Conversations,  Rants,  Thoughts

Girl, African and Broke

GIRL

It’s strange, isn’t it? How some of the most heinous crimes against the female folk are perpetrated by females. Quite strange.

And I should know ‘cos I’ve had my fair share of these gender hate crimes I speak of but before we go any further, let’s be clear this is no pity post. This is just me writing about the things I’ve seen, the life I’ve lived and if it hits you a certain way, make of it what you will.

My father’s mother never said my name. Actually, I never heard her say any of my siblings names, except for my eldest sister, and I can probably count on one hand the number of times it happened. You didn’t see that coming ko? *chuckles* I know. But every story I tell about her involves that weird bit of truth. Why? Because I’m 26 and somehow, sometimes, it still hurts.

Before you start thinking the lady had a speech defect, let me give you a little background to the story. My father’s mother was very sound, all her senses intact. She just wouldn’t say our names because it was her little stubborn way of denying/ignoring our existence. You see, my parents had gone and done the unthinkable; they had 4 children with no son in sight. Surely this is an atrocity if there was any! And as such, Grandma dearest couldn’t be bothered to soil her palate with the sounds that proved we existed.

But it wasn’t just her. About 95% of my father’s family – male and female – couldn’t care less if we lived or died. Save for a negligible few who didn’t/don’t mind breathing the same air as us, the rest don’t give a hoot. You see, my father is the only one of his siblings without a son so for all intents and purposes, he’s also the only one with no children. Like I said, WEIRD.

AFRICAN

The African continent is arguably the most despised/ridiculed/disregarded of all 7. It is said her people are ‘filthy’, ‘heathen’, ‘barbaric’, ‘barely civilized’, ‘uncultured’, ‘poor’. All these are true, in a manner of speaking. Most Africans spend half of their lives trying to, or wishing they could flee to yonder lands, to ‘greener’ pasture. And who can blame us? Survival out here isn’t for the faint hearted…

In Africa, even after all these years of seeming civilization, the barbarism we still have to work through will leave you in major shock. Practices like Female Genital Mutilation and funeral rituals where widows’ heads are shaved and they are force-fed the water used to bathe their dead spouses are still very regular norms. And let’s not forget my category, where a female’s worth and honor is measured by how many brothers she’s got. But what irks me the most is that women are usually the loudest champions and enforcers of these types of practices. Baffles me every time.

In Africa, we are still battling with believing women have as much a brain as men, and are as much capable of lots of the things men do, and can in fact, do them just as well. In these parts, females are seen as but dimwits at best. It’s crazy.

BROKE

Where I come from, money stops nonsense. I know this is true the world over, but have you met Nigerians? They invent new levels for this money-worshiping business.

Over here, it doesn’t matter if have leprosy, are a serial killer or you are 3 different kinds of female; just have money and all will be forgiven. If you are female however, God forbid you should have your own money! That would make you an Ashawo, the Nigerian version of Mary Magdalene. A PROSTITUTE. Because how dare you make something of yourself and have anything to your name when you’re not male! It’s taboo, let’s all be guided please.

As a Nigerian female, the only wealth you can comfortably lay claim to is your father’s, but only while he’s alive. He takes your rights with him to the grave the moment he dies. Your brothers can spare you some of theirs out of the goodness and mercy of their hearts; this is why brothers are very important. Let’s not talk about husbands just yet, it’s too early.

If you’re the daughter of a rich man, it doesn’t matter if he has 13 daughters and no sons, nobody would dare ridicule you (or the rest of your family), because money! At least not to your faces. If you’re like me though, with a father who’s bank balance is regular, your father’s mother could come to your father’s house and harass everyone and everything in sight. From your parents (read as your mother) down to the dogs. And she would refuse to say your name or look at you while at it. You ever had someone both ignore and harass you all at once? You should meet my father’s mother.

So, where were we? Right. Thing is, I’m now rather sensitive to oppression that is based solely on the fact of my gender. I mean, I try not to take it personal as I understand the facts of my existence, especially WRT environment. Still.

My parents raised us (my sisters & I) to be our own people. We can hold our own wherever, and this is not an exaggeration. But y’all, humans can wear you out! I don’t know about my sisters – somehow, this is a conversation we’ve never had – but there are situations I get into now that give me Grandma vibes and that bruises my inner child all over again. But I try not to dwell on those moments. Cos Papa said I’m enough, and that he’s very proud of me, and that he loves me. Even better? I know all these to be true! Momma doesn’t give any less. So though I’m a holy trifecta of my gender’s worst nightmare, I’m blessed.

Yet some days I wonder, what if women didn’t so seriously champion some of these nonsense? Momma says Grandpa was a great man, full of love for everyone, for her. Grandpa died before any of us was born, we never met him. We met the other set of Grand Parents though, the ones who are royalty. I promise you they make up for EVERY lack we encountered on the other side. They introduce us to everyone proudly, they are not ashamed to say our names, they are love. Thank heaven Grand Parents come in 2 pairs, if not wahala for dey. But God!

I am a Girl, I am African and my father isn’t Rich by society’s standards. I’m a Girl, I’m African; my father’s mother never said my name…

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