By Mohammed Adamu
In fairness to man, he never begrudges the woman headship of the ‘house’. The power house that is; –kitchen! The ‘dining’? Don’t even think about it! Any time ‘man’ puts the ‘woman’ ahead of himself outside of the kitchen, beware there’s some chestnuts to be pulled out of the fire. Man is like the proverbial sex-hungry cockerel; covetously ready to bribe with the ‘grain’ and prepared to swallow ‘pebbles’; but who no sooner have his ‘mating fill’ than he grows crest-pride and dismissive.
Fact is: since man was fashioned out of the ‘dust’ of the ‘earth’ and the woman out of the hardest part of man –his ‘rib bone’-, man is thus ‘earthly’ and mundane; but the woman ‘strength’ and ‘vigor’ all rolled in one. If women successfully looked beyond Etteh’s no-confidence vote, why should Serah’s ‘one-woman’s vote’ distract them?
Nor should they shy away from the pursuit of their ‘lib’ because they fear ‘mean man’ may demand his missing ‘rib’! Said Chauncey Depew: “in all ages woman has been the source of all that is pure, unselfish and heroic in the spirit and life of man.” The movements of history, he said “are mainly due to the sentiments or ambitions she has inspired.” Simply put, the woman is humanity’s tonic, man its drag! She is a cure to the un-vanishing inertia of cold-blooded man! The ‘oomph’, the ‘life’ behind man’s regenerative power.
I believe she owns the non physical ‘phallus’ of procreation; man only proudly carries its scrotal burden. Yet, he claims, with gusto, that he’s got ‘balls’. Said Mahatma Gandhi, “to call a woman the weaker sex, is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman.”
In fact, in a speech to the Beijing Women Conference, Burmese’s opposition leader and Nobel laureate, Daw San Kyi, spoke about “an outmoded Burmese proverb” which she said the men of her country had used to aggrandise their ego: “the dawn” they would say “rises only when the rooster crows”; meaning ‘it is not daybreak until the men are arisen’!
But “it is not the prerogative of men” San Kyi rightly argued “to bring light to the word.” Women, she said “with their capacity for compassion and self- sacrifice, their courage and perseverance, have done much to dissipate the darkness of intolerance and hate, suffering and despair” which war-mongering man has wrought on the world!
‘If women were rulers of the world,’ some male chauvinists said, ‘all the countries would nag each other to death’! No. Humanity would be free from man-made wars. In fact, my retort to the Burmese ‘rooster’ barb is: ‘the world would abide in peace if man, in sleep, will forever abide’.
That’s how degenerately chauvinistic man has got. American reformer Elizabeth Cady Stanton preached the need for women to approach the war of the sexes not as a battle to liberate the woman, but as a rescue mission to save man from himself. Because “The male element”, she said “is a destructive force”; and that what is needed is “a new evangel of womanhood to… lift man up into the higher realms of thought and action.”
Serah apart, the lesson is: gender war cannot be won on the basis of an armistice of the two genders; and at which proud overbearing man is expected to consciously concede grounds to ‘laggards’ by choice; women. Do you believe in Affirmative Action Mohammed? Even women don’t! Ask Etteh. Or Serah.
I believe that any conscious attempt at equalisation of the warring sexes, will not work! The Indira Gandhis, the Margaret Thatchers, Corazon Aquinos, Benazir Bhuthos, Bandaranaikes, Angela Markels and others, did not ride on the crest of any premeditated affirmative action to reach the zenith of their political careers. They rose above the male tendencies of their climes, distinguished themselves, to secure the respect of men. They scaled obstacles and they chipped away at man-made barriers; they did no quiver, they did not shiver, nor did they submit to the intimidation of male gender omnipresence.
Their goal was to climb to the peak; and without turning back, without hesitation; they marched on because their truth, as Martin Luther would say, was ‘Marching on!’ And that is why today they stand tall in our estimation and they continue to endure in our reverent contemplation.
Back home here, Gambo Sawaba, Margaret Ekpo, Mogaji and a few others like them remain abiding icons in our memory not because they were beneficiaries of any male gender grace, but because they dared to rise, to challenge and to be different. And, the Okonjo-Iwealas, the Ita-Giwas, Grace AleleWilliams, Ezekwesili and many more, were not beneficiaries of any male gender benevolence, but products of their own abilities to rise, to dare and to be different.
That is the heart of Social Reformer Maria Steward’s message:
“Daughters of Africa, awake! Arise! Distinguish yourselves”. She did not say ‘lobby the men’! If this did not become the new phase of gender war after Etteh, now after Serah, let it be!