Editor's Pick

Breaking taboos: How Ife Agoro’s DANG is changing the game for women in Nigeria

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

In the bustling world of social media, where everyone strives to be heard, few voices rise above the noise to truly make an impact.

One such voice is that of Ifedayo Agoro, the founder of Diary of a Naija Girl (DANG), a platform that started as a simple Instagram page and has since grown into a thriving community of nearly one million followers across social media sites.

The journey for the Nigerian former oil and gas executive began with a simple idea in 2006 – to share her stories and opinions authentically and without fear or shame.

“I realized the culture of shame had grown so much and I thought to myself, ‘This is not how I grew up… I’m gonna tell my story, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I will not be ashamed,’” Agoro recalled.

Candid conversations

Through candid conversations and shared narratives, members of the DANG community confront taboo topics such as gender-based violence, discrimination, body image, mental health, and reproductive rights.

“What drives the content is the platform’s values; to live our best life, never be suppressed by shame and our experiences, and learn and unlearn everything. Whatever falls under these values is what we put out,” she explained.

Agoro, 40, champions the message of self-worth and autonomy, inspiring women to embrace their individuality and make decisions based on their desires, not societal expectations.

“Women are beginning to understand that they are worthy anyway, with marriage or without it,” she said.

She is often accused of being anti-men and marriage and Agoro was keen to clarify her stance on relationships. “I’m not anti-marriage… I just know that my life is still full without it.

Although she admits the vitriol has lessened considerably. “I would attribute that to not backing down. I’m a person that’s just going to do what I want to do.”

Undeterred by detractors, Agoro continues to amplify women’s voices and create a safe space for women to share without limits.

This ultimately led Agoro to create the #DangAfterHours series, a no-holds-barred discussion on sex and sexuality, a real taboo subject in Nigeria, Agoro says.

“Women in Nigeria are not really able to talk about sex without being labeled promiscuous. I want to talk about sex in a hilarious way, we can learn from it and bond on that topic. The response shows that the conversation needed to happen.”

Creating impact

Over the years, Agoro has used the DANG platform to transform the lives of hundreds of women. A self-described “empath” she finds herself getting involved in the lives of the women who reach her for help and advice, often “bawling her eyes out,” over their triumphs and tribulations, she says.

However, one moment stands out for her.

“A few years ago, there was a lady who was sick in the hospital in Lagos and at the time doctors were on strike. She sent me a message saying ‘I’m losing blood, pregnant and sick. There’s no one to attend to me. Please help me I don’t want to die.’”

Angered, Agoro says she took to her social media and posted about the woman’s predicament.

“After I posted that, the office of the then First Lady reached me and resolved the issue immediately and the lady was attended to quickly and her tests were done. That was the day I realized the power of what we were doing.”

When she started posting her story on Instagram, Agoro initially chose to remain anonymous, to avoid the pressure of public scrutiny.

However, as her platform gained traction, she confronted a pivotal moment when her identity was threatened to be exposed. Rather than succumbing to fear, she decided to reveal herself.

“I initially didn’t see the need to put my face… and when the platform became bigger… I realized that this may not be sustainable. I have ambitions to write a book, to create a company. Then, someone threatened to reveal my identity, so I outed myself and it has been a blessing in disguise, so thank you to the person,’ she joked.

Soon after, she launched her DANG Lifestyle and skincare business which has grown largely through word of mouth through the DANG community, Agoro says.

“We started with candles and went into skincare and we haven’t done any campaign at all but have sold over 400,000 units. I owe the trajectory of the DANG lifestyle to the community. But It’s a business that has to leave our comfort zone in Nigeria. Dang Lifestyle is already in the UK, USA, Ghana, and Kenya and we want to take it to more countries,” she said.

Despite aiming her message squarely at women, Agoro doesn’t discount a future where men would be integrated into the community.

“I now get men commenting and saying to me, ‘We are DANG men too, include us in the conversation.’ We are happy to have them in the conversation. I can see that some of them want to learn and do better. I believe we have to tell them kindly and gracefully what we want or we don’t get the change we want,” she said.

This post appeared first on cnn.com