Amanda Chisom is a social media force, blogger, feminist and activist. Among other things. In this interview, we spoke about many things, feminism, blogging, blackmail, relationships, etc. Chisom blogs in Amandachisom.net. Let’s hear her.
Hard Voices: You just came back having been out of Facebook for one month, I think, what actually happened?
Chisom: My account was banned for 30 days by Facebook for reports of contents not allowed on Facebook.
Hard Voices: ‘Contents not allowed on Facebook’. Perhaps you may elaborate on that. And, when out of Facebook, what did you miss most, the ladies who inbox you for relationship counsel, your friends, your audience, the activism?
Chisom: It was taken down for nude contents. I posted a picture of a naked pregnant woman which I do not regard as nudity but rules are rules. I missed everything and everybody but I need to be clear, it is not only women who come to my inbox, there are men too and it is not always about relationships. Did not really miss out on much except my voice was stifled a bit but I was on the blog.
Hard Voices: You are a feminist; you are determined to fight to see that men and women are given same opportunity, treated with equal respect. How then do you feel when you see some ladies come out and say awful things about feminism and dismiss it as scam? The same ladies whose interest you fight for.
Chisom: It is demoralizing but my interest has always been children in disadvantaged situations and victims of societal anomalies, the grown up women are not my core interest so I do not feel so bad about them. Let me explain better: If a little girl who was married off at 8 tells me ‘Aunty do not fight for me I want to be married’, I will be destroyed. It does not have the same emotional effect on me as a grown up woman who says ‘Do not fight for me, I love being degraded’.
|Related: Interview With Walter (Blogger/Writer)|
Hard Voices: In a popular post of yours, you said guys spend money on their girls, that if a guy doesn’t spend on you it means you are a side chick. Where does this leave nice sincere broke guys with a great future?
Chisom: No, I did not say that. I reposted an opinion that has nothing to do with my own opinion. I am an opinion blogger.
Hard voices: In another post you likened dating Anambra guys to investing in bad shares. You said Anambra guys will rarely marry outside Anambra and usually on their mother’s say-so. You are from Anambra which makes the claim more believable. I remember tagging the post as the single story of Anambra men. Do you see merit in people classifying it as a single story?
Chisom: It is a single story and soley a personal opinion.
Hard Voices: Do you ever get worried that your opinion might be wrong and people will still take it as the gospel truth?
Chisom: No, my opinion is my opinion and it is not sacrosanct or finite. People relate to what they want to relate.
Hard Voices: How did you become such an influence on social media? Is there any specific thing you can tie it to? Was it gradual or did you just wake up and boom, there are thousands of messages in your inbox?
Chisom: Lol, of course it was not a boom thing. It was a gradual process. I still do not even know how it happened. It just did and I am grateful for it all
Hard Voices: A Google search of ‘Amanda Chisom’ has a nairaland link of a fellow claiming he has your nudes on top of the result page. You have come out to strongly refute the claim, and the consensus largely believes that the guy’s claim lacks merit. But how do you feel having a negative story about you topping the search engine of your brand name?
Chisom: It is ridiculous that anybody would go that far to destroy anyone. First of all I would be crazy to do that, and when the pictures came out and I knew for sure it was not me I did not care less. What happened to me was just a classical example of a useless man trying to put me down as a woman. His claims are ridiculous and I refuted it with solid cases so I am not concerned about any damage to my brand. I am concerned about the truth and making sure nobody ever does that to a woman again.
Hard Voices: Surprising enough, there are women who willingly send nudes to men. What do you say to such girls?
Chisom: They are adults and should know that there are consequences for every action and inaction.
Hard Voices: You are the CEO of TorchBlaze Media Consult. What are the things your company does?
Chisom: We are basically into public relations, media relations, strategy communication and business content development as well as brand management.
Hard Voices: What is your thought about the blog boom in Nigeria? There are millions of blogs in Nigeria, nearly 100% of them into gossip with no regards to originality, no respect for copyright, spammy and whatnot. It can be painfully noisy and distracting. And, while at it, you may say a word or two about Linda Ikeji the oga at the top of Nigerian blogosphere. So many people don’t seem to like her and they are very vocal (if not proud) about it.
Chisom: Wow. The thing is this, The world has gone digital so it is not out of place that most service will go digital too but when it comes to the Nigeria blogsphere I think we are not doing it right. Everybody is trying to drive traffic and make millions and it is only natural that cases of infringement will occur. I tell my team: ‘Do not be in a hurry to break a news. Let someone else break it, tell the story your own way and reference your source always.’ I think it would do us good if we can all focus on a particular area. Blog about your passion and not focus on traffic and all. I think we are growing so we still have a lot to learn and unlearn.
On Linda Ikeji, I do not have what to say. In this business, as in real life, everybody must not like you. If they do not like her I am sure they have their reasons, I myself is not liked by many but when has that ever stopped anybody?
Hard Voices: Perhaps envy plays a major role.
Chisom: In some cases yeah but I know a lot of people who do not like me or Linda for other reasons that has nothing to do with envy.
Hard Voices: What advice will you give a ten year old Amanda Chisom?
Chisom: Do not ever grow up. Your life is beautiful the way it is. Being a grown up sucks a lot.
Hard Voices: And if she insists on growing up?
Chisom: Grow wisely and stay away from men till you are 25.
Hard Voices: In an interview with Chinyere Obi-Obasi, when asked about your date, you said, jokingly, that you wouldn’t want to say something now that your oga at the top will come out and say another. Has anything changed since then?
Chisom: Nope, he still has not come out to deny me or claim me so the status quo remains, unchanged.
Hard Voices: What are your views on abortion?
Chisom: I am pro-choice especially when it endangers the health of the mother and there are life threatening situations like a non-viable baby.
Hard Voices: But when it doesn’t endanger the life of the mother, in normal circumstances, when you see a woman struggling with to abort or not to abort situation, what would you tell her if she seeks your counsel?
Chisom: I will tell you to do what’s best for you.
Related: Interview with Neec (Creative Photographer).
Hard Voices: Between late last year and this year we saw a lot of women coming out on social media to specifically call men out for abusing them sexually. This, to the best of my knowledge, requires so much emotional strength and courage. With this, will you say we are closing the gap on the fight against sexual assault?
Chisom: Yes we sure are. Before now most women were afraid to speak up about being sexually molested or assaulted but now because we advocated for less victim shaming, more and more women are being vocal and that is major step towards ending sexual violations.
Hard Voices: One issue that some have pointed out about these confessions is that the accused are not usually given hearing before being condemned. And someone tweeted, the other day, that these ladies after speaking out are immediately elevated to the status of god whose stories cannot be questioned.
Chisom: I am sure nobody has ever stopped the accused from speaking out. I do not know about the goddess status either.
Hard Voices: You wrote a fine article about managing a family on 200 thousand naira per month. What I liked most about the article is your quote ‘If you cannot manage a steady income you cannot manage wealth’. Are you a quotes person? Who are the people you quote? And who are your role models?
Chisom: I hardly quote anybody, it comes from my head. If I use a quote which I rarely do there should be relativism to the matter at hand. I do not have role models either.
Hard Voices: You don’t have role models. Has that been the case since childhood? Why do you stop having role models if you had before (who are they)? If you never had role models what informed the decision?
Chisom: Never had a role model because I have never tried to be anybody than myself. Having a role model means someone I look up to and aspire to be like. The only person I look up to is God and there is nobody I aspire to be like.
Hard Voices: But there must have been people you admire and who inspire you.
Chisom: Yes, a lot.
Hard Voices: Do you mind naming them?
Chisom: Oprah Winfrey, the late Jackie Collins, Elizabeth Holmes, my parents, Viola Okolie and others.
Hard Voices: What would you advice your male relation who is considering marrying a woman who cannot cook?
Chisom: Send her to a catering school or teach her.
Hard Voices: And for a woman who is about to marry a man who recently suddenly lost his job, what will you advice?
Chisom: To wait a while for things to stabilize with marriage come responsibility; she can go ahead if she earns enough to hold the forte but they should have a quiet marriage.
Hard Voices: My friend who usually mentions me in some of your posts said I should ask you that one thing you will never be caught doing?
Chisom: A lot of things actually depending on varying scenarios. But that would be smoking marijuana.
Hard Voices: What then do you do when you wish to feel high?
Chisom: I do not want to feel high. I do not drink or smoke unless ice cream can make me high then it should be ice cream.
Hard Voices: This change government has really showed Nigerians pepper, no jobs, high cost of living, small businesses are stifled, foreign ones are closing shops, insecurity, detentions without trial, raiding without warrant, shocking propaganda, inconclusive elections, opposition harassment, discriminatory war on corruption etc. Do you know that organising NYSC camping has now become a rocket science project? Sigh. Is governance this hard or is God using Buhari to punish us for past crimes?
Chisom: I rather not answer for God but we are suffering from bad leadership, political rascality, malfeasance and lack of political will as well as bad policies.
Hard Voices: Lastly, is there anything I didn’t ask you but you feel the need to talk about? If no then let’s imagine you have the power of a god for 24 hours, what are the things you will want to change about Nigeria and the (even) world at large?
Chisom: No, this is good. [As for being god:] Take us back to 1959 and make sure the queen refuses to sign the independence form. And for the world, end all kinds of religion.
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