When Megan Markle who is now the Duchess of Sussex was 11 years old, she wrote a letter Procter & Gamble, the manufacturers of Ivory dishwasher soap. The advert’s voice over said, “women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.” Meghan was interviewed and she said, “I don’t think it’s right for children to grow up thinking these things, that mum does everything.” The advert was changed to “people all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.” The case is however quite different in Nigeria.
In a Maggi advert introducing the new Maggi Naija Pot cubes, a working class woman who’s invited her boss for lunch is called to handle some emergency at work. She rushes home to cook since her husband can’t. The advert ends with the words, “With MAGGI, Every Woman is a Star.” On a continent where two heads of state have stated that the kitchen is for the woman, it is not surprising that Maggi is part of the stereotyping of gender roles. While some Nigerians have argued that the advert portrays the woman as a multitasker who slays, works and can still take care of the home, many have argued that the reality is different.
The advert feeds the expectation of having a woman come back from work and go straight to the kitchen regardless of whether the woman is tired or not. For a Twitter user Engoz, “This is the most unrealistic advert ever. A ‘Well-packaged suffering’. So the nonsense you people sold to our mothers’ generation is not enough? The only credible ‘difference’ you can make is for Nigerian men to COOK and make themselves exceptionally USEFUL in the home.”
Some user on social media have contrasted the Maggi advert to a commercial produced by Knorr, which shows both a man and a woman cooking. While for some the outrage against Maggi is unnecessary, others have argued that everything is wrong with the Maggi advert.
Nigeria, a country still very much influenced by culture and religion is facing a new wave of debate from a younger generation of women who refuse to glorify suffering in the name of being a woman or wife material. Some of the young women have been referred to as the “Daughters of Chimamanda” for their feminist stance on issues. With many Nigerians not seeing any problem with the advertisement by Maggi, the voice by these women has definitely gone far in demanding a change in the redefinition of gender roles in the country.