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USAfrica: Chimamanda, Feminism and her Misrepresentation of Igbo Culture. By Nkem Ekeopara

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Chimamanda, Feminism and her Misrepresentation of Igbo Culture.         By Nkem Ekeopara

 

USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com  @USAfricaLive

 

Increasingly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is becoming more known for her far left feminism advocacy than her fiction writing. The writer of the critically acclaimed novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, and the winner of Orange Prize among other prizes is using the fame she has attained through writing to advance her feminism cause. Absolutely, there’s nothing wrong with this except that she is now using it to manifest her extremely poor understanding of people’s culture, including the culture of her own people, the Igbo of South-eastern Nigeria.

Still smarting out from the controversy she stirred in the interview she had with Mrs Hillary Clinton where she used the undiplomatic word ‘upset’ to describe her feeling about Mrs Clinton’s twitter bio-data (where the superbly accomplished Hillary proudly listed Wife as a key part of who she is!), she quickly moved on to condemning the practice in Western societies where men open and close doors for ladies. For condemning this practice, which is an important aspect of chivalry, Adichie got a robust response from Dana Loesch. Dana Loesch is the National Rifle Association (NRA) spokesperson.

She told Adichie that she does not understand chivalry and that she should go back to her country and take up such causes like female genital mutilation (FGM) that is common in her country, Nigeria, rather than worrying about sexism in America. Some people have accused Loesch of racism. However, what I got from her response is a woman stepping out to defend an age long show of courtesy in her society. If in doing this she indirectly implied that Adichie is not part of that society so be it.

One had expected that after these two incidents that Adichie would become more circumspect in the pursuit of her extreme feminism cause. This expectation was dashed when one read a lot of Igbo people on social media strongly condemning her for denigrating Igbo culture. When I sought and understood what the issue was, I felt let down myself that Adichie could display that level of ignorance about Igbo culture.

The latest issue at stake is the rarely exercised culture [as in 1 out of 1million] where an Igbo woman “marries” another Igbo woman into her family for her husband; not for self. In Adichie’s understanding, this could well be lesbianism at play. This is absurd. Was her assertion meant to portray the Igbo society as tolerant and sophisticated? Whatever was her intent, she got it wrong, very wrong this time. Sure, the Igbo are tolerant and sophisticated, but not in that aspect.

As someone who grew up in a traditional Igbo setting, I’m very familiar with the culture that Adichie sought to misrepresent. Unlike what Adichie claimed, the sole reason for contracting such marriages is for procreation. This practice arose due to Igbo people’s obsession with male children and the way they respond to childlessness after marriage. The culture is and was never for the practice of lesbianism as she speculated during her talk as Keynote Speaker at the 7th Igbo Conference. This is the truth! And it’s absolute. I know several instances, but I shall limit myself to two instances of varied circumstances.

The first one is a woman, who had eight beautiful daughters. Even though the couple were contented and expressed this by aptly naming their last daughter Obumnekegwamachi, which literally means it’s not me that creates, tell God, the woman still hoped to have a male child. Unfortunately, the husband suddenly died. As the daughters grew up and got married off, it dawned on the woman that a day shall come when her household will be empty. So, she married a younger woman. Luckily, that woman had two male children for her. Those children are thriving in that family and relating well with their sisters, who are all married now. The thought of these two women sleeping together never sauntered into the mind of anyone in the community, because it’s not who the Igbo are. Indeed, Adichie is the one who has awakened that ugly thought in me. And it’s strange and very unreal to me. It’s strange and very unreal not just to me, but also to many Igbo people judging from their reactions on social media.

The other instance of this sort of marriage I know about is where a woman was married for many years, without having any child for her husband. The woman who was very industrious went and married a younger woman for her husband. She did it for no other reason than procreation. And they were blessed with children.

Presently, this practice is waning in Igbo land. It’s waning for three reasons.  First, the obsession for male children is decreasing. A lot of the Igbo people are beginning to realize that the female child is very important. Now, they crave for them. This is reflected in such names they give them like Nwanyibuihe, a woman is light/a resource. It is even true in the life of Adichie and many other women of Igbo ancestry like Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iwuala, late Professor Dora Akunyili, Ms. Arumma Oteh just to mention but a few.  Another reason why the practice is waning in Igbo land is due to advancement in science. Through intro vitro fertilization (IVF), a lot of couples hitherto childless are able to have children. And for those, who cannot afford the cost of IVF, they’re opting for adoption. It will just be a matter of time before this culture becomes extinct. Adichie should not through her feminism advocacy manufacture something unheard of in Igbo culture in its place.

Adichie is quite influential.  Her voice resonates with very young impressionable people across the globe. Her speaking engagements put her before highly esteemed and very powerful persons. Therefore, she should speak with utmost clarity when she wants to use the Igbo culture or any culture for that matter to advance her feminism cause. The impression she created in her referred talk titled, ‘Igbo bu Igbo’ which is the source of the current controversy left much room for speculation as to the real intent of the practice of women marrying women in Igbo land. Her question ‘but how do we know?’ during her talk was needless and almost marred her excellent talk for anyone conscious of that aspect of Igbo culture as this sought to create doubt about the real intent of the practice.  

That Adichie is a writer of note is not in doubt. This cannot be overstressed. So, I don’t believe what some people are saying that she is deliberately stirring up these controversies to attract attention. She already has the attention. She has the attention of the Igbo. She has the attention of the world. And as a person, I’m proud of her and her achievements.

However, she should be humble enough to understand that she is not an authority in all areas of human endeavour. She should consult such authorities or research more on issues and be open and detailed with her findings to avoid future faux pas.

•Ekeopara is a columnist here at USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com, first African-owned, US-based newspaper published on the internet.

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AFRICA

Military coup in Gabon collapses overnight….

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Military coup in Gabon collapses overnight....

Special to USAfrica [Houston\]

Gabon’s presidency said in a statement that soldiers burst into a state radio station at dawn on Monday and called for an uprising against President Ali Bongo, who was recovering in Morocco from a stroke.

Security forces stormed the building, arrested the coup leader and killed two of his soldiers, according to the presidency.

“The secretary-General has always stood against unconstitutional changes of power, especially by force, and in that light, he condemns the attempted coup that took place this morning in Gabon,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Guterres added that calm appears to have returned in Libreville and calls “on all actors to follow constitutional means”, added Dujarric.

The UN envoy for Central Africa, Francois Lounceny Fall, who is based in Libreville was closely monitoring the situation and is ready to offer assistance if needed, said the spokesman.

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#FLASHPOINT: DRC Congo on knife’s edge as presidential election result is postponed

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Special to USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com

The Democratic Republic of Congo officials on Saturday delayed the announcement of preliminary results from a crucial presidential election, amid growing pressure from world powers and the influential Catholic church to respect voters’ wishes.

“It is not possible to publish the results on Sunday. We are making progress, but we do not have everything yet,” Corneille Nangaa said, without announcing a new date.

The country’s powerful National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), which represents the country’s Catholic bishops, warned popular anger could result in the event the final result were not “true to the verdict of the ballot box.”

DR Congo’s powerful Catholic Church, which provided more than 40,000 election observers, had said Thursday it knew who had won the vote, but did not name him.

In a letter to Nangaa on Saturday, CENCO president Mgr Marcel Utembi said that, given the delay, “if there is a popular uprising it would be the responsibility of the CENI.”

The December 30 vote saw 21 candidates run to replace President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the vast, conflict-ridden country for almost 18 years.

Among the frontrunners were Kabila’s handpicked successor Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and two opposition candidates: veteran heavyweight Felix Tshisekedi and newcomer Martin Fayulu.

At stake is the political stewardship of a mineral-rich country that has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Kabila had been due to step down two years ago, but clung on to power, sparking widespread protests which were brutally repressed, killing dozens.

The election, preceded by repeated delays, was carried out in a relatively peaceful manner. But tensions have built over the lengthy counting process, amid fears the results could be manipulated to install Kabila-backed Shadary in power.

The electoral commission had promised to announce preliminary results on Sunday, followed by a definitive count on January 15.

But Nangaa told AFP just under half of ballots had been counted by Saturday afternoon, adding: “Next week, we will announce.”

The further delay could stoke tension in the unstable central African nation of 80 million.

Nangaa has blamed the slow count on massive logistical problems in a country the size of Western Europe with poor infrastructure. Since the vote, the authorities have cut internet access and blocked broadcasts by Radio France Internationale, causing widespread frustration.

With international concerns growing over the transfer of power in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation, Western powers have upped the pressure.

The United States and European Union urged Kinshasa to ensure a peaceful change of power.

Donald Trump announced Friday that the United States was sending about 80 troops to Gabon to deploy in the event of election-related unrest in nearby DR Congo.

The African Union, which had sent an 80-member team to monitor the vote, insisted that respecting voters’ wishes was “crucial”.

And Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the DR Congo’s western neighbour, the Republic of Congo, urged restraint in uncertain times to “safeguard peace and stability in this brother country”.

Nangaa wrote to CENCO head Utembi on Friday accusing the episcopal conference of putting out partial result “trends” designed to “intoxicate the population in preparing an uprising,” an accusation the latter turned on its head with Saturday’s letter in response.

In his letter Nangaa warned CENCO would “alone be responsible” for unrest after disseminating “insignificant and partial data.”

The ruling FCC coalition accused CENCO of “seriously breaching” the constitution and electoral law by “illegally declaring voting trends” in favour of a given candidate.

The last two elections in 2006 and 2011, both won by Kabila, were marred by bloodshed, and many feared a repeat if the results this time round were placed in doubt.

In 2006, Kabila defeated former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba in a violence-tainted poll.

Five years later, he was re-elected in another vote blighted by bloodshed, chaotic organisation and alleged irregularities.

The opposition rejected the results.

Between 1996 and 2003, DR Congo lived through two fully-fledged wars that claimed millions of lives through fighting, starvation, and disease. ref: AFP

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USAfrica: Petition to rename street opposite Trump Tower the Barack Obama Avenue inches to target

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Evidently, “the thorny, combative paths of incumbent President Donald Trump and those of his immediate predecessor Barack Obama will not only cross but may, soon, permanently face each other”, writes USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu, a few minutes ago Saturday January 5, 2019.

This is as thousands of people continue to sign a new petition to rename part of New York City’s Fifth Avenue after former President Obama.

MLKmandelaachebe.com 

The coordinators of the popular online petition, which has more than 12,414 signatures (as at this Saturday morning), states “We need 15,000” for the renaming of the block between 56th and 57th Streets in Manhattan “President Barack H. Obama Avenue.”

They referenced a recent renaming of a stretch of highway in downtown Los Angeles after Obama, the 44th U.S. president.

“We request the New York City Mayor and City Council do the same by renaming a block of Fifth Avenue after the former president who saved our nation from the Great Recession, achieved too many other accomplishments to list, and whose two terms in office were completely scandal free.”

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Violence, tension in DRC Congo election; Kabila orders internet access shut down

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AFP: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Monday began counting ballots from a presidential election marked by delays and fears of violence and vote-rigging, straining hopes for its first-ever peaceful transfer of power.

After a relatively bloodless vote, election officials embarked on the marathon task of counting and collating, their work scrutinised by opposition parties for any sign of fraud.

Sunday’s elections went ahead after two years of delays and sporadic clashes in the notoriously unstable country.

But the influential Catholic church, through its national conference of bishops, declared the vote had been “relatively calm”.

Reported incidents included harassment of some election monitors and a clash in the restive eastern province of South Kivu that left four dead.

Two telecoms operators, Global and Vodacom, said the government had ordered them to cut access to the Internet on Monday — a move that opposition supporters said aimed at blocking social-media activism.

The DRC has never had a peaceful transition of leader since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Worries of a new spiral into violence deepened in 2016 after President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, refused to quit when his two-term limit expired.

Tension and suspicion were further stoked by repeated delays, a bloody crackdown on anti-Kabila protests and accusations that electronic voting machines would help to rig the result.

But Kabila late Sunday congratulated the public for voting “in peace and dignity”.

Provisional results are due to be announced on January 6, with final results expected on January 15. The new president is set to be sworn in on January 18.

From Kinshasa to Goma, 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) further east, polling stations already put up first results on Monday morning.

In Kisangani, the country’s third-largest city, observers hired by the political parties slept on the floor or on desks at a polling station to keep their eye on the vote count, an AFP reporter said.

A monitoring mission set up by the Catholic church said some of its observers had been “molested and violated.”

On Sunday evening, violence erupted at a polling station in the Walungu area of South Kivu province after an electoral official was accused of trying to rig the vote in favour of Kabila’s preferred successor, according to an opposition figure.

The electoral official was killed along with a policeman and two civilians, said Vital Kamerhe, who has been campaigning for Felix Tshisekedi.

Kabila’s champion Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and Tshisekedi, head of a veteran opposition party, UDPS, separately claimed victory.

But the scant opinion polls that have been conducted made Martin Fayulu — until recently a little-known legislator and former oil executive — clear favourite.

He garnered around 44 percent of voting intentions, followed by Tshisekedi with 24 percent and Shadary with 18 percent, said Jason Stearns of the Congo Research Group, based at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.

Roughly half of survey respondents, he added, said they would reject the result if Shadary — a hardline former interior minister facing EU sanctions for a crackdown on protesters — was declared winner.

The vote for a new president took place alongside legislative and municipal polls.

While turnout failed to reach 50 percent at some polling stations, many voters said they were exhilarated at taking part in the first elections after the nearly 18-year Kabila era.

But there was also much evidence of organisational problems, including with the contested voting machines.

The Catholic monitoring mission said that, as of early Monday, its observers had checked overall tallies of the vote in 4,161 polling stations.

In 3,626 stations, the number of paper ballot sheets tallied with totals kept by electronic voting machines, the observer mission said — a figure that by extrapolation suggests possible discrepancies in 535 bureaux.

DRC’s paradox

A country almost the size of continental western Europe which straddles central Africa, the DRC is rich in gold, uranium, copper, cobalt and other minerals.

Little of that wealth trickles down to the poor. Poverty, corruption and government inertia are etched into the country’s history, along with a reputation for violence.

In the last 22 years, it has twice been a battleground for wars drawing in armies from central and southern Africa.

That legacy endures in eastern DRC, where militias control swathes of territory and battle over resources, wantonly killing civilians.

Insecurity and an ongoing Ebola epidemic in part of North Kivu province, and communal violence in Yumbi, in the southwest, prompted the authorities to postpone the elections there until March.

Around 1.25 million people in a national electoral roll of around 40 million voters are affected. Despite this, elections in the rest of the country went ahead.

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Nigeria’s ex-President Shagari, overthrown by Buhari, is dead at 93

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Nigeria’s former president of Nigeria (1979-1983), Alhaji Shehu Shagari, has died at the the age of 93, his grandson Bello Shagari confirmed on Twitter, today Friday December 28, 2018:

“I regret announcing the death of my grandfather, H.E Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who died right now after brief illness at the National hospital, Abuja.”

Shagari, elected sixth president under the banner of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), was overthrown in a military coup which imposed incumbent/current leader of Nigeria, then Brigadier-General Muhammadu Buhari, as a draconian dictator. By Chido Nwangwu @Chido247

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USAfrica: Developing jaw-dropping settlement, MTN South Africa to pay Nigeria only US$53.2-million (R777-million) of $8.1-billion (R118-billion) CBN fines, refunds

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Special to USAfrica [Houston] @usafricalive USAfricaonline.com

Christmas [came] early for MTN Group [of South Africa]. The telecommunications operator’s shares are likely to soar when markets reopen on Thursday in Johannesburg after it announced late on Monday that it has settled a multibillion-dollar dispute in Nigeria.

It will pay just US$53.2-million (about R777-million) in a settlement with Nigeria’s central bank, a tiny fraction of the $8.1-billion (R118-billion) the Bank had sought from the group’s subsidiary in the West African country.

MTN Group shares plunged 22% on 30 August when it emerged that the Nigerian central bank had ordered four banks to refund the $8.1-billion it claimed was illegally expatriated by the telecoms provider between 2007 and 2015. Its shares, which trade on the JSE, have failed to recover significant ground since then on investor fears.At these meetings, MTN Nigeria provided additional material documentation which satisfactorily clarified its remittances

A second allegation by Nigerian authorities that MTN owes $2-billion in back taxes remains the subject of dispute, however. That matter is due to be heard by a Nigerian court in February next year.

The settlement amount with the central bank — less than 0.7% of the sum originally demanded — is likely to be seen as a significant victory for group CEO Rob Shuter, who took the reins at MTN last year from Phuthuma Nhleko. Shuter joined MTN from Vodafone Group.

In a statement late on Monday, MTN said a series of meetings were held in Lagos with central bank officials in November.

“At these meetings, MTN Nigeria provided additional material documentation which satisfactorily clarified its remittances,” it said. Upon review of this documentation, the central bank “concluded that MTN Nigeria is no longer required to reverse the historical dividend payments made to MTN Nigeria shareholders”.

“However, the central bank maintains that the proceeds from the preference shares in MTN Nigeria’s private placement remittances of 2008 of circa $1-billion were irregular, having been based on CCIs (certificates of capital importation) that only had an approval-in-principle, but not final regulatory approval of the central bank.

“The central bank instructed MTN Nigeria to implement a notional reversal of the 2008 private placement of shares in MTN Nigeria at a net cost of circa 19.2-billion naira — equivalent to $52.6-million. This is on the basis that certain CCIs utilised in the private placement were not properly issued.”

MTN Nigeria and the central bank have agreed that they will resolve the matter on the basis that the operator will pay the notional reversal amount without admission of liability, the group said.

“In terms of the resolution agreement, the central bank will regularise all the CCIs issued on the investment by shareholders of MTN Nigeria of circa $402.6-million without regard to any historical disputes relating to those CCIs, thereby bringing to a final resolution all incidental disputes arising from this matter.”

MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter


It said MTN Nigeria relied on “certain commercial banks to ensure all approvals had been obtained prior to the CCIs being issued and to ensure the CCIs were properly utilised in the private placement”.

“MTN Nigeria will be engaging with the banks in relation to the issues dealt with in the resolution agreement,” the group said. Presumably, this means MTN is going to try to recover at least some of the $53.2-million from the banks involved.

The original $8.1-billion demanded by the central bank followed just three years after the Nigerian Communications Commission imposed a $5.2-billion fine on MTN for failing to disconnect unregistered Sim cards. That fine was later reduced to about $1-billion.MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment … is due

MTN Group said it remains involved in legal action with Nigeria’s attorney-general over the $2-billion in back taxes the AG claims are owed. The case came up for “initial mention” before the federal high court in Lagos on 8 November 2018 and has been adjourned to 7 February 2019.

“MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment … is due,” the group said, adding that no provisions or contingent liabilities have been raised in the accounts of MTN Nigeria for the claim.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest and most profitable market. It has more than 64 million customers in the country and it enjoys high profit margins. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the third quarter represented 43% of revenue.  ref — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

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