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FEMINISN AND THE BURDEN OF MORALITY: A CASE STUDY OF QUEEN IDARA’S THE GOODS CARRIER By Bada Yusuf Amoo

Written by Bada Yusuf Amoo

Africa of today is a continent that tend to maintain certain standard of morality on the heavy shoulder of dynamism. The morality of Africa of today is partly rooted in African culture and deeply in modern religion, Christianity and Islam specifically. The over reliance of many Africans on culture and religion makes majority to regard the concept of feminism as “western madness”. However, close observation reveals that feminism in Africa is a quest for identity. Although many people believe African cultures abuse women but these may be contrary to some fact, Yoruba culture as a case study. For instance, there are positions for women in the political system of primitive Yoruba such as Iyalode, which was never found in that of Greek and Roman. Another fact is that larger percent of the Yoruba would prefer their mothers to beat them and prefer their fathers to curse them if they are asked to choose. If you argue this, try gather ten Yoruba and carry out the sampling, this is as a result of power the Yoruba believe to have embedded in women.

Despite variant definitions of the concept of feminism in Africa, all still goes round women’s identity, economically, politically, socially, academically etc. This agitation however, is vivid in Queen Idara’s “The Goods Carrier” when she says:

“I laugh, when he promises me heaven and earth
When in reality what I want isn’t in heaven and it is forbidden here on earth”

She goes further to say in not just a feminist tone but that of lesbian:

“…the society won’t let us be
They laugh at us and call us names
They say we’re mad, they say we’re weird
And I ask, isn’t love mutual weirdness?”

In reality, this agitation did not just start in vacuum. It is as a result of lack of respect for women and their emotion. Every observance of African society would agree with me that larger percentage of victims of poverty in Africa are women and children. Many wives are punching bags in the hand of their husbands, either as a result of returning home late, not cooking for the man on time, some even beat their wives for being inquisitive. Although some women are sometimes guilty but it shouldn’t lead to lynching or any forms of human abuse.

By default, women are as important as men if we must have a moral and peaceful society. Besides, it is true that men build house while women build home. Although contemporary argument is that building house and home are the duty of both men and women but in reality, home is difficult to build than house and in building home, more lies on women than men as far as Africa is concerned. This may be the reason why Idara refers to women as “Goods Carrier” in her poem.

She strongly detests the idea of marriage as she lampoons the “goods carriers” who move into men’s house, she says:

“…I laugh at the good carriers, who are endowed with so much
They throw away their beloved goods when they go and meet the whip bearer
He promises them love and shatters their heart into a million pieces”

There is possibility that she has been abused by men and this in turn gives birth to her hatred for men and marriage in its entirety. She says:

“I once loved an alpha male
I even worshipped the very ground he walked on, till I saw him,
In his full glory, for what he really was, a mere whip bearer”

The subsequent lines of the poem detest the position of African society against same sex marriage, especially the Nigeria law that strongly frown against same sex marriage and regards such members of the society as criminals, she says:

“The society has tossed me round from a place where they put people like I, whom they call mad
To the place where they put the so called ‘criminals’
For loving a fellow goods carrier
They indeed are the criminals for fighting against love”

She further calls for the respect of her emotion and identity of womanhood when she says:

“I am a female, yearning to be loved and understood
Who best to do that than my fellow goods carrier
She feels my pains as she walks in my shoes
We talk the same talk, all vital women issues
The alpha male will call me his neck
With my female, we’ll both be the head
You can’t tell me to love a whip bearer
When my heart yearns for the carrier”

However, Idara could neither be a feminist nor lesbian as her persona appears in the poem, she could be like those Victorian writers who are described as realists. Hugh Walker in his essay describes realist as one usually a spectator of that which he describes, whether it be animated or inanimated. His characters are to him something external; he believes that he understands them, but he doesn’t identify with them. Charles Dicken’s novels are good examples here. Many of his novels advocate for the freedom of human emotion. As much as I will not advocate for same sex marriage in order to sustain human race, I will therefore suggest that the best way to prevent human rebellion is to identify with human emotion and show some level of respect.

You can read Queen Idara’s “The Goods Carrier Here

About the author

Bada Yusuf Amoo

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