Feminism, Women

What Olajumoke Tells Us About Nigeria and Ourselves

You’ve probably heard the story by now. Bread. Tinie Tempah. TY Bello. Then came the luxury flat,  features by international news outlets, elocution lessons and an influx of brand endorsements. If you haven’t heard about Olajumoke Orisaguna, you can catch up here.

I’m always interested in the way Nigerians react to popular events. It reveals so much about the bits that make up our national psyche. A tweet here, a comment there can tell you quite a bit. Here are a few things I noticed about our reaction to Olajumoke’s good fortune:

Childcare is the sole responsibility of a woman

There’s a meme making the rounds on social media. In it Olajumoke walks with her husband, who is carrying their child. Above the picture, it says Make money, make money…Pops never lied, Olajumoke’s husband is now the wife. Much has been made of the carrying skills of the Orisagunas in that picture. How she can carry her handbag while he carries their child? It’s weird that people have a problem with a man holding his child. Yes, his progeny – which sprung from his loins, if we’re going biblical here. And to be more precise, carrying his child while his wife is there. Gasp!  Some of us believe that raising a child is the sole responsibility of the woman and if a man helps, he’s either assisting or he is being a wimp. Not being a parent. Let’s not delve into the way the word ‘wife’ is used in the meme – as a disparaging, emasculating word. It just gives you an idea of how the woman’s role is regarded. Men are parents too, not just sperm suppliers. They should be allowed to get their parenting on and also pick up their share of the work. Without any shame biko.

English bestows intelligence

Much has been made of the fact that Olajumoke can’t speak English properly. Disappointment in some quarters. Why do we continually ascribe English speaking abilities with intelligence? Also, for some reason, we tend to interchange education and intelligence. Yes, Olajumoke may not be educated because she can’t speak good English, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know how to navigate the world. It also doesn’t mean that her husband is this callow man who knows nothing. Yoruba, is one of our many Nigerian languages with a rich tradition and should be respected. Our languages are to be celebrated and not to be shamed. A language is simply a form of communication. It does not and cannot bestow magical IQ properties.  

A marriage can’t survive if the woman is more successful than the man 

These days we tout marriage as the ultimate partnership. “I’m married to my best friend” couples love to gush. We’re almost made to believe that both men and women are entering the union on equal footing. Think again. The woman takes the identity of her man when she takes his name. Her wants and dreams are sometimes relegated to the backseat ,with her husband’s taking its place. Marriage can seem to be solely for men, even if it seems like it’s the woman pushing for it, men benefit more. So when a wife steps out from behind and takes the spotlight from her husband, it looks like we’ve landed in La-La land. Mr Orisaguna has gone on record to say that he approves and supports his wife’s good fortune yet it hasn’t stopped some of us from foretelling doom for the marriage. They have petitioned the benevolent gods at work to “upgrade” Mr Orisaguna so that his wife’s success doesn’t eclipse and then upstage him. Because what is a marriage if the man isn’t at the centre of it? They believe that it will breed resentment and seem almost to want Olajumoke to go back to bread selling so that Mr Orisaguna can keep his balls maintain some veneer of superiority. Better a luxury flat above our heads than a bread tray, level headed Mr Orisaguna seems to say. So do I.

Haters gon’ hate


With the celebration, comes the almost inevitable backlash. That train is never late. What have they not said so far. Olajumoke isn’t even that fine. 5.0 GPA Unilag student should be celebrated more than her. Why can’t both be celebrated at the same damn time? There is boku boku internet space. Can we just keep quiet and let the Orisagunas enjoy their good fortune? To paraphrase, If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But I know, I know, free speech and all. I think Olajumoke’s got the right attitude. In her Channels interview, she talks about how she came to pass by the photoshoot. She’d picked up her bread allocation and got into the estate to begin selling. She saw the photoshoot but she knew she had to pass there to get to her destination. She wasn’t deterred by people telling her to move away, she stayed focused and crossed paths with her life changing fate. So haters gon’ hate but stay your path.

And continuing on that motivational speaker note, Happy Monday!

Photo credit: Bellanaija.com