A few days ago I came across a video on the internet. A woman comes on, introduces herself as honourable so, so and so and says: ‘’I am one of the three Igbo women that Chief Femi Fani-Kayode said in August 2013 that he had intimate relationship with’’. As I often do when I want to grasp the full import of either a striking piece of wisdom that amazes me or a monumental piece of folly that disgusts or upsets me, I tried to break down her statement in our countryman English.
It came to this: ‘’Na me be one of the three Igbo women wei Fani-Kayode say him been fuck well, well’’.
And my disgust for her rose to fever pitch on account of this, moreso when she proceeded from this disclosure to tell us how bad Femi Fani-Kayode is. What is our world turning into? Is this what women’s liberation is all about? What men can say and do women can do even much better? If men think they can be coarse or rough with their tongues, there are women who can match them word for word and even excel them? These were some of the questions I asked my computer as there was no one around with whom I could share my bewilderment. I felt truly scandalized by the unAfricanness of this woman.
Please forgive my being a ‘’Jew’’ man. The trouble is, in the Africanness of my upbringing, it is extremely unladylike for a woman to be so forward in the matters of sex. A woman cannot use her mouth to directly admit that she has been touched by any man even if that man is her lawfully married husband! She may even be walking about with a nine-month evidence of her liaison with her husband for all to see, but she will coyly deny that she has done anything with any man. Everyone understands and even admires her for it. That is what makes her feminine; that is what adds to her attraction. A woman is not a man.
For me to then see live an African woman who is not masked or disguised in any form; who comes on on the world wide web for all the world to see her face and to boldly say with her mouth that she is one in the trophy throve of a man, is difficult for me to grasp or come to an accommodation of.
It is in the nature of men to boast about how much wild oats they have sowed but it is in the nature of women to seek to preserve their dignity by claiming how saintly they are even if they have just been graduates of a notorious brothel. Even today in my village, a virtuous woman will win an argument/ quarrel with her rival by proclaiming to all present that if there is any man anywhere other than the man under whose roof she is who has seen her underwear let such a man come out and testify.
My dear women, no matter how modern you think you are, it is self-degradation for you to publicly admit that a certain man other than your legitimate husband has perused your anatomy, to use the word of a former renowned professor. I do not know why it is so, but it is true that if any woman permits any man other than a legitimate one to sleep with her she is a willing accomplice in the subtraction of her own dignity, self-respect and mystery. When an illegitimate man does an illegitimate thing to you, he is removing your voice. This is what explains why some of the most vocal women in my village who tend to always emerge women leaders are the ones whose underwears have not been seen by men other than the men entitled to see them!
When I hear or see some stupid things from so-called liberated women, the person I turn to to vent my frustration and anger is, quite ironically, my quiet and decent wife. Unable to understand it for myself, I often recourse to her and ask some questions which torture my noble souls: ‘’Do some of those women have parents, close relatives and friends?’’ Do they have husbands or at least regular men in their lives? How do those men feel hearing their wives testify to their indecorous past? As a parent or guardian when you sit in your parlour or in your study and you come across your daughter saying the kind of thing the subject in this our tale said, how do you feel? Proud? Ashamed? Confused? Dejected? Indifferent? How do you look at her and relate with her from then henceforth?
When some time last year that Okeke girl, the ‘’Cucumber Girl’’, was captured on camera displaying the sacred details of her womanhood in such a sacrilegiously disgusting manner for all the world to see, the question I asked is: when she eventually gets her own children and one day one of them happens on this tape and confronts her, what will she say to him or her? Feminine modesty may look old fashioned now. But I think it is one of the pillars of civilization itself.
My dear African sisters, we should be wary in copying some things that American, European and Western women do or say in the name of equal rights and women liberation. Some of the things those women do or say tend to hurt or harm women more than they confer any power or benefits on them. When I heard that woman say what she said about her, some fellow Igbo women and Femi Fani-Kayode, I wondered to myself that if by chance I become president, will I appoint her or women like her into my cabinet in order to fulfil some gender balance.
Mr. Idang Alibi is the Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Abuja.