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Cisi Eze: Lessons of 2017

Cisi Eze

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There were so many lessons learnt in 2017! Aside experiences with people and situations, reading and a little bit of travelling have contributed to my education this year. Would it not be so delightful bragging about the number of books I read this year? But as the good woman I am, I would not want to pepper some people into authentic bitterness.

I will share few of those things I learnt (and realised) this year.

  1. Try not to stifle all the persons in you by conforming to stereotypes of a label. As I often say, humans are like oceans – profound, vast, ever-changing. Labels are like cups. A cup cannot hold an ocean. Society can choke on labels.
  1. When you hold a progressive thought that works in developed countries, Nigerians say you are going against our culture. Does that mean our culture is backwards?
  1. Madness believes it is sane because it has not run into the street naked. Many people are mad. Sadly, social media heightens it, because phone screens empower us to be more expressive.
  1. That something is normal does not make it right. Before upholding a cultural practice, ask for its origin and make sure it is tenable and logical in the 21st century.
  1. For some reason, some people believe being anti-establishment is voguish. Being irreligious, feminist, pro-LGBT, et al, is not a trend.
  1. Society invented virginity, slut-shaming, and circumcision in a bid to tie women’s sexuality to men. We flatter the phallus when we say the absence of penetrative sex means one is a virgin. If you have experienced sexual activity and pleasure in whatever form, you are not a virgin. Not all of us were born with hymens, to start with.
  1. Polygamy was created for economic reasons, not because men are polygamous in nature. Women are as polygamous as men are.
  2. Do not use sexism to mask the fact that you are an irresponsible and inadequate adult. No one owes you anything: quit feeling entitled. It is your duty to cook your food, fix your car, pay your bills, et al. “I can do it for myself, but I  want my…” Just do it yourself!
  1. Feminists (male and female) should not play the system. Playing the system only reinforces the system you want to change.
  1. Women changing names after marriage buttresses the concept that women are visible only when attached to men. If it does not make sense when a man does it, it does not make sense when a woman does it.
  1. Love does not come with terms, conditions, and entitlements. When you really love someone, you do not think of the things you can get from him or her. You just want to do things for them, because it makes them happy. Society places expectations on people, but because we love them, we do not have to feel entitled. Love is giving, going the extra-mile, without expecting anything in return. This makes me feel that romantic relationships, in the patriarchal context, are frauds, because of the many entitlements.
  1. “Life is too short to be at war with yourself.” This one is for gay and bisexual people who use homophobia as a defence mechanism. Hating and condemning people like you will not make you love and accept yourself. Repression is not erasure.
  1. “Understanding is the first step to acceptance.” – J.K. Rowling. No one was born bigoted. Homophobes need to be educated on sexuality. Some literate people have decided to be uneducated, because they have refused to read.
  1. Love is infinite. You can love more than one person, with the same intensity. Loving your partner does not mean you love your child or your parents any less. That your partner feels intensely for another person does not necessarily mean he/she does not love you. Most of us are not as monogamous as we have been led to believe. Love and sex – just like religion and spirituality – are different notions we must learn to differentiate. You can love someone deeply and not want to have sex with him/her. You can want to have sex with someone and not love him/her. You love a person, not the sex organ. You can love anyone, if you allow yourself. You love and connect with the mind, not necessarily the sex organ.
  1. What is the assurance that a religion that did not give an accurate account of the origin of life has given the accurate account of the afterlife? Please, how can we explain two Middle-Easterners mutated into four different races if we debunk the veracity of evolution? It is okay to be religious, but it is highly reprehensible when you use your religion to peddle sexism, homophobia, and all other shades of prejudice. Most importantly, your religion should be personalised: do not use it as a yardstick to appraise other people. Let people go to hell in peace if they are not hurting you. If they make you uncomfortable, simply look away. It gets more interesting that you are likely going to hell according to another religion.

There are more thoughts, but I felt I should share these ones. For now.

P.S. “To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – J.K. Rowling. I know Ohakwe Akwiwu is on an adventure.

Ever since December 2nd, I don’t even know how the days have gone by. It is like my mind is frozen; like, I am floating, suspended, in time. This has been the longest month, and it has been the shortest month. Until now, I could have wagered I had learnt how to wade around my emotions, but now that I have encountered grief, I am clueless.

It is like this cosmic joke – the one person I would have loved to talk with is the one person I cannot talk with. I got a mail and I was almost calling him, only to realise he would not answer.

He was my male bestie, Partner-In-Crime, Onye Foto, Major Fan, Mans, Husband-In-Waiting, and every other thing in between. I will miss pitching ideas at him in order to pick his brains. I will miss lacing fingers with him and caressing my thumb with his’. Then our private jokes, and how we threw shade at people together. Always shady, ever messy. I will miss lunch dates. Last time I had period cramps, he told me we would get ice cream. We never did. He told me he had a surprise for me this December and I know this – leaving – was not the surprise.

Because the mind can go any length to cope, I imagine he is on a trip. At a point, I felt my mind was going to break. Like, I would just start laughing maniacally, or get catatonic.

Catch you later, Ohakwe! Te amo antes, ahora, después, y para siempre más un día.

And I am pissed at LUTH! He did not have to leave like that.

Cisi Eze is a Lagos-based freelance journalist, writer, comic artist, and graphics designer. She feels strongly about LGBT+ rights, feminism, gender issues, and mental health, and this is expressed through her works on Bella Naija and her blog – Shades of Cisi. Aside these, she has works on Western Post NG, Kalahari Review, Holaafrica, Mounting the Moon, Gender IT, Outcast Magazine, Rustin Times, 14: An Anthology of Queer Art Volume 1 and 2, and Sweet Deluge (Issue 2). Her first book, published by Tamarind Hill Press, UK, is titled “Of Women, Edges, and Parks”.Cisi’s art challenges existing societal norms.

9 Comments

  1. Weezy

    December 21, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Your writing (on BN at least) has definitely improved since when you first started. This was clear, concise and thought-provoking.

    And yes OF COURSE our culture is backward. Not on everything (eg the emphasis on family), but definitely on gender and sexuality.

  2. CrazyWorld

    December 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I won’t point out your sexist undertone in this article because you are mourning. I shouldn’t even say this but if you choose to write this kind of topic when you are mourning then……..

  3. CHIKA

    December 21, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Ooooh Cisi! To think you were going all these and you were still there!!!! I get you almost perfectly. At that point with that one person presently even though he is still in this Cosmos. Be strong Darling. Nos 2, 11, 14, 15 got me well placed now. Thank you for sharing your lessons of 2017.

  4. Jummy

    December 21, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Hello Cisi, I agree with most of what you’ve written but I’d like to point out where i disagree.

    5. Being anti-establishment should not be a trend, but it most certainly has/could become a trend. Where do you think SJWs came from?

    6. Cisi please for technicality sake, a virgin is someone who hasn’t had “PENETRATIVE” sex. Yeah i know it may he somehow to call someone who has done it all but sex a virgin but it’s what it is. Which one is flattering the phallus again? Gosh you sound like an SJW and a victim always blaming everything on men. The hell? This point really shocked me. Also, Not everyone conforms to a humanistic POV. To Christians and religious people, virginity and circumcision are part of the tenets of their religion.

    8. Yes I can take care of myself, but I want my man to spoil me silly too, in fact we’ll both spoil each silly! Sue me!

    10. For argument sake, let’s take Nigeria and Africa out of the equation because marriage needs huge reform here. In the West, what negative implications does chaging your name after marriage offer? I’m curious? Can she still not take the house and half his earnings after the divorce? Is she defined by only the fact that’s married? Michelle Obama took her husband’s name, yet she’s known much than being the wife of Barack. Taking your husband’s name hasn’t affected women in the West negatively, why should this be a “feminsit goal” so to speak? Now I’m not saying that women HAVE to take their husbands’ names, by all means do you. But don’t bash women who choose to take their husband’s name by speaking something about conforming to blah blah blah abeg.

    12. As a Christian, I am constantly at war with myself. I’m at war with doing what God wants and what the flesh wants, becsuse those are 2 different things. I’m guessing Christian homosexuals are also faced with this. Not saying the answer is homophobia, but the struggle is valid.

    15. Not even gonna get started on this one.

    This makes it looks like feminism is a men against women thing. No one is winning here as we both need each other and complement each other.

    Funny enough, Cisi reminds me of the me 2 years ago, reading Simone Beauvoiur and what not. Oh how I’ve changed. LOL

  5. Loki

    December 21, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    I really like Cisi Eze; if only because she gives a certain strain of people ulcer.
    Sorry your “I’m not really sure who he was to you” died. It’ll get better.

  6. Brainstorm

    December 22, 2017 at 8:50 am

    So sorry for your loss, Cisi.

  7. Zedzed

    December 22, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Those who talk about believing in evolutionary explanation for human existence, using it as an example to to prove the irrationality of people who believe in creation should think about the fact that “The evolutionary theory” has remained just that, A THEORY.
    That means as there is no proof for creation, there is similarly no proof of evolution otherwise it would have become “The evolutionary Principle”.
    So both believers and non-believers in God are “Irrational” if we want to be scientific about it.
    Cisi, you seem like an intelligent woman but you have to go all the way and not stop halfway through

  8. zzzzzzzzzzz

    December 22, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    What really does it mean to be progressive? Even being progressive abroad is not acceptable to all. Let me give an example in the so called developed world a young woman comes of age and her mom gives her a female condom or a mother who buys condom for her son is seen as being progressive. Here in Nigeria your parents would rather advise you to wait till marriage. Is this being backward?

    • tunmi

      December 22, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      It’s being dangerous

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