Returning Home: Young African Feminist

Afro PolBy Our Content Partners at Afropolitan Insights

Afropolitan Insights is a publication dedicated to sharing the stories and experiences of people across the African Diaspora. 

This interview is with Dhvani Tombush, a young feminist who attended college in the U.S. and has since moved back to Nigeria.

How does it feel to be back home after years of college?

It’s really very much of a mixed feeling. It’s exciting and interesting, I missed the food and family. At the same time, it feels a bit too much at times because there a lot of frustrations here in Lagos that you forget about: no 24/7 electricity, the traffic, the crazy drivers, and the bad customer service in general. Some days are good but there are days when I wonder if I made the right choice (these decrease as time goes by). Also, by coming back after being exposed to so much, I find myself wondering what exactly makes me Nigerian because there are some days when I don’t feel Nigerian at all, or I don’t feel at home. 

What are you up to in Nigeria?

I am working in fashion! I work in branding and marketing for a fashion start up called Eve & Tribe that is based in Lagos. Eve & Tribe is a lifestyle brand for contemporary African women that equally celebrates women’s empowerment (trust me to end up in something like that). So everyday, we navigate the mind of the Nigerian woman, her worries, fears, joys and choices because they inform the production of our clothes.

Feminism in Africa as compared to your college years, what’s the overall feeling? Is Nigeria or other parts of Africa you visit catching up with the feminist movement?

Sigh. There are definitely more feminists in Nigeria today than there were a couple of years ago but we still have a lot left to be desired. A good amount of strong women in Nigeria push for us to have careers, to build ourselves as women without the support of men. But marriage is still a huge deal; its still an accomplishment that is more important than your Masters or PHD. Moreover, the men in Nigeria are still finding it hard to let go of the patriarchy and exalt in that position. A good friend of mine said something in an interview with Eve & Tribe that explains the dynamic in this country and I will quote here: “In the Nigerian society, a woman is demanded to satisfy many impossible expectations. She is expected to be sexy, yet classy. She is expected to be outgoing, yet demure. In her fifties she is expected to be the spiritual backbone of her family, yet in her twenties she is expected to know when to put her Bible down and pick up the tequila. And finally, she is expected to be intelligent, but never ever intimidating. At whatever point she falls short of these expectations, there is a ready-made label for her over which she can be placed on a shelf”

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