By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Since the beginning of time, women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. Wifehood and motherhood were regarded as women’s most significant professions. The historical discrimination and prejudice long planted on women’s path are as many and as common as stop signs on the road.
Historically, women have been considered intellectually inferior to men. Some mythologies paint them as dangerous and evil. For example, in Greek mythology, it was Pandora, a woman, who opened the forbidden box and brought plagues and unhappiness to mankind. And early Roman law described women as children, forever inferior to men.
Formal education for girls historically has been secondary to that for boys. The long history of prejudice, discrimination, and bias against women has been the focus of women’s struggles and feminist movements. For centuries, women were denied equality, denied the right to vote, the right to work, the right to own property, the right to be heard and other fundamental human rights.
Even as we celebrate yet another Mother’s Day in 2014, our modern history is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman. To be sure, women have come a long way. However, in Africa, and other feudal Islamic societies and Third World countries, women are still slaves of “hewers of wood,” and “drawers of water.”
It is against this backdrop that the Boko Haram militants’ evangelical excesses and the canonization of terror and evil could be understood. The abduction of 300 school girls like chicks from the nursery in Chibok, Nigeria, three weeks ago marked the embittered extraordinary rendition of terror by Boko Harams.
After all the shenanigans Nigerian women go through daily that make their hair turn gray, the abduction of the girls was a terror greater than the sum of all the other brutalities that have been inflicted on the mothers.
A land full of pain, heartache, and sin with fluctuating emotions made motherhood a struggle in Nigeria. Devastating consequences from rape, abuse, and abduction in a lawless jungle called Nigeria, continue to devalue and debase women. Like the abducted young girls, our mothers exchanged their lives for a painful and hostile and even brutal environment.
They have become the object of cruel mocking by the world. Yet, their subsequent lives demonstrate ability to recover from failure and move forward. When you think of Nigerian mothers, think of persistence, grace under fire, and faith that move mountains.
Their patience and submission during difficult times as well as their wisdom and problem-solving skills prepared them to be excellent. Their rare-courage, commonsense, and some fabulous relational skills saved their families from certain economic, political, and social destruction fostered by the largest economy in Africa.
Nigerian mothers tell the story of ordinary people who fulfils extraordinary leadership challenge in an unlikely context. They are women in a male-dominated world, a minority within a minority. Nonetheless, they lead their homes with integrity, discipline, and giftedness.
Life began with a woman. Many pillars in history were faithful ladies who ministered to people’s needs and gave strong leadership. The faithfulness of Nigerian mothers in a time of national faithlessness in our country reminds us of our past heroines.
Strength and competence blend with beauty qualify Nigerian mothers for the company of such illustrious deliverers as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, “The mother of Africa” and the “Lioness of Lisabi” who led women in Egba land on campaign against arbitrary taxation of women which led to the abdication of Oba Ademola II of Egba land in 1949, Queen Amina of Zaria who was the architect who created the fortifications around Zaria City, and the trio women leaders who led Aba Women’s Riot of 1929 – Ikonnia, Mwannedia, and Nwugo – successfully forced the Brits to drop plans to impose tax on the market women.
Debates have a tendency of going round and round, back and forth. The verbal ping-pong match over the abduction of our girls continues chapter after chapter. Each passing day the girls spend in the abductors’ captivity, so also the seemingly endless debate on Boko Harams paints a horrifying picture of the terror and destruction awaiting the 300 young women.
When argument and accusation fail to produce a solution, anger takes over. The Nigerian authorities have ran out of arguments, but not out of words: “I believe that the kidnap of these girls,” said Mr. Jonathan while addressing the World Economic Forum in Abuja last week, “will be the beginning of the end of terrorism in Nigeria.”
As each cycle of debate progresses, the Jonathan administration find it has less and less to say. Notice the shrinking offensive and counter offensive propaganda campaigns of Aso Rock damage control team. The government’s comfortless counselors fall silent at last, their arguments exhausted with the recapture of our girls no nearer a solution.
No one yearns to be crushed, no one welcomes the pain and pressure of adversity. Crushing is a painful, agonizing process, and the scars it leaves behind are real. Today – Mother’s Day – our mothers are feeling the crush, the pain, the heat, and the pressure of their abducted daughters.
Mothers all over the world have registered their case. They have eloquently expended their anger, sadness, impatience, outbursts, saying “bring back our girls.” And in many parts of the world where Mother’s day is being celebrated today, it’s a Mother’s Day like no other.
Nigerian mothers’ exemplary life of service and sacrifice is placed in the furnace of testing. Today – Mother’s Day – Nigerian mothers of the abducted girls are weeping and mourning like mothers who have lost their only child. But in contrast, Nigerian authorities have grown fat, apathetic, and proud, and chocking on their own luxury.
In spite of this despair, there is every reason for hope that our girls will be back with us safe and sound. #BringBackOurGirls!
Bayo Oluwasanmi can be reached via byo...@aol.com
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