We carry each other

Only if everyone can see the world through the eyes of children.

Just before the school run a few weeks ago, Yeye just discovered another truth so she ran downstairs to check if I was aware.

“Mummy did you know that long time ago, girls were married off as early as 13?” Her eyes searching mines for reaction.

“I know.” I responded.

She thought that was the most terrible thing that could have happened to any girl. I nodded in agreement.

We both agree that civilisation and enforcement of rule of law has helped tremendously, that childbride is a thing of the past in many regions of the world.

Then she said “That must have been terrible for the boys too, being made to get married at a young age.”

Again I agreed but added that although boys were affected in some regions, girls are mostly affected.

I explained that in most cases girls are made to marry men that are older than them sometimes even older than their father. To this, she thought it was sickening, who doesn’t?

Yeye didn’t talk about all the physical and emotional pains that comes with child bride, because she has no clue. Her main worries was that the girls in this situation would not finish school and likely to miss out on a gap year.

She has a few gap year students as extra at her school helping on adhoc, to her it is the coolest thing to do to earn travel money before going to off college.

This was a topic that was covered at school all within age appropriate but what happens is that children get more curious about some subjects so this one did it for her.

She is aware that in some parts of the world childbride is still a big issue. So I ask if she remembers any of the countries where girls are still denied education and forced to marry. Quickly she listed two countries, Nigeria wasn’t one of them.

Poor girl did not know Nigeria is big in childbride, this broke her heart – here she sees herself and naively thought maybe one day this could be her fate too.

As much as I want to explain, I didn’t want to use culture/religion to justify those that approve childbride in Nigeria speaking to an eight year old, because to her mind, Nigeria with all its imperfections is a great place with cousins and grandparents that she has fond memories.

No way she’d believe a lawmaker such as Senator Yerima could be so boastful of being suitor of a child.

In the evening when I thought all was done and dusted, just about to sleep she asks:

“Mummy, if something were to happen to you and dad, who’s going to look after me and Aye”?

If I was any wise, I should have seen this coming and never avoided mentioning Nigeria and childbride together in a sentence. Hindsight 20/20.

As adult, whenever I come across #62MillionGirls who are not in school and likely to be forced into childbride, I know Nigeria tops the list in Sub-Saharan Africa. Afri-Dev info says 43% Nigerians, that bad?

Interesting that my daughter whose chance of being forced into childbride is remote, yet because she is a girl with a Nigerian blood running in her veins she feels deeply the pains of millions she may never meet.



Categories: Africa, Education, Nigeria

Tags: , ,

18 replies

  1. Your account of this childbride situation in Nigeria and how your daughter raised the subject, reminded me of an account of a female Mexican journalist, who is based abroad, she is currently in London. She is loves her country deeply, and has two daughters, but she has decided to raise her family outside of Mexico, because she is so disgusted by the treatment of young girls and women in Mexican society. Gangs go to rural villages and towns and abduct girls to work in all sorts of crime ranging from illegal sex, to acting as mules (drug couriers) etc. She was so outraged how this treatment of women by Mexican society has been widely accepted and goes almost unchallenged, she said she didn’t want her children to be raised in such an environment where women are not respected. She wanted her children to live in a land where their rights are respected as much as the next individual. Made me think, does the love of a country trump everything else?
    No society is perfect but Nigeria seems to have more than its fair share of problems, that won’t be resolved anytime soon. The attitude of the nation allows such abuses to occur. Still the 200 Chibok girls have not been recovered, what has happened to the protests? Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of reasons that contributed to our many issues is non-existence of national pride, this is a necessity to fight for common good.
      Even with Chibok girls, it was only when international communities pitched in before it gains any attention on ground even then it was treated like a ‘market noise.’ Still no news about the girls, given how long this has been, it will be a miracle to see some of them back ‘undamaged’

      I can relate with the Mexican example, when you are outside, one tends to see from a different perspective, while I love my tribe or ethnicity I tend to see Nigeria as a whole, with the sense that we need to talk about issues that collectively affect us. How can we adapt to completely different culture and yet can’t get along with people we are very close with in demographic, race and all?

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      • The message I take from the Chibok girls incident, is that Nigeria doesn’t care about the fate of it’s citizens. I believe if they were kidnapped overseas, more would have been done for them, but in Nigeria beyond (genuine) parental distress and superficial angst by the general public nothing meaningful has been done, so this could happen again…

        You’re very different in your view of Nigeria compared to most, many undoubtedly love their ethnic group and really are ambivalent to the existence of others. Why don’t you support the freeing of Yorubaland from what is Nigeria? You guys have the land, the people and dynamism, this is what all the others tend to believe about themselves also (although it may well be mistaken in other cases). How is it you can see beyond the confines of ethnicity to embrace the whole of the country?

        Why Nigerians can behave themselves when abroad, but revert to be uncooperative towards one another when at ‘home’, I’d say is due to immaturity, lazy thinking, a large dose of impunity and disrespect for the law. When abroad, they observe that this is not the way and duly fall in line. Now with increasing economic pressures building, a scarcity mentality has taken root (so people are less likely to share), and people on the whole tend not question or challenge leaders who promote narrow and dubious political views. The fact is that division goes hand in hand with weakness. You see other countries like India, China, Russia, Vietnam even America fight tooth and nail to maintain national unity, why? Because their leaders had the sense to see beyond the narrow political/economic interests of certain sections of the society. That is my two cents anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yea, hard to rule out another mass kidnap. We can only hope it wouldn’t happen.

          Now you make me laugh, freeing Yoruba from Nigeria, who tied us down? 🙂 From all our regions, we are the least that would have successful breakaway, (reality is no one region will) we’ll probably ‘finish’ one another fighting on land that no one has farmed on in hundred years.

          Growing up with Ooni Sijuade has helped me to see beyond ethnicity. In all of our regions our social issues are very similar, partly instigated by people we share language, culture etc in common with. All the needless waste of lives in Modakeke and Ife could have been prevented but all our elders turned blind eye, they included Awolowo, Bola Ige and Obasanjo. I don’t have any beef with them but they could have stepped in but they did not.

          Take samples from all our regions, it is the same story, few people wanting to squeeze life out of the majority, politicians knew this so they shove the mouths of elders with money as that is all that matters to them.

          My believe is that our problems are mirror image from north to south – few people wanting it all at the expense of the majority. Wouldn’t it be great if youths can come together and give one country a chance by demanding that resources be spent on things that add values to everyones lives?

          And you are absolutely right about immaturity and all that you said in the last paragraph.

          Like

          • Thanks FK, I’ve learned from your insights into observing the similarities that characterise us. My view is that ‘better together’ is more effective especially in a world where to have one’s voice heard, it makes sense to stick together. South Africa is listened to more than say The Gambia on the world stage.
            The problems of unemployment, poverty, disease, filth, lack of opportunities, infrastructure and lack of human development are common to all regions, regardless of what language is spoken or what religion is being followed.
            Division will not be a panacea but will only make matters worse. Cooperation and collaboration is the way forward not division and narrow-mindedness.

            Like

  2. Fola, you have a sensible daughter. Compassionate and with empathy. Reflects back at you for being a good nurturing mum. Kudos!! Garfield hugs to you both 💕💕👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Honesty from a parent is a very good thing – even if it initially brings pain! It would be very easy to pass criticism from here about the child bride issue – but it wasn’t that long ago that it was acceptable among the european upper classes. It’s a wrong that needs to disappear into history asap!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think it is just for the fact that she is Nigerian, but she is also female and at her age it’s unfathomable and the enormity of such depressing plight of others (female ) her age causes her to pause in reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point.

      In her case though having a direct link to Nigeria is what really made her feel the pain than her peers. She was not aware of gender playing a part in this modern era, hence she felt bad for the boys too because she thought boys of similar age were equally forced to get married young.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your daughter is very mature for an eight year old, Fola. To be so conscious of the importance of an education and knowing that she, herself wouldn’t be ready for that at 13, shows a great deal of thought. Her compassion for those who aren’t as lucky as her is also is a great indicator of her maturity.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Leslie. Her school has from infant to senior school in the same big compound so they get to see lots of older students around during sports. Also during the first two years at the school, the older kids are always there early in morning at reading corner before the assembly, because of this she knows what class a 13 year old should be and can’t imagine being pulled out for what she’s been looking forward to.
      In her mind, she could not believe that two different rules apply to girls in the same country, I suppose the more pressure is put on those who see this as a way of life, the more we can hope that the government will see reason to ban childbride everywhere within the country.

      Liked by 1 person

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