Mrs. Chydy Njere, is the author of book Ordinary Woman, which won the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA)/Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Flora Nwapa Prize for Women Writers in 2004. Vista Woman had a chat with her recently. Hear her:

I CALL my kind of woman the ‘Ordinary Woman.’  She’s not ordinary because she lacks the good things of life; she is the woman who is not yet fulfilled but has her own aspiration to get to the top cadre of life.

Mrs. Chydy Njere...Nigerian women need to take up their lives in their hands
Mrs. Chydy Njere...Nigerian women need to take up their lives in their hands

Most people are amused when they hear the word ‘ordinary woman’ and they tell me ‘No I’m not ordinary’, but until they read through the pages of the book, they never realize that my ordinary woman is that woman who might lack much education or skill, but is not deterred by her acquired qualification, but moves ahead to achieve what she wants to achieve in life.

The book, Ordinary Woman, talks about a woman who went from nothing to something. Unfortunately, the women who are the target audience of the book have a bad reading culture; they’re not reading the book. It would have spurred them into self-actualization. I know a lot of them watch TV, but which of the programmes on TV is targeted at them if I may ask?

The ordinary woman is the underprivileged woman; be it in marriage, career, etc. She is not happy or fulfilled. When she begins to realize herself, she starts telling herself that that is not what she intended to become. From there, the process of moving back to where she desired begins.

Environmental photographer

I went into photography to support my work on the ordinary woman. I am an environmental photographer who talks mainly on the life and work of the ordinary woman. Her life fascinates me. I like photographing women in their environment; a woman carrying her child on her back, a child standing and being breast-fed, children running around the street recklessly, etc.

We call these women ordinary, but when you read through my book, you’ll know they’re not ordinary as they are so called. I know a woman who leaves home at five o’clock to buy some wares, returns home, gets her children ready for school and displays her wares, rushes to where she works as a nanny, and closes at 6pm. We might call her ordinary, but 1 want to state here that she’s not ordinary at all; at the end of the day, all the credits go to her because she has been able to balance both career and home.

She even went on to helping another woman care for her home by working as her nanny! I think she should be celebrated and encouraged. How did this women we call ‘ordinary’ come about? It is when you refuse to send your maid to school or allow your daughter graduate from the university. It makes me cry when I find that most ordinary women were housemaids.

I pity them when I discover they want to encourage the vicious cycle by letting their daughters fall in that line. We want our girls to go to school, but how do we do it? We can start by sensitizing our women and letting them know that their children don’t have to go through what they went through. We’re talking about breaking fear which is the cord that binds our women to their situations.

All I’m trying to advocate is that whoever you are, you can lift up someone in your own little corner. Every successful woman you see today did not succeed by trying the very first time; just break the fear and come out first. If we can take away fear from us, I think we can get there.

We must look less on the outward things; a lot of women are more concerned about fashion. There’s nothing holding back the Nigerian woman. She is the one holding herself.

I don’t want to agree to the claim that anything is holding her back. What the Nigerian woman needs to do now is get up and take her life in her hand. A lot of people grow up not knowing who they are or what they want out of life.

Yes, for us as women, we must first and foremost know what we want out of life. Do not allow anything stop you. If it needs a change of job, do it; if it needs you to go back to school, do it. Do not be caged by your circumstance. Stretch forth your hands and help will come because like I always say, there is always an answer of ‘Here’ to every cry of ‘Where’.

I hail from Imo State but had my primary school education in Kaduna and my secondary school education in Imo State. I proceeded to the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria where I read education. After that I had a little romance with journalism as a freelancer with the New Nigerian and Democrat Newspapers. I later worked with a’celebrity magazine also in the North.

I moved to Lagos and I did Public Relations and Advertising at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism Thereafter, I joined an advertising agency, and from there, went into promotions and other related things. I joined an NGO, and from there I branched out into having my own organization, the Women Support Project.

For now, I major as a freelance photojournalist; talking about women and their environment’.


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