A Weekend at #WOW and Thoughts on Africa’s Feminism

I spent the weekend before last at the Women of the World festival in London, probably the most inspiring thing I’ve done in the past year. WOW celebrates women in all their diversity using a platform of talks, debates, workshops and panel discussions on women’s issues.

Any weekend spent at the Southbank Centre feels awesome for a culture geek like me, but a couple of things had me feeling like I was walking on air as soon as I walked into the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday morning.

First, I was struck by just how diverse the women around me were: in age, sexual orientation, race, physical ability, religion, and by how inclusive the atmosphere was. Afros mixed with hijabs, mixed with blond hair, mixed with shaved heads. It felt really cool to be part of a sisterhood, without judgement. Whatever we looked like, or believed, we were there, together, because we shared similar interests, concerns, dreams and challenges. And that’s a powerful thing.

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There’s a Lot More to Learn From ‘IBB’s SAP’ Than Meets The Eye.

Most of us, including those too young to have lived a single day through it, associate the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) of the 1980s with the darkest period in Nigeria’s economic history. The popular narrative generally considers SAP to have both caused the problems and failed to fix them, laying the blame squarely at IBB’s feet.

It’s not quite that simple.

SAP reforms were introduced in mid-1986 as a precondition for Nigeria’s borrowing from the World Bank/IMF. We didn’t have much choice.

So what lessons did we learn/should we have learnt from our economic history in the 1980s?

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Let’s Talk About SAP, Baby.

What do you remember when you think of SAP?

I remember hearing the word ‘austerity’ a lot as a child. It was always a strange word for a couple of reasons. While I didn’t know the dictionary definition, I knew that it connoted hardship (and nobody likes the thought of that). Also, my father’s name is Austin, so whenever someone said ‘austerity’, I would think of him. I still do.

The subconscious mind is a fascinating thing really. 

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