My Mother in-law Is In The Trunk!
Friday, 17 March 2006
A Response to Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde
An undiscerning reader of Mrs. Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde’s article, titled “African Mothers-In-Law And The Cycle Of Abuse” will be forgiven if such a reader comes away with the impression, albeit false, the impression created by Folasayo, that, African women are monsters! Whether such African women are mother in-laws, sister in-laws or aunt in-laws! African women, as a general rule, gladly torture other African women giddily, and gloatingly, just for the mere fact of such other women’s marriage to their sons or brothers. No exceptions!
African women as presented by Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde, (hereinafter referred to as, simply, Folasayo), and if you take Folasayo’s words for it, African mother in-laws are monsters in laws!
And thanks to African men, African women monster in-laws, got the way they are, abuse, torture, brutality and all, tortuously, in a brutally honest way. All African women are victims of abuse from African men, and heck, abuse victims tend to become abusers of others, themselves!
But consider this foregoing statement made in a recent book review in The New York Times, about in-laws and mother in-laws, who incidentally are not Africans, but in connection with the universality of the subject. Dividing the Man From His Mother," the "tug of war between a mother and daughter-in-law over a man is an age-old phenomenon, the stuff of sitcom jokes and Greek tragedy," her take is so fresh and witty one hardly notices the clichis inherent to the subject 'I Married My Mother-In-Law,' edited by Ilena Silverman; A Fine Old Conflict, Review by PAMELA PAUL http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/05/
And what do we make of all these? Why was Folasayo singularly focused on Nigerian, African mother in-laws? Dr. Phil McGraw just had series of shows about monster in-laws right here in the United States, Dr. Phil did not particularize the evil mother in-laws, but instead dealt with the phenomenon in its universality. http://drphil.com/shows/archive/?date=2006-02
Is it not the case that there are virtues and vices among all humans? Wherever the sun rises and set, and wherever humans live, the human condition tends to exhibit itself!
My mother is an African mother in-law! I was raised with three other siblings we were comprised of two boys and two girls and my experiences growing up and ever since, are night and day compared with the gory, highly emotive melodramatic tale foisted upon us by our gifted embellisher in-chief, Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde!
Let me begin by declaring that I am a male feminist and if Folasayo was a man? I would have called her a male chauvinist pig and misogynist for her offensive generalizations against African women (mother in-laws) I detest Folasayo’s sweeping generalizations regarding African women, of mother in laws, sisters in laws and aunt in laws etc.
The generalizations in her article did not bother to consider the facts, or even possibility that, for every bad African mother, sister or aunt in laws that you made evil through you skillful presentation, there are equal numbers of excellent African mothers, sisters and aunt in laws! If you are an African lady, someday, you will become a mother in-law in the natural course of events, so, we expect Folasayo to catch this pervasive pervading virus that turns all African mother in-laws into monster in-laws?
In reading Folasayo’s piece, you are tempted to conclude that drama is her favorite catch-phrase, as she repeatedly, used drama as a catch-all term for all the hell she claims African mother in-laws unleash at whims!
Drama aptly describes Folasayo’s melodramatic commentaries about all African mother in-laws, Folasayo engaged in very generous generalizations, she, as if factually, described all African women as some sort of monolithic homogenous lot, without differentiation of class, education, refinements, taste or even a scintilla of individuality! According to Folasayo, African mother in-laws are innately evil, all African mother in-law regal in torturing their daughter in-laws, it is something African mother in-laws’ genetic marker! Evilness is in the DNA of all African mother in-laws!
No doubt that there are some obnoxious, cantankerous and vile mother in-laws in America, Asia, Europe and perhaps there are some in Africa as well! But there are bad accountants, bad lawyers and bad writers everywhere too! Why would anyone make African mother in-laws any uniquely bad breed of in-laws among mother in-laws of the world?
Folasayo’s article is replete with hasty broad brush generalizations that would convince an undiscerning reader that African women invented evil and pure wickedness! The stereotype of African mother, sister, and aunt in laws, clearly shows a predilection to degrade things Nigerian, nay African, especially measured by and with New York parameters. Folasayo could not even allow herself to accept that there are Nigerian Languages, full fledged Languages! Folasayo talked only of Dialects, what a very European condescension regarding anything African!
I have friends here in New York, friends, some Nigerians, some African Americans, some Jewish Americans, Indians, Irish and in short, all shades of colors and ethnicities that are American and New York. I have found that their complaints, their pet peeves, their grouse and personal gripes about mother in laws and father in laws, are for the most part actually identical to what is presented by Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde’s tales of woe Nigeriana-Africana.
The truth is that, there are a plethora of complaints and angst about mother in laws; Indeed, it posses a universal quality to them. That means that there is nothing peculiarly Nigeria, nay African, about the charges that have been trumped-up against African women in Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde’s article. I did not believe it possible for an African woman to attack all African women or all African mother in-laws, the way Folasayo has!
I personally know many Nigerian and other African mother in laws, and that makes me wonder, about the mother in laws for which these generalizations has been fomented
Folasayo’ss article is written as if there is nothing advantageous or beneficially useful in African mother in laws! And I will like to meet her, her mother, and if she has sisters? I volunteer to marry one of them, as a useful social experiment, to enable me understudy her mother, as my in law of course, I will determine if she is an in-law from heaven, or to conduct some empirical analyses upon real data, to determine whether Folasayo’s mother is she like the rest of African mother in-laws such as the ones in her article? Or is that other African mothers are just bad, but not Folasayo’s mother, my mother in-law to be?
It now appears to be the vogue, the popular thing to do, to say African things and Africa are economically, socially and culturally unsustainable, and if Africans and Africa desire progress and development, there is no need to even bother?
My recent experiences indicate a crescendo, or watersheds of movements toward a complete rejection of all scintilla of African anything, as a Nigerian man tells wife not to cook fufu or akpu and craw fish, which he asserts, stinks up the house and his breath, causing him monumental embarrassment in America! Meanwhile Chinese Kimshi is made and sold, right here in America, how do Kimishi, Garlic and other ethnic delicacies smell?
Recently, I attended a seminar organized by the American Jewish Committee, AJC for short, under the of Nigeria in Diaspora Organization (NIDO), during which Nigerians attendees learned the rudiments of political organizations, lobbying for better national image, political, economic engagement, diplomatic representations of national interests through lobbying US Congress, the presidency and other political and economic leaders in the United States. The seminar opened my eyes to how everything we gripe about regarding Nigerians’ apathy to political, economic and diplomatic benefit of Nigerians in Diaspora, to Nigeria, and the benefits which we can confer on Nigeria, remain unappreciated by some Nigerians. Why can’t Nigerians in the Diaspora be to Nigeria, as Jews worldwide are to Israel? In Jews lobbying efforts etc. it turns out, that in AJC’s 100 years of existence, AJC has just about had every experience possible, in every respects, what we thought was unique, an experience, for Nigerians struggling to get Nigerians in the Diaspora interested, focused and engaged in selfless public service for Nigeria, has also happened to Jews in America, every step of the way, as veterans in political actions for the protection and preservation of Israel and Jews. AJC told Nigerians, don’t sweat it!
Folasayo overplayed her own her in her melodramatic swipes at all African women or African mother in laws, sister in laws and aunt in laws. This is made more embarrassingly so, in her narration of her Nigerian man date incident.
At some point, Mrs. Dele-Ogunrinde appeared pointlessly condescending, such as when she wrote: Her only pride and joy is now going to re-channel all his love and attention to you and she is not going away easy. If he also happens to be her retirement plan as is the case in LOT of African situations, you have to be bridle lest you meddle with the flow of cash. So you see, you’re fighting against lot of odds. Haba Madam!
Does her generalization vary with education of the mother, sister aunt in laws? Does it vary with income?, or was she just writing to inform the world that Africans are poor and needy, with sons as retirement plans and all? What a newsflash-splash she has! I want to be married into Dele-Ogunrinde's family, and foreswear to protect my wife against attacks and torture from my mom and Mrs. Dele-Ogunrinde's mom, African mothers in laws both!
Here below is an excerpt of a recent book review piece in The New York Times regarding mother in-laws.
(There Are Other Mother In-laws) outside Africa
February 5, 2006
'I Married My Mother-In-Law,' edited by Ilena Silverman
A Fine Old Conflict
Review by PAMELA PAUL