If you have been reading my articles, by now you will pick up that I am a very progressive person (Liberal AF!) and I am African (it's literally in my bio). I strongly advocate for social change and implementing liberal ideas in general society. I also believe in equal rights, equity, respect and opportunity for men, women, black, white, disabled or abled, queer or straight etc. Many people may see that and think, "Oh that is completely fine and nothing hard about that" (or that I'm another snowflake...fuck all yee Ann Coulters then...but SIKE!). Being the only progressive in a space that is aggressively conservative is similar (not the same!) to being the only black person in a completely white space. You cannot fully express yourself due to fear of hostility and being seen as the dangerous other thus, you are pressured to blend in as much as you possibly can (and its hard out here in these streets). Being a Liberal young woman in a Nigerian environment is way tougher than one can imagine and I will tell you why.
My best of friends would say that I am very bold and never afraid to speak my mind (in the words of 2 Chains, Trueeee!), but one struggle that I face every day is the ability to express my very progressive views in a conservative Nigerian home. In short, I don't necessarily feel safe and I am likely putting myself at risk of (sometimes) unknown consequences. I have been in situations where a relative or friend of mine would bash someone for being gay or just defending the LGBTQ community and I would find myself considering not speaking up to debunk or rebuke their views with facts. Sometimes, I have to consider if I want to stay in a family (that bashes gay people based on religion and pay the bills) or do I want to get thrown out of the house (disowned) with my progressive views.
Even when speaking to an average Nigerian (specifically in Nigeria) about progressive views such as equality between men and women (feminism), the common response of "God forbid, that can never happen, it is not done" will always come up. This mentality is also evident in the leadership of the country as in 2016, the Women Equality bill (to give Nigerian women same marital rights as men and protect them from violence) was voted down by the Nigerian Senate due to religious reasons (so we are technically still second class citizens). When you ask Nigerians (leaders or citizens) why they have such conservative views, their answers always point to religions such as Islam, Christianity, Tribalism or ancient traditions (and that is always a sanctimonious way to discriminate against people, period).
A lot of Nigerians do believe in traditionalism and do not want for things to change (which to a certain extent I agree with) but... at whose expense? As an opinionated woman in Nigeria, I am seen as rude, disrespectful, incapable of finding a husband... literally anything except a human with her own voice and opinions (talk about cognitive dissonance). I automatically become the target for insults, derogatory rhetoric and sometimes emotional blackmail (depends on how close the person is to me). Basically, as a liberal in Nigeria, being the other is harder than most people think.
I consider myself an ally of the LGBTQ community and I do my very best to see that members of this community will get the same rights as my heterosexual ass (that's part of what being feminist means). The thing I noticed is that the fight for equal rights for the queer community is easier done in America than it is done in Nigeria. The main difference? In the USA, LGBTQ are legal whilst in Nigeria, there is a death penalty for any homosexual act (you don't even have to be homosexual, just look like you are homosexual and you can end up dead). The mere existence of a death penalty for homosexuality threatens the Nigerian LGBTQ community and its allies (we could get killed for association). This is very ironic (even hypocritical) to me because the Nigerian constitution and the National Youth Policy (please look them up) advocate for liberal rights (freedom of speech, expression, access to employment, education, housing) but women, queer, disabled or the "other" do not have access to said rights.
I strongly believe that the main reason for the problem of discrimination and inequality in Nigeria is Conservatism (traditionalism and religion) and the removal of it will bring great progress to Nigeria. We literally have Sharia Courts as main bodies of civil and criminal law in 9 Muslim-majority states, courts that have lead to the unjustly death of so many women... ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! We teach creationism (religious fairytales) in Nigerian schools rather than more important skills (like taxes, how to save, how to vote, banking, you know... realistic and useful skills). I literally don't know anything about paying or filing taxes in Nigeria but I know a "supreme" old white guy in the sky created light and shit. My dear country does not know the meaning of "Separation between Church and State," matter-of-fact, there is no state without church when it comes to Nigeria.
Now don't get me wrong, everyone has the right to practice their religion (even though I think religion is an unnecessary waste of time and a tool for brainwashing garbage into people), it's in the Nigerian constitution. But the moment when one (or more) religion starts socially, economically and politically dictating the lives of minorities or people who do not subscribe to it (Like ME!!!!!!), then we got a problem. I think the solution would be slowing getting rid of religion in our government, media and changing our social norms of what we expect from women and men (sounds radical, but its effective). Let's be honest, if you research it yourself, the most socially progressive and liberal countries in the world are the more successful countries (in terms of education, health, and press freedom) e.g Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Slovenia (yup, Melania Trump's country). Simply practicing (social) Liberalism like separation between church and state, feminism, abiding by the laws of our constitution (because it's kinda liberal in itself). I know, I say it like it's a simple thing to do, but let's be honest, it is a simple thing. Is it easy? Fuck no.
A Page from the National Youth Policy (Page 16)
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