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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, June 04, 2007

A KIND thought

June 4th. Exactly 11 years ago, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was assassinated in Lagos, those were the dark darks. In these grey days my mind is on her legacy. Later today, I and her daughter Hafsat Abiola Costello will be leading a delegation of women to the governor of Lagos to
raise certain issues. Hafsat through her organization KIND is interested in getting greater female representation in governance (Nigeria has only 7.5%, less than anywhere else in Africa including Rwanda), l am interested in making Lagos FEMALE FRIENDLY in terms of structure, form and laws.

I have never told her this but my fondness for Hafsat stems from the fact that she is the only one of MKO's numerous children who rose to the leadership, moral and ideological challenge posed by the murder of both her parents. She could have been a totally different person, her own future being assured by accident of birth but her frail bodied, soft spoken, respectful physicality belies a highly intelligent mind,
a steely steadfast unbowable spirit and soul that is deeply aware of her potential role in building a better nation. Unlike my fire spitting gun blazing approach, Hafsat is easy to underestimate and thus more strategically effective. I like her.

What she unconsciously stands for in my mind is that elusive entity that persuades certain people to step out of definite and assured comfort and risk all for a husband, a friend, an ideology, a vision. How did a submissive, affluent, businesswoman, mother of seven, 2nd wife of an entity like MKO ignore tradition, religion, expectations, bribery, intimidation, fear and lack of support within the family to evolve into a fearless fighter so much so that the mightily mad Abacha
had to murder her? How does it happen and can one bottle it and force-feed it to our middle and intellectual class?

All these were going through my mind as Hafsat participated in the female panel on Monday edition of NEW DAWN. In her soft-spoken eloquent way she hit the nail on the issue raised by my last post. In the quest for a better society, should the question be who should lead as against how they will lead. In the entire history of man's
existence, the number of outstanding political leaders worldwide can be counted on the digits at our extremities. One can therefore conclude that exceptional leadership is that, exceptional. The norm therefore is to get anything from mundane and moronic to the completely psychotic. Knowing this, should our constant engagement not be the evolution of an adaptable, self-policing, self sustaining
system of governance where all parts are acutely aware of their roles and defensive of any attempt to usurp such. In plain language, won't our leaders only perform if we make them? Long live the Kudirat spirit.

10 comments:

jadedjune said...

I can't believe it's been 11 yrs since she was assassinated.....time flies.....

Ugo Daniels said...

Oh dear! how on earth did i forgot to put up a memorial post in he rhonor, well, guess am getting old. Anyways, tnx for remembering a strong woman that she was. She'll ever remain in our hearts.

Eminie said...

I think Hafasat is very a great lady and she would be greater than MKO who we all saw as an enigma . I have profund respect for her and I would want to meet her one day thru the changealife programme or something !
she is a true inspiration to us !!

Nigeria Politricks said...

Kudirat has been an inspiration to many. One cannot imagine the callousness of a brutal dictator Abacha murdering a woman, a wife, mother who was fighting for justice and social change...however, this is rampant in a society that we live in; where corrupt Nigerian leaders tenacity in holding on to power bespeaks countless attrocities to the lives of the innocent. We should endeavour to enact laws that will protect the innocent and the weak; women and children from murder, rape,sexual abuse, discrimination, pedophilias and of course child abuse. We should hold our leaders accountable for the injustice done to the Nigerian woman!

catwalq said...

Good job and if there is anyway I can help, please let me know.
I am from Lagos and it has always set the standard for other states to follow. If we can emplower our women to fight for laws and social infrastructure to protect ourselves, then others will follow suit.

ababoypart2 said...

I have only heard good things said about Hafsat. I wish you both well, and will follow your progress.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ eminie, she's in town for one more week. Do you live in Lagos? l might be able to arrange a meeting, fingers crossed o.

@nigerian politricks, l feel you and l have carefully followed your utterances. l know you and l will eventually team up with like minds to start doing. please do not hesistate to mail me concrete ideas that you might have.

@ catwalq, l,m in NY early july tryng to swing an interview with maggie albright on her 9ja elections experience. Met her last year and clicked. would be great to have you around during the interview. l.ll let you know if it happens otherwise we'll do something online with her which you can participate in.

Jola Naibi said...

It is hard to believe that it has been 11 years since Kudirat Abiola left us. I remember it all seemed like a sick joke when we heard that she had been killed.

It is inspiring to see the way her daughter Hafsat has channeled the events which changed her family into a dynamic initiative like KIND. Although women have been historically relegated to the background, things are beginning to change. Still it sad to see many of us fall into the stereotypical norms which society has carved for us. Here in the US, we are seeing for the first time in a long time a formidable female candidate giving the boys a run for their money in the run-up to the Presidential Elections in November 2008. And yet, you hear a lot of women sneer and snicker at her as if she should know better. Time will tell what the outcome of her efforts will be, one thing is clear though, it is a great time to be a woman because we are opening so many doors for ourselves and we just need to tear off the stereotypes we have been wrapped up in and grab the opportunities that are available to us.

RIP - Kudirat Abiola

catwalq said...

Please let me know anytime. I am game. I will need advance though and I am greatful for the chance.

Pink-satin said...

hey funmi tanx for stopping by the blogville idol page...yes it is a competition to sing!even if u cannot sing u can be a voter,by listening to the competitors and voting..pls stay tuned to the page for more info..tanx