Earlier today, the BBC released an interview with Nigeria’s First Lady Aisha Buhari. In the interview, Aisha Buhari “warned President Buhari that she may not back him at the next election unless he shakes up his government. She was concerned that his government had been hijacked by only a “few people”, who were behind presidential appointments.”
Whilst many may debate the merits or demerits of a President’s wife so publicly denouncing her husband’s presidency, what is simply not up for debate is the appropriateness of President Buhari’s response.
For those of you who didn’t hear what he said lemme write it out for you in black and white. I’ll even centre it so it’s real clear.
“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen, my living room and the other room.”
And in one fell swoop, President Buhari lived up to every single stereotype that exists about northern, Muslim, Nigerian men and African men more broadly. Owa Oga.. you for try small nahh … More generally, please stop making us look crazy to the white people.
The President of Africa’s second largest economy, Africa’s most populous country and, arguably, one of Africa’s most powerful countries just said on live TV that women are here to cook, lounge and have sex.
I’ll let you digest that for one moment because no people … THIS IS NOT A DRILL. He really said it and we never esperrerit.
What makes his remarks even more shocking is that he said them whilst with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and arguably one of the most powerful women (in fact people) in the world …. only 3 days after the International Day of the Girl Child which is meant to encourage families to educate their female children and allow them to live their best lives.
Baba… you didn’t try for us at all.
The look on Angie’s face tho … she really never esperrerit
President Buhari hasn’t really been the women’s president. Under his administration the % of women in ministerial positions has gone from 31% to 16%. In fact, when we look at President Buhari’s inner circle, it seems to be seriously lacking in the estrogen department.Nigeria's President Buhari hasn’t really been the women’s president Click To Tweet
Given this context, the excuse that his comments were simply a “joke” is a little difficult for us to swallow…. That and the fact that he’s the President of a country, not a comedian.
At She Leads Africa, one of the challenges we see a lot of female professionals and entrepreneurs facing is a lack of self-confidence. Many women simply do not have the confidence to believe that they can be leaders.
And yet, how will they feel confident when their President, their leader and their Commander-in-Chief, implies that their place is in the kitchen, living room and the bedroom?
At one of our SheHive workshops in Abuja, we had a young woman give a teary testimonial about how her family discouraged her entrepreneurial dreams. They made her feel like she had no place outside of the home and she struggled to balance her hunger to build a thriving business with the weight of tradition and familial pressures. I’m proud and happy to say that she left our training programs energized and ready to forge ahead with her plans to open a spa. A spa which, mind you, will create jobs in an economy struggling under the burden of high unemployment.Nigerian women struggle between wanting to build businesses and the weight of tradition Click To Tweet
On days like this I feel happy.
And then there are days like today where I realise how far we have to go.
President Buhari’s remarks are a stark reminder that for us, the women of Africa, our battle to prove our competency, our relevance and our ability to meaningfully contribute to the development of this continent is only just beginning.
In any case President Buhari –I can guarantee you that we are very much up to the challenge.
PS. We want to give a special shout out to all our male #SwagAssists who’ve come to our defence. Your tweets and social media support were the business. #SwagAssist