#BeingFemaleInNigeria’s Florence Warmate Is Cooler than You Think

As a Nigerian-American, I continue to weather the confluence that merges the Western antidotes and Nigeria’s version of the Ten Commandments. Okay, there are definitely way more than ten. But the point is that being a female of Nigerian descent comes with a heavy load that not many outside of the Diaspora can fathom.

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I’m a forty-something woman who has never come close to being married, and that instantly regulates me to “leper status”. My family sees me as a virus that needs to be contained. I’ve assumed the role of delegated scapegoat. They blame me for everything – and that includes things that are beyond my control.

#BeingFemaleInNigeria If you’re not married by a certain age you are considered a leper –nobody wants to be around you.

Finding a husband is more important than finding a cure for cancer. It secures your legacy and gives you the level of dignity and respect that you won’t be able to amass in any other way. But if you are lucky enough to walk down that aisle and throw the party of the century, with guests that are downloaded from your parent’s Rolodex, once the lights go out and the music dies, you might end up with the nightmare you were never warned about. But the worst part will manifest in the isolation that settles in when you try to convey your desperation.

#BeingFemaleInNigeria Your husband will cheat on you and your family will advice you to tolerate it for the sake of dignity and pride.

The list goes on and on, and most of the time, I am suspended in a universe that challenges my ability to dissuade the bipolar tendencies that often hinder my ability to maintain my desired disposition. In not so subtle words: it can be a hard knock life navigating the terrains of #BeingFemaleInNigeria.

Between the sheets of traditional mayhem that is fondled by our need to rise to the occasion, even when we are being pummeled to the ground by the statutes that dictate our formulated worthiness -Nigerian women both home and abroad, manage to attain a level of decorum that I’m pretty sure requires superhuman adherence that most of our contemporaries can’t and won’t be able to systematically revert to.

Twitter was ablaze on an otherwise sedate Tuesday afternoon simply because Lagosian and avid writer, Florence Warmate decided to instigate the reponses to her book club’s selection of world-renowned author, activist and self-professed feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s, published transcript, ‘We Should Be Feminists’.

What ensued after she and her literary posse decided to casually formulate the hashtag #BeingFemaleInNigeria in an effort to document the testimonies that freeflowed from their incubator was magical. Warmate insists that she was moved by what was being shared within her circle, and felt compelled to validate each incidence, “We were discussing the book, started talking about our own experiences and thought we should take this to a larger audience”.

She made the right call. Her first tweet ushering what has now become the standardized code for Nigerian women unified in feministic solidarity set the stage for thousands more to come.

#beingfemaleinnigeria leaving Radisson Blu, on a Tuesday morning, i was held back asked to call who I came to visit before the let me go.

Once my Twitter timeline became the playground for Warmate’s spirited bonding session, I knew we had to the facts directly from the source.

So, on a stormy Wednesday morning, I was able to seek refuge under the brilliance of a young woman, who effortlessly provided a platform that raised the voices of what it really means to be a female in Nigeria.

MTB: Who are you?

FW: Florence Warmate

MTB:  What initiated #beingfemaleinNigeria?

FW: Our bookckub ( Warmatebookclub) we read the (we should all be feminists by chiamanda ngozi adichie) the Ted talks print version . We then decided to share our personal experiences . As we did , we thought the topic deserved a wider audience . So we decided Tuesday at noon to make it a lunch topic.

MTB: What are your favorite tweets so far?

FW: So many great tweets I have attached 2 of them. 

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MTB: What is being #femaleinNigeria really like?

FW: Being female in Nigeria , is like being a passenger flying economy in a commercial flight . You still get to the destination and the air hostesses smile at you but you definitely know your place.

The truth is there are positives to being female anywhere in the world. Sometimes doors get opened, we get favorite treatments especially when one is attractive but also the main thoughts here are about
1. If I’m female and successful , must I aspire to marriage and kids
2. If I’m female can’t I speak my mind and expect respect in my own right without Being labeled as difficult and domineering .
3. As female can’t I be equally ambitious as my male counterparts and also be decidedly single by choice .
4. As female , I can own properties , vehicles and that shouldn’t intimidate prospective suitors .
5. I am female and I can take care of myself. This isn’t an affront to men . It’s the truth . I want a partner not A master but being female in Nigeria this sounds as an arrogant thing to say .

MTB: Are you a feminist?

FW: Yes and no to being a feminist . People define it broadly. I am a feminist if it is a movement that advocates for gender equality in education , workplace and socio economic situations. Yet, I love men and can make breakfast in bed for mine , I love those who have manners and open doors (that’s romantic and being well cultured )but I would like to be part of important decisions in and outside my home. A joint decision maker in the matters that affect my home, my world and my future in general.

 

 

 

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