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African men and their fragile egos

Por: | 04 de septiembre de 2016

Por Edwige Renée Dro (*) 

Text in Spanish

I had been wondering what to write about for this blog until I came across this photo on Facebook:

Young-barack-michelle-obama-e1339179859584

The skinny Barack Obama being embraced by Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, now most commonly known to the world as Michelle Obama. The photo, incidentally shared by an African man, was accompanied by a comment in which said man admonished his “sisters to stand by their men in their moments of brokeness”.  The photo was evidence enough of what he did not say but which no intelligence was required to guess at: “He is now the president of the United States and she is the First Lady”. As if being a First Lady is what Michelle Obama had always aspired to.  And as if being a First Lady is what we, his “sisters”, aspire to. Notwithstanding that point however, let’s place this within its context.

Barack and Michelle Obama met in 1989 at Sidley Austin, the law firm where they were both working then.  

Michelle Obama graduated from Princeton University in 1985 before going to earn a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1988.  She has held various positions, including that of assistant to the Mayor of Chicago, Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development, Executive Director of non-profit organisations, Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago…  I could go on but I will leave it there.

So Michelle wasn’t some little woman waiting for her Prince Charming, whom when she found him, decided to bear with his supposed brokeness.  Barack Obama had potential and so did, and does, Michelle.

There is this vilification by some African men of African women that their “sisters” cannot take the rough, and when the “sisters” explain, in an objective way, why they refuse to take any rough especially when there isn’t a smooth to balance things out, some of our African men whose ego is as fragile as a badly-used thread, decide to resort to insults.  

See that song by the Ivorian singer Josey, entitled Diplome.  In Diplome, Josey asks a rhetorical question to her boyfriend, “What kind of study doesn’t end?”  A question that was asked to parody some Ivorian men’s refusal to marry their concubines of sometimes many years with whom they have had children, on the basis that they are studying her. Her behaviour, that is. It makes you wonder why they went and fathered children with the woman whose behaviour they are still studying but I’m sure that as some African men say that a woman is called to be married, so some will also say that a woman who has borne no children has no value. So you see, it is a favour and we should be grateful.  

At the end of the song, Josey leaves the relationship, after having told the man that she’s proved herself enough and should be set free if the man doesn’t want to marry her.  A great song, with an empowering message for some of our sisters who think that the infidelities of a man need to be borne with because “That’s how men are oh”.  A great song also because it has a great tune, but a retort had to be given. When I say that our men’s ego is fragile, you think I lie?

It started with Facebook posts:

[Good morning degree Josey 

You see this woman on the photo her name is  Georgette 
Before her famous footballer married her they spent 9 years together despite the fact that her husband was a champion in djandjouya [skirt-chaser] she bore with it she never said since you are not marrying me i’m gonna go look elsewhere

By keeping silent she is married to her samuel etoo fils she stayed the fire woman behind her great man.  See her jetting around the world shopping and check this her engagement ring cost 500 000 euro 
You Josey with your gap tooth like a couloir at koumassi sicogi filled with mice keep giving bad advice to your younger sisters talking about Diplôme]

R. Hamilton

The fact is that Georgette Eto bore with the infidelities of her husband and today, she has got the prize: marriage and shopping, and jetting around in private jets and the engagement ring that cost an eye-watering sum of money.  R. Hamilton ends with, “… keep on giving bad advice to your sisters …”

13502127_1135910323146926_8461954773496586187_n

The message is that, “Bear with your man’s infidelities. Who cares for any sexually-transmitted disease you might chop?  Or the emotional pain? Don’t you know African women are strong?  That’s why our men are always depicting us as women carrying the babies on our backs and going to the river to get water or pounding the rice for the evening meal while they sit under the baobab tree drinking tea. African women are strong".

It didn’t just end with the Facebook posts; a song even got written by Goodboys, which was entitled Josey Diplome Version Homme.  The underlying message was that the behaviour had to be studied because the man has been with the woman for 10 years and yet, nothing changes.  So why should he marry her?  Who knew that African men were masochists also?  Or perhaps greatly charitable?  Look at them bearing with their women’s bad behaviour and not lifting a finger to change the situation.  That baobab tree has a lot to answer for.

I think where relationships are concerned, everyone is free to decide what works for them. But it is when some African men – the memes are usually, if not always shared by African men – decide to pad their fragile egos with ill-advised advices that the problem starts.  As well as being strong, African women are intelligent.  Google has saved the life of every person.  Michelle Obama didn’t see in Barack Obama the man who was going to lift her from an empty life so she had to play sweet.  Georgette Eto decides in which way to navigate her relationship, but if Josey, and other African women say that a relationship in which their dignity is trampled upon does not suit them, then, they have the right to express that and make changes.  The cure for a fragile ego is not to share ill-informed comments or trade in insults; therapists are not that expensive if the treatment they provide is seen as an investment.

(*) Edwige Renée Dro es marfileña. Periodista, escritora, traductora, bloguera y pluma seleccionada por el proyecto Africa39 como uno de los 39 mejores escritores menores de 40 años en África subsahariana. Dirige un club de lectura en Abiyán, centrado en literatura africana y denominado Abidjan Lit (Abiyán lee), y forma parte de incontables proyectos de creación y difusión literaria panafricanos. Lo suyo es el 'writivism', una mezcla de escritura y activismo.

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Sobre los autores

Lola Huete Machado. Redactora de El País y El País Semanal desde 1993, ha publicado reportajes sobre los cinco continentes. Psicóloga y viajera empedernida, aterrizó en Alemania al caer el muro de Berlín y aún así, fue capaz de regresar a España y contarlo. Compartiendo aquello se hizo periodista. Veinte años lleva. Un buen día miró hacia África, y descubrió que lo ignoraba todo. Por la necesidad de saber fundó este blog. Ahora coordina la sección Planeta Futuro.

Chema Caballero Chema Caballero. Llegó a África en 1992 y desde entonces su vida giró en torno a sus gentes, su color y olor, sus alegrías y angustias, sus esperanzas y ganas de vivir. Fue misionero javeriano y llevó a cabo programas de educación y recuperación de niñ@s soldado en Sierra Leona durante dos décadas, que fueron modelo.

José NaranjoJosé Naranjo. Freelance residente en Dakar desde 2011. Viajó al continente para profundizar en el fenómeno de las migraciones, del que ha escrito dos libros, 'Cayucos' (2006) y 'Los Invisibles de Kolda' (2009), que le llevaron a Marruecos, Malí, Mauritania, Argelia, Gambia, Cabo Verde y Senegal, donde aterrizó finalmente. Le apasiona la energía que desprende África.

Ángeles JuradoÁngeles Jurado. Periodista y escritora. Trabaja en el equipo de comunicación de Casa África desde 2007. Le interesa la cultura, la cooperación, la geopolítica o la mirada femenina del mundo. De África prefiere su literatura, los medios, Internet y los movimientos sociales, pero ante todo ama a Ben Okri, Véronique Tadjo y Boubacar Boris Diop, por citar solo tres plumas imprescindibles.

Chido OnumahChido Onumah. Reputado escritor y periodista nigeriano. Trabaja como tal en su país y en Ghana, Canadá e India. Está involucrado desde hace una década en formar a periodistas en África. Es coordinador del centro panafricano AFRICMIl (en Abuja), enfocado en la educación mediática de los jóvenes. Prepara su doctorado en la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Su último libro se titula 'Time to Reclaim Nigeria'.

Akua DjanieAkua Djanie. Así se hace llamar como escritora. Pero en televisión o en radio es Blakofe. Con más de tres lustros de carrera profesional, Akua es uno de los nombres sonados en los medios de su país. Residente en Reino Unido, fue en 1995, en uno de sus viajes a Ghana, cuando llegó su triunfo televisivo. Hoy vive y trabaja entre ambos países. La puedes encontrar en su página, Blakofe; en la revista New African, en Youtube aquí o aquí...

Beatriz Leal Riesco Beatriz Leal Riesco. Investigadora, docente, crítica y comisaria independiente. Nómada convencida de sus virtudes terapéuticas, desde 2011 es programadora del African Film Festival de NYC. Sissako, Mbembe, Baldwin y Simone la cautivaron, lanzándose a descubrir el arte africano y afroamericano. Su pasión aumenta con los años.

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