AN OPEN LETTER TO “PEPPER DEM MINISTRIES” MOVEMENT.

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My dear PDM sisters,

I send you warm greetings from Nima-Adukrom in Kumasi, with the strong hope that you are all doing good?

Before I proceed, let me hasten to state that I write this letter to you, fully aware of the likelihood of me being considered [by some of you] as unqualified to suggest to you how you should go about preaching the pepper gospel – of flipping the scripts, as you would want to put it, and unlearning what you term “toxic narratives”.

Nevertheless, I crave your indulgence to bring to your attention some observations I have made over the past few weeks about “Pepper Dem Ministry”, and to possibly and humbly proffer some opinion-based suggestions to the effect of how I think you can move in a much more effective and result-oriented way.

Permit me to quickly add also that you may not agree with some of the concerns I will raise, which is fine with me. Like I mentioned earlier, they are mere observations that I have made, but which I reckon are worthy of your note, regardless.

Since PDM surfaced on social media and virtually dominated discussions in most corners of same, my undying interest in gender activism propelled me to keenly follow developments relative to it.

And much as I think you’ve chalked some successes in terms of recognition, I haven’t been enthused about some aspect of your modus operandi, your manner of engagement especially. You may have to up your game in that respect, I guess.

And the following are my concerns:

1. PERSUASION; YOUR MOST EFFECTIVE TOOL.

There’s no denying the fact that it’s an idea you’re trying to, so to say, sell to the general public, accept it or not – the idea that there exists some inherent impediment in the systems and structures that be, as a result of which most women are unable to operate smoothly as they ordinarily would wish to in society as their male counterparts, and that we should come together to rid the system of those impediments.

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But unfortunately, however, the principle of good customer relation which, like in all markets, applies here also seems to be lacking in your “market”. It is the missing necessary ingredient which, for me, appears to want to mar the taste of what would otherwise be a very sumptuous soup.

I’m neither a marketer nor a student of marketing, but my little knowledge and experience tells me that no customer would even want to listen to you let alone buy your product/idea, if you are [seen to be] confrontational in your approach.

Same applies in your “market”: if you’re seen to be confrontational in your approach and intolerant of divergent views, it wouldn’t always matter how sensible you may sound, you would likely lose the very audience whose involvement and support is critical to the success of the “pepper-spraying” cause.

It is this simple, my beautiful sisters: like in traditional markets, try and make everything seem customer-centred. Even if you have to fake it, do so till you make it. Show them what benefit they stand to get if they rose to join the clamour for a fairer society, one with systems that favours no particular gender over the other. And when they get convinced on that basis, a gain would likely be made in your favour.

We have several instances in the history of the world that has shown us the futility of force as a means of influencing the human mind, towards a particular direction. In this your journey of seeking gender equality, and given the fact of our society being largely patriarchal, your most effective tool will be persuasion, rather than force. Use it more!

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2. PASSION ISN’T ENOUGH; YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE A STRATEGY.

The cause you’re embarking on is undoubtedly a worthy one, judging from the standpoint of a feminist. However, from the look of how you have operated on social media so far, it appears to me you don’t have a clear-cut plan and strategy as to what exactly to be targeted at what kind of audience, and at what time. To you, everything goes. And I do not think it should continue that way, if indeed you mean business.

You’ve got to have a well thought out strategy, tailored in different forms to suit different circumstances and audiences. Every step you take ought to be purposeful, and each single step should be a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

The results of your activities, so far, on social media has been nothing short of controversy, which I think is but a plus in a certain respect, anyway.

Controversy creates news and news create brand. You have the brand now, and should not continue to dabble in controversy. Protracted and seemingly unending controversy is counterproductive to your cause, at this point. How you are going to get the brand sold to your target audience should matter to you more, going forward.

I must also add that the passion with which you are pursuing the feminist agenda is admirable and encouraging and should be maintained. It is assuring and promises a prospect of a society of equal opportunities for all, regardless of one’s gender.

But, the passion alone won’t do the magic; you’ve got to have a strategy, a well thought out strategy and make it inform your steps and activities.

3. GENDER ACTIVISM: A COLLECTIVE AGENDA

Let’s face it, achieving gender equality, in its general sense, will be a mirage if the whole business of gender activism is made an “us” against “them” issue, and strictly female-centred. It’s supposed to be a collective agenda, and about how both sexes are oppressed in one way or another by certain societal elements.

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What is fact: if there ever will be success in the fight for equal opportunities for men and women in the systems and structures that be, getting the men on board is imperative.

Therefore, don’t antagonise the men, even the unrepentant misogynists. As much as possible, tolerate them. If you can’t, ignore them. It’s always better than succumbing to the tempting urge to respond, often in a bid to needlessly prove you can also go dirty.

Their reaction may give you an insight into their way of thinking and possibly inform you as to how they contribute to the escalation of gender inequality, and help you strategise on the way forward.

In conclusion, in the running of a campaign such as yours, you don’t target a message at a large audience with the expectation that they all get convinced at once. It’s an unrealistic expectation. At the end of every session of engagements, even if it’s a single soul or two that you win to your side, it’s a remarkable success.

In their own small ways, they’ll help in the spreading of the message in other various quarters. This, if done well and managed effectively, will eventually snowball into building the kind of momentum needed to bring about the change you’re yearning for.

Change, don’t forget, is a gradual process, not an event.

I thank you very much for your time, and wish you all the best!

Regards,
Your feminist brother,
Mohammed Muntala.



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