If you’ve witnessed war, you will never underestimate peace. I have lived through some crises, like my people. I have seen Zaki-Biam and Wukari, small wars but even in those “little numbers” and events of red that darkened our sun, I experienced a full eclipse. Have you seen people cut down in one breath? Intestines hanging out, destinies flushed away with the wiping out of whatever we are today? It might seem far-fetched but close your eyes and imagine the person you love the most –your father, mother, sibling or lover. Imagine that person raped. Imagine that person shot… Cut down. This is not even half a description of what war is…
This isn’t a fear narrative or a graphic building of fiction. It’s a telling of what may come. It is a simple simplistic rendering or what may be for us, and indeed what is, for others.
Read the stories of the Biafran war or hear someone tell you. Read the stories of the two World Wars or of the war in Sudan, the genocide in Rwanda.
It starts with words. It starts with actions. The actions of our inactions. We watch hate narratives grow and stare on as hate actions build to destroy. The actions or our building hate that surrenders us to an evil fate. No poem, no story, no word can do justice to the evils that await if we refuse to do something to create peace.
Under the auspices of Writers and CSOs for Development, we – at SEVHAGE Literary and Development Initiative, Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative (GERI), Gender and Community Empowerment Initiative (GECOME), Women’s Right to Education Programme, Oyalewa Integrated Services Limited, ANA Benue, Mbachilin Development Foundation, Custodians Of African Literature of Jos and Sankofa of Ibadan, amongst other partners – did a full day literary and CSO driven programme across three cities on the 23rd of September to commemorate the 2017 International Day of Peace. Okay, and it was themed ‘Together for peace: respect, safety & dignity for all. That explains why we had to bring in so many of us and create that nexus between us writers and development workers.
We had poetry, spoken word and fiction readings. We discussed the works and it was fun to see the CSO actors present react to the readings. There were some misinterpretations, some debate, some disagreements, general praise and all, done in good faith to bring clarity and better understanding. Otene Ogwuche, my chief co-planner read the UN Secretary General’s speech for International Day of Peace while I had the welcome note. We also rounded up the day’s proceedings later. Mrs. Elizabeth Jeiyol of GERI taught everyone the perspective game after a heated discussion on a piece, ‘Wahala’ by Daniel Iduh. The work is written from the point of view of a soldier agitating for war. The writers thought it was a cool story with fine imagery plus good language while some journalists and development workers thought it was hate speech and a flame blower for conflict. After our discussions, we reached a middle ground – these narratives exist and will always exist, how do we change the narrative? Terseer Sam Baki, a Civil Defence officer and poet shortlisted for the ANA Poetry Prize 2015 read some poems on peace. We had other readings from Aondosoo Andrew Labe (Benue ANA Publicity Secretary), Innocence Silas Katricia (who won the Korea-Nigeria Poetry Prize 2017) and Ene Odaba while Ciara Ogah and Michael Amedu had lovely spoken word performances. At the end, our compere, Oko Owi Ocho had to applaud everyone.
In the evening, we watched Beast of no Nation and discussed the movie – themes, ideas, style and the like. It was really enlightening for all us. We sure learnt a lot on the day. At the end of the whole event, we resolved that we would do more of such events, especially as the engagement was the start of a peace campaign aimed at peace and other development initiatives engagements. We resolved to start rewriting the tales of our places by living right and doing new things. The campaign continues and you can check by following us on Instagram and Twitter @sueddieagema @geri_initiative @Otenefrank @sevhagebooks
It is amazing how a lot of us do not realise the power of stories to do a lot of damage and harm on the one hand, or building and healing on the other. I know the power of stories. I am a writer. I am development worker. I am a change agent. Who are you? What can you do?
Wherever you are, in what space you find yourself, be the change. Together we can change the narrative.
Happy Independence Nigeria.
We love you.
Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has postponed his visit to Benue for a reading and to see flood victims. The visit to Benue was scheduled for 12th and 13th of September, 2017. The laureate has been forced to reschedule his visit to a future date to circumstances beyond his control.
The Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue State Chapter) announced this, rising from a meeting of its Local Organising Committee for the National Annual Convention in Makurdi, yesterday, 11th September 2017.
The Chapter regrets the postponement and has promised to keep members of the public abreast of any related information in this regard.
Relatedly, members of the National Executive, led by Mallam Denja Abdullahi have arrived Makurdi for a pre-convention visit as well as other state activities.
The piece is centred on certain views to gender change but more importantly, motherhood. In beginning, your permission is sought for just a little detour before the main gist…
So, what does one say about them – women that is. They are indeed the essence of everything that the world is. It has been said that there is nothing new under the sun; everything has been done in one way or the other. In essence, there is no inventing the wheel no more; it is just modifications. This is true of women. To talk about the values of women would be to just babble and repeat clichés that have been used from time immemorial. Do we talk about their physical qualities? Lovely hazel eyes; face that shines like the moon; lovely physique; figure eight… Is it their persons? There are descriptions to almost all the ladies we can come across, descriptions that we might want to personalise but have been used over and again. These descriptions come in personages of others who have lived long and granted names to the whole group; there is the great sweet mother of eternity that each one of us professes; Jezebel; Delilah; Mary; … what description?
They are delicate and complicated, true talk. They are different; soft and gentle but in most cases getting all the sympathy. Reminds one of the case of the house where every night the wife would be shouting ‘You would kill me today, you would kill me today!! Ahh! Ahh!! Ahh!!’ In the end, the neighbours tired of the rant and hoping to rescue the lady on this night before her wicked husband killed her, broke the front door of the house which was locked. Behold, the woman was on top of the husband plummeting him with series of blows that would have gained her the heavy weight if she had decided to join the boxing profession. The amazed neighbours in the normal style of doing things, turned and left without helping the poor man who could hardly shout from the pain… So, forgetting the humour, we get to look at the fact that in man cases, when a man is involved in a case and it is the woman on top, he is left to suffer his fate…
Well, that is the case of gender equality. Gender equality has come to mean women getting equal rights in all situations as men and in some other cases, having more rights than them. It was employed in several sectors ranging from governance where there has been an increased call for more representation of these on boards of administration and governments. In Nigeria, President Jonathan promised that in his new government, there would be far more representation, has he lived up to his promise? You should know the answer. Then, there is the other aspect of women trying increasingly to become more like their male counterparts or even better…
What is wrong with all these? I don’t know. Perhaps, there is no wrong to it, perhaps there is. It must be noted that it is amazing to find great women of character and will. They sure can transform any place. Honestly, any lady who stands up and means it, somehow gets to be outstanding…meaning most ladies hardly fall into average – just greats or failures. The admiration of many for these sort of women is beyond compare.
More and more, the number of professional women rises to the detriment of even mere mothers. The world seems to be losing so many mothers and getting by this extension, many way-ward children. The main compensation these women would give would be to simply give treats of hang-outs and the like to their children or something of the sort. Now, in saying this, one is not unmindful of the exceptional few who find a balance – they are to be praised! But there is the increasing number of women losing themselves and being to become more like men and less than themselves…
One problem rises though, what happens when our women totally lose themselves? Gender roles would naturally attribute mothering and such to women. What happens when they neglect this role and leave it all to some paid or gotten assistant or in some situations, fathers? Hmm, it could be terrible many times. So, what are we driving at? It is good that women are striving to be greater; it is good that they are being given all the attention they are given… but it would be better if they remembered one of their primary roles which is the home or to be more particular, their children. Experience has shown that children who have more care from their mothers turn out to be greater than those who didn’t. By this care now, the watchword is not to spoil but rather to pay closer attention to one’s children. It is the greatest thing that a lady can do.
Forgetting all the attention given to women, or the strives at gender equality and all, the true essence of a woman – and now, we are looking at mothers – is mainly how and what her children would come to be. This is what distinguishes the mother from the father. True, the father is needed to make things right and to give the firm position but the essence of the mother cannot and should not be mistaken or underestimated.
It brings to mind the words of a great lady, Hembadoon Angela Itakpe, ‘A strong successful woman is not one that has built a career only but one that built her home alongside it. Not an easy balance, but we can try. Many times, you will seem to b running one side of this equation only. I guess the main thing there is realising it & trying 2 pull the neglected part back into orbit.’
It is only right to salute all the strong women of the world for their strength and for everything they stand for. It is possible that this piece might have been a bit back and forth but it’s main essence is a call to mind of the changing values of time and the evolving lady who strives to make the world better and more importantly, those mothers out there… There is the plea at the end here now that mothers find time to be mothers for therein would the world get better…
In closing, this piece and indeed my being for this month is dedicated to those professional mothers; whether selling akara or working as a Manager somewhere; shuffling between different jobs; or even struggling with school, exams or doing any other business and finding time to get back to the children. They are indeed miracles that nothing can explain. They are indeed the greatest. No gender equality or comparison can ever be used to measure their worth or put them in a state that would be as just and right as most feminists or others would want. These are the angels that we can’t do without. Thanks for every effort, every tear, every worry and every sacrifice… May the world and even whatever world after they believe in or not, bless their every effort and give them the reward that they truly deserve.
And to us all else, God bless. Amen.
(First Published: 22nd October, 2011 HERE)
- A Rise in Female Breadwinners Does Not Mean Gender Equality Is Inevitable (theatlantic.com)
- New reforms to tackle gender inequality (bigpondnews.com)
- The struggle for gender equality (lucetteeastbourne.wordpress.com)
- Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: The Elephant in the Living Room (huffingtonpost.com)
- Sexism, misogyny, gender equality: what does it all mean? (teamoyeniyi.com)
- Five minutes on the bible and gender equality (christthetruth.wordpress.com)
- Women’s economic empowerment offers a win-win scenario | Naila Kabeer (guardian.co.uk)
You must have heard it somewhere that today is Wear It Pink day in Nigeria, yes? No? But it is! So, we are working together – all of us – to try to emphasise early detection of cancer as a means to save lives. Have you heard of cancer? Of course, you have. You think it is farfetched and can’t come near you or yours? Nice joke!
I have seen it first-hand. Only last year, I lost a dear dear loved one, Mr. Peter Aduro to cancer. I still don’t know how it happened and till the end of time, I am sure we will trade different stories about how it happened. Bottom line? Cancer. I have had friends talk about it too, how cancer affected their loved ones. In December last year, an elder friend of mine who is like a big brother, lost someone dear to him too. And the sad part is the cancer just springs on you like that thief in the night…
But I digress much from what happened today, and I hope the digression was it… Today, in collaboration with Nigerians all over the world, we met as partnering Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations to go GAGA PINK! We decided to go beyond a touch of pink to ensure we let the message we heard. We had an activity, discussed cancer – shared thoughts on the way forward, prevention, partnering and conquering. We took lots of pictures that we have shared across different platforms and which I present to you now…
Partners at today’s event included the Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative team represented by their ED, Mrs Elizabeth Jeiyol, Otene Ogwuche, Tine Agernor, Gift, Caroline Bako; Sewuese Mary and Debbie Ogenyi from Angel’s Foundation and Ikape James from Elohim Development Foundation. Of course, our SEVHAGE Literary and Development Initiative was represented by Su’ur Su’eddie Vershima Agema (me) and Debbie Iorliam. We had discussions on the day of the Girl Child coming on October 11th, 2016. We will work to have an event and also build strategies to help in the management of data to help in uplifting the girl child in line with the SDGs. Read up and see what you can do on that day too… Again, back to our talk on cancer…
Early detection saves lives…so much as you can, spread the word and depending on which type, find ways to test. Trust me, it is more expensive to treat cancer than prevent it. If you detect early you can have just a small part of you chunked away or get some cure… If it reaches a terminal point, you will degenerate and wither like a candle aflame. Trust me, never a pretty sight.
May the times be kind and may we be filled with the wisdom to do those things that would keep us alive, and healthy enough for ourselves and our loved ones. Amen.
PS: Remember, it goes beyond October 5th – I am even posting this on the 6th! Do what you can every day. Together, we can fight and win.