I want to say thank you to you all for being a part of my coming out in 2016. Because that was what the Challenge me (If you dare) project was all about. I am a very private person. I know that. I have heard that from many people many times. Only a few people know both of my personas. The public Femi is the one who talks and jokes with people all the time. He is the one who talks to everyone without hesitation at every occasion. Be it Africa Night or with regards to Africa Web TV, he is the guy with abundance of confidence who is not shy to play his part in whatever situation he finds himself in. However, the question to some has always been, who is the other Femi? What is he like? What does he do when the public masks comes off? Well I hope I have allowed you to see a bit more of me in 2016.
It was a conscious choice to create a public profile where everyone could follow whatever I was doing in 2016. I could have chosen other ways but I felt total exposure was the way to go. I am sure many of you who stopped reading or stopped following my daily stuff probably realised I am no Kim Kardashian! I actually have a boring life! The private Femi is just like you and you and you! I face the same struggles and doubts you guys do. I have enjoyed the few who supported whatever I did this year all the way. I have actually made new friends and some people have entered the very small circle of people I truly admire. (They don’t know it themselves but there are 2 people whom I did not really know at the beginning of 2016 but whom I now have great admiration for. I won’t mention names. It is irrelevant)
I have danced this year, I have learned to run, I have learned to swim, I have walked on a busy market with a ladies’ bag! I have learned to own my fear and challenge myself because you challenged me. Unfortunately I could not carry out many of the challenges. The reasons for this are mainly practical and financial. Sometimes it is because whoever threw the challenge just disappeared. So there was no motivation for me to carry out that particular challenge! As a human being I have grown.
I stopped running about 6 weeks ago because there was nothing to run for again. I had thought I could do the half-marathon in April in Rotterdam 2017 but it turned out there was no half-marathon on the Rotterdam marathon programme. If I wanted to do a half-marathon, I would have to go to Hengelo or Harderwijk or Eindhoven in the second part of 2017. I don’t think it is worth it! I have to confess though that I am missing the running so I might start training again just to stay in good condition. Watch this space!
So the question remains what do I do with my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/femisoewuofficial) now that this Challenge year has come to an end. The option is to deactivate or even totally delete it. However, I think I will keep it online and use is to give a piece of my mind about certain issues in 2017. I live in Europe and more than ever, it is getting clearer to me that some of us who have always been on the side lines have to let our voices be heard. The reason is that the world is changing around us and there are forces who are working to dictate our common futures. If we remain on the side lines, these people might take us to places where we don’t want to be.
I pay my taxes in Europe. I am one of the builders of Europe. Most of the people who mean the world to me are here. So I will start taking my place at the table even if that means raising my voice. I have built my home in Europe so I have to tell some of my noisy neighbours that we all have equal stakes in this society. So to those who might not agree with some of the things I might say in my home (Europe) and would remind me to go back to my own country, I have a message for you. I think you should prepare your apologies already. If I help build this place, I am a co-owner just like you. If you think because you were born here you have a bigger mouth than I do, then I have a right to laugh at you. You will have to come with a better argument than that of an accident of birth you could not even control. My voice will be heard! That is the message for 2017. Let’s meet at the construction table and talk like adults.
Post script: Just before I was going to post this I got a taste of what might come next year when and if I spoke my mind. Someone who has just started following me saw my point of view on the Blackface tradition in Holland and concluded they knew who I was and where I stood on racial issues. Try as I did to explain to that person that for me, the issue had less to do with race than with justice and human dignity, this person concluded that they knew me. Strange how people draw conclusions even when you are standing in front of them and they could just ask. The conclusion and insinuation was that I might be against the (white) Dutch people.
It is human nature. This person would have probably claimed they knew me if they had been following me when I was berating black (mainly African) people who trash talk European people. They would have concluded that I hate black people by asking them to look into the mirror. They would have claimed to know me if they had been there when I was fighting (as I still do) for LGBT rights. They would have concluded like some did that I was gay. They would have concluded I was HIV positive because I made some items for Africa Web TV about people carrying the virus. They would have concluded I was weak if they started following me when I was fighting (as I still do) for the weak and the defenceless in the society. I am anti-Christianity when I am engaging some Christian bigots or anti-Islam when stare down the preachers of hate. I could have been a bully, a man-hater (because I confront men who are mean to women), a woman-basher (because I confront women who think all men are the same!) I could go on and on.
The fact is that all my life, I have always fought for human dignity. It is never about race, religion, sex etc. If people’s dignity are at stake I will stand up to be counted. I have always held a mirror to my own face in my quest to become a better person. If you come into my space, invited or not, you will be given a collection of mirrors. And if you are scared to look into those mirrors or you are scared of the person looking back at you in the mirrors, you are free to leave my space. It is a free world. What I will not allow is that you will come to my space and to take over my space by telling me who I am without taking time to know me. I will give my opinions and defend them. If my mirrors are too confrontational you can just unlike, delete or block me just like the person above did. Guess they knew me too much after 1 month on Facebook!
Happy 2017 to you all!