Everyone deserves a champion

The first photo on BBC photo news of A male feminist’s view on African women looks very much like Mama Oloole at work. If that was Mama Oloole, she would have fed Oole (beans cake) to a number of the people in my village for breakfast before setting out to Eku (designated place where palm oil processing takes place).

Mama Oloole is not so unique in doing multiple jobs to keep family afloat, however, she is very different from many other brave/courageous women because she questioned and made our traditions work to her advantage.


Traditionally in Yorubaland,  when a husband dies, the wife would be taken over by another male in the family. Arrangement can be made that the widow stays where she lived especially when the ‘new husband’ already has his own family however, everyone around would have knowledge of this as he is free to come for conjugal visits as much as he likes.

God knows what happens if the woman has multiple crushes within the family – drama, am told.

Mama Oloole got married just after puberty as was the custom that time in the late 1950’s. Her husband unfortunately passed away very young leaving Mama Oloole and six children behind.

As adult when I asked why Mama Oloole never had someone to take her as Opo (widow), I was told Mama Oloole refused all the advances from all male members of the family. She preferred to stay in her house and keep working on the farms while raising her children.

Smart choice, I thought. Mama Oloole had very big farm bigger than quite a few men in my village including my father’s. If she remarried, her farm will be automatically taken over by the new husband. Given she was in her early forty by the time her husband departed, it is very likely she will be ‘made’ to have children for the new man and her children were likely to be priority to just her and not the new husband’s.

She maintained adult relationship with a male member of her husband’s family but never married the man. Village women and family planning – curious.

In July this year when an Ikeja chief, Oba Rauf Adeniyi Aremu Matemi passed away and there were commotions about rituals being performed at broad day light sending panics to citizens. I remember how Mama Oloole in my village managed to convince the elders to move  Oro rituals  to late in the evening when everyone likely to be inside their house or move it away from the path she takes home. 

Mama Oloole always returns to the village later than anyone else, always with lanterns. My village prohibits some work done in the village – all women related ones, had to done in a designated place called Eku as a way to keep the village clean. Activities such as extracting of Ekuro (palm seed) which is commonly performed in the villages around is among the ones no one is allowed to do in the village because of the hard shells – far enough.

Mama Oloole’s reasoning was if she was to live by this rule, then male-exclusive rituals such as Oro should wait until she returns safely in her house.

Mama Oloole is in her 80’s now, isn’t as strong as she used to be. Looking back, she has lived, inspired many along the way. Did I mention she was funny?

She is one of my inspirational women.

I wish her many more happy years ahead in good health.


Categories: Africa, Nigeria, Women

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Incredible material here for a great literary piece….. The levels you could take this to & the angles you steer it through are endless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve just visited the BBC page myself and one of that Nana Kofi Acquah asked also puzzles me – Why a man is insecure in front of a powerful successful woman…even well-educated men? I find that a most baffling issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right on point.
      A sister once asked why I always pick on women? My answer to her was that women are my heroes so tend to watch what we do. If I focus on our men especially the so called educated ones, I’d be on permanent anti depressant. Even when they thought they were supporting/compliment women, drips from their lips more insulting than the compliments.

      Oh well, it can be worse. At least it is becoming more acceptable to present women in positive lights.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh man, here I go again – disagreeing with a woman I dearly love as a friend – as a “man” I reckon I have to speak up for my species. In my opinion, men, especially ‘so-called educated’ men have no qualms respecting and adoring smart, intellectually superior women, not at all (hello Michelle Obama) nor do they resent having to work with/under their leadership. I have found that the men (and admittedly there are a few) who hold such reservations often have personal issues of sexual identity confronting them that they refuse to address. No, my friend, a permanent prescription for depression would not be your lot if you turned your wonderfully brilliant light upon them. At times, compliments come hard from some of us, primarily based on a rejection of same by women in one forum or another – “once burned forever scorned” – stay in tune with us, not all of us are worthy of the slag heap; and this fact I know you are aware of. I thoroughly enjoyed the BBC link, utterly fascinating and powerful to realize there are far more “Michelle’s” on the continent than we in this dreck of a country are led to believe. One of whom (in my mind’s eye) is you. Stay strong and shed a tear – or two – for your brothers, life has not always been kind to them. Just ask my “best friend”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you! I do appreciate being disagreed with especially when it comes from a ‘friend’ of my foe.

          Seriously, focusing on our men could hurts one psychologically and as I said the so called educated ones are worse. See, you could talk for hours and have plenty to chat about in principle on most subjects but hey if a topic of gender inequality surfaced, you’d quickly see where most brains are: using lame excuse ‘our culture’ to justify the disgraced attitude towards women.

          I hear you re “once burned forever scorned” but we do have a long way to go on the continent to allow women much deserved opportunity to make decisions about their lives.

          Agree, there are plenty of US FLOTUS on the continent but me? Who, thank you for thinking go me that way, I do appreciate it – now gotta run before you change your mind.

          Liked by 1 person

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