Tuesday, December 5, 2017 12:59 am
By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Dignitaries, writers, businessmen and women, former governors and others thronged the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on 3 December, 2017. The hall was filled to capacity with the serene ambiance lending more aesthetics to the occasion. The event was the launch and official presentation of a book, “Loud Whispers” published by Erelu Bisi Fayemi, a writer, a feminist advocate and wife of former Governor of Ekiti State and Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
Loud Whispers is a collection of 65 blog posts spanning 412 pages. The book cries out loudly against maltreatment, harassment and denigration of the female folk by ‘dominant’ male.
At the event were Dr. Kayode Fayemi; former Governor of Ekiti State, Niyi Akande; Africa’s richest woman, Folorunsho Alakija; wife of former Governor of Lagos State, Abimbola Fashola; former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Sarah Sosan; Hafsat Abiola-Costello, Executive Editor, The NEWS/PM News, Kunle Ajibade; Former Attorney General of Lagos State; Supo Sasore and Mrs Funso Amosun.
Also at the event were wife of the Oyo State Governor, Florence Ajimobi; Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu; Chief Michael Ade-Ojo, President, Elizade Group; Commissioner for Women Affairs, Ondo State, Omowunmi Edet; Nollywood stars, Kate Henshaw and veteran Joke Silva, among others.
The agenda of the day was set with a conversation with Bisi Fayemi by Abiola-Costello and Ajibade. The session involves reading from books and asking Fayemi questions as to what inspired her writing the book.
Ajibade quoted what Ishmael Reed said about ‘writing as fighting’ and posed the same question to Fayemi whether she agreed with the assertion in her coming up with Loud Whispers. Fayemi explained that the book sought to defend the right of women, the girl child and the poor, saying that there were lots of fighting in the book. She said the book was her first fiction output, but added that “writing is about fighting, teaching and so on.”
Abiola-Costello was elated about the writing of the book which she said had impacted her life. To her, the book had taught the role of a good husband, daughter and how to deal with in-laws, among others, but lamented the absence of many young people at the gathering who should benefit from the thoughts in the book. She then asked Fayemi which of the sub-themes in the book she would like put in movie form. Fayemi was quick to say ‘A Tray of Locust Bean,’ which is on page 176 of Loud Whispers because it highlights how easy is for the girl child to fall prey to men’s antics while hawking on roads and streets.
Also Fayemi spoke passionately the role her father played in her life. This was after Ajibade asked her to espouse what she penned down on girl child abuse in her literature. Fayemi said no man would want to hear stories of his female children being abused or dehumanized, which she said her father represented. “My father raised me up very well, he would at times provoke me to take a position on an issue. It is important for men and women to work together to raise the girl child,” she said.
Reading from the except, ‘Thank you, Hillary Clinton,’ Ajibade wanted Fayemi to draw a comparison on the political struggle of Hillary Clinton and Grace Mugabe. Fayemi seemed ‘jokingly’ offended that Ajibade could mention Clinton and Grace Mugabe in the same sentence. To her, the duo represented two different visions, saying that Grace Mugabe capitalized on the benefits and allure derivable from getting married to an old man while Clinton had a broader vision to reposition America. “The only similarity is that the two women were married to powerful men. It is important for women to own their own vision and space, don’t mind how people will demonise you,” she said.
Speaking at the event, Alakija described the book as an amazing one, charging all to fight for the cause of women in the society, which is the essence captured in Loud Whispers.
Also, Elizade said he was troubled by what he heard at the book launch on ill-treatment of the girl child. “I am shaking, I am beginning to wonder if my daughter had kept things from me while growing up.” Elizade’s worry stemmed from the story narrated by Mrs. Michale Matthew after Wana Wana Udobang had read from an excerpt: “Our Girls now wear Spanx to school.”
Matthew had narrated an incident which occurred last year in which boys of certain public school on Lagos Island ripped off clothes on female and raped them as a form of ecstasy for completing their Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, SSSCE. She said for her timely intervention, some female students would have been raped. She said her conversation with some of the girls showed that many of them had been raped in the school by bad boys, but that they refused to confide in their parents.