The rest as they say, is history. While little was know about her before then, despite having her dedicated fans and endorsers, her popularity and reputation has since soared.
Her everyday life and feminist ideals and feats have since become subject of intense researches while the media has scrambled for her attention — a thing she confirmed on a YouTube video.
Her name is Eniola Hu, a Nigerian-born, Canada-based art and natural/afro hair enthusiast, fashion and textile designer, writer, filmmaker and YouTuber who grew up around strong women. A Nigerian Twitter user, @DoreenGLM calls her the "Goddess of vanquishing patriarchy" and she endorsed the message.
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Moments into a sojourn to her bi-weekly, social commentary-focused YouTube page, @EniolaHu, and it will be obvious why she is so strong in her feminist views like her aversion to the use of “Mrs.”, her opinion on men or even her breakdown of TV shows like, Jenifa’s Diary.
Interestingly, she also didn’t think her now viral Tweet which confirmed her new ‘blown’ status would “do anything.” But the game is the game.
In a chat with Pulse on September 6, 2018,she talks about her work, background, feminism, why she thinks bride price should be scrapped.
Pulse: So, what does Eniola Hu do?
Eniola: I am a fashion and textile designer. I also create Youtube videos biweekly where I make social commentary on issues that affect me or people like me.
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Pulse: Where did you grow up?
Eniola: I lived in Lagos until I was 16. Then I moved to Canada, and later, Los Angeles, to pursue my fashion & textile design career. It was the best time.
But I’m re-situated again in Toronto, which is now home for me.
Pulse: What inspired your idea of feminism?
Eniola: It was pretty easy for me to build a concept of standing up for women since I grew up in Nigeria and witnessed a lot of gender-based violence and discrimination against women. Juxtaposed against this, were my brilliant lawyer mother, my phenomenal sisters, grandmother, aunties, and so many great women around me who fought for their agency everyday, while keeping their heads up. Of course no one knew what feminism was, but this concept stuck with me since childhood.
Much later in university, my younger sister informed me that in her class, Lil Kim was described as a feminist for her daring sexual expression. I did some research on feminism and Lil Kim’s career. Immediately, I observed how compared to male rappers who did the exact same thing or even worse, she was treated with disdain.
For a conservative woman like myself (at the time), I still felt instantly connected to her. And that was when I started to identify as a feminist (only to myself and close friends lol). Not long after, I saw bold and fearless feminists on Twitter and Tumblr, then I got the courage to identify openly as well.
Pulse: What is your passion?
Eniola: Thank you. My passion is bringing beauty to this world. I do it through art, as well as sharing my ideas.
Pulse: People seem to think you are a bit of an extremist, how does that affect your activism?
Eniola: I have always been passionate and a leader in thought. From a young age, I knew I was not for everybody so I learned to stand in my truth. That’s all I can do until time reveals more.
There was a time the idea of women driving or voting was considered extreme. There will always be people who are open to learning and change, while some others will resist it.
Pulse: Do you think feminism needs men or is it self-sustaining?
Eniola: Sincerely, this question is insulting to all our foremothers and other women who have fought, lost much including their lives, to secure the future of women. Women have been fighting for their rights and power despite historical and current violent opposition from men.
The question should be “can men sustain themselves without women?” Plenty of studies show that they can’t. Maybe that’s why they try to keep women in shackles, so they can be sustained.
My feminism does not centre men.
However, a man who is sensible and compassionate would support feminism and/or any other women’s liberation efforts. For now, I believe the best role men can play is to listen to women (instead of interrupting and speaking over us as they’re socialized to do), and spread the word to their fellow men.
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Pulse: Is feminism equality or equity and equal opportunity?
Eniola: Equity is a tool to achieve equality and equal opportunity.
Pulse: Your video on gender peculiar description is wonderful stuff. Do you think these things will work in the real world?
Eniola: Thank you for watching my video! I don’t know why people are so invested in hierarchies. If you’re referring to the one where I break down Miss, Mrs., and Ms., it already works in many parts of the world. And for those who don’t want to catch up, they’ll get left behind. As we progress towards a more inclusive world, “Mx.” may be the gender-neutral term to identify people.
Pulse: Your viral tweet (laughs), what has that done for you — in terms of feminism?
Eniola: laughs. That’s fine. It made me more resolute in my practice of self-love. In the words of my feminist sister Doreen Caven, “choosing myself” every time is what I will continue to do. It is the biggest fuck-you I can give to any oppressive systems that affect me.
Pulse: Men also prostrate during these events, do you think that should be scrapped too?
Eniola: I didn’t know men prostrated for their brides to show submission. The last time I checked, they did so to the bride’s parents, while the bride kneels for the groom’s parents.
Pulse: How about bride price — should it be scrapped too?
Eniola: What are we waiting for? Women are not chattel.
Pulse: You have channeled it into worthy content, the comment sections paint a picture of women getting touched and rising up. How does that make you feel?
Eniola: That was truly the best part. I had my ceremony a few years ago and never shared much about it. I really didn’t think it’d make such an impact but I am extremely happy about how far a single tweet went. People are now questioning traditional marriage rites and beyond, to ensure that they are honoured by culture. I could not be prouder.
Pulse: What do you think is your brand — you are becoming a public personality now?
Eniola: I find joy in celebrating the Other; in revealing the beauty in people and ideas that are marginalized. I am just letting it flow naturally.
Pulse: Do you consider yourself Nigerian or Canadian? Your very Nigerian accent is popping, it by the way.
Eniola: I am very Nigerian. Thank you, my Nigerian accent is my most comfortable way of speaking.
Pulse: What do you consider the greatest path to effective feminism for Africa?
Eniola: Learning our own history, the brilliance of our ancestors and the path they paved for us. I believe it will inform not just our feminism, but our sense of identity. I truly believe we have lost a lot of who are.
Pulse: What is the big picture for you; personally, professionally and as a modern woman?
Eniola: The big picture for me personally is to be content and joyful with who I am. Professionally, I want to use multiple media streams to amplify the stories - and shed light on the beauty - of as many Others as I can.
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Pulse: What is your take on gender pay gap and the effectiveness of such clamour across entertainment, sports and modern capitalism?
Eniola: I wonder why men think they need more money than women for doing the same or less work. Capitalism sustains patriarchy (and white supremacy).
Capitalism makes us want for more so we can spend more. In this quest for more money, women fall even further behind due to sexism in the family, workplace and hiring process. Therefore, even though some women are making strides, many are falling behind economically and cannot make a decent living.
It’s ironic because even though women outperform men in business (Harvard Business Review. Also see: Iceland and how women rejuvenated their economy after the recession), men keep getting the opportunities to make more money. This is how capitalism fuels patriarchy. Men stay richer and have more power to subjugate women.
In Nigeria specifically, it’s not just gender gap, but gender chasm in everything. And unfortunately, there is no support system for women to fall back on. The laws, enforcement, society, family structure, the religious spaces, etc. are not on women’s side. Every day and every way, male supremacy is enforced and I don’t know how Nigerian women stay sane amidst all this. It’s overwhelming.
Pulse: How do eradicating words like “Mrs.”, “Actress” affect feminism, long and short term?
Eniola: Language is super important. We see lexicon as something objective but it is very much subject to the author and defined by the zeitgeist. The zeitgeist of the world (in most of recorded history) is insanely sexist, so everything that comes out from it would be.
I don’t see the problem with the word “actress”. But as usual, the patriarchy does. Ask the average Nigerian what they think of when they hear the word “actress” and you’ll hear all sorts of negative connotations e.g. runs girls, loose women, etc. Not the same for actors. “Mrs.” on the other hand, would be nice to disappear forever.
Check out this fantastic thread for more on language and sexism;
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Pulse: Does it make you feel uncomfortable when men walk eggshells around you?
Eniola: The irony of oppression is the oppressed is made to always center the feelings and comfort of the oppressor. I am unlearning this, therefore I focus my safety and wellness. I try not to worry about how uncomfortable they are. I am happy that they get to be hyperaware of the typical violent or entitled ways they’ve been socialized to be. It’s the only way many men will change. And after all, isn’t that what I want for myself and other men and women who don’t like these traits in men, to enjoy?
Eniola Hu is am embodiment of the modern woman.