Atinuke Ige and Nigeria's Widows.

Sex, Women and (Hu)Woman Rights
By CHIKA UNIGWE

Special to USAfricaonline.com
USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
NigeriaCentral.com
The Black Business Journal


One of my uncles, who is now in his seventies, took a second wife because his wife had produced "enough" girls. Since she had just a son and five girls, there must be something wrong with her. He looked around, and based on his criteria for recognizing the kind of woman that was sure to produce "dozens of sons", he married another woman. Many people supported him. After all, "it is not easy to stay with a woman who gives you only girls." In what I see as an act of destiny, the second wife populated his house with five more children: all girls.

Elementary biology teaches us that the sex of a child is determined by the male. He has the defining X and Y chromosomes and depending on which one fuses with the female's X chromosome, then you have a boy or a girl. For the spiritualists, the sex/gender of a child is determined by God or gods.

Hence, one would think that with both science and religion excluding the woman from taking the blame, she is home free, right? Wrong.

One of my uncles, who is now in his seventies, took a second wife because his wife had produced "enough" girls. Since she had just a son and five girls, there must be something wrong with her. He looked around, and based on his criteria for recognizing the kind of woman that was sure to produce "dozens of sons", he married another woman.

Many people supported him. After all, "it is not easy to stay with a woman who gives you only girls". In what I see as an act of destiny, the second wife populated his house with five more children: all girls. Now that his age-mates are resting and letting their children look after them, he is still running around to provide for his young children.

It is easy to dispel the story of my uncle. He is in his seventies. Surely, the younger generation, our generation of Nigerians are more educated, more tolerant, more civilized ( with all its implications) to behave in that manner. Surely, theses things do not happen anymore. Well, as the famed comedian Chika Okpala aka Zebrudaya of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) fame would say, "fa-fa-fa-foul!"

It seems that no matter how much females achieve, the quest is still on for the son/sons. Only recently, a good friend of mine who has been married for five years was sent out of her marital home.

Reason? Take a wild guess. You hit it right on the head. She failed in that all too important task of producing a heir. She has two beautiful, intelligent girls. Apparently, beauty and intelligence count for nothing when a family's name is at stake. Afamefuna, a name which approximates to "may my line not die" is still a popular Igbo name.

Sadly, my friend does not get as much sympathy as one would expect in this age and time. Our generation of Nigerians tell her such things as , "men will always be men." "You should have encouraged him to have an affair. Maybe that would have give him a son and kept you in your marital home." "He should have waited for the third baby. That might have been a boy." Implied in all the comments, even while seemingly blaming the man for his impatience after only two children, is that his action is justified .What happens to the fact that the Y chromosome is available only to the male? What happens to the belief that God decides who gets what? What happens to the fact that females are as important as males? That both the male baby and the female baby are expelled from the womb of a woman? Reason, science and religion are all dumped on a heap and trashed.

It is up to us, this generation of Africans, to fight for our women's rights alongside our human rights. We should strive to stamp out this kind of oppression ( as well of course, as other forms of oppression). No child deserves to be made to feel unwanted. And no mother should be made to feel inadequate because of her baby's sex.    
Unigwe, an aulmnus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; KU Leuven and UC Louvain in Belgium, has recently joined USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaper as Canada-based contributing editor and columnist. She is the author of 'Teardrops', a collection of poems, and her short story, 'Touched by an Angel', was broadcast on the BBC World Service.
This, her first column for USAfricaonline.com, is copyrighted and archiving on any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with a written approval by USAfricaonline.com Founder December 8, 2001


Igbo women have a special place in our culture. By OBI NWAKANMA

Fact is it's the man's female relatives - mum, sisters, aunts - who egg him on in marrying a second wife

By Ndubuisi Obiorah
"nobiorah" <nobiorah@yahoo.com>
Sat Dec 08, 2001 10:48:30 AM US/Central

Re: USAfricaonline.com: Sex, Women and (Hu)Woman Rights. By Chika Unigwe

Great stuff, Chika.
Do you have any ideas on how we might go about eradicating this mentality? Also, how would you respond if I suggested to you that, more often than not, it's the man's female relatives - mum, sisters, aunts - who egg him on in marrying a second wife?

It is often these female relatives who take it upon themselves to disparage and denigrate the wife for not producing a/enough male child/ren and then to physically attack and eject the 'girl-child producer' from the matrimonial home.

I speak from the personal experience of some of my male relatives but, of course, I realize that this personal anecdotal evidence cannot be universal to Ndi'Igbo, (and other parts of Nigeria, or indeed the entire African continent). But I am most curious as to your ideas on how we can eradicate this problem.


Quest for a male child not exclusive to Igbos

By Julius Irozuru <irozuru@attbi.com>
Sunday, 9 Dec 2001 23:16:50 -0600

Chika Unigwe wrote on USAfricaonline.com that "It is up to us, this generation of Africans, to fight for our women's rights alongside our human rights. We should strive to stamp out this kind of oppression ( as well of course, as other forms of oppression). No child deserves to be made to feel unwanted. And no mother should be made to feel inadequate because of her baby's sex." 

She raised a legitimate concern. However, I am of the view that it is a cultural thing not a human rights issue. We should be careful in adding to the mutilation debate. If I may, let me illustrate from a personal experience.

My sister, educated in her own right and with decades of exposure here wanted a son badly. When she had the fourth child and was told it was a girl (her fourth girl), she could not hold back her shock and disappointment. Unfulfilled, she did not give up; she went through the adoption process. Her husband, a medical doctor, does not care.

This cultural issue is not limited to our society. Only recently Japanese citizens had been openly expressed concern as to whether their young queen would have a son or not. She fulfilled that society's expectations and everybody was satisfied. Accordingly, before we jump into the bandwagon of another human rights crusade, we should keep things in proper perspective. God bless.
Irozuru is based in the Dallas-Forth Worth area.



Chika responds to Irozuru:
When a "cultural thing"oppresses my right as a woman , it becomes a human rights issue

Where do we draw the line between human rights and woman rights? When a "cultural thing"oppresses my right as a woman , it becomes a human rights issue for me. I am after all, human. We should not let oppression hide itself under the cloak of culture. I have not said that we should call on the Western world to spearhead the campaign for us( with all its implications and connotations).

I suspect that that is where your distaste for the term, " human rights" lies.I know that while we ( Africans, generally) may like to watch Jerry Springer, we are not in the habit of hanging our dirty laundry in public. What do you mean by "joining the mutilation debate?"

I steer away from the term, "mutilation"because it is laden with value judgment. Why is female circumcision "mutilation" but not the male? Why is female circumcision mutilation, but, breast enlargement is not? The list is endless. Having said that, when circumcision is forced on one, it is a violation of human rights.

When the circumcision is needless, and the circumcised want it eradicated for various reasons, then why would we not join? As to your brother-in-law, there are always exceptions to the rule. My point is that many African cultures, especially the Igbo tradition, encourage the reverence for sons. In my village, a woman who has her third consecutive son is entitled to an entire goat.

What message does that send out? I do not remember making the point that the desperate yearning for a male child is limited to any particular group of people. I am sure it cuts across cultures, but to varying degrees. However, who was it that said that charity begins at home?


It's neither sexist not violation of women's rights to have multiple wives
By Soronnadi Nnaji <nnaji@eng.fsu.edu>

I do not see the issue of an Igbo man taking on multiple wives as sexist or as a violation of women's rights. This is eurocentric lingo. Women in contemporary Igbo culture are never forced into marriage. True, there may be pressure to do so just as there may be pressure on the man to marry. Another angle to the same issue - what about certain unmarried women who are willing to become additional wives in order to have children. These are women with degrees and hold well paying jobs. Are they self-exploiting? Others of these unmarried women are adopting babies, happy to add.

In days gone by men took multiple wives for prestige and to demonstate wealth, to obtain helping hands on the farm, and/or to have male children to perpetuate the family name. I believe that the first two objectives are not in vogue in today's Igbo society.

For the third objective, if there is an understanding between the man, the senior wife/wives and the incoming wife who is anybody to try to legislate the practice even from the population control view point as in China. Time and contemporary circumstances, such as the economics of rearing the children from such unions, are significantly reducing the frequency of such multiple wife-taking. However, the cultural angle still remains.

The objective is very powerful particularly for an Igboman with the strong cultural belief that he must have a son to perpetuate his name. Such belief nothwithstanding some of us who find ourselves without male children have invoked another aspect of our culture for solice - the understanding that 'Chi na enye nwa' --"God is the One who gives children."

Like most fathers who already have daughters, I was hoping for a male child when my third child was on the way. The child turned out to be a girl and I named her 'Ninikanwa Nkechinyerem' - What is greater than the child God has given me.' And this is a very viable solution - a change of attitude/mentality regarding the need to have a male child to perpetuate ones name.
Nnaji is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Florida A & M University and Florida State University


Are we Igbos or "Ibos"? By Chido Nwangwu
The "Ibo" misspelling reflect, essentially, a post-colonial hangover of British and Euro-Caucusoid colonial miseducation, misrepresentations, incorrect spellings and (mis)pronounciation preference. It is/was just easier for the White man/woman to say 'Ibo' rather than 'Igbo.' We must remember the late psychiatrist, pan-African scholar and activist Franz Fanon's mytho-poetic and insightful words in his 1952 book, Black Skin White Masks, that "A man who has a language [consequently] possesses the world expressed and implied by that language." Should Igbos and other African nationalities, incrementally and foolishly give up the core of their communal and national identity on the discredited altars of Euro-Caucasoid racist supremacy and colonial predations? I have two modest answers: first is No; and second is
No.
Full Commentary appears here


Murder of Nigeria's Attorney-General Bola Ige is another danger signal for its nascent democracy. By Chido Nwangwu


Tragedy of Ige's murder is its déjà vu for the Yoruba southwest and rest of Nigeria. By Ken Okorie
Ige's death, security and Nigeria's 2001 Lie of The Year. By Ugo Anakwenze
How Obasanjo handles Ige's murder will be telling. By Dr. Acho Emeruwa
We've killed Uncle Bola. By Jonathan Elendu
Why Ige's assassination demands better security for all Nigerians, not just leaders. By Rev. Augustine Ogbunugwu

Osama bin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa's stability
What has Africa to do with September 11 terror?
Africans reported dead in terrorist attack at WTC
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come....
Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARINZE: Will he be the FIRST BLACK AFRICAN POPE? By Chido Nwangwu



AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
CONTINENTAL AGENDA
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."

These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president. By Al Johnson



LITERATURE
Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. By Douglas Killam.
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case.

USAfrica The Newspaper voted the "Best Community Newspaper" in the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is in the Best of Houston 2001 special as chosen by the editors and readers of the Houston Press, reflecting their poll and annual rankings.

Steve Jobs and Apple represent the future of digital living


USAfrica FORUM
IN THE HOUSE OF MANDELA: A SILLY CRY FOR REPARATIONS
By Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo

Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa  
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials

Why Bush should focus on dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slippery slide
Acts of Cowardice.
By Jonathan Elendu, contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com.
USAfricaonline.com is listed among the world's leading web sites by the international newspaper, USAToday.

Recent and continuing crises regarding Sharia in northern Nigeria and security of lives in Nigeria highlight the other issue whether the Obasanjo's government has failed to enforce basic human rights of all Nigerians? See the USAfrica Special reports.
Sharia-related killings and carnage in Kaduna reenact deadly prologue to Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967.

Is Obasanjo really up to Nigeria's challenge and crises? By USAfricaonline editorial board member, Ken Okorie. His commentary appears courtesy of our related web site, NigeriaCentral.com
Investigating Marc Rich and his deals with Nigeria's Oil

DIPLOMACY Walter Carrington: African-American diplomat who put principles above self for Nigeria

 

(USAfrica's founder Chido Nwangwu, left, with then U.S. Ambassador Carrington at the U.S. embassy, Nigeria)


DEMOCRACY'S WARRIOR
Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come....
Shred of all polite, fine talk, the terroristic events of September 11, 2001, in New York, Washington DC., and Boston raise many questions. Among them: Are those wanton terror and wholesale visitation of murder and mayhem the ghost of things to come into the U.S as we glide into the so-called new world order? Whose order, really, is it?... Are those the signatures of a world gone awry, the continuing cannibalization of our world, our so-called civilization?
By
Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher. See DETAILS