I have been covering news about Nigeria for a year and a half and through all the turmoil that I have seen, today was the first time that I broke down in tears. This vast, beautiful country filled with fascinating cultures and even more interesting people has become a constant source of bad news – from corruption to fraud to infectious diseases to kidnappings to child marriages to intolerance towards homosexuals – one does not need to look far to discover something which is currently plaguing the population of this West African country.
It’s what many of us would see as a nightmare, that at 14-years-old to be married off to an older man who your parents have chosen for you but for Wasila Tasi’u and other girls from areas like Kano State in Nigeria this is very much a part of their reality.
The tragedy of the mass shooting in California and the #YesAllWomen campaign has brought the misogynistic culture of Americans to the forefront. But this is not just an affliction that is germane only to American culture, but to all cultures and especially here in South Africa. A country where rape is the order of the day, where young women are constantly judged by the way they dress, where a women being beaten into a pulp by her husband is responded by the question, “What did she do to deserve it?” This is a culture which should be listening to what all these women in the world are saying and need to start shifting their mindsets instead of just placating the monster.
Women’s rights are becoming a priority in Africa. No matter how many chiefs, presidents, patriarchs refuse it’s existence, try and burn it to the ground or use the old excuse of it being against their culture, it keeps rearing it’s head, and will not be silenced. The past couple of weeks a tradition of ‘wife swapping’ which is more like ‘wife offering’ within two tribes in Namibia has been brought into questioning.