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Gender, and my gender!

Tell me I wasn’t crazy when I decided to study Women and Gender Studies at First and Second Degree levels. Even if you try to convince me that I wasn’t crazy, you are among the below 5% who will pick up the courage to tell me so in my community. Telling me Women and Gender Studies was a good course has become a rare acknowledgement in my life. No matter how hard it is for people to find a line of relevance in what I studied, deep inside me, I know that was the best course, ever!

On campus of the University of Buea, we were stigmatized. Fellow student from other faculties and departments pointed finger at us, saying we were the contemporary group of women who were out to spoil the Cameroonian society, out to change the status quo. “Your plans will not work, useless women,” a lecturer in the department of geography confronted us once when we were in a group trying to sort out an assignment.

Never did I fail to correct those who were misunderstanding the whole essence of my course. Never did I sit back and watch a fellow human bring down my ego because of my line of studies. Never have I ever failed to defend myself, and defend other women when the need arise. I earned the nickname “radical feminist,” but it didn’t border me, I loved it.

My course mates always told people who came attacking them in my absence that “counts yourself lucky that Nakinti is not here, she would have wiped away the chauvinism in you.”

Oh gender, my gender, it has never been easy!

Let’s get this straight. The department of Women and Gender Studies is one of the departments that registers the smallest number of students each year in the University of Buea. Either societal pressure is preventing students from enrolling or students do not fully understand what the course entails. Some students may shy away just for the mere fact that they cannot stand the 4 years duration of the course. Interestingly, many female students feel that enrolling for this course means compromising their future marriage; for they believe that men scare away from gender students/graduates. Students who for one reason or the other decide to enroll in this department have always faced criticisms of different degree.

I have fought this gender battle endlessly, for over 12 years. I really don’t give a damn whether I am alone in the battle field; I keep the fight on, and fierce. I never allow patriarchal and chauvinistic men and women to defeat me in the battles. If they come to challenge, I defend. If they come with limited knowledge, I educate.

Just a few days ago, I received a friendship request from a Cameroonian guy in the USA. In our first chat he said something really silly.

“Hi Nakinti, you seem to be an advocate for women,” he said and I responded with a “Yes.”

“Don’t you think you are fighting a lost battle?” He asked. “Others have tried and failed what makes you think you will succeed.”

I laughed with a ‘hahaha’ and told him to pray that he lives long and see where success will land me and my women. As if that was not enough, he said something even sillier.

“My dear Nakinti, the way you are going about this whole thing I am not sure you have any plans of marriage – If you have, then go and look for a husband in the stars.”

I thought traveling was education? I would have imagined that this guy, with his level of exposure will reason in an advanced way. But no, he kept his patriarchal village upbringing so strong; he has deliberately blinded himself from reality. Trust me, I told him to keep my contact and keep the conversations rolling -- I promised to change his mentality before the end of 2014. He laughed, sarcastically. Don’t worry guys, I will laugh last and obviously laugh best!

Oh gender, my gender, it has never been easy!

Let me tell you another interesting story. On the 7th of January 2014 I was invited as a resource person in a radio show on Radio Hot Cocoa Bamenda. The topic of the day was ‘eliminating violence against young girls in the North West Region of Cameroon.” I featured as an advocate for women, a journalist, and a feminist blogger.

It was a call-in show. People called from different places, sharing their concerns and of course solutions. Suddenly, one man called in and gave his name as Jacob. He said he wanted contribute in the programme.

“I want to tell you people that right in the days of John the Baptist in the Bible, the Kingdom of God suffereth Violence, and the Violent shall take it by force,” he said. “If women don’t want to remain the woman that they are, we [men] are going to take everything from them violently,” he continued.

I became so furious, annoyed, angered, abused, confused, but then I controlled myself. I moved a bit away from the mic, and picked a piece of paper lying on the table and fanned myself to scare away the burning heat that suddenly arrested me. I was rescued by a musical interlude from the audio consul; at least this helped me to put my thoughts together.

When I got close to the mic, I spoke in a more matured way.

“Mr Jacob, there is no JUSTIFICATION for violence,” I said. “If you think violence is the answer to your problems, be sure to be caught up in the web of forces of Law and Order, be sure to stand in the ring of the judicial system, be sure to be my victim on social media advocacy.”

Oh gender, my gender, it has never been easy!

I cannot say everybody has been against me. There are a lot of people who have finally found a silver lining in my cloud. Some people congratulate for being the advocate that I am, saying gender studies opened my eyes to contemporary issues. Some people tell me I am lucky to have studies gender because all the big jobs today are gender related. Some people say women and gender studies should be credited for my success in life. Whatever the case maybe, it’s about believing in what you do. It’s about being your sister’s keeper!

Even though mentalities are going wild, slowly but surely, we are going to change them for the better. Even though people see women’s empowerment as a threat, slowly but surely we are going to make them see it as an opportunity. Despite the fact that Community think Cameroonian girls are going crazy reading women and gender studies, we will make them understand we are merely being cured of some crazy shit.

Like I said, be your sister’s keeper!

Comments

I applaud you for your beautifully written post! I live in the United States and am also a Women's/Gender studies major. I have faced (and still continue to face) resistance and road blocks in my quest for gender equality. Why is it that most people assume for us to be pro-women we must be anti-men? So many small-minded fearful males have tried to shut me up with insults but I have never let that stop me from fighting for social justice. No matter what country you live in, our patriarchal societies have practiced for centuries the subordination of women. I believe it is passionate and dedicated women who will be the future leaders of our world!

All the Best,

SG :-)

Nakinti's picture

You made my day!

Hello dear Grace1224,
You have said it all. It seems really hard to make the world understand who we really are and what we really stand for, but slowly and surely, we will let them know. We are similar in all respects. It is amazing to know that my Cameroonian experiences can be found elsewhere. Wao! Let's not put the baton down, lets continue to fight for our own -- no matter what they say.
Thank you dear sister,
You just made my day.
Love.
Nakinti

Nakinti B. Nofuru
2013 VOF Correspondent
Reporter for Global Press Institute
Bamenda - Cameroon
Email: nakinti@globalpressinstitute.org
nakintin@yahoo.com

Leina's picture

Thank you sister,for this

Thank you sister,for this vivid presentation of the mindset of Cameroonians with regards to gender matters.It's indeed sad!I understand when men rise as barriers to such matters but I don't get it when women in today's Cameroon open ttheir months to run down someone who has chosen to speak up for other women.You have chosen a worthwhile vocation and no voice shall be potent enough to shut you down.I weep for a day when our baby steps in making Cameroon a better place for women shall be greeted with compassion,love,support and ecouragement.When we as women will look at our daughters and think that they deserve to find a safer Cameroon as they grow into women.Well Rome was not built in one day,we shall get there some day dear.
Peace and love,
Leina

Nakinti's picture

Thanks my sister

Thanks my sister,
When you join me in a fight, I know we are in for sucess.
Lets pin our legs on the ground and keep the advocacy rolling.
Love you my twin.
Nakinti

Nakinti B. Nofuru
2013 VOF Correspondent
Reporter for Global Press Institute
Bamenda - Cameroon
Email: nakinti@globalpressinstitute.org
nakintin@yahoo.com

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