Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Do you know any Nigerian songs that denigrate women?

In resonse to my Bank PHB post, (see below) lamenting the crudeness of Bank PHB's ongoing "Stash and Cash" Promo radio ad Raven commented as follows:

I haven't heard the ad in question but I have to say that (based on the short snippet of transcribed dialogue) it hardly seems to denigrate women in general. Most stereotypes have a basis (even if it is merely a flimsy basis) in fact and this particular one stands, I feel, on pretty solid ground. There is a certain category of Nigerian women (or maybe we should say "girls" in this instance) for whom this sort of behaviour is de rigeur, this routine badgering of boyfriends, uncles and proximate males for substantial sums of money. It may be sad, but it also happens to be true. If a similar advert showed several young men planning internet scams in an attempt to get some cash for their "babes" one would be unlikely to say that this was insulting to "Nigerian men in general" even if one were not entirely pleased at the portrayal. So lets try and cut the Bank PHB people some slack. It might not be a great ad campaign, it might not be particularly tasteful but, let's face it, it's hardly a moral outrage.

Well said Sir. The stereotype's not completely unfounded. But, truth be told, I don't think that this [other] message is what the bank intended to pass.

This is what we might call a case of competing messages: the actual, intended message vs the unintended, but overriding (subliminal?) message. The end result of this conflict of ideas is something like "static" - the mental equivalent of it at least.
The Bank wants to portray females (perhaps the ad is targetted at women, who often seem to have more "disposable" income than their male counterparts - see footnote) who are zealously participating in the Stash and Cash promo, but what they end up doing is masking that message with another, one that enters the (nebulous) realms of morality, and borders on unflattering/denigratory representation.

But again, I agree with Raven's point. There are a lot of Nigerian girls who exist to "GET". I get, therefore I am. Popular (Nigerian) Culture is full of representations.

Our comedians probably get away with these crude jokes because of the elements of reality embedded in them.
A lot of Nollywood storylines are about the "Girl-Grabber" - a girl(s) who maintains a set of pot-bellied funders, unbeknownst to one another - at least one of whom will be a "Senator" - or go by the name "Chief". There's almost no Nollywood movie that doesn't have a scene where a love-struck male is shown buying up a boutique or supermarket to win - or keep - the heart of his beau, to the haunting music of a soundtrack.

How many Nollywood-portrayed women actually work at making their own money? If they're not married to or concubined to a rich man, then they are heirs to their father's empires (in which case you'll find them falling in love with penurious men)

So you see, our problems are deep-seated. Self-reinforcing negativities.

This is where Misan's comment comes in:

Yes, we do have a long way to go, but how for do? a letter to Bank PHB telling them to withdraw the ad? Why do Nigerian men feel this way? i was raised in the "where there's smoke, there's fire" camp so we need to establish our dignity (by addressing the root cause of our materialistic society, whatever that might be (poverty, perhaps)) AS WELL AS fight for our dignity (i don't believe the two to be mutually exclusive).

We need to address both the root cause (materialism) and the flowering (unrestrained denigration by generalisation).

Let's start here. Let's try to compile a list of (popular) Nigerian song lyrics that portray Nigerian women as money-grabbing species. Do you know any? Anytime from the highlife days to the afro-hiphop days? Or even folk songs? Please post them as comments, and include the name of the musician, the song title, and the offending lyrics.

1.Women are undeniably often the managers of the (not meagre) family "shopping income"
2.See the illiterate market women of Agbeni and Balogun who run trading businesses worth millions of naira and yet somehow manage to evade the official SME data-gathering exercises.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bank PHB "Stash and Cash" Promo: Nigerian Women Have Work To Do!

Nigerian women have work to do.

They should stop mourning their loss of the Honorable Speakership, or ranting about Ofunneka's vodkaventure-fuelled ordeal in the hands of that Animal Called Rich; and instead face matters of Current, Pressing Reality (CRP). One of which is the ongoing Bank PHP Stash and Cash Promo advert. I’ve heard it on Radio a couple of times, I can’t say for certain if it’s on television as well.

It has two men talking. Their conversation goes something like: (I’m writing from memory, not transcribing the gist):

Man 1: The world’s coming to an end
Man 2: What is it again?
Man 1: I’ve been getting calls from girls professing their love for me, only for them to demand for the sum of 25,000 naira
Man 2: Hey, me too. My girlfriend’s been badgering me for 25,000 naira as well…

It turns out that what all the "grabbing" girls need the 25 grand for is the Bank PHB Stash and Cash Promo! The Promo asks consumers to deposit 25 grand and automatically stand the chance of winning millions in monthly draws. Of course, the more the deposits (multiples of 25 grand), the more your chances of winning (and of getting angry when you hit nothing!)

This ad is a Mama-of-All-Insults. As I see it, is a celebration of the belief (stereotype) that the Nigerian girl is a money-grabber. Our comedians (the basket mouths and co) have already hit jackpots cracking jokes about the Greed of the Nigerian Chic. (A common one goes like this: The bird-flu epidemic was a messiah to the pressured pockets of the Nigerian Male. It meant that Nigerian Girls no longer ordered expensive Chicken meals at their men's expenses. The comedian would then hope aloud that the flu spread to other female necessities like Recharge Cards, Cinema tickets etc)

She doesn’t earn money; she doesn’t want to earn money, she’s content with depending on their boyfriends and husbands for everything.
Recharge cards, sweet Sensation chicken, Fan Ice-cream, hairdressing bills.

Or are we supposed to be rejoicing with Bank PHB that they’re portraying a new breed of Nigerian girls who, while still milking their men dry, refrain from squandering the money on the bric-a-brac of "feminine maintenance", but rather choose to "invest" the loot/ransom?

Seen from another angle, this is PHB’s message: Nigerian girls are so money-conscious that they will terrorise all terrorisables to obtain money that will allow them reap from a disguised gambling opportunity – save 25 grand and win millions in a draw.

True, Robert Kiyosaki talked about leveraging Other People’s Money (OPM). But this one doesn’t sound like that. This advert, as I see it, is demeaning and insulting to Nigerian Women. It portrays them as "Get All You Can; and Can All You Get" varieties of the Homo Sapiens species.

Naija Women, Stop mourning Etteh and Ofunneka, and start fighting for your dignity.





Friday, November 23, 2007

Omo Alagbede wins 1st Facebook Poetry Competition

Last Friday (16 November 2007) Omo Alagbede was announced as the Winner of the 1st Facebook Poetry Competition (judged by Todd Swift and Daniel Mitchell) - for his poem "Instructions".

Facebook Poetry Competion 1.0
The Winners:
#1 Tolu Ogunlesi (Nigeria)
#2 Janet Vickers (Vancouver, BC)
#3 Dominic O’Rourke (London)

You may read the press release(s) here:

PS. Omo Alagbede will be pocketing a $150 prize for this win. Watch this page for more details on a forthcoming e-party and ink-and-beer-throwing session (facebook style)!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Maggy Delvaux-Mufu: The African Woman Who Set Herself on Fire


Comment from an informed reader:
(thank you frederic):

Check your information before publishing them or relaying them. Because, this information about Maggy Devaux-Mufu Mpia goes back to 2004 and not 2007. This woman burned herself on October 5, 2004 in Luxembourg and she died on Saturday October 9,2004 in Metz in France. Take care

Omo Alagbede's Note: The news below is not recent, as was made to originally appear. The facts though remain correct.

She set herself on fire.
To protest racism.
Maggy Delvaux-Mufu. 40-something year old mother of three. Belgian citizen (?) of Congolese Origin.

Omo Alagbede's Musings
Mama Africa. The "Mama" who doesn't act like one. The Mama who abandons her children to the cruelties of other mothers
All Belgian citizens are equal, but apparently, white ones are more equal than black ones.

Warning: The pics below are disturbing. So is racism.

Pictures (c)

The 42-year-old Belgian citizen and her husband had been facing financial difficulties. They had recently indebted themselves by buying a Citro├źn garage in Oberwampach, before realising they were missing the documents that would allow them to set up a business. Delvaux-Mufu wrote a letter to Le Jeudi recounting her story of bureaucratic difficulties and economic despair. “I’m against all forms of violence, but day after day, my family and I have to endure moral violence, discrimination, insults and much more from Mr Juncker’s administration”, she said in the letter published last week. Money problems had driven the woman to desperately plead her case at the Prime minister’s office early on the same day of the incident. Her threat to burn herself alive on Place des Martyrs after being turned away by the authorities caused government officials to contact the police. A city-wide search was organised, but nobody could foresee the woman would change her plans."

Read the full story here

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Love or Madness?

A while ago this pic started a heated discussion (plenty of e-saliva spraying and ranting and shaking of e-fists) in an email group I was part of. Photos like this are classic discussion starters, esp in cultures like ours, where "enlightenment" (Western-style feminism etc), mysticism (belief or otherwise in juju/voodoo) and tradition/conservatism are the threesome (stones) holding up the cooking pot of human existence.

CAVEAT: The "Love or Madness" title was not my coinage o. Ah, I must let you know quick quick, before I land on some bomb-strapping f******t's hit-list, lol.

This was Omo Alagbede's contribution to the discussion:

See the dull look in the man's eyes.
Not only that, can't you hear the noise from the parlour. His wife and her girlfriends (all founding members of the "Madam Etteh 4 Life" fans club) are watching "Paloma" and laughing and licking ice-cream. This is a classic case of "Gbewudani" - translation - "take, hold my blouse for me". The man's destiny is in a calabash in one of those kitchen cupboards. This one goeth not out except by hot prayer, and 30-days dry fasting, under the watch of a a man of God not less than the position of General Overseer!
jus' kidding o, abeg. Na true love be dis. I Cor 13 Updated Version:
Love does not take off its tie before washing Madam's dishes

why are we talking about LOVE or MADNESS as though it had to be an "either-or":

he might be
a divorcee
or a widower
or hubby to an invalid wife
or a remorseful hubby doing penance for a "sin"/"sins" ranging from adultery to forgetting his wife's mother's birthday.
And it could also be Love AND Madness. They don't have to be mutually exclusive. The line b/w the two blurs faster than the pin number on a substandard MTN recharge card...
"Love" or "Madness"? What thinkest thou?