The growing wave of Nigerian women who refuse to be silenced

By Shannon M. Houston for Salon - black women matter

I am sure several articles have been written over and over again about Tiwa Savage and her soon to be ex-husband’s marital issues. The reactions have gone from blaming him to blaming her and everything in between but what caught my attention was the fact that some people expected her to stay quiet.

Tiwa-savage 3
Tiwa Savage. Fearless.

Even fellow colleagues in the industry criticised her for granting the interview she chose to give to set things straight. Now, it is my personal belief that she did right for herself and her son by granting that interview.

A man comes online to malign his wife, her family and friends as well as his own family and the ready excuse of depression and mental instability meant that his actions got a pass. Never mind that tattle-telling is not one of the symptoms of depression. Never mind that control in the form of placing a much earlier picture of his wife in a statement that seems to scream “I made you and don’t you forget it!” – is not a sign of depression but more one of resentment.

However, when a woman comes out to say, “Hey, no! I have to clear my name and set things straight. I want to speak up before I go crazy from being silent for over three years,” people call her names, they say she’s a liar, they demand her silence, they say she should have kept quiet, that it is a woman who keeps the home together, that she mustn’t embarrass her husband in public.

Nigerians, seriously?! Shame on you, shame on you a million times for trying to silence her. Is it easier to make peace with her husband’s review of his wife, to move on with your lives hating her for being a bad wife, an unfaithful wife, a bad mother? Is it more compatible to your soul that she struggle to get her career back on track following these lurid allegations than to let her speak her truth?

Why does the censure come only after she tries to state her side of the story? Why are her obligations to the union weightier than his?

I do not understand this obsession with silencing Nigerian women and women in Africa generally. Why must I be silent when I have the chance to defend myself?

People say he is the father of her child, she should have exercised a little restraint and covered his shame, but was she not his wife and the mother of (one of) his children when he tore her virtue to shreds in the most public way possible? It is one thing for people to have their doubts as to your wife’s dignity, but it is quite another for you to spell it out for them in such startling detail.

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T for Tiwa or T for Time-out? You decide.

This is not about tit for tat but why do people feel that he deserves a voice and she does not?Why do people think women voices do not matter? You do not have to agree with her, and perhaps if you should ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you may wish to take the high road and maintain a frosty silence and that’s your constitutional right as a Nigerian woman, but her choice to spill all is just as valid as your decision to stay mum.

You speak about being raped in your marriage, you are told to shut up, told that it’s not possible, to cover your husband’s shame and protect his name. You speak about your husband raping your kids or teenagers or house helps, you are told to cover his shame, to tell his victims to forgive and forget. You speak about being knocked out every now and then, you are told to use some make up, that you must have caused it, to cover his shame.

You speak about your man being unfaithful, you are told to shut up, you’re asked why are you telling people, asked if he is the first? Cover his shame! You speak about your husband stealing from you or not providing as he should at home while he squanders money on inanities, and you are told to shut up and to you build your home, after all, you have the money. You speak out about being murdered you are asked “Are you the first to die? Is he the only husband to kill? Why can’t you die quietly and cover his shame?

Where does it end? At what point are women allowed to have a voice in this country? At what point will we be made not to feel shame for speaking out our hurts, our pain without being criticised for it. Tiwa represents what so many women wish they had the strength to do. Whether she is lying or not, she voiced out and refused to be attacked and blamed for something another adult chose to wreck.

If that makes her a bad person for speaking her truth her way and on her terms, then people should use their anger to power Nigeria or go sit in the corner and figure out how to make the country better for our mothers, sisters and daughters.

Any woman out there going through stuff: I urge you to speak out, seek out help. Your voice can make the difference between you living and dying. You do not have to feel shame for speaking out. Do not let people malign you; emotionally, physically and mentally abuse you because you are a woman. Do not let people tell you to be silent.

By Shannon M. Houston for Salon - black women matter

You do not have to be. REFUSE TO BE! You owe yourself a voice: speak out, teach your kids to speak too! Your voice is not weaker or less important than the next man’s.

I could see the pain Tiwa was feeling from her interview, it’s not easy to be in love and be destroyed by the same person, there are a lot of emotions one goes through, and I wish her strength and courage and blessings on her journey forward. She might even be depressed but trying so hard to be brave. I also hope Tunji gets the help he needs to be a better man and a better father.

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  1. Charles Novia or whatever his name is should be publicly called out on this matter.

    1st of all, who solicited his opinion and his self righteous advice on ” a dignified silence”

    Would he have advocated same if his mother had been called a witch by the cocaine sniffing, debt trolling, ingrate, selfish, irresponsible, suicide-faking, immature, attention-seeking, idiot.

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