Remembering Ancient Igbo Sexual Inequalities: A Review of Elechi Amadi’s “The Concubine”

To some extent, covers of books do matter. I wasn’t able to read the book with a previous cover. But this artistic cover even helped me keep up with the book till the end.

I have always loved the African Writers Series as the books in them teleport me to different times in African history. One of my earliest memories is reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe on my way to the village and being enthralled by the portrayals of Igbo culture.

However, even as young as I was and even as I did not know what the word “feminist” was, I really did not like the portrayal of women in most books written by male writers in the African Writers Series. That includes Things Fall Apart. To be honest, the only book written by a post colonial male writer that showed African women in good light so far that I’ve read has to be “God’s Bits of Wood” by late Senegalese author and filmmaker Sembene Ousmane.

This article however, is not about Things Fall Apart et al. It is about Elechi Amadi’s debut novel “The Concubine” which was published in 1966 shortly before the Nigerian civil war. The novel follows the life of a woman called Ihuoma who is widowed very early of her husband Emenike. Emenike dies after a fight with Madume that revolves around land. Madume himself committs suicide after gettting blind when a cobra attacks him as he harrasses Ihuoma on her land and also as he desperately wants to make her his wife.

A key theme in the book is the relationship between a hunter called Ekwueme and Ihuoma herself. While Ekwueme loves Ihuoma and wants to marry her, he however cannot as he has been bethroted from a young age to Ahurole. No matter how hard he tries to marry her, he is met with obstacles until eventually he runs mad from a love potion put in his food by Ahurole. At this point, it is only Ihuoma’s presence that relives him of his madness and they resolve to get married. Their marriage is however met with a tragic end as it is discovered that Ihuoma is not supposed to marry as she was once the wife of the Sea King. It is because of the jealousy of the Sea King that her lovers keep dying.
Sadly, Ekwueme is not an exception as the book ends with him dying shortly before supplications are to be made to the Sea King.

Trying to improve my book photography skills. As a literary enthusiast, I am particularly drawn to black and white book photos as it reminds me of nostalgic moments in African literary history.

The first time I saw the book, it was a much older edition and it’s cover discouraged me from reading. When I eventually saw the colorful cover, I became discouraged after a few pages into the book, there were cases and references to domestic violence with me not knowing the author’s stance on women. I however recently encouraged myself to pick it up again majorly cause of the cover. That said, I still had to calm myself as almost every reference to women was very unfeminist.

…However, I expected while the author showed women who were traditional, he should have talked about the disadavantages of that system by creating female characters who revolted…

While the author does have a good descriptive power and the book exposed me to newer things about ancient Western Igbo traditions, I have to still say that the title of the book was very much disconnected from much of the work. For starters, there was no actual sexual relationship between Ekwueme and Ihuoma at the time of his marriage to Ahurole. The only thing that may have qualified this title is that Ihuoma was only allowed by the Sea King to be a concubine of which she was not.

But back to the way women are showed. Now I do know that traditional Igbo society was very sexist. However I expected that while the author showed women who were traditional, he should have talked about the disadvantages of that system by creating female characters that revolted. To me, the author deployed an “on the fence” approach when dealing with his female characters.

…I would say that Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine is not a book I would recommend for anyone who wants to see positive feminist representation of African women…

Again, while the book is supposed to revolve around Ihuoma as she is the supposed concubine, much of the story is about Ekwueme and how he tries to avoid his marriage to Ahurole. This brings to mind the age long accusation against male African writers: “African male writers employ women as mere props to the overall dominant male character”. This was true in the case of this book as most of the female characters were flat and were not fully developed outside of their relationships as wives and mothers.

All in all, I would say that Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine is not a book I would recommend for anyone who wants to see positive feminist representation of African women. On the other hand, I would recommend the book for anyone who is interested in learning about African mysticism and ancient Igbo cosmology.

The End
By Angel Nduka-Nwosu
February 2018


“I like to view myself as an ageless person”- Abiola Adebiyi(Photographer/Visual Artist/Founder of ElevateNG)

It is not often that one hears of teenagers already heading foundations whilst being professional creatives and still going to school. 

That was what drew me to my guest for this episode of Interviews with Ms. Nduka-Nwosu.

At just eighteen, Abiola Adebiyi already has a foundation called ElevateNG which has at its core helping the less priviledged especially in the working class slums of Makoko. Asides that, she is a photographer and visual artist who is also an ardent worshipper of Jesus.

In this interview which was conducted via Whatsapp, we discussed faith, her foundation and her love for photography.

Angel Nduka-Nwosu: First off, welcome to Interviews with Ms. Nduka-Nwosu Abiola. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Abiola Adebiyi: I like to view myself as an ageless person, but I’m 18. 18 year old Nigerian girl from a Yoruba home.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Lmao why the ageless?

A. Adebiyi: I feel like age tends to pose as a limitation sometimes and it easily makes people assume things about you. Like you’re 18, you’re too young to do this or that.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s actually true. Sometimes people assume you’re “too young” to have an opinion.

A. Adebiyi: Yes !. Another thing I’m not really a fan of is people hearing young people doing things beyond the norm and praising them.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Really? Why?

A. Adebiyi: We’re all built to do wonders. It shouldn’t be a surprise when a 12 year old does something beyond the norm. In them days, the vibrant people in society were the young people. Josiah was a king at just 8 and Daniel was a teenager when he killed Goliath. Our current politicians were in their 20’s when they rose to power.

It was society’s expectation of the younger generation to step up. They didn’t get praised for doing things they were expected to do.
Why then is it that now, we leave the responsibility to the ‘adults’ (30 yrs and above) to handle?
When a young person then comes out, we go ‘wow’ and praise him.

This mentality of praising people for doing what they *should* be doing makes others think it’s just ‘special’ people that are meant to achieve such and others just end up settling for less and slacking.

Rather than that being a fuel to encourage other young people, I feel like it’s counter productive. I’ve seen people my age say they wish they could do the things I’m doing etc
And I ask them, what’s stopping them?
A lot of them can’t answer it.
This mentality of praising people for doing what they *should* be doing makes others think it’s just ‘special’ people that are meant to achieve such and others just end up settling for less and slacking.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Still on speaking on being “too young”, you started an NGO called ElevateNG before you were eighteen. What inspired you to start it?

A. Adebiyi: It was God all the way. I like to think of myself as nothing but a tool in God’s hands and it’s the greatest thing ever for God to choose an individual to carry out His will.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s good to hear. What was the journey to founding it like?

A. Adebiyi: Around April/May 2016, I felt really lost. I had this strong feeling that I was made to do something big but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
Prior to this, I already had a vision book of 3 years worth of ideas but not one of them made me feel any sense of fulfillment.
So I decided to talk to God.
I told him to tell me what exactly it is that He wants to use me to do. I was trying to find my purpose.
I didn’t hear a distinct voice but help people started ringing in my head.
And I just kept thinking,
“Help people?Of course, when I make it i will give back to society”
After all that’s what everyone does
But He just kept saying no! I want you to help people now.
And who am I to question God?

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s so powerful. What are the challenges you’ve encountered so far and what is your vision for ElevateNG in 2018?

A. Adebiyi: In respect to this, after God told me I was made to help people, I was in YouTube and a video on Makoko came up on my screen and I wanted to change it, but I was convicted to watch it.
After watching the documentary, I just felt like I had to know more about that place.
As soon as I was out of school, with my parents permission, I went to Makoko
I felt so pulled to the area, like God wanted to do something there. Till today, I’ve not gotten any leading to work somewhere else, so all my projects have been in Makoko.

At one of ElevateNG”s outreaches in Makoko. Every Christmas Abiola organizes an outreach in Makoko where food, used cloths and pretty much anything is shared to the people and children there.

The challenges I’ve faced so far…
Funny enough, my parents have been my greatest supporters. They understand why I do what I do.

The greatest challenge I’ve faced so far is shuffling between school and running the ngo. But God being ever faithful, sent me some amazing people who I work with, they’re co-leaders. It helps having people who understand the vision and are committed to it.

Executing projects is also a bit difficult sometimes because we can never really predict how the locals in Makoko will respond. They’re not always willing to cooperate with us to ensure we execute our projects smoothly.

In 2018, me and my team want to focus more on the purpose of elevate. So far, we’ve been involved in food and relief outreaches, but we really want to focus our resources on development based projects. Mainly Education Empowerment and Enlightement based projects this year.

Ms.Nduka-Nwosu: More grease to your elbows.

A. Adebiyi: Thank you.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s good. So let’s talk about your photography. I saw some of your photos on ArtReallyTalks and I was blown away. Do you have a particular style of photography that you are drawn to?

A. Adebiyi: At first, I felt I found my ground in street photography then I started developing an interest for image manipulation. Right now I’m exploring portraits.
My mind is everywhere 😂so I’ve decided not to limit myself to just one style.
I love art because it almost always conveys a story.
So I use any means of photography that enables me express how I feel or tell the story in my mind.

This piece is called “EYES OF EDEN”. Abiola’s inspiration came from the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis. The eyes represent God looking over the garden. They are the eyes of a lion(God is also known as the lion of the tribe of Judah). The original picture was also taken by Abiola in Lufasi Park, Lagos.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Nice nice. Do you have any photographers you admire?

A. Adebiyi:Yes yes. Lexash, Emmanuel Oyeleke, Yagazie Emezi to mention a few.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I loooovvvveee Yagazie Emezi. Her hair is goals.

A. Adebiyi: She should come and bless my life 😪😪.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Asiiinnn😭😭😭. Anyway I observe you talk about God a lot. At what point did your walk with God become deeper?

One of Adebiyi’s photos titled “MARRED”. It basically depicts the harsh reality of the average Nigerian child. Innocence at birth but impending darkness/sadness is waiting as he/she begins to mature.

A. Adebiyi: I can’t really put my finger on it honestly
I think my love for Him just developed over time. The more I began to see myself how God sees me, the more I began understand the type of Creator/Father/Lover He is and I just couldn’t help but to fall in love with Him.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s lovely. It’s actually cool seeing teenagers who are invested and passionate about loving God.

A. Adebiyi: God is good o
I’m not the Christian I want to be yet but I appreciate how far He has brought me
The coolest thing is that once you begin to believe God, He’ll bring the Bible to life right before your eyes.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: As a Christian Creative, do you sometimes feel pressured to put your work in a certain light?

A. Adebiyi: Nope
I understand that my Father is literally the Creator of the world
And I’ve grown so much that my desires creatively always boils down to glorifying Him.
He’s the inspiration behind my art, most of which I haven’t released so I haven’t had any moment of feeling constrained, or feeling like I can’t express myself because God wouldn’t agree.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Exactly. Because there’s often this debate that if you are for instance a poet like I am, then the only thing you should talk about is Christian stuff. As though the other issues that your work represents are invalid. It’s a form of religious guilt tripping that I absolutely detest.

A. Adebiyi: Nope nope nope
That’s wrong.
We’re to *reflect* God not just talk about God. Isaiah 1:17
New International Version
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I’m going to keep this verse in mind anytime someone tries to guilt trip my writing.

A. Adebiyi: Psalm 82:3
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Yes talk about the Gospel, but we’re to defend not just what He did/does but also to defend His character and the way to do that is to embody His character.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Preach.
There’s this ongoing debate that the church especially the contemporary Nigerian church has become a means for pastors to enrich themselves and not help the poor. What are your views on that?

A. Adebiyi: I don’t go to any social media to get understanding. I go right back to the bible always.

The first thing is I’m to rebuke *believers* on earth in love not unbelievers (1 Cor 5:12) A lot of these people carrying the news are church goers and proclaimers of Christianity not believers
Believers don’t just say what the bible says. They do as well (James 2:17).
So those people, I don’t give them any attention.

But going to the core of the church itself. The ‘Pastors’ stealing. It’s not a lie. There’s a lot of rottenness in the ‘church’
But let’s compare it to the Old Testament religion
The Pharisees and sadducees are depicted as hypocrites in Jesus’s teachings. Surely there were people who didn’t agree with what they were doing, but there isn’t any record of people ganging up to attack them. The only recording of judging the Pharisees etc was done by Jesus Christ (God). I’m not saying we should keep quiet and be mumu’s. I’m saying why waste your energy judging these people when God has already said these ‘Pharisees’ of our time will be judged. In fact even higher than other non pastoral Christians (James 3:1). I would rather focus my attention on Spiritually connecting to the heart of God day in day out, than bother myself about one pastor that’s stealing to enrich himself.

Better still, change church.
The Spirit of God doesn’t condone sin so if you feel your pastor is stealing, check if Holy Spirit is still there.
If not, find your way out of the church.
More so,
a pastor who is rich doesn’t mean he or she has a duty to the nation to do the country’s job.
A pastor will do what he has been sent to do. Let’s also understand that because a pastor is rich doesn’t mean majority of his/her earnings from the church’s purse.

However when it comes to helping the less privilege with the affluence the Pastor has been blessed with, I can’t say if churches are slacking or not. Majority of the work done by churches is done silently so I can’t join the consensus saying that churches aren’t doing anything to help society.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Nice perspective. To be honest, I feel there’s nothing wrong in pastors having nice things cause well they are humans. The only thing I’m not comfortable with is when pastors guilt trip people into “sowing a seed” that is not really going to be accounted for.
But well, at the end it’s our personal relationship with God that matters.

A. Adebiyi: Sowing a seed 😂😂let me not lie, sometimes it’s a spiritual order.
Sometimes it’s manipulation
But one thing is the Holy Spirit always bears witness to any word of God (John 15:26)
All you need is to be discerning and spiritually aware, and you’ll be able to tell if it’s a spiritual order or it’s manipulation.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I know right😂😂😂. The worst I’ve seen so far is a pastor saying that even if you are broke, you should still pay tithe. But that same pastor was bashing people who had very little money in their tithe records. I was just like what????

A. Adebiyi: This is why everyone needs to know the bible for themselves
Warris dat 🙆🏾🙆🏾.

…You are much more than the school books and your fulfillment doesn’t lie in meeting people’s expectations of you..

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Wo everybody would be alright last last.
So I’m going to ask you some playful questions. Ready?

A. Adebiyi: Yahh.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Pepsi or Coke?

A. Adebiyi:
Pepsi all the way.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Whatttttt. How? Where? Pepsi is imitation Coke abeg.

A. Adebiyi: Ahh God forbid
Toilet cleaner.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Lol I don’t get.

A. Adebiyi: Coke is a toilet cleaner.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:Guy what’s that now?
I love Coke. But sha….Ofada or Jollof?

A. Adebiyi: Ahn you’ve not heard it before 😂😂appaz coke is so strong that some people use it to wash their toilets and it cleans it really well. Ofada. Jrice is overhyped 🙄

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: J Rice is not overhyped o. Party Jollof is beautiful beyond words.

A. Adebiyi: Okay okay party jollof is powerful ngl😂.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Exactly. Favourite Youtubers?

A. Adebiyi: Hmnn I have to think of this one.
Ace Family
Nissy Tee
Ope and Ayo Davies.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I’ll check them out. Instagram or Twitter?

A. Adebiyi: Twitter.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I bet. Favourite Writers?

A. Adebiyi: This is really bad but I don’t have any. I don’t read as much as I used to.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Awwww it’s aii.
Twix, Mars, or Snickers?

A. Adebiyi: Snickers 💯

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: So are you working on anything right now?

A. Adebiyi: Yes, I’m trying to work on a portfolio and currently teaching myself graphics.
Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Nice nice. Finally what advice would you give to the younger Abiola.

A. Adebiyi: You are much more than the school books and your fulfilment doesn’t lie in meeting people’s expectations of you.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That is so beautiful. It was nice discussing with you Abiola. I really learnt a lot.

A. Adebiyi: All thanks to God. It was nice talking to you too.

You can follow Abiola Adebiyi on Twitter with the handle: @abiolaadebiyii. 

Thanks for reading!!!

Unlearning to Shave: Redefining The Politics of The Hairy Feminist

Unlearning to shave: Redefining the politics of being a Hairy Feminist

I have always had issues with hair. Good and bad issues. On the one hand I always was the girl who stood out with long flowing hair when I had relaxed hair. Now with a larger than life afro reminiscent of the African American feminists Angela Davis and Audre Lorde, one can almost conclude that I am a hybrid of both of them. Questions like “Is this your real hair?” and “Do you use anything special?” still always make me feel flattered and amused.

I like to imagine if only fleetingly that I am a hybrid of Audre Lorde and Angela Davis.

It however hasn’t always been fun and games when it came to hair. For your average girl, I am hairy. I have always had visible body hair on my arms and legs for as long as I can remember. For that, I was always and still am the butt of jokes. This is especially as I fit into the common stereotype that Igbo girls are hairy “manly” women.

The first time I can recall feeling really shamed for being hairy was in South Africa. I had gone for a conference at the African Leadership Academy and was especially feeling happy at having won the best position paper for my paper on maternal health in Mauritania. Upon getting to the immigrations’ officer to have my passport stamped, he took one look at my arms after checking my passport and asked in a disgusted manner “Why are you so hairy?”. I was shocked to say the least and the cocky Nigerian in me wanted to ask if that was his best attempt at being xenophobic. But I didn’t thankfully. I smiled and asked for my passport graciously all the while muttering insults in Igbo under my breath.

As much as I tried to rationalize his actions as just another act of a South African man being xenophobic, I just couldn’t. On the plane back to Nigeria, I was mad angry. I came to the realization that that question was just plain old misogyny. To say I felt small and ugly would be an understatement. I couldn’t bear to look at my arms anymore. Not even as I tried changing the music to another Mafikizolo track. I made a sincere effort throughout the flight to keep my eyes away from my arms while ironically reminding myself that the immigration officer’s actions should not in any way reduce the love I had for South Africa and in particular South African women.

The truth is, that wasn’t the first time someone had made fun of my being hairy. It however was the first time I had felt truly ashamed of being hairy. Maybe it was because it was coming from a foreigner. Just maybe. Because after that I began to seriously think of shaving my arms and legs and the hair on my chest. Yes I have hair on my chest.

Even moreso, what is it about hair that automatically makes a man masculine while at the same time de-feminizes a woman?

…while I get shamed for having body hair, the average teenage Nigerian boy is equally shamed and called a “pussy” if he does not have a connecting beard.

Anyway, I’m grateful I didn’t shave. It however wasn’t easy reaching the conclusion that I would not shave any other hair asides the hair on my armpit and pubic regions. This is because there exists in popular stereotypes against feminists that asides being “man-hating” women, feminists are women who don’t shave at all and I just didn’t want to be a part of that.
However, I stopped shaving cause one day I came to the conclusion that there must have being a reason why God created me hairy. Moreover, I found it hypocritical that the boys who always made fun of me for being hairy were some of the most hairy people I knew with most having much more body hair than I did. Why I asked is body hair acceptable on a boy but not acceptable on a woman’s body? Even moreso, what is it about hair that automatically makes a man masculine while at the same time de-feminizes a woman?

It is ridiculous that while I get shamed for having body hair,  the average teenage Nigerian boy is equally shamed and called a “pussy” if he does not have a connecting beard. 

I still struggle with wearing things that show cleavage for fear of being shamed about my chest hair. Taking this picture and having it on here I guess would help erode that fear.

These were all the questions on my mind when I decided to stop shaving. It however hasn’t always been easy to not feel some type of way when people comment on my body. Often times, I feel scared of wearing cleavage revealing dresses cause I’m scared of being shamed for having chest hair.

But you know what? I don’t care anymore. I would wear whatever I want to wear and be happy about it. It is ridiculous that we make women apologize for how they were created. I didn’t ask to be created this way. If God deemed it fit that I would have a hairy body, then so be it. I am going to love myself and my body without listening to people who try to be consolatory by saying things like “Well some men like hairy women”.

People, it is not about what men like and don’t like. I should be given respect for my body type because it is another representation of the female human body. Women do not exist for men and as such should not be consoled with statements like “That is what some men like”. I am not an object that exists to be graded by the leering eyes of men.

Let us begin to to recognize and appreciate the fact that there exists a myriad number of female body types because this body of mine would not be twisted into shapes to appeal to the male gaze.

The End
By Angel Nduka-Nwosu

“I believe that there is a level of bias as regards gender even in the church”- Oyinda Depo-Oyedokun(Author and Poet)

In line with my belief in women supporting each other, I have decided to do a bi weekly interview series called “Interviews with Ms. Nduka-Nwosu”. Here, I would be interviewing young people–with a huge focus on women–that are change agents in their communities through entrepreneurship, charities, art, photography et al. 
My first interviewee is Oyinda Depo-Oyedokun who is the author of the Christian romance novel “Love and God” which was published in hard copy in 2017 when she was 17.

I met Oyinda virtually on a Christian Whatsapp group chat and her passionate love for God seen evident in her tweets and her writing attracted me. 

This interview was conducted via Whatsapp. 

Angel Nduka-Nwosu: Hi b. Are you ready?

Oyinda Depo-Oyedokun: Yes yes. 

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:  Okay. First of all welcome to Interviews with Ms Nduka-Nwosu. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

O.Depo-Oyedokun: Thank you for having me! I am Oyindamola Depo-Oyedokun and a bunch of other names (by virtue of my ‘Yoruba-ness). I turned 17 in September. I am passionate about Christianity, as opposed to religion, and that started for me a couple of years ago. I love writing and I love how God has given me the ability to recreate through that gift.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:   Lol. I see the by “virtue of Yoruba-ness”.
Anyway let’s talk about your writing career. You recently published a Christian romance novel called “Love and God” which is a feat I must say for a 17 year old. What was the inspiration behind the novel?

O. Depo-Oyedokun:  Aww. Thanks. Well, I would say I was inspired by God, situations around me and to an extent, my personal experience. The book is really about how a lot of people these days feel like they have to sacrifice or compromise their relationships with God in pursuit of romantic relationships and I really felt the need to challenge that.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:  That is so beautiful to hear. Your book addresses the very dicey issue of celibacy which not most people would want to hear about. Was it difficult getting someone to publish you especially with an overtly Christian message? What was the publishing process like?

O. Depo-Oyedokun:  Oh yes! It really was. In 2016, I actually published the ebook on
The cost of publishing in Nigeria is very high so at that point, I was trying to raise some money I could use to supplement the publication of the physical copy. Truthfully, that didn’t turn out too successful lol. I eventually started looking sending my manuscript to publishing firms, but got turned down by quite a few. To be honest, at the time I published the ebook, I did not incorporate the growth in my writing skill into it. I was lazy about developing it further. I just wanted to let the book be out because I had started writing it long before and school was getting in the way. I eventually found a publishing firm (Amab) whose editor was patient enough to work with me and let my growth be reflected in my work. As for the Christian message, not many Nigerian publishing firms were looking for that sort of thing so yes, that posed as a problem too. 

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:  Wow as a fellow writer I can absolutely relate to that. Are there any publishers you would recommend for Christian writers? Also do you plan on having a publishing outfit later on?

O. Depo-Oyedokun:  I would definitely recommend the publishing firm I used i.e Amab Books. Most publishers in Nigeria are actually either focused on religious books (devotionals and the likes), inspirational books and some such as Cassava Republic, Safari, Parresia amongst others are looking for books with strong African themes which my book didn’t really reflect. Of course, if your writing does capture both African and Christian themes and is of good quality, it would be great to consider.
I have actually thought of having a publishing firm at a very latter stage of my life for Christian creative writers. Just a mild thought though. 

I believe that there is a level of bias as regards gender even in the church. I have noticed that in a good number of  churches, the pastors/ministers’ seats are hardly filled with women.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:  That’s good to know. One of your tweets which caught my attention was the one where you talked about how we need more women called to preach in the church. I don’t know if you can remember. Anyway there has been more campaigns like #ChurchToo for eradication of sexual discrimination in the Church. What are your thoughts on that?

O. Depo-Oyedokun:  Yes, I definitely remember that tweet. I believe that there is a level of bias as regards gender even in the church. I have noticed that in a good number of churches, the pastors/ministers seats are hardly filled with women. For most of these conventions, you hardly see women invited unless it’s a women’s, family or marriage convention or unless, they are called to worship. I personally find it annoying because I do not believe the only form of revelation or teaching women of God could give is based on marriage and family. There’s a lot more to our ministry than that. I was discussing this with a male friend once and he said that it’s not like most women have indicated interest in wanting to go into preaching. But the thing is they have been fed an image for so long where it’s the men that preach and the women sing or do anything else so they’re likely to not even think of opposing the system.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That‘s good to hearI believe personally that as women theres a lot we can accomplish even in the church if we are just allowed to exert our full potential.

O. DepoOyedokun: Let me not even begin to talk about how preachings on marriage in the church lay out more responsibilities for the women than the men. 

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s good to hear. I believe personally that as women there’s a lot we can accomplish even in the church if we are just allowed to exert our full potential.

O. DepoOyedokun: Let me not even begin to talk about how preachings on marriage in the church lay out more responsibilities for the women than the men.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I know right. It is my hope that the church would train men to be husbands in as much it trains women to be wives.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: To be honest. Even the Bible lays out more responsibilities for men in that regard.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: True true. Back to your book. Which of the characters is your favourite and why?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Hehe. My favourite character is actually Valerie, the main character’s best friend. Firstly, she is short and I have a natural affinity for short ladies (because I am too lol). I also like how much of a great friend she is. She’s determined to help Feyikemi become the better version of herself, tries to help her make the right choices, sticks with Feyikemi and is generally just a great support system. 

Never try to shrink the Christianity in your voice just so it seems more appealing to more…Be willing to accept constructive criticism…Someone out there needs your message no matter how small you might think it is..

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: #ShortGirlsWinning. I also liked Valerie. She was like the more sensible person.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Yes oo

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Asides prose writing do you write in any other genre?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Yes, I write poetry too. I have also dabbled in plays a bit.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s nice. Thinking of going into spoken word?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Yes. I have actually performed at a few places in Ibadan (where I mostly stay) but I plan on starting a YouTube channel for my spoken words this year and performing live more.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s good to know.So I’ll be asking you a few playful questions.Ready?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Bring it on!

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Pepsi or Coke?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Coke please! That’s the original Cola drink. Every other one is a canstafist.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Loooool. Okay Jenifa’s Diaries or Skinny Girl in Transit?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Wow. This is really a tough one for me lol, but I’ll go with Skinny Girl in Transit, even though this last season annoyed me a lot.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I could tell.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Lol.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Favourite Youtubers?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: I love Atang Agwe (lipsoflove) and Sisiyemmie.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I love them too. I didn’t know Atang was a Youtuber. I just know her on Twitter.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Oh her YouTube channel is for her spoken words. Sisiyemmie became dearer to my heart when she helped me experience #Baad2017 with her vlogs.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Sam Smith or Adele?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Sam Smith! His voice is just soo soothing.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Twitter or Instagram?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Twitter! Apart from the fact that instagram consumes my data like crazy, Twitter is just always a fun place to be.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Instagram is such a data consumer to be honest. Favorite African writers?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sefi Atta, Teju Cole, Lola Shoneyin, Ben Okri, Chinua Achebe, Mayowa Depo-Oyedokun(not only because she’s my sister)and Uwem Akpan.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Terrific list!

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Thanks!

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: To wrap up, what would be your advice to younger women coming in as Christian creatives?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Never try to shrink the Christianity in your voice just so it seems more appealing to more. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to use your gift the way God has sent you to use it. Be willing to accept constructive criticism. Corrigibility is essential for growth. Believe in your voice. Someone out there needs your message, no matter how small you might think it is.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:Nice nice nice. It was beautiful chatting with you Oyinda. Wishing you more exploits in Jesus Name.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: It was lovely chatting with you too, Angel! This blog will go places.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Thanks and Amen.

Reinventing Friendship amongst Black Women: A Review of Toni Morrison’s “Sula”

The summer holidays can get quite boring if not planned and so I have developed the habit of downloading books off the internet and reading. I just finished reading Sula by Toni Morrison and it was an absolutely thrilling read which is so beautiful as it is my first Toni Morrison book.

The story of Sula is set in a town called the Bottom which is also in a larger part of Medallion and the Bottom is ironically the hilly unfruitful part of Medallion and is majorly habited by black people. It is told in a chronological order and has the shadow of the First and Second World Wars in it.

The novel Sula is eponymously named after one of the major characters and explores her friendship with Nel. They are both only children born to distant mothers and what we can best describe as absentee fathers. While Nel Wright can best be described as the conformer, Sula on the other is very much a non conformist much to the disapproval of everyone. One occasion that shows this is when Sula cuts off her finger to scare off a boy who has been disturbing Nel.

Their friendship however suffers a deep strain when Sula returns from college after a long period of being away from the Bottom and sleeps with Nel’s husband Jude. This in turn earns Sula the reputation of being a seductress and rebel as she doesn’t settle for the conventional role of wife and mother which Nel has settled for and is even rumored to sleep with white men. This hatred is so deep that even at the point of Sula’s death, none of the town’s people pay her burial good respects. They instead come to mock it. It is at this point that Nel realizes that Sula just like her is a product of a society that disregards both women and black people such that being a black woman is being the mule of the world to use Zora Neale Hurston’ s words. 

Asides the fact that Sula is such a powerful commentary on black womanhood, what I really admire about Morrison’s writing is the lyricism of her words. Reading Sula for me was like listening to a combination of spoken word poetry and jazz music. Take for instance her description of the arrangement of grass like stones. 

Another thing I really admire about this work is that even though I am a black African woman, a lot of the race related issues discussed were things I could relate to and things that are still very much a part of the African American community. This despite the fact that Sula was published in 1973; to give one such example, Sula is shamed for sleeping with white men by black men who would most likely see sleeping with a white woman as an achievement. This still rings true today as black women such as Serena Williams (to give a recent example) are shamed for ending up in relationships with white men. 

Even in the black African community, most African men would frown at the concept of an African woman marrying a white man on the grounds that it is disloyal, but they themselves would boast of their sexual escapades with white women. 

All in all, Sula was a beautiful read and I would personally recommend it to anyone who wants to have a start in African American literature and in particular women centered black writings. 

The End 

By Angel C. Nduka-Nwosu

July 2017

Everything Is Not Fine

Everything is not fine

Because majority of rape victims are female

Everything is not fine

Because Female Genital Mutilation still exists

Everything is not fine

Because women are underrepresented in politics and all major professional fields
Everything is not fine

Because cooking is still seen as a woman’s role
Everything is not fine

Because most countries still don’t recognize that marital rape is possible
Everything is not fine

Because an overwhelming majority of the victims of child marriage are female

Everything is not fine

Because women are given respect based on their marital status and not based on their intellect
Everything is not fine

Because it is difficult as a single woman to rent property in Nigeria
Everything is not fine

Because women are still viewed as temporary members of their households 
Everything is not fine

Because women still do not have the right to inherit land in Igbo tradition
Everything is not fine 

Because male children are still priviledged and desired over female children
Everything is not fine

Because a woman is still subtly told she has to have a son to seal her presence in her marital home
Everything is not fine

Because women are told to normalize the above mentioned and many more to get on with life

The End 

By Angel C. Nduka-Nwosu

26th April 2017

You Fell in Love with a Screp*

You Fell in Love with a Screp*
So you fell in love with a screp
a self identified screp
and Papi you fell deep.
while you were still 
trying to get over the
silky chemicalized tresses
of your ex-girlfriend 
she had sworn that 
her hair would exist 
in its God given unrelaxed form
because it simply wasn’t stressed.
She dreamt in Solange,Angelique Kidjo,Asa
and spoke in Bez, Bryson Tiller, Marvin Gaye, Logic,
Sauti Sol and Falz
her spirit was quite comfortable 
dissecting the different types of black
never boringly fixated or too cliché.
You however dreamt in Desiigner, Travis Scott and The Weeknd
and spoke in Steph Curry,
Draymond Green and Dwayne Wade
your spirit was restless 
ever trying to navigate 
the different spaces 
of being a Nigerian teen.

but what you were aware of
was that asides the joy
gotten from Nutella
scoring three pointers was key.
You said it was her smile 
that got you
and she said it was your dimples 
that got her
but the one thing both of you bonded over
was your love for Burna Boy.

because your body count was the 
square of three
she felt it was just one 
more conquest for you
since she had 
never kissed a boy.
Burna Boy’s Pree Me was
playing in the background 
the day you finally kissed her after 
you had convinced her to.
She was scared afterall
to the extent that she cried 
herself to sleep
the night it happened
It was stupid really 
to give up something 
just because you wanted 
to please a guy.
She told you all of this 
and a part of you died from
guilt especially as you
had just been curious
But were you really “just curious”?.
She couldn’t listen to Burna 
without feeling a sense of loss
and so she ended it
after weeks of going back and forth.
weeks where she questioned 
if she liked you 
because she really did 
or because she was supposed
to play along with a particular script.
You would come to love 
her screpiness though
those days when 
she laughed so hard
you could swear 
you saw green roses
topple out of her Afro
yeah green roses
hers was an Afrocentric;
Sankara inspired quirkiness.
but still you could tell 
that her screpiness
was only part of the carapace
built to protect herself 
she thought if she didn’t look beautiful enough
in the first place
then there would 
never have been imprints 
of fingers on her cheeks 
from boys who couldn’t take no.
So now you lie to yourselves 
that you are just friends 
and give each other side hugs
you both don’t want any title 
it would turn everything
into  a long boring prose narrative.
But her love has grown on you
and like a scratchy sweater 
on a cold harmattan morning 
you can’t take it off.
And she tries each time
to erase the tattoo of your name 
that has been etched 
into the fabric of her soul
But your cologne just won’t help.
The End
By Angel C. Nduka-Nwosu
*Screp: Term often used in Nigerian private universities e.g Babcock to describe someone who seemingly doesn’t take care of their appearance or is annoying like a pest or doesn’t conform to set standards either on behaviour or ideas about beauty. The first definition holds more ground. It can be used in a gentle self mocking tone or as a downright insult.