In an interview which Punch Newspaper published on 6 June, artist Nike Okundaye talked about her life, her art and her art centres. While talking about the Osogbo centre which she said she opened to train young women who had been violated, oppressed and left without hope, Okundaye revealed something about the males around, "They saw me as an enemy, wondering why I wanted to empower young women, to teach them to earn money".
Shuo.... when did it become a crime to teach human beings how to earn money by empowering them? The artist described them as "ignorant men who saw women's role as being home makers who shouldn't be seen or heard". I think, however, that ignorance is not the only issues that some guys have in relation to women being empowered to become a productive part of the larger society.
I am aware that some women also encourage this idea of women not engaging in legitimate productive work, these set of women are the 'mad -arms' who live off recruiting young women into the prostitution trade. They deceive the young girls into thinking that prostitution is a fun way of making good money until a time when robbed of all dignity and their inner beauty, the sorrowful ladies come to realise that it would have been easier to learn a skill and work hard at it.
Hard work doesn't kill, rather it gives life and dignity.
Now, they are some 'kept' women who are too lazy to do anything meaningful with their lives, what will such women teach their sons and daughters? The 'keeper' of such women surprisingly, have wives at home who Actually Work! If women engaging in meaningful work was such a bad thing why are their wives working and/or furthering their education?
I tell you that the thrill of controlling another being's life, having them depend on you, stoking your ego lest you hold back that 5,000 Naira feeding money you have for them, whining like puppies and doing all sorts, equating such men to gods, are some of the reasons why the 'keepers' will view Nike Okundaye as an enemy.
The more hands we have on deck, engaging in one small or medium scale enterprise or the other, the better for our country. If your daughters are too precious to be holed-up- prostitutes to some guy who nurses a complex, then other people's children are precious too.
If you encourage these young women by giving them start-up capital for that small business, they might be the ones to save your lives or those of your children tomorrow.
To the egoistic 'keeper' I say let go! and to the lazy 'kept woman', roll up your sleeves and get ready to enjoy the dignity of labour........ generations coming after will thank you for it as they go about with their heads raised high.
If you are in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria on Wednesday 16 June, you might want to pop in to see Ola Rotimi's 'Man talks, Woman talks' being staged at Neu Gate on Abiola Way, time is 4pm.