On the 1st of October 2023, the winner of the Big Brother All Stars reality show was announced. The winner was Ilebaye Precious Odiniya who had previously appeared in 2022 but was evicted after three weeks.
Ilebaye’s win is inspirational in many ways and serves numerous lessons to young women on the importance of staying true to yourself and fending off negative comments.
For example, in several instances during the All Stars Season, Ilebaye was on the receiving end of what can best be described as bullying from other housemates.
This bullying was often centered on her age and how she was not as deserving of respect because she was twenty two years old.
Too often, women who are young are told their opinions do not count not only because they are female, but also because they are young. This is ironic as outspoken teen boys and adolescent males are praised as “forward thinking” for their generation. We raise young women to constantly apologise for their existence especially in African cultures. And why is that?
Why do most Africans never respect young girls but instead see them as immature. Which again is ironic because these young girls who are seen as “childish” are however mature enough when a grown man is preying on them at sixteen years old. The same people who say young women who identify as feminists have been “brainwashed”, never fail to shoot themselves in the leg when they knowingly and unknowingly proposition dating groomers as the best relationship advice to young girls.
To them, engaging a predator is a chance for the “childish yet mature” woman to be raised to a certain degree of maturity. Even then, women cannot win because the girls who supposedly mature faster than their agemates, will be reminded by the very same predators that they are too small minded to know a thing about effective home and money management.
Following Ilebaye’s announcement as the recipient of 120 million naira and the Big Brother Nigeria All Stars winner, she took to the internet and explained that she was going to use the money well.
On the surface, that is an honorable thing to think about. Until you stop to remember that male winners of past Big Brother seasons hardly ever feel the need to justify their access to a large sum of money.
This makes one wonder at the overall way women in Nigerian society who have access to social capital and money are expected to “act humbly” and not make anyone (read: men) feel uncomfortable that they are rich women. Such women are often policed and only receive a modicum of praise when they use their money to finance the activities of often ungrateful family and community members.
But why any of this?
Why do women and girls have to keep everyone comfortable? Why do we teach young girls to walk on eggshells and to live lives where no matter how accomplished they are, they move as though they need permission to speak their minds and to be who they desire to be.
It is almost as if women and girls cannot win because no matter how high they aim, there will always be something or someone to remind them that the place of a woman is to lower herself.
There is a lot of potential that can be harnessed in young girls when we understand that power in women is not to be scorned or policed. When young girls grow up seeing women in places of power constantly reminding the world that they wash a husband’s underwear, it makes them believe that they must defend their right to power and anything they win.
To young women reading this, understand that the world is your oyster. Understand that you do not need anyone’s approval or permission to live how you want.
In anything you do, understand that you must never carry yourself and your achievements in an apologetic manner.
Angel Nduka-Nwosu is a writer, journalist and editor. She moonlights occasionally as a podcaster on As Angel Was Sayin’. Catch her on all socials @asangelwassayin.