Thursday 5 July 2018


Photo L-R: Mrs. Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi, MD DoxaDigital/Keynote Speaker & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

Between the 28th and 29th of June, 2018, the Gender Studies Programme, University of Ibadan (UI) held its first conference with theme: 'Re-positioning women in service delivery: Research, Policy, Activism & Aesthetics. My friend, Mrs. Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi, MD Doxa Digital & Conference Bureau, delivered the Keynote address, and I was in Ibadan to support her.

Dayo decided to re-title her address: 'Re-conceptualising women in service delivery & development. She began by noting that 'it's 10 minutes to good afternoon. 10 minutes to mid-day could be a timeline. It could be 10 decisions or relationships that would take you to a a new stage in life. It could be 10 gasps of breath. Dayo said a single/simple conversation made the Director of the Gender Studies Programme, Dr. Seun Olutayo insist that she should deliver the keynote address at the conference.

Referring to Dr. Oby Ezekwesili's audacious and bold one woman march against the senseless killings in Nigeria, Dayo said: 'Yesterday, one woman took a lone walk against the senseless killings in our land. Oby queried where we stand as women in a global context in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Like Oby, I'm bothered about the bloodbath in our land'. Dr. Oby has stepped out from the BBOG movement to challenge us as women to do something about the killings. A generation has said 'enough is enough'. Would women take up the challenge to say no more work, close the shops, etc. until the killings stop? Let's create a lifeline together and say: 'I stand that something must be done now to stop the killings (3ce)'.

Dayo then asked the question: Do we need to re-position or embrace re-perception? According to her, there is nothing wrong with our position, but there is everything wrong with our perception. We need to change the narrative, how the story is being told. BH and ISIS have been branded terrorists, but they are still our children (sons and daughters). What happened? How did we miss it? We have demonised the image of a man to a whole generation, then our children run to guns.

A few men have caused generational trauma, but the bad ones are not more than the good/great men still standing! WAKANDA: Position 101 is not altruism, not utopia - the order-city of a regime to speak about re-jigging a time/space. A woman's position could be a matrix position. Dayo then formally recognised 85 year old Prof. Bolanle Awe, OFR, D.Phil (Oxon), Professor Emeritus and first Director of the Institute of African Studies, UI, which is home for the Gender Studies Programme. Mama Bolanle Awe is indeed an icon who has trained numerous girl kids, teenagers, damsels, daughters, Mamas, Professors, etc. It was indeed a delight for Dayo and I to have a chat with Mama Bolanle Awe! In spite of her advanced age, Mama remains witty and articulate!

As adult females, Dayo says it's important to keep the girl in us alive always. Dayo saw in Mama Bolanle Awe what gave her the 'northern star' when she was an English (Hons) student in UI. You need that girl in you to capture your innocence. She also admonished the audience to take up the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie challenge. Chimamanda has a viable platform on the international stage where she attacks African traditional practices which she deems 'un-progressive'. Many have criticised her for doing so. But Dayo admonishes us not to throw away the baby with the bath water. Dayo says Chimamanda is only calling attention to the fact that culture should be dynamic and we need to review those cultural practices which are archaic in the 21st century!

Some of those present are:

*Prof. Bolanle Awe - OFR, Prof. Emeritus, UI & Ist Director, Institute of African Studies
*Prof Aderinto - Rep. VC, UI
*Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi - MD, Doxa Digital & Conference Bureau/Keynote Speaker/VP Nigeria-Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Commerce
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Independent Consultant/Conflict Transformation Expert
*Dr. Jimoh - Rep. Dr. I. Pogoson, Director, Institute of African Studies, UI
*Dr. Seun Olutayo, Director, Gender Studies Programme, UI
*Kemi Ademola Aremu - Activist against rape
*Dr. James Ngaye - Justice, Development & Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Catholic Church
*Mrs. Patience Ekeoba - National Programme Officer, UN Women
*Mrs Hanna Schlingman - Co-convener of Conference
*Temitope Samson - Rep. BOVA Company Ltd.
*Dr. Agada Elachi - Head, ADR Section, Chamber of Commerce

Many papers were presented at the conference, but I concentrated on the Keynote speech because the contents set the tone for the conference, while the other papers looked into specific aspects of the conference theme. I have discussed the other papers in detail in a more comprehensive report written by me.

For now, let's highlight the major submissions made by Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi:

*We need to have a second/third more realistic view of what we uphold as culture. Practices that hold women in bondage need to be done away with.
*The woman has the capacity to deliver service no matter the assignment.
*African women created the African Economic Matrix and the Nigerian woman is a super model of enterprise in this reagrd. For example, Ibukun Awosika started life as a carpenter, but today, she's on the Board of Directors of First Bank of Nigeria.
*Just come as a practitioner in your place of endeavour, and render service conscientiously.
*Have faith/courage over confidence. But remember, courage is not the absence of fear.
*There should be positive social re-construction between men and women.
*A woman's rights are distinct from her human rights.
*Women are their own best friends.
*Service should be aligned with platforms, positions and paragigms.
*The psychology of service includes the following: Self/Empathy/Resources/Conduct/Elevated sight, etc.
*Always stand up for your sister. In this regard, Dayo said: 'My good friend, Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa accompanied me all the way from Abuja to Ibadan to support me. She always has my back. She is an example of a true sister!'.
*Don't teach women to fish, teach them how to buy power boats for the fish!
*When you aim to dominate, you become competitive, but when you aim to serve, you seek collaboration and cooperation.
*You may not emerge the best, but be distinct in whatever you do. Nigerian women are pregnant with doctors and lawyers, not sons and daughters (who are allowed to choose what they want to do in life at which they can excel!).
*Common hours give you trophies.

On the whole, Dayo's message is: Re-conceptualising is much more important than re-positioning for women. Strategies for such re-conceptualisation are indeed a continuum, which cannot be exhausted in one fell swoop or a Keynote address...

Related Links

*The new war on Gender Studies
*Gender identity: Facts & Stats
*By their numbers: The oppression of women and girls globally
*#MeToo & the call for Restorative Justice: Are they compatible?
*The creation of patriarchy: How did it happen?
*Female entrepreneurs: The future of Africa
*The pain of success - To all hardworking women
*Women in South Korea are ditching their cosmetic products  #EscapeTheCorset
*Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A decade of literature, politics and cultural activism
*Chimamanda: Nigeria's most decorated personality?
*The key to bliss for a dual career couple? A contract

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