By Tunde Asaju
In my Tuesday column in Daily Trust, I wondered if America would walk past the dark shadows of a Trump presidency and reinvent itself like the Phoenix. It did. For the second time in less than three decades America has put its fingers on the golden pen of history and written its name on there.
I stopped giving the middle finger about the Trump presidency because what cannot be helped must be endured. It is also true that no matter how long a nightmare lasts daybreak demystifies it. Trump was a monumental disaster, a stain on the conscience of a nation that lives trying to tell disruptive systems how to tow the line.
But the beauty of the victory of the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris presidency is perhaps the most significant milestone for the American Democratic Party. It broke from its racial past to elect an African-American as president for two full terms. Forget about where those terms left people of colour in America or the status of the black man globally. Focus on the symbolism of it and you get my point.
It was a shame to see the gains earned by that tokenism frittered away by Trump’s rhetoric, actions and extremely foul body language. Last week, America proved it could redeem itself; it dumped Trump into the dustbin of history, where it is expected to remain. It should never be recycled even as fertilizer for the organic growth of the tree of democracy.
A woman of colour, Kamala Harris is as close to the American presidency as they come – that is the second time the audacity of hope has bestowed something incredibly good on humanity. It is said that Ms. Harris provided the magic wand that moved thousands of voters of colour to the polls without risking their lives on the voting line. That is significant, but not as important to me as the fact that she is a woman of colour, who although is more Asian-American self identifies as African-American. However an adult self identifies, that is what they are.
I am pumped for her as a father of two of the loveliest girls in the world. I am pumped because I have always taught my girls to shatter glass ceilings, break taboos and ignore arcane traditions wherever it threatens to subjugate them. I believe they would.
Ms Harris is coming to the White House at a time religious extremists have brought tears into the eyes of actress RahamaSadau. Her offence was that she had a photoshoot that they felt revealed too much – too much being her bare back and covered bosom. These extremists believe that they had a right not to be offended by what a woman chooses to wear. They feel threatened by a woman’s decision to do a photoshoot. They believe it runs contrary to their orthodox religious values. These extremists constitute themselves into the moral police or hisbah of the Umma. I do not believe they have those rights.
I understand that Rahama had to eat her pride, recoil into the conservative shell they built for her and apologize. But even her apology is not enough. They would probably want to stone her to death to satisfy their carnivorous bay for blood. If they are so orthodox, they shouldn’t be on social media, they shouldn’t read books and God should never find them in cars when camels are a more spiritual way to travel.
There is an unwritten tale of three northern women – RahamaSadau has been their target for a long time. She is an accomplished actress while they are accomplished fools. She had resisted their hecklings and held her head high, but this time, they went for the jugular – they attacked her parents. In 2020, no parent should have to explain to anyone – what an adult child does. If she wins a laurel, its her call. If she ends up in jail, it’s her choice. The zealots know this, but they must appear holy like whitened sepulchers.
I love women! If their dressing tempts me, I have alternatives – the eyes have covers! I could approach them for friendship or for love, but if my loins are stirred because of what they wear, I lower my gaze and move on. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio advices a love-struck, love unrequited Romeo to – give liberty unto thine eyes, examine other beauties. If it was good for Shakespeare’s days and commanded by religion, it should be valid in 2020. The world should be progressing, not regressing, and so should the north and its mullahs!
If you think that the zealots of northern Nigeria were trying to preserve the sanctity of their faith, you are wrong. There is an Amazon on the prowl. Her name is Aisha Yesufu. She is an adult, married woman who observes the strict dress code of her religion. She is covered from head to toe, but her heart of a lioness is always exposed.
Aisha has stood for justice for those she knows but moreso for those she does not know. Where others chose the conspiratorial code of silence, she chooses to speak up – sorosoke. Her voice resonatesin thousands of decibels against tyranny and oppression. She would stare guns and bayonets and walk away from it in stride. Where men hide their balls, this lady grows hers with her daring fists.
For a Nigerian woman, she exudes virtually suicide mission. It’s like there is something in her stance that says – shoot me dead if you dare! Such a posture is as scary as it is attractive. If MalamYesufu doesn’t mind me saying so in a complimentary terms – Aisha your wife is beautiful, sir, lucky you!
Unfortunately, Aisha hits the headlines – as usual, because she stood out in the #EndSARS protests in the federal capital. Defiant and bold as they come, she dared those in uniforms of brutality and she is a warrior on social media. Aisha is the type of woman you don’t want to be caught in a tongue-lash battle with. But because the conservative elements in Northern Nigeria think she has carried her advocacy beyond their own nepotistic brief on advocacy, they went for her. When she confronted Goodluck Jonathan, she was their heroin. She remains mine!
They accused her of betraying her faith. At one point, they even accused her of being a Zionist agent, a tag they put on you when they want you dead. They excommunicated her from their faith as if she needed their endorsement to express her love for her God and her duty to humanity! Aisha is too much of an iron to be bent by their darts – she stands resolute.
Religious zealots love to cite the exploits of women of faith, some of who were married to exalted prophets – but they are not happy to know or encounter one – like Aisha Yesufu.
Zainab Naseer Ahmed is younger than the other two. She came into public limelight as a young graduate advocating for the rights of women to sanitary pads. For a section of the Nigerian nation that breeds uncontrollably, most girls miss out on education because they have their periods. They are not supposed to discuss this issues with their parents and their governments are too busy looting the treasury to put their sanitary welfare on the budget. So, Zainab started her advocacy and through it, brought through the plight of these young girls. She has raised thousands to meet the sanitary needs of these girls.
You would expect the zealots to bless her. No! They constantly go for her. She is exposing a part of a sad culture crying for change that they want to bury under the carpet. They spread malicious lies about her; they asked her to go and marrybecause if she married one of them, that’d be the end of her advocacy. She retorted – marriage is not an achievement! By the way, Zainab dresses according tosunnah! Occasionally she dabs a lipstick just to taunt them.
What is wrong with a woman in a photoshoot in 2020? How does a cleavage stop the rains from falling? How does it stop crops growing? How does it cause accidents on the road? How does it increase poverty and penury? How does it increase diseases and squalor or impede the supply of electricity? How does it stop kidnapping and ritual killing? These are the questions you would have loved to ask the pretend mullahs of decency who harass women in the public and slide into their DMs behind. If you ask them, they would quote scriptures but they won’t answer your question.
It is shameful that in today’s world, and of all the issues calling for our attention, people choose to police women’s dressings as the cure all to all our woes. When women are silent, the nation burns. Ms. Harris is unlikely to make these fundamentalists happy. They claim to love their mothers, but crave a society where women are never seen or heard. Theseones weren’t there when Margaret Thatcher was called the Iron Lady. They don’t care about the legacy of Indira Ghandhi. They keep silent on the exploits of Queen Amina of Zazzau. They don’t show the exploits of Angela Merkel to their daughters. They aren’t proud of elected female presidents of strictly Islamic nations as shinning examples.
So, dear consummate hypocrites, you will now have to deal with a Ms. Harris as vice president of still the strongest nation. You will have to stop going to the UAE because it has just ordered that those who perpetrate‘honour killings’ be tried like who they are – absolute cavemen and cold-blooded murderers. You will have to deal with Saudi Arabia, because it is gradually letting women drive and it has not caused fitna. If you ever leave your hellhole, you will see women, like Aisha Yesufu, RahamaSadau, Zainab Ahmed and Kamala Harris leading successful businesses, corporations and nations. You will die miserably, unknown, unsung in your orthodoxy, the world is marching on.
We know you’ll rather keep your female children in squalor; it’s your choice as long as the Nigerian state obliges you. We know you will rather marry them off than send them to school, again your choice because the Nigerian state allows you. What you should never be allowed to get away with is silencing any woman who decides to breathe, exhale or strive to be better than you would ever be.
To Ms. Harris, congratulations. Your history-making mandate is a challenge to the mullahs of fake decency; we hope your actions would give every little girls from the four winds the wings they need to fly. As a father of two awesome daughters and lover of women, I congratulate you for the symbolism of your election.
I just love women!