LOUD WHISPERS: Shalaye Olympics

This essay has nothing to do with the recently concluded summer Olympics in Japan. It is about a slang I picked up from young people, something used to describe a lengthy process of explaining things – Shalaye’ in Yoruba means ‘to explain’. I suppose ‘Shalaye Olympics’ can be interpreted to mean doing 100, 200, 400 meters relay, hurdles and long-jump, throwing in some wrestling, boxing and swimming, all in a bid to explain something. I think if you find yourself having to do Shalaye Olympics’ on anything, you need to have the mental and physical fortitude to see it through. I have been minding my own business, yet many people have been asking me to explain ‘Feminism’. When I say that I have written and spoken about the subject so many times, and I continue to do so online and offline, I am told that people still do not get it. One of my friends has described the recent public debates around feminism in Nigeria as a ‘National Embarrassment’. Being familiar with feminist debates and struggles in other African countries, I am inclined to agree. I am not in the mood to embark on another ‘Shalaye Olympics’ about Feminism because as I have stated above, I have done it many times before. I have lost count of the number of essays on feminist theory and practice in my books. However, for the benefit of those who still think there is value in engaging in games that come with no medals, here goes:

  • For every woman who finds herself with an education today, thank the Feminist movement
  • For every woman who finds herself able to work outside the home and earn a decent salary, thank Feminism
  • For every woman who has the right to vote and to be voted for, thank Feminism
  • For every great woman we celebrate at home and abroad for breaking ceilings of all kinds, thank Feminism
  • For every woman you find in a boardroom, her competence got her there, but Feminist struggles levelled the field
  • For every woman who is allowed to have a voice in places where women have been forbidden from speaking, including the pulpit, thank Feminism
  • For every woman who has spoken up and survived sexual and gender-based violence, thank Feminism
  • For every woman who believes she deserves dignity and respect, in public and in private, thank Feminism
  • For every woman who fights for the survival of her community, for peace, health and security, thank Feminism
  • For every woman who appreciates men of virtue, men of value, men of honour, men of respect, men without a sense of entitlement, thank Feminism
  • For every girl we find in school instead of the bedroom of an ancestor, thank Feminism
  • For every girl whose dreams come true and are not cut short by predators who come in all shapes and forms, thank Feminism
  • For every man who sees his daughter shine and win prizes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, thank Feminism
  •  For every proud man who sees his wife achieve something significant, thank Feminism
  •  For every man who wants a better world for his daughter than his mother had, thank Feminism
  • For every person who falls in love and decides to share a life with someone grounded in love, mutual respect, shared responsibilities and values, thank Feminism

You might not believe that Feminism deserves all this credit, believe me, it does. If people cannot thank Feminists or the Feminist movement for all these achievements, the least you can do is be silent and seek more information. To whom it may concern, please stop pathologizing Feminists. Feminists are not to blame for poverty, insecurity, kidnappings, unemployment, corruption, sexual violence, religious intolerance and xenophobia, all symptoms of fundamental inequities and systemic dysfunction. For those who understand Feminism to mean being rude, uncouth, exhibitionist behaviour, hating men and so on, I am sorry I cannot help there. I do not understand that definition of Feminism, I am familiar with it but it is not a game I understand. My own definition of feminism is one that challenges patriarchal power and values that deprive women and girls of their personhood. The kind that creates opportunities and a voice for everyone. The kind that gives women control over their minds and bodies. The kind that brings real change in the lives of women and girls, not fodder for sterile debates and fuel for misogynists.

 Meanwhile, if you are interested in the local origins of Feminism, please note the following:

  • The female ancestor we had, who refused early marriage for her daughters was called a witch.
  • The female ancestor we had who knew about healing, medicines and nature was called a witch
  • The female ancestor we had who was rich, owned land and property, was called a witch
  • The female ancestor who engaged in long-distance trade throughout the West African coast was also called a witch
  • The ‘cantankerous’ female ancestor we had, who no longer had to conform with patriarchal norms and expectations due to her age, was called a witch
  • The female ancestor who refused to be inherited by her late husband’s brother was called a witch
  • The female ancestor we had who challenged the greedy King and refused to give him her slaves for his war effort was called a witch

We have always been Feminists, even if we were not always called that. We have always been here.  Western influences did not introduce Feminism to us, it just gave us tools for more analysis. Wishing us out of existence will not make it happen.  Feminists are not Nigeria’s problem. We are part of the solution. That is enough ‘Shalaye’ for now, till the next time.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

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31 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Shalaye Olympics

  1. Femi Diipo August 14, 2021 at 8:31 am

    I have always loved and valued the perspective you offer on this context. I never really grasped it too untill I started following you and realising how wrong people are about feminism and feminists generally. Thank you ma’am for another wonderful insight

    Reply
  2. Victoria Chinazor Mbadike August 16, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    All thanks to feminist

    Reply
  3. Felicity Chidimma August 18, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    All thanks to the feminists and the feminism movement for given a girl child and position as the boy child in our society. In the society we live today most especially the Africa setting, feminism is always misinterpreted to be equality with the male folks. Feminism simply means equity! Allow the females have same treatment with the male folks in school, politics, work place etc. Africans dread the movement and always interprete in a way that suits them but surely feminism has come to stay.

    Reply
  4. Kolawole Adebola Johnson August 18, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks feminist and the body in support…
    I support feminism

    Reply
  5. Juliet ezinne August 18, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    With feminism our world is better place all thanks to feminism

    Reply
  6. Juliet ezinne August 18, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    All thanks to feminism

    Reply
  7. Alawode Monsurat August 18, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    Feminism is the belief in full social, political and economy equality for women, it is also the advocacy that speaks as voice for the voiceless women in other to take back what the society has denied us. Feminism advocate for women’s right.

    This isn’t for the price because I already
    benefited, I just wish to do the “shalaye olympic” challenge.

    Reply
  8. Bukola August 18, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    There’s no more shalaye again.
    Feminist is the full of social and advocacy and also means iniquity.

    Reply
  9. Esther August 18, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for explaining this in details. Thanks feminist.

    Reply
  10. Esther Adaugo Timi August 18, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    Feminism all the way
    If everyone will value and have respect for Feminism I believe that our world will be a better place for us
    It has to be respected and valued by all #Feminism#

    Reply
  11. Ajani Olushola Taiwo August 18, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    Population of females in our society is Seriously much, and which one scared for one another, but With Feminist, Our world is good as a female.

    Reply
  12. CHIMEZIE Joy August 18, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    feminism is about all genders having equal rights and opportunities. It’s about respecting diverse women’s experiences, identities, knowledge and strengths, and striving to empower all women to realise their full rights.

    But the truth is that some men especially Africans see feminism as a threat and look down on them because Africans believes that the man is the head of everything.

    Nevertheless, thanks to all feminists who made women worth something. Kudos to you all. Had it been these feminists didn’t speak on women’s behalf. Thanks to all feminists…

    Reply
  13. Adeyemo taiwo August 18, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    All thanks to Feminist, I stand with feminist

    Reply
  14. Blessing August 18, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    I am grateful for those who fought so I can have a voice, and I am thankful I can still fight for the next generations of female to be treated right.

    Reply
  15. Miracle Peters August 18, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    Well, let me shalaye.
    A lot of persons do not understand feminism. Even some women. They feel its about being bitter and hating the other gender.

    Feminism is courage. Feminism is love. Feminism is strength.

    Reply
  16. Blessing August 18, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    I’m grateful for those who fought so I can have a voice, and I’m thankful I can still fight so the next generation of females can be treated right.

    Reply
  17. Jiya Christiana August 18, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    The feminist movement offers a hope that the lives of women across the world will see a change. … It is therefore undeniable that the feminist movement remains even more important in the 21st century than it ever has before, to continue the fight for equality across the world. KEEP THE SPIRIT MOVING.

    Reply
  18. Yemisi Ayoola August 18, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    All thanks to our mother general for this great opportunity,she fought for us ,so that our voice can be heard all over the world, thanks very much for this information, stand with feminist for life

    Reply
  19. Olowolafe olanrewaju oluwafunmilayo August 18, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks to feminine. I stand with feminist.

    Reply
  20. Esther Sahmah August 18, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    I’m reading this with swell pride because this should have been what women who front the fight for equality should do. Younger women should be enlightened and not mislead. This conversation excites me so because as a young woman who is trudging life in her early 20s,I’ve been misunderstood severally for sitting at tables and demanding to be treated the same way men are treated. Except for the insecurity putting Plateau state on half at the moment,my election for faculty president was suppose to come up next week. When I started sharing my dream with people especially men in the political space,I’ve had a number of them succinctly advised me to go for something gender favorable. I’ve had people told me to my face that we want to start a feminist movement in the faculty,in turn a gender war as they sweetly interpret it most times. I’ve had to cope with so much pressure on the campaign trail because I’m the first female going against the normal way things have been done since the inception of my faculty.
    My strength comes from the fact that I’m labeled a rebel today so the path can be cleared for the generation of women coming after me.
    I hope and pray more woman and young ladies become more intentionl about bringing folding chairs to tables they should be at but never get invited.
    Thank you mother general. You inspire me deeply. I hope someday,I will sit physically and listen to speak and hopefully ask soul-burning questions.
    Thank you to all the witches who dared the odds before me.
    Thank you to feminism.

    Reply
  21. Ama Uchenna August 18, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    feminist has made women who don’t know their rights and ground to Believe in thierselves and have pride
    Thanks to the feminism for all they do ..keep inspiring us ,we appreciate it

    Reply
  22. Azeez Munirat Ogundele August 18, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    When you talk about been a feminist some people will see you as someone who doesn’t respect man and not ready to obey men commandments, the most painful part is that most of the people that condemn feminist are woman,
    Thanks to Mummy General for her orientation about been a feminist, continue to shalaye for them mama,
    More grease to your elbow ma

    Reply
  23. Chukwu Anita Chinyere August 18, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    If I said I haven’t learnt a lot from this article,I must be lying to myself. Thank you ma for this wonderful piece. Am a new mother of a beautiful daughter, this article has taught me alot for the future.
    God bless you mama Gburugburu!
    Long-live Feminism!

    Reply
  24. Esther udoh August 18, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    I support this fight may God bless all the women all over the world

    Reply
  25. Rita Ebubechukwu August 19, 2021 at 2:58 am

    In Conclusion….. “For Every woman who understands it’s their right to gain equal treatment and fought for it. Thank Feminism. Feminism to the world Warriors

    Reply
  26. Shittu Tawakalitu Omobola August 19, 2021 at 5:15 am

    Thanks for this mother general, you made me believe in myself, I stand with feminism ☑☑ more grease to your elbow our very own mummy

    Reply
  27. Nwafor Charity Nebechukwu August 19, 2021 at 7:28 am

    Feminism gave me a voice,I can talk without been scared. Feminism gives the motivation to push further and reach for the best. Feminism gave me the courage I needed to train my girl up,I am instilling it into her too to speak up for her right. Thank you Mummy for showing us that we are in the right track

    Reply
  28. Oluwatosin August 19, 2021 at 9:30 am

    Very Apt and totally on point. Your “Shalaye” on feminism makes too much sense. It’s as basic as every female being, striving and insisting no matter the challenges to be valued and limitless, with a conscious effort of respect and dignity for other humans. God shall continue to oil your head your Excellency Ma!

    Reply
  29. Amadi Adaeze Mariana August 20, 2021 at 7:33 am

    Feminism needs no further explanation, because it visible and realistic. Feminism is seen in the lives of great Women with great potentials. Feminism is not just what is being read or spoken but also that which is visible in our society today.
    Feminism is not just based on Women development and rights, it extends her hand towards the society and societal affairs. Feminism tend not to devide but correct the mental picture visible in men’s world.
    You asked for ” Shalaye On Feminism” Right?. Read through and say thank you to Feminism.
    * For every independent Woman who is capable of handling the affairs of her home.
    * To every girlchild with vision and goals, working hard to achieve her dreams.
    * For every independent Woman
    * To every Woman fighting her way through various obstacle to attain Success.
    To all listed and More , We say thank you to Feminism.
    Feminism is a force that Create, Empowers, Educate and Engineers the Success Story Of every Woman with dreams and potential.

    Reply
  30. Amadi Ebere Ujunwà August 20, 2021 at 8:44 am

    I wonder how the world would’ve been, If Feminism hasn’t played an important role in giving Us a Voice.
    Thank you Feminism for the liberation of Women.
    Thank you Feminism for recovering neglected works by Female authors the the ages and creating a Canon of Women writing
    Thank you Feminism for fighting the Cultural and Economic disabilities in ” Patriarchal” Society that have hindered women from realising their Creative Possibilities.
    Thank you Feminism for Women cultural Identification.
    Thank you Feminism for giving Women the power to- Teach, Interpret, Evaluate and Theorise about Literature and Art than ever before.
    Thank you Feminism for chanllenging the Male Monopoly of position in Economic, Political and Social Power.
    I wonder why they still ask for ” Shalaye” When it’s visible to them.
    Feminism has dealt with the Patriarchal ideology to keep Women under the dominance of Men, it has dealt with Women been oppressed by patriarchy Economically, Politically, Socially and Psychologically.
    In every domain where patriarchy reigns, a woman is the Other; she is objectified and Marginalised, defined only by her difference from Male Norms and Values and by what she lacks but which Men have. And this is what Feminism has come to change.
    Thank you Feminism for Giving Me a Voice.

    Reply
  31. Olakunle Olajide August 20, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    Mama just dropped the mic, no more shalaye. Case closed!!!

    Reply

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