It is undeniable that Nigeria runs on patriarchy. From the elevation of male children to the continuous minimizing of the basic rights of girls and women, the patriarchy is everywhere.
But feminism had become mainstream in the country, women (and men) demanding that females everywhere be afforded equal rights as males everywhere.
Perhaps because of how conservative our society remains, a question often posed at these feminists is: who will marry you? Which is why we’re speaking to people who have married these feminists, hearing from them firsthand what they love about who they love. Catch up the previous editions My Partner Is a Feminist HERE.
Today, we’re sharing the story of Nduka and Iquo. Nduka, is a 41-year-old IT professional married to the feminist Iquo and he spoke to us about the dynamics of their relationship.
I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where I had my formative years in a home where patriarchy was the norm. From the “morals” and “values” that disproportionately applied to women, to household chores that were only for the girls and a sexism that was casual—these things only strengthened my stance for equality and respect for women.
I try to avoid labelling myself so I’m represented accurately based on my opinions, not any group which has wide spectrum of ideas. But I guess one might say I’m a feminist in the traditional sense that I am passionate about gender equality and believe that women should be respected and should have access to the same opportunities.
My idea of feminism is creating opportunity and equality for all regardless of their gender. I also don’t think that feminism should be seen as an exception to the rule but rather a part of our human rights.
We laugh every time we tell people how and where we met, because she’s an atheist and we met in church about 24 years ago. Even as a teenager, I knew there was something different about her compared to the other girls. She had a mind of her own; she was very direct in her approach, a very determined individual and a non-conformist, which I admired. I guess she was a feminist before either of us knew it was a thing. We didn’t need to have that conversation because we shared and still share similar ideologies and views on life.
I had always known she was a feminist and although no label was put on it, I knew she was passionate about equality, in fairness and changing the status quo in terms of what society thought women should or could do. She’s more vocal (almost militant) about feminism than I am. 🙂
Being Married to Iquo
When we first got married, conservative people couldn’t understand how or why she wouldn’t conform and why I “allowed” her do many of the things she was passionate about. Like when she got this amazing job in another country, which meant she had to travel for work and I looked after our one year old. My dad called with what he thought was good fatherly advice on how a woman should be at home with her child. With family one has to set boundaries, and they have to understand that even though they might come with good intentions. They are not the ones in your marriage nor do they know the things that make your marriage tick.
We have two kids, a ten year old and a six year old, and they are treated the same based on their abilities instead of their sexes. There are no “gender roles” in our house, and I’ve become a more empathetic listener. We have a marriage that is a partnership full of love, support, and a (fairly) equal division of labor.
There was also another (non)issue of her not changing her maiden name five years after we got married. For us, there wasn’t even a discussion. I didn’t see it as a slight on my masculinity or any other nonsense as most people thought. She had a career she had built before we got married and I’m secure enough to know our marriage is much more than just a name change.
To be honest, I wouldn’t say there are downsides to being to a feminist. There are downsides with being partnered with the wrong person whether they are feminists or not, and I’ve learned that marriage is an equal partnership but it does not mean that things are 100% equal all the time. We all have our strengths.
We get into these discussions or as she likes to call them: opportunity to educate and eradicate. I remember once my mum had asked her if she was looking after me and feeding me well as part of her wife duties. Iquo said something along the lines that it was every parent’s duty to raise, strong, independent and self sufficient kids who would grow up not to be a burden, and any parent who couldn’t accomplish that had failed.
I would marry her a thousand times. For me it’s not just the fact our hearts springs from the same soil, or that she birthed two amazing kids, but that she’s trying in her own little way to create a world with new thinking and embrace opportunities and open new channels for collective growth.
Do you or your spouse want to be featured on My Partner is a Feminist? Please send an e-mail to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com with the subject line “My Partner is a Feminist,” and we’ll proceed from there.