Last week, a follower on Twitter told actress Hadiza Gabon that she should get married after the actress posted a beautiful picture of herself. And why not? She is 28 years old, attractive, well-fed and will look good on somebody’s arms, right? Well, he was blasted- a reaction that was particularly surprising – considering how she is often tagged as patient, considerate and mildly explosive. But then that sort of says something about the world of a northern actress- the world where typical, standard issues like marriage can be, in the absence of a better word, complicated.
One of the many questions that has baffled many biologists and experts is: why are there two genders? Why not one, three or more? And while there is no compelling explanation, our ancestors thought divine design must have created man and woman to have distinct roles in the family and the society at large. Throughout centuries, men have protected and provided for their families, by virtue of their strength, aggression and external orientation. Women, on the other hand, by virtue of their biology and tender nature, have bared children, cooked and looked after the house.
That to them was divine scheme. They had a point. If men and women had similar roles, why were there man and woman in the first place? Why not a single gender since reproduction must not be inevitably sexual. After all, God is capable of everything; Having two genders can’t be a prerequisite of reproduction on his part, God does as he wills. Hence, wisdom behind having man and woman must be, to them, for them to have different roles. From the very onset therefore, a career woman has been seen by many as a threat to divine design.
Economy. Economy, they say is the basis of everything. The first and the second world war had women taking the responsibilities of men in the workplace. These events brought about a significant involvement of women in the workplace and flexibility in the role of man and woman. Recent years show the line between male and female roles becoming blurred. Males are now taking a more active part in homemaking and child rearing and females are thriving in the business and career world.
This, plus the conflict between science and the church are turning points in the history of the world as they marked the beginning of the so-called modern era. The west saw Technology as the only edge they had over the rest of the world and Technology is based on Science, and Science is based on Materialism. Materialism dictates that Morality is but human creation and imagination. Science now brings prosperity and religion is irrelevant. Women had to tear the veil to work in factories, after all, so science dictates, there is no halal or haram, no right or wrong, they are just product of imagination.
This so called modernisation has permeated the world, for the world has to dance according to the conquerors’ tunes, right?
This westernisation has brought so many changes in north. Yet, a typical northerner still respects his religion and cultures and acts within the confines of religion and societal restraints. If you were to summarise all the thinking of typical northerners about what a good life is, you may come to this: A good life balances career with religious and societal values.
Islam for example has instructed women to ‘draw their outer garment’ close around themselves. This is a core and uncompromising feature of Islam. Being a professional actress means you have to expose parts of your body. Your name has to be synonymous with words such as hot, sexy, attractive. To achieve fame and prosperity, you have to take a crazy picture every now and then and post on Instagram. You have to touch the opposite sex, otherwise you will remain a local champion. You have to do things that are outrightly against religion and society even by the interpretations and commentaries of the most liberal clerics and social commentators.
Despite what they do to achieve such fame, the actresses know that, unlike in other cultures and religions, getting married in the north is like going into retirement. They have to avoid the topic with vague answers in interviews which literally means you have to stay virgin if you have to stay in business. Once you are gone, you are gone. Fati KK, Fati Muhd, Rukayya Dawayya and Hauwa Katanga are the living proof that the road back to acting after divorce is a hard one.
This attempt to fit in. This struggle of being what you are not. This balance between career, society and religion is the biggest dilemma, for me, of a northern actress.
Written by: Anas Abdullahi