I was raised catholic and so I was not exposed to the concept of Mummy G.O until much later in my life. Now that I do think about it, the women of the women’s organisation could have passed as Mummy GOs. In fact, the first one I actually came across is my mother. She was the leader of the women’s organisation (I would like to add a disclaimer here: My mother is the most amazing woman in the world. She may not know the word, ‘feminist’, but it is from her I learnt what it meant. She is a single mother, who became widowed at 30, and had to raise her six children alone, the first child being 15, and the last (me), barely 6 months. So I do not write this to shame her or accuse her because she did her best with what she was given and has raised amazing and intelligent citizens. So please do not assume that I am angry with her or anything. That woman is my rock).
Now, please allow me to divert a bit and first explain what it means to be a Mummy GO in Nigeria (and in many other countries. I believe some others call her, First Lady, hehe). The GO part stands for General Overseer.
Characteristics of a Mummy GO
- She must be married to the head pastor (usually), or one of the pastors.
- She must own and use large dramatic hats.
- She should be able to speak publicly for that rare occasion when the pastor is not around.
- She must master the art of judgmental looks.
- She must be a self acclaimed marriage expert.
- She must be an expert at cover-ups.
- She must be a prayer warrior.
- She must be ambition-less and be content with taking the back seat so that nobody assumes she is not submissive.
- She must support her husband no matter what it is he wants to do.
- She must know how to shame young girls and women in the church.
- And this is the most important one: They must be interested in women; they must have a women’s ministry where they ‘care’ about the well-being of women.
There are others of course but I think I’ve covered the basics. So back to the catholic women. Of course women do not speak in Catholic churches. Well maybe they do now, but they didn’t speak in the one I grew up in. And priests don’t get married, so the catholic version of Mummy G.Os is slightly different. Anyway, my mother was the leader of the women’s organisation in our church and she would literally break her back, making sure the priests were well fed etc. Anyway, this is not the point of this post.
What I really want to talk about are numbers 5 and 6. Maybe one day, I will write about the others.
Self-Acclaimed marriage expert: I have a married friend who absolutely loves to send me Mummy GO sermons. I remember listening to one and I was just so angry. Who the heck is this woman and why does she think she can ruin the lives of so many women? I’ll give you the gist of the sermon: She was of course teaching women how to keep their homes. You know that’s all women really need to know. And of course, women have the sole responsibility of keeping their homes, so by all means, ma, preach! No, in fact I cannot give you the gist. I will give you quotes, just so you can be a witness and know I am not crazy.
- “….many times in the place of counselling, I hear women say, “my husband slept with my daughter”,… it is demonic, that rubbish, that hell, set loose on that man, BUT beloved, let me tell you this, every man is attracted by what he sees …. so if you are an old bride beside your husband, you will push him to the laps of Delilahs and if he’s not saved, he can do anything …. sleep with his daughter, sleep with anybody ….” – There are so many sickening things wrong with this statement. She first admits that for a father to sleep with his daughter is demonic (blame the demons, never the man), then she goes on to say, well we can’t blame him because he is attracted to what he sees and if you look old, then sorry, he will sleep with someone else (so women, you husband cheated, or worse, abused your daughter, but it’s not his fault because, demons. And because, you). Because you somehow should have powers to stop yourself from aging, so you can look young for your husband, so he won’t abuse your daughter.
- “A research was done sometime ago in the US, it was discovered, a cock was used; the cock was allowed to make love to a particular hen, after fifth round, it couldn’t go on. Then the same cock was allowed to make love with many hens and it made love to 15 and it was discovered that the male species likes variety…” – Err, well men, actual men with brains have just been compared to cocks. This is not to say that men don’t love variety. But women love variety too. Variety, they say, is the spice of life, no? So we all love variety. But are we chickens? No. We are people. So, that was pretty much how that sermon went. More teachings blaming women for the downfall of their marriage. Somehow, it is always the woman not doing enough.
Be an expert at cover ups: We hear the stories, we see them online. The most recent one, Apostle Suleiman and Stephanie. If you ask me, I believe Stephanie’s story. I have heard numerous stories about the man. Believe me, I’m a Lagos girl and we hear stuff. Anyway, remember how his Mummy GO quickly released a video? Scam! Yes my opinion but I know that was a scam. But that’s a skill all Mummy GOs must possess. You need to know how to cover up. When I was 15, I went to the parish hospital because I was sick. I was given an injection. The parish priest (who knew my mum and my family very well) gave me a room in the parish house to sleep in until my mum could come pick me up. After barely sleeping for a few minutes, I woke up and to see the naked parish priest leaning over me, a 15 year old. I freaked out and I don’t know where I got the strength from but I was able to run out. A few weeks later, after this man had told my mother all kinds of terrible stories about me, I opened up to my mother about what he had done. You know what she did? Yes, you guessed right, she hushed me and told me people cannot hear this. And so, that was my first experience with Mummy GOs and covering up.
Now fast forward to many years later, I am now a born again believer and I have come to university. I see young girls here who have taken the title of Mummy GO. Of course, they are not married but someone has to do the job, yeah? Because if they don’t, who will tell women their skirts are too short or too tight? Who will give you dirty looks when you wear shorts in the summer? And of course, who will cover up the pastor when he starts abusing girls? So you see, it’s very important that someone does that job. I went to this new church and they made me the leader of the sisters. That didn’t last long, I’m not exactly sure why. My guess is that, I’m simply a non-conformer and so they didn’t like me. I befriended this girl whose sole wish was to be a Mummy GO. Not just the university kind. You know, the big one with hats and all. She even used to organize conferences for women (of course she cared about the well-being of women) And of course she was in love with the single pastor. Truth is so many girls were in love with him, and they used to have visions and dreams that showed them the man was going to be their husband. I thought the girls were crazy. Until one day, I found out that this man, this pastor, the one they were all in love with, was a sick pervert. I saw chats where he asked girls for nudes, asked them to touch themselves while he watched, told them about ‘visions’ he had had of them where he gave them spiritual orgasms. I told my friend about it. I expected my friend who cared about women to be upset and do something about it. You know what she did? She covered it up. She even stopped speaking to me. Yep! She will definitely make a good Mummy GO one day.
So Mummy GOs and aspiring Mummy GOs, on behalf of all the other regular christian girls who just love God and want to serve him, I say, (in my best British accent), “SHUT UP”. Shut up with all the marriage sermons. We are tired. I don’t want to be with a man who expects the entire success of our marriage to be in my hands. Shut up with the unsolicited advice. Most of your marriages are hanging on a thread, yet you want to advice us. We are not having it, so please, again, shut up. Also, with the cover-ups? I just want you to know it is wicked. There are many damaged girls because of your cover-ups. Because you have silenced these girls, you have supported and promoted rape culture. Rape happens. It is just sad that it happens in church too and our dear Mummy GOs (expert rape apologists) find a way to cover it up. So shame on you, if you fit into any of these. If by some small chance, you are a different type of Mummy GO, I love you and well done! I will be praying for you, please don’t stop the good work. But to all the others, shut up.