I met Elohor at Emecheta Collective and my perception of her is a woman who embodies freedom. She relates her love and annoyances with a solid certainty that I admire. She once shared a picture of her dancing on stage at a concert and for a long time, the still image of her caught in an activity that she is crazy about — the freedom of it — lived in my head and inspired me to do things I enjoy doing without fear too — I’m still in the attempt though. Then I heard her sing! I opened my mouth and couldn’t close it for long minutes. It was a marvelous experience. So definitely, Elohor’s motivations and pleasures of life, like her love for reading — she has read about 100 books in 2023 alone — became an interest to me. I became curious about her Hidden Gele, the stories and experiences that make her up — her rizz.

I should add that when I developed feelings — that ended up unsavory — for a man and was feeling quite unconfident about my first approach, I turned to Elohor and she encouraged me with words and a call that lasted an hour and more. My resolve about the rights to my feelings hardened. Then she added me to her circle on X and I felt included because I had never been a part of anyone’s circle.

Elohor gives off certainty and freedom. Her feminism is internal and she displays it by her fiercely independent actions.

Experience Elohor for yourself.

“I know you as Elohor but is that what everyone else calls you?” I started. “Me, for example; to some people, I’m Idayat, to others, I’m Idayah, Idaya. I’m also Iddy, ID, Day, Didi, and Eddy. So like me, are you called different names depending on who is calling or are you Elohor to everyone?”

“So, Elohor is my middle name,” she began, “and I go by this name in all, in almost all social settings, to be honest. I’m not called Elohor at home,” she giggled earnestly, “so I will say it also depends on who is calling me. So my friends, work, and these kinds of things, I’m called Elohor. Then what I’m called at home depends on which side of the family. My father’s family calls me by one name, and my mother’s family calls me by another name. Yes, I have about six names. But when I hear Elohor, I know that it is somebody I choose to love, not someone I’m related to.”

“Someone I choose to love,” I repeated to myself in awe. Then I said to her, “That is a wonderful way of referring to your friends and partner without even mentioning them.”

“It is a borrowed phrase. One of my favorite fictional characters, Taiye Adejide, talks about the people she chooses to love in Butter Honey Pig Bread.”

“Ooh, nice. I think it is time I read this book. I have been hearing wonderful things about it, and the fact that this delightful phrase is from there is another reason to get to reading and definitely check out Taiye Adejide.” With a deep curiosity, I proceeded to ask Elohor: “Why is Taiye Adejide your favorite fictional character?”

“Uhmm,” she cleared her voice to deliver her admiration. “So, I like her for a couple of reasons. I like that we are both Scorpios. I know you have been wondering if Taiye is a twin, but I don’t really like her twin like that. Taiye is my girl but nobody cares about her Kehinde. I was born on October 28th, Taiye was born on October 29th, do you see the pattern? Taiye went to school that’s a stone-throw away from my house.” Elohor gave a validating throaty laugh. “She went to Queen’s College. She feels things deeply, yeah. She is a girls girl. I love Taiye because I love the way she thinks. By the way, I calculated her age, right? If she were not fictional, she’d be 32 now, which is the perfect friend age.” Elohor swallowed. “I love her because she eats without growing fat.” Elohor chuckled happily. “I love that she is a foodie, she loves to cook, I mean she has a tattoo of an onion. What is not to love about her? I love that she’s like me, she feels things deeply, she allows herself to feel. Even though sometimes she’s, like, wishy-washy, I mean who isn’t? But she does allow herself to feel. And errm, she gives herself grace and she tries to learn from her mistakes.”

Grounded in wonderment, I replied to her: “I feel seen too when I can see myself in a fictional character. My favorite fictional character though is someone I can’t even relate with at all. His name is Famous Shoes from Lonesome Dove and he’s a tracker and scout that can’t read. I don’t know what exactly drew him to me out of the abundance of characters the novel has, but I am drawn. I love him so much and deep down, I want to teach him how to read. I can’t wait to read the Butter Honey Pig Bread and get to know Taiye too. From your description, she sounds like the best person.”

“You’ll love it. The book is about women. Surely you’ll find at least one fave.”

“Yes yes, I definitely will. And I’m in love with the book already because Taiye feels close to home and I’m sure other women will too.” I paused for two moments and after, asked; “Are you a strong woman and how do you define strength in your life?”

“Oh no, I am definitely not a strong woman and I hate the term and I never refer to myself as that. Because omo, I am a soft woman and my name literally means softness. Elohor means softness and I want people to act accordingly in relation to me. I am a soft woman, my body is soft, my…everything about me is soft, I’m about the soft life. So know I am not a strong woman. The only strength I have is mental intellectual strength and even that one sef, I show it once once when money is involved. No, I refuse to define myself as a strong woman because nowadays, it is synonymous with a woman that, anything goes. And I define strength as strength of character. I’m quite stubborn, so I can say I’m strong in that aspect. My brother will call me headstrong. So, yes, I can say I’m strong in that aspect. Mental strength and all,” she finished with a giggle.

“Can I adopt your name too? Because it’s my goal to be soft.”

“ Please do it too.”

“And you are right, a strong woman now means having the ability to endure trials and tribulations.” I reflected. “And we are just too soft for all of that, right?”

“Period.”

“Elohor, what particular shege do you see as a Nigerian woman that you think a woman from another African country will definitely not relate to?”

“Hmmmm, I’m trying to think about it but I’m coming up blank. As someone who relates with quite a few non-Nigerian Africans, I can tell you that we live very similar lives. If I say culture-backed misogyny, I’m sure they also experience it in spades.”

“Misogyny doesn’t discriminate in its horror,” I responded, shaking my head.

“Exactly.” Elohor agreed. “And misogynoir.”

“What is the difference between misogyny and misogynoir?”

“We know misogyny is hatred and discrimination against women. Misogynoir is discrimination and hate for black women specifically.”

Unfortunately, the interview had to end there because of unforeseen circumstances. One person to take home is Elohor. I hope you have seen enough of her Gele.

Stay tuned to discover the next Hidden Gele.