I will never allow culture to define my destiny
Apr 28, 2022
I was born and raised up by a single parent, I had never known who my biological father was. My mother was vulnerable and depend solely on farming to provide my basic needs and my siblings. She went through a lot of hardship to afford for my education. People in my community and society gave me funny names and labeled me “bastard”, “good for nothing child”, “like mother like daughter”. I grew up with the ideology that absolutely nothing valuable and pleasing will come out of my life. I was not accommodated by my school mates and had no one to call a friend because of my family background. At the age of ten, I would carry fried groundnuts on my head moving from one funeral celebration to another, night and day, under rain and sun in order to support my mother generate family income. With such an experienced, I was sexually harassed and abused by men. At this time I had no knowledge on reproductive health and what that action was all about and so I could not confined in anyone.
After elementary education, my uncle immediately took me to town promising sponsorship in collage. I became so optimistic about the future. This was a golden opportunity to meet new acquaintances and stay in a new environment and use the language I craved to acquire. After few months in college, I was driven for school fees, my uncle and the wife conspire not to pay the fees, turn me to a slave, where I work in the farm and at home while my mates and his male children were in school learning. I was never loved, appreciated but rather, mocked, criticized and condemned. I almost lost the sense of direction as I was trapped in serious depression.My voice was not heard any way, my little contributions in any discussion were not applauded and considered because I was born of a single mother. My rights as a girl and woman were violated and abused by society. I went through psychological and emotional torture. My right to freedom of speech and expression was silent. I was told that my place was in the kitchen and I was only good for marriage because pursuing education was a waste of resources and time.
Despite all the discouragements from my uncle and people around me, I went back to my mother who stood by me, supported me, and instilled in me peace, love, humility, self-confidence, and determination which help me to complete secondary education. At this stage I was hoping to receive assistance from my siblings who had advance and have financial stability for my university education. Unfortunately, their responses were not positive. Nevertheless, I engaged in some small scale businesses such as, Communication credit transfer, poultry farming, sell of maize, fried groundnuts and egussi, chin-chin, to raise funds for my education.
Having achieved knowledge and certificates, some gender stereotype by my culture such as; men lead women follow, women don’t take decision, a woman’s place is in the kitchen, women have no reproductive rights, women don’t own property, etc limited me from taking up leadership position in social groups and professions. They term me weak and soft- hearten and cannot take certain decisions because I was not brought up by a father and man, I started to wonder why I was made to pay for a crime I did not commit and why my mother and I should be discriminated upon because of her status and gender. I felt frustrated at some point in time and at one point I told myself it was time for a change to take place in my life.
My mother told me that I had the responsibility to myself to succeed and that there was no excuse for not trying. No single person or culture will define my destiny because I write my own destiny and will make my own future. She told me that my present situation does not have to determine where I will end up. I took my mother’s advices and turned all the insult and mockery as challenges and stepping stone. I promised myself and those who laughed at me that I was going to be outstanding and prove them wrong. Fortunately, I was invited for a reproductive health campaign for teenage youth by a peace corp volunteer in a local community called Ndu where I had the opportunity to speak out and share my story to empower and encourage other young girls who have faced similar situation for change to take place in their own lives.
Today I am proud of that single mother who motivated me towards achieving my goal because, my right to freedom of speech is guaranteed, and I can stand out with other women and make my voice heard. I break the silent of many young girls born and raised by single mother as they too are human beings born equal, with integrity of person, privacy, personal freedoms and fulfillment of basic existential and social needs.