Frailty, Thy Name Is Not Woman
Author: C. C. Okoye
Reviewer: By Goddy Ikeh
If there is any Nigerian, who is not happy with the marginalisation of women in the country and other forms of inhuman treatment meted to them as well as the contentious issue of lack of equal opportunities, he must be Chief C.C. Okoye.
Worried by these injustices, especially the cultural practices that have refused to go away with modernity and continually hindering the growth of women in politics and the economy, the octogenarian decided to lend his voice to the ongoing, but often muted campaigns to abolish all forms of injustices against the womenfolk in our country.
This, he has done, by writing his second book, entitled ‘Frailty, Thy Name Is Not Woman’, which is being presented today in Lagos to mark his 81st birthday anniversary (on December 25, 2021).
Chief Okoye explained in his introduction that he embarked on writing this second book after his successful shot at book writing 11 years ago, when he published his autobiography entitled ‘My Unforgettable Life Experiences’, to celebrate his 70th birthday anniversary and to respond to a friend’s request that he should mark his 81st birthday with another book. Fortunately, this decision is what we are witnessing today.
And because of his love for books, especially the works of Shakespeare, the author decided to draw from his pool of experience and exposures in his early teens to drive home his quest for equal opportunities for women and stop any forms of marginalisation against them.
However, in a clear departure from the usual norms often adopted by many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in tackling such an issue as this, Chief Okoye adopted the Shakespearean approach where he used his works to expose some of the problems of his society. And so he decided to tackle the problem from the wrong notion that weakness (frailty) in character is mostly found in women and he chose Shakespeare’s expression that asserted that “frailty is the name of woman” because Queen Gertrude, happily accepted marriage with her brother-in-law, Claudius, barely one month after her husband’s death. We could recall that a similar scenario played out shortly after the end of the Nigerian civil war (1970) when the wounds of the war were still fresh, some women from the former Eastern Nigeria married the perceived enemies of the region, especially the soldiers, who were the principal actors in the three-year war that claimed millions of people from the region.
Precisely, that was how Chief Okoye fished out the title of this book ‘Frailty, Thy Name is not Woman’ when, he again, deployed his experience from decades of working with scientific data to resolve some, often complex human behavioural issues and successfully concluded that frailty, which was exhibited in some selected women in a number of Shakespeare’s Works as well as a number of stories involving women in the Holy Bible, was not enough to brand all women as weak or frail in character.
And for the readers, who are friends with figures, it may surpass your expectations how the octogenarian author used and processed some Holy Bible stories and William-Shakespeare’s plays, which were selected randomly and attached to the book as Appendices A(i), A(ii), A(iii) and B(i), B(ii), B(iii) to prove his case that Frailty is not the name of woman.
Fortunately, the book is not only about frailty, the author deliberately selected a good number of successful and renowned women (both local and international), who have made significant contributions in various fields of human endeavor to further buttress his position on the often neglected role of women in development, globally. Such notable women as Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Madeleine Albright, Queen Victoria, Hillary Clinton, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Prof Grace Alele Williams and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala were listed and their achievements copiously reflected.
In addition, Chief Okoye used the opportunity offered by this book to reconnect with his roots, old friends, in-laws and colleagues, including his teacher in his primary school at Oraukwu in Anambra State, Chief Joe Madueke, who is over 100 years and the Chairman of this event today, Mr. Pius Akubueze, who sent in goodwill messages and hailed his latest effort, which did not come as a surprise to them as his teacher fondly remarked that the author’s primary school period was “in the era children were like open books and the trajectory of their adulthoods were not hidden. One could read among them both future great men and future wicked men.”
In his second book, Chief Okoye demonstrated freshness, intensity and power in advancing his case for the recognition of the role of women in the development of the nation, especially in increasing their low representation in politics and elective positions in the National Assembly and expanding their contributions in the economy and the labour force.
Despite the major trust of the book, the reader, especially the young-adults, who are not comfortable with how the girl child is marginalised in the Nigerian society, will strive to join the campaign to bring about positive change. And for the elderly among us, who read Shakespeare’s books in their teens, you have enough summaries of his works and some Bible stories to keep you busy in your retirement since the prose is clean, lean and largely reportorial.
I therefore, recommend this book, ‘Frailty Thy Name is not Woman’ to you all and I have no doubt that it will attract many reviews and reactions, especially from the British press and writers, whose hero of all times in Literature, Shakespeare, is a principal character in this book.
Please, join me in commending Chief Okoye for he is the warmest and down-to–earth persons I have ever met. He is excellent in cultivating and maintaining friendship and relationships and he is Man of the People.