Mummy Zee, Feminism and the Rest of Us


It all started with a post. A Lagos-based lady, Deborah Olaki, also known as Mummy Zee, tweeted on the microblogging site X (formerly Twitter) that she wakes up at 4:50 a.m. daily to cook for her husband. This sparked mixed reaction- mostly criticism at first. However, her trolls were silenced when some men who praised her for being a good wife-in sticking to traditional role in the home- showered gifts on her. From corporate brands to prominent figures, the outpouring of support was huge.

But the arguments kept on raging on the social media, in the neighbourhood and inside the homes of married couples. Some women even fear that if they don’t make the same sacrifice as Mummy Zee, they would be tagged “bad wives.”

But, should a woman be compelled to wake up at 4:50am to prepare lunch for her husband? Why can’t the husband prepare his own meals for work? Was there a subtle threat in the conversation about a colleague that brought two spoons to share with Mummy Zee’s husband? Wouldn’t Mummy Zee regret this sacrifice if one day the husband cheats on her? Is this not a reversal of progress made by women in the fight for equality?

Many questions arose from the Mummy Zee saga. As Africans, it has always been a traditional role for a woman to prepare meals in the home while the husband serves as the breadwinner. However, modern day work demands have made it adaptable such that couples who are considerate of each other workout meal preparation that does not inconvenient one for the other. Meanwhile, there are some women who love cooking and consider it as a way to express affection for their husbands. Some have even found their way to their men’s hearts through the stomach. Indeed, cooking is an age-long tool for negotiation in the home.

As regards feminism, the core of the movement is to advocate for women’s economic and political rights to be equal to men’s. What feminism is all about is to seek remuneration packages for women based on their skills and competencies so that they are not denied the opportunity to thrive on the basis of their nature-assigned gender. There are companies where men dominate the managerial positions. In journalism, women are relegated to soft beats and men dominate politics and business.

The fact that the man is the head of the woman in a marriage does not come without a clause. Even the biblical backing to this stresses the importance of “cherishing the wife as one’s own body.” That said, the onus of deciding when the man crosses the line in exerting his headship rests on the woman, except if she is mentally-challenged.

Mummy Zee is only one out of millions of women who wake up early in the morning to cook for their families in Nigeria and Africa. Some have even woken up earlier and under more stressful situations. She was just fortunate…

…Or even just a distraction. At the time that Mummy Zee’s story was on the hot trends, women in Plateau state were protesting the recent killings in the state with some of them reportedly burning down the house of the traditional ruler of Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau state, Michael Adanchi. But Mummy Zee’s story seemed more important. Instead of encouraging donation of relief materials to Plateau victims, prominent Nigerians were getting distracted by the mundane in the scheme of agenda towards survival.

Plateau women have gradually dominated the agronomy in the state. This explains why violent clashes affect their lives and livelihoods in no imaginable way.

Let’s step away from what is viral to the real world. Who still hears about the bread seller Jumoke Orisagunna? After the bombardment of gifts, her marriage became troubled. And it all started with a photobomb.

We need to start rethinking how we affirm gender roles, jump on trends just to be relevant, momentarily. Impacting lives positively is more desirable than mere hashtags.


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