I was supposed to have written this article last week but I haven’t had a single free minute to sit down and pen anything.
Thursday last week, there was a poetry and spoken word event at the little theatre club of Mombasa being hosted by Fatuma’s voice. For those who don’t who that is, it’s a group that raises societal issues through poetry, music, spoken word and in any form of art.
I have been told I am a perennial late comer and true to that word, I did not disappoint (I will change, I swear Hehe) by the time I got to the venue the event had already begun. The hot topic of the night was how do we as Kenyans and Africans at large achieve the African dream?
I sat there for a while listening to the audience give their point of views. Before long, the argument became heated and what better way to achieve that than to bring up feminism? Right, right? I know.
Of late I have noticed this one thing; why is it that in such forums the discussion tends to stray towards the role of women, what they should do and what they shouldn’t, what their position in the house is but never what the role of the modern man is. Why? Someone help me understand. Please.
This guy stands up and says the reason why Africa is lagging behind and won’t achieve it’s “African dream” is because women have become so competitive, always trying to complete with men instead of focusing on their primary duties as women. Duties that their mothers and the mothers before them carried out gracefully and dutifully without as much as a murmur. He then drops the bombshell; women should accept the fact that first and foremost they are sex objects and that they were put on earth to pleasure men.
I cringed and waited for hailstorms to rain on him. You can bet your life hailstorms did rain on him, in the form of very powerful words from the women in there. All hell seemed to be breaking lose. One lady’s words caught my attention. She said “I have no problem being labeled a sex object. I take the term up with a lot of satisfaction. Because at the end of the day, I will pursue my career and when I get home I will take care of my family. I will take care of my husband, I will please him and I will also take care of my children. That is just how it was meant to be for women. We are givers of life and we take care of our people – the people in our lives.”
Trusty me, the discussion was on fire.
All these points being raised and I just sat there asking myself “what exactly is the African dream?”
Really, is there an African dream?
Because if there is I cannot think of one – neither have I ever heard of one.
The African dream. What is this African dream? How can we even have a collective dream as Africans when we are barely surviving? How, when we can barely feed ourselves? How on earth can we have an African dream when we can’t even agree on the role of the woman in society? The African dream. What African dream when half of the population is still struggling to meet the three basic needs; have food i.e. not sleep hungry, have enough clothes to cover their naked selves and a comfortable place to live in as they go from day to day with barely enough to save. The African dream indeed.
Africans have individual dreams; not a collective one. How could they, when the people who are supposed to be guiding them towards this so called dream (read politicians) are busy running public coffers dry without a care in the world. When African presidents are busy changing constitutions to allow them to be life presidents. When impunity is at an all time high, how exactly will this dream be achieved?
I repeat, what dream?
Politics in Africa is messy. When opponents disappear and public figures embezzle billions knowing very well that no action will be taken against them. That in the event that they would actually be taken to court, they would buy their way out of justice. It is just how it is unfortunately; and how it is, is that the situation on the ground is not conducive enough for the “African dream” to be achieved. Or any dream for that matter.
I also realized this; we might run around the issue but if ever this African dream is to be realized, it will not be with women being left out. In the American dream for instance, both men and women constantly work towards it – collectively. Women doctors, engineers, pilots, artists; you just cannot wish them away.
If indeed there is an African dream, lest assured that dream is the woman. Yes, you read that correctly.
The African woman is the African dream. She is the dreamer and she is the dream. Because she gives so much and receives so little, because she can manage to pursue her career and still be a mother, a sister, a daughter and a wife. She is stronger than most because she bares all this without showing the strain this is having on her to the outside world.
Gentlemen, take a second. Close your eyes and breathe in deeply. Now put yourself in your wife’s positions. Look at how much she does, how much she gives without asking for anything in return. All those pregnancies she carries. Coming home after a long day at work to still cook and help your kids do their homework. Now ask yourself, if roles were changed would you be able to do all that she is doing? Err….I didn’t think so either.
The African dream cannot be achieved without the woman. Because she is the dream. Because the African woman is the dreamer.