“Culture is the way of life of a group of people.” This was the first and definitely the simplest definition I learnt in social studies as a kid. Growing up,I learnt about the triumph of certain great women in the African history. I would gasp,sigh and shout as Grandmother graphically painted Queen Amina and Queen Idia of Benin on the battle ground. I particularly remember having goospebumps as I imagined masked men and men clad in leaves,pulling Moremi away from her people during their usual raid. I remember screaming when she finally learnt their secret and used it in saving the people of Ile-ife. History had a beautiful impact on me, I learnt more at my grandmother’s feet in social studies than in the classroom.
You see,sitting at Iya Alawo’s feet,listening to those stories,learning one or two things about morals,knowing more about the norms and lifestyle of the different tribes, learning values and getting more education, that is CULTURE.
Telling stories is our way of life and just like wearing clothes,eating food,dancing,sporting activities,language,mode of greeting depicts our culture, telling stories is that integral part of our culture that passes knowledge to generations unborn and I know not of a tribe that doesn’t embrace this.
Now,wishing to be like these great women in the stories Grandma told me and beating my chest in classrooms then,saying “I WILL ONE DAY BE LIKE QUEEN IDIA”, that was the power Grandma passed to me,opening my eyes to the realization that I could be more than just that general belief of an African woman, a surbodinate, a weaker vessel,a less gender. If this isn’t EMPOWERMENT,what is?
This shows that for a long time, before the advent of the internet and invention of technology which has made the world a global village, empowerment of African women has always been possible through culture but this fact was hidden to many,because unlike me who knew that stories at the feet of Grandmother opened my eyes to new possibilities,many saw impossibility. Unlike me who found strength in my camwood and “osun” as beauty cosmetics and walked,head high,chin up and shoulders squared when rocking my “Suku” and “Ipako Elede”, seeing myself as a Queen,other young ladies and their mothers saw themselves as a man’s slave. In our culture,I found dominance, in our culture,they found surbodination.
Who says the internet that has made the world a global village cannot promote culture thus empowering African women in the process? Who says I can’t make my “Suku” and “Ipako Elede”, take a selfie and post my picture on Instagram and Snapchat and promote the Yoruba culture?
Nowadays I see delicious African dishes on Instagram, women make this. These meals symbolizes our way of life. It is our culture. White people are always seen during the Osun festival in Osun state,dancing and worshipping the river goddess. If they can accept our culture,why shouldn’t we the progenitors be happy and satisfied with what is ours? If they can pay a whole lot to speak Yoruba or learn Igbo and Hausa, what stops us from realizing the strength in our culture?
Chef Jess is an Igbo woman who makes African dishes in the most delectable ways in Paris. I pride myself as an African woman when I come across her page on Instagram and I always want to be like her. If this isn’t a form of EMPOWERMENT THROUGH CULTURE in the DIGITALIZED GLOBAL WORLD, what is?