A society is a collection of individuals and therefore societal action should be a collection of the actions of individuals in spite of a few variants. A temperate society should be the one that the majority of individuals are temperate; a wild and violent society should be a collection of a majority of wild and violent people. The way women are treated should speak volumes about the individuals in the society. If all men as men, and for that matter all women accept the potentials and actual contributions of women, every society would be great and by extension the world.

 A widely quoted African proverb goes thus: “if you educate a man, you educate an individual; if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” It can be disputed though it is generally agreed that the first teacher of a child is the mother. However, if that is stretched we may flow into the position which is very common in Nigeria, that is, when a child turns out well, the father takes the credit; when a child is bad, he or she belongs to the mother.

My simple position is that the way the society treats women should start with the individual both men and women. Women because in politics, for instance, more women appear to vote than men yet female candidates often fall behind their male counterparts. From Nigeria where girls in institutions of higher learning have been ‘zoned’ to the position of Vice President of Student Union Government even in schools where girls outnumber boys three to one, to the current Democratic nomination process in the US where all the female candidates have effectively left the scene, females are generally seen by both males and females as not being up to the task of governing a group. The case of Germany is basically an aberration.

In my personal capacity, I keep asking myself what weighs most in my orientation towards females – girls and women – my upbringing or my personal beliefs. My father, Elder Asibong Ubong consistently made his sons to understand that females – girls and women – are to be protected by males – boys and men – the word protection embracing physical, economic, spiritual, and sociological dimensions. There is zero percent chance that any of my brothers can hurt a female physically, verbally, and otherwise.

            For me, let me stretch some more. Being a literary writer has taught me many things. One is that a writer, particularly those without academic background in writing, just keeps putting words together. Dr Etop Akwang of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Uyo, Nigeria once told me several years ago that persons with academic qualifications in drama find it difficult to write plays because they are too conscious of the theory or art of theatre (dramaturgy). Many of them thus depend on those of us ‘civilians’ that are not constrained by rules writing, using our works for literary criticism or to teach.

It is on this basis that a festschrift has been put together on my works. It is infinitely exciting to read the interpretations given by real experts on what I just allowed my pen to flow particularly at night. One of the articles, written by Dr Ofonime Inyang of the Department of Theatre Arts & Film Studies, University of Uyo, Nigeria and Mrs. Idaresit Inyang of the Department of Drama, Stellenbosch University, South Africa knocked me off my feet. I reproduce hereunder part of the Abstract on the paper titled “Historicity, female resoluteness, and the environment of the Ibibio-Efik society in Bassey Ubong’s My Son, Your Son.”

Notwithstanding the praise of the substance, structure, and colour of the Nigerian novel, the specialty and craft of the various writers, a cyclic conundrum of criticism trailing the Nigerian literature especially the works of the novelist remains the issue of the creation and positioning of female characters in lowly and almost infinitesimal contexts in the literary universe of the predominantly male writers except for few voices. From Chinua Achebe to Martin Akpan, the issue has been the near characteristic preponderance of dominant males and thinly mentioned if not veiled female characters in literary works from Nigeria. Given this background, this paper points to a shift in the contextualization of the Nigerian female in contemporary prose fiction through an  examination of Bassey Ubong’s My Son, Your Son, a novel that clearly departs from the norm by parading strong female characters that are visible throughout the story from the beginning to the end and that display unusual resoluteness that sets them apart from the regular female presence in Nigerian literature.

I can say without equivocation that I never thought that the novel, My Son, Your Son could be interpreted this way. I do hold the opinion that in line with medical research, men and women are equal with respect to brain capacity and therefore everything else. A picture from the US of two female truck drivers, one black the other white changing tyres of their 36-wheel trucks convinced me that even physically, gender disparity is a non-issue.

            I see misogynists as uneducated, immature men lacking in self-confidence. It is an unforgivable waste to keep women out of the labour force and in developing countries, regard them as full-time housewives. The 2020 slogan for International Women’s Day is, “An equal world is an enabled world.” So fitting.

If Nigerians cannot say something good about our colonial masters, Great Britain, we have to give them thumps up for making us start post-independence remunerations for workers of a gender parity basis. In Nigeria, it has been equal pay for equal work. The world’s number one democracy and economy – the United States – is still debating that.

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