From Chimamanda’s recent post, it is obvious that she read most of the opinions expressed by Nigerians concerning the fact that she is upset about Hillary Clinton’s twitter biography that began with ‘wife’ instead of her ‘achievements’.
That rejoinder she posted on the 24th of April would have placed her name higher than how it was before. That single rejoinder would have serve as an opportunity to properly convince us why she thinks that everyone must be feminist.
But No! The opposite became the case, at least for some people that needed to see a different version of feminism other and the ones we are use to on Facebook.
If asked, what would I have done assuming I am in her shoes?
Option one, Silence! Would I have kept silent and allow everything to die?
Me: In this situation, silence is not golden. Besides, the issue has moved from her as a person to the ideology called feminism which many women and men in the world are part of. So, it is not just about doing herself a favour by clearing the air anymore, it is also about the ideology. So many people are eager to get to understand the whole idea of feminism. There is no better time to make them understand feminism than this time.
We should never forget that human reasoning cannot be left hanging, our reasoning often holds on to something even if it is false especially when adequate information is not given. Silence in this case would continue to give people the opportunity to make false inference that might not help her as a person and the ideology she is promoting too.
Option two, speak out. Will speaking out be the best option?
Me: Yes, speaking out is the best in this situation.
But, and this ‘but’ is very important.
While speaking out, see the positive aspect of people’s argument against yours more than the negative. Not everyone has the right words to express themselves. Some in a bid to make you see what they are seeing may intend to use words that might be insulting. Sometimes, they don’t intend it. So many people mix up emotions with reasoning. Never forget that!
To be above them is to be able to speak to them in ways that they see your point and feel your warmth not your burnt. In other words, talk to souls not heads. While taking to souls, the head will understand even better.
But, it takes a mind that is settled, a heart that is at peace, a soul that is humble to achieve that.
Imagine how endearing Chimamanda would have been to the heart of many, including her haters, if she had simply said these or similar words:
“The choice of the word ‘upset’ was not the best, and I did not even notice it until most Nigerians started pointing that to me. For this, I am grateful.
“I read many comments concerning the question I asked Hillary Clinton, and there is something I learnt: while we feminist must fight for equal right, we must always remember that some of us are driven to this noble cause due to some ugly incidents we may have faced directly or indirectly and so many issues in our world concerning women.
“Some of these ugly incidents are unsettled and still boiling hot in us. We must be careful not to project our particular experiences as though they are experiences of all women. We must be careful not to make our fight look like we are fighting all men. We are bitter, yes. But feminism is not about bitterness. Rather it is sharing the joy and happiness that we live with men and are not treated differently because we are women. This is what I preach. I thank you my fans for your honest comments.”
But would she have done so? No!
It is from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
I will give you some examples:
It is no news that Chimamanda has problem with using the prefix “Mrs” to her name. Her reason is that it makes her feel like her identity is hinged on her being married to a man. This is why she still addresses Hillary Clinton as Ms, when actually Hillary herself adopted Mrs. Obviously, it appears she has problem with marriage.
It is no news that she does not want to talk about her marriage or husband as much as she will do about her books or other achievements. Her reason is that no one should look at her through the lens of marriage. Marriage is not an achievement. Achievements should come first before family.
It is no news that she was pregnant and even admitted hiding the pregnancy and would not even want to talk about her child or to say her name publicly. Her reason is that men are not often looked at from the angle of ‘maternity’ so why should women be?
Finally, I am not Chimamanda.
Intelligence is to scatter, wisdom is to gather. If you ever become intelligent, please pray to have wisdom too so that the day you are called to gather all that you have scattered, you won’t end up scattering more.
Author: Kelvin Ugwu
Kelvin is a Nigerian Priest currently working in Malawi