Augustina Ogbonna: Different Clime, Different Limitations For Women
Sometimes late last year I went to the international airport to welcome a friend who was visiting Nigeria from Kenya. In the course of our discussion, we delved into the life of renowned Kenyan woman, late Professor Matthai Wangari whose voice championed the survival of thousands of trees in Kenya. Matthai Wangari was well respected in Africa and outside the continent. She won the noble peace prize for her outstanding contributions towards a green world devoid of pollution.
I was compelled to ask my guest John, “whether Professor Wangari’s activism was responsible for her marriage collapse?” He answered in the affirmative and added that who would want to marry another man, when he is not gay?” I was shocked to get such a response about a woman I so much admired.
John explained to me that men were getting tired of the level of activism among African women that is beginning to change their perception about marriage and family life.
“Women these days want to be in the forefront of everything. They fight for their right outside the home and still come home to fight for their right with you. We want more wives, mothers, ladies and not activists or women who act as macho-men”.
“They want to share everything with you even in paying the bills. When I was a child I was taught and knew that the man was the head of the family and he provides for the home. But these days’, women tell you they are partners with you mean co-share, co-worker, co-everything. They drag and argue about everything just to prove a point, that they are educated and civilized. See what these has done to the so called western-civilized societies, divorce in marriage is like sleeping and waking up. Marriage is meant to be a lifetime decision but civilisation has changed the concept of marriage among our women”, John concluded with a mild bitterness on his face.
That was an African brother’s view of gender, activism, civilization and marriage. But it was a different story when I sampled the same opinion among some Africans in the United States.
“Women are helpmates and they support the home” said Chima Okolie who is married to a Hispanic lady. “Your wife is not your slave but your partner in progress. Where there is love and understanding the concept of marriage would be interesting to you”, he delightfully said.
Imagine Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State and there are rumors that she might contest as President of the United States in the next election. But that is a near impossible dream in Africa. Africa has two female presidents, in Liberia and Malawi. If we position our women and give them a chance to contribute to national development, we will stop seeing them as competitors, slaves, rather as partners in progress.”Women have more rights than men in America, oh! Don’t mess around a woman anyhow in this country, if you don’t want to go to jail” Chima stressed.
There is no limit nor discrimination to the level a woman attain in America. Women do all manner of jobs. For example, the shuttle bus that took me from Logan Airport in Boston to Massachusetts was driven by a woman. Can you imagine a woman driving something like the “BRT/LAGBUS” in Lagos? Or women repairing your car and fixing your plumbing jobs in your house? As John Lennon sang, imagine there is no country; also imagine a world where women had no barriers to the level they want to achieve. That would mean the eradication of Millennium Development Goal MDG three to five.
Writer: Tina Armstrong-Ogbonna is a passionate journalist and public relations professional, that is changing the world step by step. She freelances for CNN iReport and is also a blogger on developmental issues. She blogs at http://teenanews.blogspot.co.uk/