photos by Julius Yang

'The chief custodian said,

'But, your royal highness, the women have not told you of their benefits. They have special festivals, feast days, cults, mysteries and rituals. They are the ones who choose, in secret, the superior custodians. Don't let them deceive you into thinking that they have no power. Nothing happens in the land that doesn't have their spiritual approval. More than that, they are the secret movers of the kingdom.

Men rule by day, women rule by night. Men perform deeds in public, women undo them in private. Men make history, women make legend. Legend lasts longer. Men conquer bodies, women conquer hearts. Hearts feel longer. Men think, women dream. Dreams create the future. Men fight, women bring light. Men think they rule the world, but find the world has turned to water. Women understand that water. Men make laws, women make ways. Men build, women make the building live. Men know death, but women know life. If men make mistakes thousands die, if women make mistakes a whole tribe perishes.The folly of men ends in fighting, the folly of women leads to death. The folly of men is a stupid thing, the folly of women is a historical significance. Men can be stupid and the world will not fall down; but if women are stupid the world comes to an end.

The responsibility for women to be wise is truly great.

The greatness of a people is a tribute to the wisdom of its women. If a kingdom is hopeless it is because its women are foolish. Show me a kingdom, a village that is collapsing and you will find that its women have been slack. The strength of women is the backbone of the land. God help us if women should fall into lazy ways and get foolish thoughts in their heads and forget their ancient greatness, their powerful responsibilities, for then the kingdom will turn to dust and be scattered to the four winds. A kingdom cannot afford its women to lose themselves, to lose their vision, and have nothing significant to do, and forget how their ancestors held up the world.Sometimes I see visions of a world gone mad because women have abandoned their shrines and lost the wisdom of their goddesses and become wild and too free. Such a world as I saw was a world without sense, without belief, a world of suicide and despair, folly and madness. Such a world is a world already curse by the departure of the gods. An empty world. So, your royal highness, there are two sides to this. Much labour on the one hand, great invisible power and blessings on the other.

It is women who bring happiness to this world, through their mysteries.'

- An excerpt from Ben Okri's Starbook.

Thanks to Julius Yang for highlighting this excerpt.