Bisi Fayemi, Loud and Clear!


The favourite saying of my late mother was, ‘Ai le soro, ni bere ori buruku’ which translates into, ‘a closed mouth precedes closed destiny’. That much can be glimpsed from the philosophical underpinning of the writings of Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi which, according to her, derives from a conversation she once had with a grieving friend. And on Tuesday night in Abuja, she dazzled her audience comprising top government officials, members of the diplomatic community, activists, seasoned writers and politicians with the manner she explained what informs her interventions in the public space.

As the lead discussant at the reading of her latest collection of essays, I can attest to the fact that ‘Loud Whispers’, which represents the thoughts of a wife, a mother, a professional, a rights activist and certainly a leading feminist is a compelling read. The 65 essays gleaned from her blog posts over a period of 20 months are both refreshing and engaging. The fact that she does not tiptoe around issues makes the work appealing and with her frank temperament, she adds humour to enhance her argument without being offensive.

Divided into eight sections, every essay in ‘Loud Whispers’ speaks to the society which the author is keenly interested in while the language is friendly and the bold print makes it a delight for avid readers. Apparently bothered by the misunderstanding that enshrouds the concept of feminism, the author takes her time to educate anyone with bias against feminism. In her words, “Women do not want to replace patriarchy with matriarchy. We want to live in a world in which there is mutual respect, rights for all, and opportunities that are not mediated by the sex we are born with.”

From gender-based violence to sexual exploitation to politics and religion, it is fascinating how the author was able to weave sundry issues together to make an interesting whole. And just when you think the book will be ideal only for women, Mrs Fayemi comes with suggestions on how to be a good husband.

With the Libya story on slavery still trending, her piece titled, ‘Cold Alone and Forgotten’ captures the struggles of African migrants the world over. While she hinges her narrative on her experience in England, it is sadly the case in other places around the world. This trend will continue as long as our ever increasing youth population does not have any hope of survival and the political class continues to pretend all is well.

The author also writes on the pitfalls of unbridled use of the social media and the negative impact it is having on societal values. Consenting adults, according to Mrs Fayemi, “can do whatever they like in private…you like recording yourself while you have sex? Enjoy. You like posing in your birthday suit? Good for you…Why do you need an audience for any of these adventures?”

On Tuesday, we had an engaging conversation, especially as the audience pushed Mrs Fayemi to define the boundaries of feminism. ‘How do we explain a situation in which the kitchen knife has suddenly become a weapon of man destruction with some aggrieved wives literally and metaphorically now taking the law into their own hands?’, I sought to provoke but she was in her comfort zone. At the end, there were ‘testimonies’ by big men who said they had been converted into becoming feminists based on the author’s persuasive arguments.

Mrs Fayemi’s husband, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, who came with some of his colleagues in the federal executive council, gave a vote of thanks that spoke to an abiding faith that the power imbalances can be bridged with mutual respect between and across genders.

No doubt, the collection of essays comes highly recommended not only because of the way and manner Mrs Fayemi tackles different issues, but also because her robust wit and clear expression makes the work ideal for both the young and old. It is a fascinating book that is full of wisdom but more importantly nobody needs to strain their ears to hear Mrs Fayemi. Her call in the book is indeed louder than whispers.

This article was first published in This Day Newspaper

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One Response to Bisi Fayemi, Loud and Clear!

  1. Samuel February 5, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    I have read the book and it is indeed Loud Whispers. She drives her point with humor and finesse. I enjoyed every bit of it with its lessons.


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