sons they could bear.

There’s one particular story my mom told me that will forever stick in my memory. One day, while she was on “long vac(ation)” from secondary school, a man and his kinsmen came to her modest home in the village. They came in with their shoulders raised; looking down on her like she was nothing. They asked her to walk about and turn around so they could have a good look at her.  One of them said, “She will do nicely” in Igbo and gave her a sizeable bundle of money. A few days later, they came back to meet her father to say they were “ready to marry” Chinyere. My grandpa called my mom to ask if she’d agreed to this. My mother said “No one came to discuss anything with me, they only came to prize me like a cow and left. Am I a cow? Moreover, I am not getting married until I become a doctor”

And my people, that was exactly what my mother did. Dr Chinyere Ilonze is my forever mood.

But do you know what is funny? As much as I love this woman, her spunk and the defiant way she approaches the world of men, there’s still something missing. She never managed to unlearn some of the self-hate the world promotes in women. Maybe self-hate is a strong word. What better term should I use to describe the belief that being sexually harassed is either normal or somehow my fault? Or that certain jobs or roles cannot be filled by me, not because I’m unqualified but because I’m disqualified as a woman? Or how about defining my existence by my marital status, when a man is always a man but we are only complete women when we bears the Mrs.? What better word  than “self-hate” is there? Sure, just like my mother’s peers in the village, society suppresses women to the point where the only option they (believe they) have are to either take oppression lying down or make the most of it but allying with the “benevolent” man and master. If you ask me though, as much as society enforced this embargo on womankind, we as women also accepted it. And that, is where self-hate comes in.

You know what’s worse? The only force that exists to free us from this figurative and literal imprisonment is taking more hits that the women themselves. My mother gets so terribly awkward and uncomfortable around the term “feminist”. So did I, once.  Unfortunately, It took working in an organization that caters to women and girls going through all kinds of hardship, solely because of their gender. That’s what it took for me to realize that to be feminist is to be human, or at least to be rational. I’m ashamed that I needed that much convincing but now that my eyes are open, I can’t unsee it; the inequality, the discrimination, it’s alive, touching everything, leaving a distinct dirty aftertaste. Feminism is the only step in the right direction to fixing it. And we’re doing to it what we have done to every beacon of hope; trying to quench it.

In the bid to discredit us, the women who truly see, they mislabel us. Man haters, lesbians, ugly women, lonely women, women who have been hurt by men, rejected, gone unnoticed. Call us all sorts of things. I can’t help but notice that all these insults only prove our point. They think that the universe of a woman has to start and end with a man.  But you know what? I could be all of these things that you think a feminist is, or I could be none of them, it still doesn’t change the facts; I am human and I am no less human than anyone else, I shouldn’t be treated like I am otherwise. I am not out here trying to take from what you have, I only want to get what I merit.

Feminism has been criticized by thinkers and non-thinkers, and even by myself at one point, as a movement with no clear definition, no clear goal. We squabble amongst ourselves; who is a better feminist than the other; whose brand of feminism is best, more achievable, more realistic, more please-men-able. But here’s the truth, feminist can not mean one thing, because we’re not all the same and our lives are not all the same. Each feminist’s attainable milestones can not be the same. We’re a very unique movement, we cut across cultures, races, religions, ethnicities and realities  Can you think of any one human movement as big and diverse as us? Any one social problem that touches the lives of nearly 4 billion people? We’re allowed to have different voices. What we won’t allow is misconception that our diversity delegitimizes our cause.

The truth is, the whole conversation has been so skewed. It’s not actually about being equal to a man. I mean, no two men are even equal. It’s about being as human as men, deserving of the same rights, choices and privileges. And these rights and choices and privileges look different for each one of us in all our corners of the world. And that’s totally okay.

So, to all my ladies out there, still stuck behind the curtain, veils not having been removed yet; we’ll be here to catch you, if you ever happen to walk or crawl or stumble through. To those who can see but are still afraid of being called that dirty word: FEMINIST; I say embrace it, it truly does free you, I promise. And to the other side of this, you who have decided to stand as an opposition; I only hope that one day you fall through the curtain too and join us. The world is a better place when everyone embraces the equalness of our humanity. Feminist is not a slur, it’s the most rational state of being.

 

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Failing Igbo Like A Boss

My French is better than my Igbo. I’m not proud of it, but I don’t speak Igbo very well, actually I don’t speak Igbo at all. My Dad wasn’t the biggest fan of the language so he never spoke it to us and I still don’t know why my mum never spoke it to us growing up. 

Before you think I’m blaming my parents, which I obviously am, I’ve lived most of my life around Hausa or Yoruba speakers and my French is better than my Yoruba or Hausa combined. Let’s just say,  je suis un peu fier du moi-même, juste un peu. (I can neither confirm nor deny that I checked google translate for that). 

In Primary school Igbo was never taught as a subject, we were above such tribalistic philistinism.  In secondary school however, that was a different case. 

I aced Igbo in Js 1 because the Igbo teacher gave us the exam questions before hand, so I cramed and poured. I was a boss. In Js 2, my school had no available Igbo teacher for my set so we skipped it. To be honest, I can’t really remeber much of what happened in my JS 3 when it comes to Igbo. 

In SS 2, I got the toughest Igbo teacher South East Nigeria has ever produced, she was like a hammer banging Igbo down my head by fire and force. Because of the syllabus, we were supposed to be reading Igbo literature and you have to understand that for some reason, I read Igbo fine. I just had no clue what I was saying. 

My Igbo teacher knew I was an Igbo language imbecile but, she would always ask me to interprete what I’d just read. Then when I couldn’t, she’d ask me to kneel down. She’d then go on a long monologue about how I was a ceremonial head. Apparently being the headboy meant you had to pass every subject with flying colours. This happened in every class at leat twice a week throughout my penultimate year. It happened so much that every time Igbo period came around on the time table, it meant fear and trepidation. Some of my classmates would even jeer me, asking if I was ready for the war to come and that is how the cycle would continue throughout till exams. 

It’s pretty difficult trying to pass an exam when you literally cannot understand the questions. My Igbo vocabulary at the time was limited to about 10-20 words, it has caught lingual atrophy now. If I didn’t see any of those words, it meant more blank space in my answer sheet and if I did see a word I knew, it meant chicken scratch handwriting was going in my answer sheet. 

When your exam answer sheet is filled with chicken scratched ink prints and blank spaces, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the failure that is about to hit you is gathering red biro. 

So, first term I failed, second term I failed third term I failed and each term I failed Igbo, the teacher would always call me to her office and hand me my partially marked exam script asking me to continue from where I stopped. 

I would sit down in her office, looking at the ceiling, chewing my pen and I still wouldn’t be able to form a coherent Igbo sentence. So when she got tired of seeing my face she’d send me away and when the result would come out, I would fail it. 

When I was given the option in my last year to drop Igbo, I dropped it like it was hot. Literally. The only thing that would have given me more joy, would be if I could drop mathematics.

Whenever I see that Igbo teacher now, I smile like we’re cool. Really we are, I don’t have anything against her. She was just doing her job, which included making my life miserable. I just wonder if my kids will ever learn Igbo. 🤔

Know Someone Who’s Suicidal? Take Our Quiz To Find Out

First, we’re not medical experts, but considering the sad event of yesterday, we think it’s our responsibility to put out as much information on mental health as we can.

Incase you relocated to a the buttocks of a rock, a young doctor jumped off 3rd Mainland Bridge yesterday afternoon, and it’s left most of us in a very introspective and sober mood.

So here’s our poll.

Is Something Not Wrong With You?

.Disclaimer: Every typo was left here intentionally

 

I’ve always believed you cannot fix a problem you don’t understand and this belief is particularly true when I think of my country. Today I have discovered a new problem with the state of our nation. The problem is you.

I have explained here that the last time the federal Ministry of education had a concrete plan for our schools was in 2006. Let’s assume for a moment that in 2006 our syllabus was at par with the knowledge base at the time, which it obviously wasn’t. Do you know how much knowledge has been discovered and refuted between 2006 and 2016? From all indications, there is currently no concrete economic plan for Nigeria, not in the short, long or medium term. Our economic plans revolve around whatever data IMF, World Bank and The US release. If Nigerian was a company, it would have no data of its staff, it would pay people with visitor tags as it should it’s employees and it would have no clearly defined organizational vision, goal or objective. Most importantly it would be filing for bankruptcy.

In case you have not been following the Venezuelan economic crisis, you should read it up here here because that appears to be the road we are following as the road to our recovery is still under construction.

This brings me to why you are the problem.

You are not ready and quite frankly do not deserve to run your own country. with nearly every natural and human resource in the world you have managed to turn a potential first world country to an actual third world country. Should I take it to the extreme I’d say a potential failed state. I get irritated when I hear young people say they aren’t interested in politics, I want to smack them in the head because it’s a civic responsibility for someone operating in a democracy. Democracy and self-governance is a HARD WORK and you are a pile of lazy bones.

You gave people power to make laws for you on the condition that should they mess up, you will mess them up. Instead you have defended their persons, excused their lack of polices, desired to emulate their lifestyle that they fund from money they stole from you. Ask yourself with all sincerity…”IS SOMETHING NOT WRONG WITH ME!?!”

So this is what I want you to do.

  1. Find the name of the senator and house of representative’s member from you’re your district. If they are on social media follow them, make sure you supervise them, find out what bills they supported what they opposed…SUPERVISE THEM!
  2. NEVER, EVER, EVER in your life vote for a man, woman or child without reading and dissecting the plausibility of their PUBLISHED manifestos. Don’t vote till you agree that their plans are good and implementable.
  3. ALWAYS HAVE AT LEAST ONE public policy issue that you are passionate about and make sure you follow up and speak up on it. It is imperative that you become vocal in the public space…you are not complaining, you are demanding for accountability! We got to this point because the people before you did not know how to sustain “complaints” on an issue. One of my public policy passion is education and youth development what is yours?
  4. PAY ATTENTION TO QUALITY CANDIDATES OUTSIDE QUANTITY PARTIES. Some of the best candidates have never entered office because they run outside the big fishes. This doesn’t mean all who do this are quality, neither does it mean all the people in the big parties aren’t quality. Refer to number two if you’re confused.

 

Useless Is A Country Determined To Destroy It’s Future

June 24, 2016,

 

I had been chasing the date for the past four years. It was the day I would finally finish school, have my own BSc and have all the tools needed to become my own person. I could now get a job and earn some money.  I was finally through with school (if you’re thinking masters, stop being a buzzkill)

 

So, I graduated and sat and waited, now I have to take it to the point of prayer because NYSC is broke. The dollar is biting them hard and although they serve no legitimate national purpose, and you technically can’t get employed without it, we still run the scheme, because that’s what we do in Nigeria, we run irrelevant things and bicker needlessly over the important.

 

NYSC, they say (we don’t know for sure because some numbskull decided history was not important enough to be taught in schools) was set up to promote national unity, after the civil war. Today, Nigeria still operates a federal character system because our unity is so fragile that if one ethnic group is perceived to even try and dominate the rest bombs will be going off everywhere.

 

Never mind that NYSC takes about 60%-80% (Once again I don’t know for certain since a collection of elderly people called the government decided not all gist is for the young) of our annual budget on youth development which is daft because NYSC doesn’t cover anything close to half of Nigeria’s youth on an annual basis.

 

But I digress.

 

The world economic forum says we have the worst primary education system in the world, we don’t even have half the quality of university education of Ghana. Yes, I said Ghana and it’s not okay. In case you have forgotten we sent Ghanaians packing and named cheap multipurpose bags after them just for the fun of it and now we’re the ones going to school in Ghana. We should all be crying and eating shawarma and then next year we go and set new records for mass failure but dollar is too high for that.

wpid-students-on-queue-jpg

So, let’s talk solutions. I wondered if the Federal Ministry of Education has a plan to fix our educational system and I checked. To my surprise, the last time the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education had any plan for our system was when Oby Ezekwesili was minister in 2006. That was 10 years ago in case you misplaced your calendar and Obasanjo was still in power.

oby-ezekwesili

Should you go through that 2006 education roadmap, you would notice where it was noted that prior to 2006, there was no plan for the primary education sector whether on paper or in someone’s imagination. As for the secondary and tertiary whatever plans that had been drafted prior to that time were still drafts. Nothing was being implemented, except the UBE.

 

To put things in perspective between 1960 and 2016, there has never been an even partially implemented long term plan for our educational sector in its entirety except for Obasanjo’s UBE scheme. What happened to Oby Ezekwesili’s plan you ask, well it went with her when she left office because we hate continuity.

 

At this point I’d like to say that if you’ve been head of state, president or prime minister of Nigeria, whether you are dead or alive, kneel down, close your eyes and raise your hands.

kneeling-down

This is so important because in a few decades we will be the 3rd largest population in the world, which means we would have the 3rd largest youth population and the 3rd highest school age demographic. This in turn means we would need the 3rd largest school system in the world.

 

Factor in today’s reality where we spend 60%-80% of our youth development budget on NYSC, and absolutely 0% on our education (just look at our schools do they look like they get money from government) how are we going to survive in the face of diminishing resources?

 

As it stands we already hold the Guinness book of records for the country with the highest number of out of school children with 10.5 million children also 40% of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend any primary school. (I know this because foreign stats exist)

 

Essentially, the only active plan we have for our entire education system is Obasnjo’s 2004 UBE that was supposed to grant free education to primary and secondary school students. Problem is more than a decade later, It’s never been reviewed or improved but we’re content with using unqualified and untrained NYSC corpers to instruct the future of this country in the classrooms. This is the future 3rd most populous country in the world.

 

By the time we hit population overload, oil will be a lot less valuable than it is now, and if you think oil isn’t even valuable now, just wait till companies like Tesla starts mass producing, Uber starts using electric cars and everyone’s clean energy industries are up and running.

cover_photo_image_2_2

And this is the really fun part, in an even fewer number of decades, the bulk of Nigeria’s political class that has been leading us since 1960, will all be gone. So they would have ruined our country while we fought over them and gave them grandiose burials.

 

Sometimes, I want to rewire my vocal cords to my chest so I can literally shout with my chest that we are sinking into deep shit, and because it’s not yet near our noses doesn’t mean it’s not going to smell.

What I Would Have Done Differently If I Were President Buhari

 

Throughout the 2015 presidential election campaign I was on team Buhari, needless to say it has been one long unending tenure of disappointment, disappointment and more disappointment. To be honest with you my best action from Buhari since he was sworn into office was his inauguration speech. It’s not the only act I 100% agreed with, but it just stands out ahead of others which goes to show you how disappointed I’ve been. So I thought about everything I would have done differently if I had been Buhari and here they are just a few.

 

 

  1. Appointing My Cabinet.

If I were Buhari I would have appointed my cabinet the week following my elections. I would have been running for elections to the same office since 2003, it would only show my preparedness. I would have had my ministerial list out and ensured it was the first order of business for the newly sworn in legislature.

 

 

  1. Cabinet Members.

If you follow me on Twitter which you should (@ugotalksalot), I tweeted sometime last year that if I were Buhari I would have retained the services of Okonjo Iweala as the minister for finance. For me it’s non-negotiable. Economic downturns had been projected since 2014 and Okonjo Iweala had also sent warning signs to former President Jonathan and the need to prepare. Asides from that, I honestly think she did a good job under Jonathan and there aren’t that many who match her pedigree. I would have trusted her sound economic advice. Emefile would have also lost his job to Charles Soludo had I been Buhari.

 

 

I also would have put Fashola in charge of a ministry of information/culture and tourism and looked for a technocrat to handle the ministry of power also I’m not ashamed to say I would have double crossed whatever agreement I had with Chris Ngige because it was obvious that he’s a political and administrative dinosaur.

 

 

As for Amechi and Lai Mohammed, the dictates of real politick may just have proved too much to keep them out of my cabinet so if that had happened, I wouldn’t shield Amechi from the EFCC.

 

 

  1. Media team.

I would have retained the service of some essential personal from Statecraft on my media team. They did their job during the campaigns flawlessly and efficiently and that’s what I would have wanted while in office. I would have streamlined my media and PR machinery into just an office of Communication and have a Press secretary at the healm who would serve as spokesman, special adviser and senior special adviser on media, publicity, social media, new media and whatever nonsense that currently exists. The multiplicity and ineptitude in the office Presidency’s press team has been very nostalgic of the man he replaced. I think I may have given Debola Williams or Tolu Ogunlesi the job.

 

 

  1. Weekly Addresses.

There would have been weekly addresses/press conferences coming from me the President, the Vice President or the Press Secretary every Friday. It would be a 20-30 minute summary of the state of the nation, addressing issues that rose during the week or achievements attained. Needless to say I would have addressed the herdsmen issues and the Biafran ones as well.

 

 

  1. Tour of Nigeria

With the amount f power vested in the centre in Nigerias pseudo-federalism, I would have undertaken a Nigerian tour over the course of a few months. The objective is to seem reachable and assessable especially in places where I didn’t win. Not everyone may have voted for me but I am everyone’s president and I would need to go down every where and tell them that. In the states I expect to meet with the governor, national senators, local government chairmen, going to market places would have also made my list.

 

So you’ve seen mine, what things so far would you have done differently if you were Buhari?

 

 

 

Writers Wanted

Are you one of those people that love to write and have no one to show it to? Maybe you’re not the type to commit to owning and managing a blog but you can’t seem to break up with your love for the pen and paper. 

Or could it be that you just write and keep it to yourself? If you do that by the way, I think you’re stingy! You have a gift and a message  and sometimes you need to share it with other people.  God loves a cheerful giver. 

You could also just want a little writing practice but fear not Which ever headache you have, we’ve got your panadol. We want to read what you’ve got, and share it with everyone. 

So if you’ve got something to write we want you to write it here! 
Send your articles, opinion pieces and especially rants to ugotalksalot@gmail.com on any issue and we would help you shove it into people’s phone and laptops. 

Well if you don’t write but no someone that those you could just be a good friend and tell them and then write your own!

Finally, we are now taking advertising requests. For enquiry mail us @ ugotalksalot@gmail.com or on Twitter @ugotalksalot 

Brain dead

I used to be so intellectual

Since exams ended last week, I’ve realized some profound and disturbing things First of all, it appears that I’ve been studying for so long that I now HAVE to study. I’m serious, after exams the first thing I did was watch a LOT of TED Talks; Talks about 3D printing, Li-fi, autonomous vehicles, tons and tons of shit that actually do not concern me.

I swear, I really couldn’t help myself.

Another discovery I made and perhaps the most depressing is that my intelligence is directly proportional to my educational activities. Basically, I have to be in school, attending classes, reading for tests, doing assignments and insulting lecturers or my IQ begins to slowly depreciate.

download

I’m serious, without school all I learn, I learn from twitter. And Twitter these days is all about shitty celebrity marriages so essentially my mind is doomed.

I can’t even tell intellectual jokes anymore. I’ve even forgotten how to use big grammar to confuse people. I used to be an expert at puns and throwin’ shade… oh how the mighty have fallen.

I’m so aimless these days, if I see you on the road, best believe I’m following you to wherever the hell you are going. Me… that used to always have my days planned out, down to bathroom breaks.

The other day, I was talking about someone whose name is Winner and I said on his birthday we should sing “Winner oh oh oh….”

And I laughed.

Alone.

#issallova #plixepp

Very soon I’ll start talking like Jenifa.

Emi, Princessi kan

Someone please come and send me to school. Before I go and enroll myself in an online course on mixology or tattooing or something.

 

ANNOUCEMENT: UgoTalksAlot is Two

UgoTalksAlot is Two today. I just really want to thank God, for not allowing the creative ink stop flowing. I’m not also usually great with birthday dates so big thanks to WordPress for the reminder.

Initially I started blogging out of boredom and I’ve gone from having absolutely no idea what I’m doing to kind of having an idea of what I’m going. I’ve also lost the right to use the word ‘I’ as this is mo longer a one person show. For that I’m really grateful to Hadassah, Princess and Emma for creating what is becoming the digital headquarters of over tens of thousands of people across the world.

I also want to thank every contributor we’ve ever had here for gracing the pages of our blog with your words of wisdom, joy, pain and other rants.

And we have to thank The Team of NotJustPulp led by amazingly talent cousin Chidinma Akobundu for giving us a free logo (plix, money is slow to enter) and make sure you check out their amazing work here

We hope the next year will be better, have fewer typos, end with some people on here leaving the singlula-pringula ministries and especially more money.

That being said UgoTalksAlot is looking for a Fashion writer to join the team so mail us @ ugotalksalot@gmail.com. You can also contact us for advert rates and if you’re bored and just want to hang.
P.S Annivesary Party is in Princess’ Kingdom 

*drops mic

Insouciant 

“Both my parents died in a car accident…” the words kidnap my attention as if my name had just been called. Maybe it’s because I too have lost a parent and the pain is paralysing enough, I can’t imagine what losing both would do. But his words do not betray any pain, any fear, any emotion. His voice is flat, numb and indifferent. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a front, his heart would be slowly shattering, if it hasn’t already been ripped to shreds.

The narcissist in me wants to find expression, but I trap it within my teeth while it backflips and somersaults in my mind. I don’t want to make this about me, but I’m genuinely concerned. Not just about his flat tone, but more about my numb empathy.

“People die everyday…” I remember looking into my mothers eyes on December 20 2013, and telling her those words. Her husband, my father, had just died and the most genuine words I could utter were “People. Die. Everyday.” I said this looking into her eyes, hear heart too shocked to be disturbed by my coldness and cruelty. I wish I stopped and never said those words again, but I kept saying it, to my mother, my family and my best friends. Over two years now and I’ll still say those words I had to talk about it.

My fingers scroll across my Twitter timeline and I come across a village up north attacked, it’s children kidnapped, the government; in denial along with half the people on my timeline. My emotions are in conflict, but not with each other, with the world. I’m appalled, “how can this happen in a state of emergency?” I ask the air. Hoping like a messenger pigeon it would take my words to the freshly painted corridors of Aso Rock. But I’m greeted with silence.

I’m arguing with the world on Twitter, the world that chooses to live in apathy and denial, how dare they! What kind of human beings were assigned to Nigeria? I’m furious with my church for not praying…enough…I’m from Chibok! We all are! #Bringbackourgirls!

Then CNN comes.

And goes.

Nothing happens.

Then a bomb goes off

And another bomb goes off

And another

And another

“People. Die. Everyday” 

And I’m tired of caring but I will not stand to be judged. No one has the right to tell me when to be numb, when to be emotional, when to pay attention to the obituary that has become the headlines and when not to, went to be Chibok and when to be Charlie!

“People. Die. Everyday”

But am I a hypocrite? That I’m not aggrieved for the death of those close to me, but I’m frustrated because the government cannot keep people I’ve never met safe.

Am I a hypocrite? Because I get tired of fighting the air, waiting for a messenger pigeon that never comes, scrolling over breaking news of deaths and kidnappings of both the nameless people like me and the big men and women.

Am I a hypocrite for ignoring the deaths in Nigeria and sympathising with the deaths in France all the while retweeting,

 “You care more about how deaths abroad than deaths at home.”

My mother looks at me, she’s sitting on the floor, hair scattered, eyes betray the limited availability of sanity in her head, what’s left has been chased out by grief. She tugs at my shorts and says “Aboy, what are we going to do.”

I look her straight in the eyes, I look the person I care about most straight in the eyes, in the worst time of her life and say

“People. Die. Everyday”