by Moji Ogunkanmi
The Guardian recently did a Lagos week . For a whole week the spotlight was our struggle and chaotic existence. They highlighted something that has been bugging me for some time now. It seems to me that since my move back to Nigeria, my status in society has been devalued.
The bases for my sudden demotion are personal characteristics I never really noticed; but these have now become very familiar because for some reason, people feel the constant need to verbally remind of my new rank. The first charge brought by Nigerian society against me is that I am unmarried.
Although, I have never seen marriage as an achievement or essential for my existence, it turns out that the general consensus on the matter in Nigeria is quite the opposite. I am yet to acquire a spouse; therefore, I am not a full human being. Surely, as I am yet to tie myself up to another individual and embark on the last legal form slavery, I cannot be a responsible person.
Secondly, I am a woman. That is self-explanatory so I will spare you an exhaustive treatise on sexism in Nigeria.
The third and final abhorrent issue is my age. I am young, therefore, I cannot formulate coherent thought. I have no intellect of my own as only older people can think. I am young so only a fool would take what I say seriously. I am young so I might as well be invisible. I have moved from a society where my youth is admired and celebrated to one that sees it as nothing.
I refuse to be dismissed as a negligible citizen. My youth is my greatest asset to this country. Unlike the older generation, I don’t carry around in my pocket the tribal and political pains that have caused much terror in the past. I see Nigeria as a clean canvas for whatever we want to paint it to be.
Furthermore, it’s rather obvious that in Nigeria age has no bearing on wisdom. The older generation has had over fifty years to make their mark; yet they seem to have achieved nothing except one mess upon another, and they are still leading us in no clear direction. It’s about time those grandparents and great-grandparents take the overfed bellies home, sit down and chew kola nut.
Let a younger generation with greater strength, fresher minds, youthful optimism and clarity of vision take the wheel. Too many talents are wasted simply because older people refuse to let go. More room needs to be made for clean fresh air in this country. Then again, I’m probably misguided. After all, I am young, unmarried and a woman.
Moji Ogunkanmi is a recent Natural Sciences graduate from University College London who recently took up writing as a healthy outlet for all the confusion and frustration that came with moving back to Nigeria from the UK. She writes on her own blog, RationalNigerian. This post is in line with today’s International Women’s Day celebration. To all the strong women out there trying to make it happen in an unbalanced world, Jisike!