Putting Him in My Shoes

A man's belt
A man’s belt

Salewa and Poju (not real names) had been married for 5years. Looking at them from the outside, they looked happy but things were not what they seemed. Poju loved his wife and provided for her and his children but he had a bad temper. He just didn’t know how to be gentle. He threw temper tantrum every time something upset him especially at home. At first Salewa thought there was something she was doing wrong but after a while, she realized that her husband was just an unreasonable perfectionist. She knew it was impossible to meet his demands but she kept trying. Salewa rushes home from work during the week to make sure that dinner was ready by the time Poju arrived home. Their kids school homework had to also be attended to, plus she ensures that they had a shower and were smelling good by the time daddy arrived. The house must be sparkling clean. She did try but it’s only normal to have something out of order especially with little kids running around the house. Poju had refused to allow her hire a house-help yet the work load increased every day. As she prepared dinner again, she hoped that it would be a peaceful night for them all. Salewa felt unsafe in her own house yet she couldn’t share it with anyone. More questions about the bruises were coming her way but each time she blamed it on a fall. It wasn’t holding water anymore. Salewa was simply tired. Images of her kids wailing while their father’s belt rises and falls filled her again, she shuddered. Something had to give way and this time she had made up her mind, Salewa had a plan. Her back was against the wall but her mind was made up to damn the consequences of her plan.

Poju arrived home and as usual he was already angry that their gateman did not open the gate on time. He stormed into the living room with his briefcase. Salewa was waiting. She welcomed him with a loving kiss. Her perfume had an effect on Poju. He smiled at her after the kiss and said her smell was alluring. It was working, so Salewa told him that dinner was served and the meal was his best food. Poju believed that it was a promise of a great night of romance and sex. He was glad, so he went in to take a shower whistling before sitting at the table to enjoy his dinner. Salewa had ensured that the kids went to bed early. At the table Poju couldn’t take his eyes off his wife, she looked ravishing tonight. His meal went down quickly. They popped a wine bottle and somewhere in between Poju did manage to ask what they were celebrating. Salewa laughed lightly and said, “Just want to celebrate my king”, meaning her husband. Of course, Poju was all the more taken in and he drank more than his share. The stage was set for Salewa’s plan. She helped him up and off to the room they went with a promise of great romance but it was not to be. As soon as Poju landed in bed he dozed off, he was drunk. Sometime in the middle of the night he woke up and wanted to go to the toilet but he couldn’t stand up. He tried to struggle to get up but couldn’t. “Salewa”, he called out. “Right here my love”, she sat across him on a chair in the dark with the familiar belt. Salewa had tied Poju’s legs and hands. Poju realized that, and became afraid. He was right where she wanted him. She got up and began beating him with the belt continuously until all her pent up anger was spent. The pain of each belt stroke shut through Poju and for the first time he was in his wife’s shoes. He couldn’t cry out aloud for fear of having his kids coming into the room and seeing him in that condition. Finally Salewa’s plan was done and she knew that it was probably the end of their marriage. She broke down crying on the floor but Poju was still tied to the bed and that was how they were until morning.

You can guess what Poju would do in the morning, revenge? I was thinking some crazy retaliation…if Salewa would be around to get that, though, but…..that was the last time Poju ever raised his hands to beat his wife. He burnt the belt and asked her to forgive him and they both began to live happily ever after. This story sounds like a fairy tale but it did happen. I think it is one unusual case because many cases of spousal physical abuse have turned out in tragedy. And I must put in a word of CAUTION here: don’t try to deal with issue of abuse all alone. Speak out and get help. Salewa could have murdered her husband in bitterness and where does that leave her: In jail probably leaving their kids “parentless”.

Cases abound where continuous battery has led to the death of many women. Sadly too spousal abuse has ended many promising marriages/homes plus it breeds many traumatized and dysfunctional children that society has to deal with. How do we even begin to curb spousal abuse? It starts from the very beginning of a relationship. Choosing right, there is need to know how to recognize a person who might be prone to become abusive. It is not about your partner behaving properly you have to work on yourself. So if you have anger/temper issue work on it; get help on anger management.  You  might want to work on having an effective communication in your marriage. If you come from a home where violence was the order of the day then you might become a victim of your birth parents problems. Get help and deal with pent up issues and emotions. If your partner is physically abusing you DON’T HIDE IT – GET HELP.

By Adebisi Adetunji

Fatal Damage


I and a team went on a visit to a hospital to monitor and cover their antenatal/Prenatal care session for a maternal and child health radio programme we produce for broadcast. In a chat with the hospital management we listen to a heart breaking story of Folake (not real name) a 10yr old girl. She had being coming for check- up and will continue to do so probably for a long time. Folake’s medical condition was as a result of a “careless fatal mistake” her mother , Iya Laje (not real name) made. Iya Laje had a shop in her neighbourhood where she sells goods ranging from foodstuff to beverages, toiletries and other household goods. Her small business was thriving and many times she had to go to the market to replace sold goods while Folake her daughter was asked to Mann the shop. She was a sharp and brilliant 10yr old who could hold her own against customers who might want to cheat when buying goods. Folake could remember the price of every good in her mother’s shop. As always Iya Laje had to go to the market to purchase more goods, so on this faithful day she asked Folake to wait in the shop after she returned from school. Not long after her mother left Baba Yusuf(not real name), an elderly man who lived in their neighbourhood came to buy a few things. He came with a thousand Naira note and what he bought was worth One Hundred Naira. Folake didn’t have enough on her to cover the change and none of the other shop owners whom she approached had enough to borrow her to make up for the change. Baba Yusuf refused to leave his money to come back for the change later and Folake couldn’t afford to allow him take the goods away on credit. She insisted that her mother will not be happy to hear that a customer bought goods on credit and she had gotten whipped for doing this a few times in the past when the customer ends up refusing to pay. Baba Yusuf suddenly remembered that he had a hundred Naira note at home, so he asked Folake to accompany him to his house which was nearby to collect the money. She was relieved and immediately asked the woman next door to help her keep watch for a few minutes while she quickly collects the money from Baba Yusuf. That decision cost her, her innocence but how could she have known what was to come? He was elderly and everyone respected him in their neighbourhood. Unknown to Folake it was a trap. Baba Yusuf, raped little Folake. He was old enough to be her grandfather, at 60yrs old.
Folake was brought to the hospital bleeding seriously through her Virgina. She had a severe case of Virginal laceration with part of her genital organ detached. My team members vented their anger saying different things. Some said he should rot in a jail, some said he should be hanged; others said his penis should be chopped off. As a mother I felt like getting a gun to shoot Baba Yusuf, if i were to ever set my eyes on him. It was just so unthinkable and awful. We tried to find out if the family of Folake pressed charges against the culprit. Her family refused to press charges with the intention of protecting their daughter from public embarrassment; they also wanted to protect their family name. What is in a name when the bearer is already damaged? However when they found out how badly she was injured a new rage was steered up. Finally an Uncle of Folake surfaced and he had made up his mind to ensure that Baba Yusuf must face the wrath of the law. This process was still on at the time the story was been narrated to us.

A major challenge in the healing process of Folake was that the hospital was not equipped with necessary facility in order to repair her severe laceration properly and worse still her family can not afford to pay for a hospital that could fix it.  They were just managing to get by in spite of the seeming thriving small business of Iya Laje. So getting the needed repair was going to take a miracle of finding anyone who was willing to support them financially. It was a bit gladdening to know that hopefully Baba Yusuf will not add to the number of adults who defile children and get away with it. But my concern turned to the plight of little Folake, her doctors said her Virgina was badly damaged. She needed a cosmetic surgery. My heart was terribly broken with the fact that motherhood might be a challenge for her in the future. Many child rape culprits go unpunished because parents are too embarrassed to press charges. People who sexually abuse children referred to as Pedophiles are usually known adults such as relatives, parents and friends. These Pedophiles lure or force children to have sex and in the process leave damaging consequences, emotionally, psychologically, physically and heath wise.

What then can be done to protect children from sexual abuse? It will help to first know how to identify a Pedophile.  I’d say also vigilance of care givers such as parents, guardians and families. Have rules if a relative must come and leave with you. Teach your kids the basic rule of “boys and girls should have separate rooms: no using of bathroom at the same time by boys and girls, no sitting on Uncle so and so’s lap all the time; you have the right to say NO to any unwanted/uncomfortable touch; tell a trusted adult about any unwanted touch or sexual advance”. Sometimes sentiments have put children even more at risk of been raped/abused. It is time to stop shying away from giving your child sex education so they know what is safe and what is not safe. I also know that these abuse cases are under reported for fear of stigmatization. If more cases are reported and addressed by appropriate measures then perhaps kids like Folake, will be safer and perpetrators can be punished accordingly by law.

By Adebisi Adetunji

Impressions: The Paradox of Cosmetic Change


I admired her from a distance. Rosemary(not real name) was cute, light in complexion and an average height woman. Everything she wore suited her.  She was what you would call a proper lady. When she had to speak to an audience, they were always held spell bound. Rosemary’s career took her across many countries. She represented the womenfolk and many looked up to her. Anytime she appeared or made an entry into a place her beautiful smile light up everywhere. Everything was going on well for Rosemary but a storm brood in her bosom. She had a secret fear; the fear of getting too old and loosing her husband’s attention. The desire to maintain the admiration of her audience; those who looked up to her and the desire to always be in shape consumed her. She wanted to be prim, proper and perfect. None of us who admired her knew what she was up to until one day, a day which started out on a bright note. I was at work when the news came. It was a breaking news…the news came that Rosemary was gone. She had left all her admirers including I in a terrible shock. Her fear and desire to look perfect ended her bright smile crushing the hope of many women whom she  mentored.  I was shaken but days later when news filtered in about the cause of her death my emotion flowed into disappointment, then anger and finally a sober reflection. Rosemary went to the table of a cosmetic surgeon but never made it through. Like many other women she wanted to  look better; she wanted to be perfect; she felt the need to shed something off or remould in order to maintain that perfect look.

The truth be told: None of us is perfect and none of us will ever be. But while you are on this side of life, live your life being a happy, contented and a satisfied person. It starts with loving yourself as you are though there is room for improvement but not necessarily through a “fatal” move for enhancement. Nature, i mean our biological make up has a cycle. There are different stages of your life and my life. As a child, teenager, middle age, older, aged…enjoy your life. If you were born with a small breast, celebrate the fact that your brazier’s size will not be scarce to get, plus the yard of cloth you’ll have to sew will be minimal(from the African perspective)…saves you money. And if you are endowed with a big breast, Great! Enjoy flaunting it nicely in whatever you wear as it gives you that very womanly shape…(Just trying to make you see the fun/humour in being yourself).

According to a report of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery  statistical data for 2014 cosmetic surgery: Women had more than 9.6million cosmetic procedures, which is 90% of the total as opposed to men with 10%- 1million. This means that more women opt for cosmetic surgery in order to enhance their physical appearance and beauty.  Plastic/Cosmetic surgery is a blessing that has come to help correct defects but how we choose to use it in modern day tends towards an attempt to cure our low self esteem; our attempt to look so perfect and make  others admire us. If you already don’t feel good about yourself don’t think a cosmetic surgery will cure it. There will always be something new to correct. In fact maintaining that cosmetic will cost you more money,time, bla…bla..bla. None of us is perfect and none of us will ever be. Be your own first admirer, be comfortable in your skin and i am not talking about colour or race.  It is about accepting and loving everything about you: Your gender, strength, weaknesses, height, shape etc. I am simply concerned about complications that can and sometimes arise doing a cosmetic surgery. So before you make that choice, be sure you are fully informed. You might want to  read up this article by Jenna Goudreau, The Hidden Dangers Of Cosmetic Surgery.

The miracle of plastic/cosmetic surgery has made it possible to change or reshape almost if not any part of one’s physique/body. Its intention is to repair or reconstruct a defect or simply to enhance appearance. When it comes to physical appearance and beauty women are more conscious of how they look. Looking good they say is good business and I’d say is serious business.I am for looking good but there is a difference between struggling to get others to love you and Loving yourself- You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Improve yourself through healthy and safe means.

Here is a few lines from my heart on how to love yourself:

Understand who you are

Find your strength and use it

Celebrate your victories

Don’t try to be somebody else, be you

Understand you are you, and you shouldn’t be somebody else, that’s your uniqueness.

You make the world beautiful just being you

Understand that God loves you unconditionally.

By Adebisi Adetunji


Too drunk to get her pregnant

Typical drunk guy

“Women Protest for lack of men to make them Pregnant” – I came across this news article on my Facebook wall, and so i clicked on the link to read more about the story. It turned out that the men were actually available but are always too drunk to get their women pregnant. The story sounded funny that women could take to the street because their men have “killed all their fertile sperm” with too much alcohol in their blood stream. These women desperately wanted to become mothers.

This brings to mind the many African women who are blamed for their inability to give birth to children.  3months into a marriage, a wife begin to get stares and questions like,”how far”, meaning are you pregnant yet? By six months, the question becomes, “i hope everything is alright”. A number of women struggle to keep their marriage when the babies are not forthcoming as expected. In-laws begin to taunt such a woman, making life unbearable for her. Friends and family suggest that the man should marry another woman to  give him children. If the woman is lucky she may have the privileged knowledge of this, if she is not, she finds out at the man’s graveside. I remember the story of Susan (not real name). She and her husband battled for many years to have a baby but fate didn’t smile on her. Her husband died and all his family could think of was “their brothers property”. In their culture since Susan didn’t give birth to any child for her husband, she had no right to any inheritance. Susan’s in-laws left her with nothing, leaving behind an emptiness and a bitterness.

When a couple is having difficulty with having children both of them should look inwards to find out what actually needs fixing. Some men would even refuse to go for a fertility test,claiming that they are perfectly ok and capable of impregnating their wives.  Going for such a test as far as he is concerned is saying he is “impotent”. Another couple that i know comes to mind. They already had a child but it was taking too long for a second baby to come.  It spanned through 7yrs. All the while Funbi(Not real name) had been the one going for medical check and doing so many tests/procedure that even got her sick. After much insistence and appeal, the man, Aderopo(not real name) finally showed up at the hospital for a fertility test. It turned out that he had a serious case of low sperm count. Their doctor prescribed a treatment and the man seemed interested in trying out the plan. Soon afterwards he refused to take his medication and follow the treatment plan. Frustrated this Funbi had to report to a family member who prevailed on Aderopo. It was simply a case of his ego  refusing to accept that he was the one responsible for their  long wait. The good news was that the treatment worked and they had another baby. Imagine if Funbi didn’t have understanding in-laws.

A healthy life style is important to raising a family. Too much of anything is bad and this is no less for too much intake of alcohol whether by the woman or man. An Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Patrick O’Brien , says: “Excessive alcohol lowers testosterone levels and sperm quality and quantity in men. It can also reduce libido, and cause impotence.”Too much drinking can greatly reduce a couple’s chances of conceiving, therefore a couple working at having babies should start with a life style change.

Photo credit: http://www.funnypica.com/top-33-funny-pictures-of-drunk-people/funny-drunk-people-picture-10/

By Adebisi Adetunji


Child Labour A risky business- A Radio Play

Children say no to child labour

A man insists on sending all his children to the city as house helps amidst the plea of his wife. All efforts to make  him see reason by his neighbour went on deaf ears. He had to pay a big price in the end. Have fun listening…only a click away on the link below.


Celebrating and giving a voice to the African Child.

Photo Credit: jamnotforsale.tumblr.com



Typical mother and daughter alone time (Private picture)

My eight year old daughter had a joke to tell me while I was undoing her old hair style in preparation for a new school week. The joke was about a teacher and her students. The teacher had asked them where they think God lived. Many of the kids said, He lived in heaven but one little girl had something different to say. The little girl said, God lived in the bathroom. Amused her teacher asked her why she believed so. Her response was, “Every morning I always hear my daddy say, Oh God why are you still in the bathroom?” I found it really funny and we both laughed about the joke. But as a mother I looked inwards and wondered what impression I am making on my daughter. Some Impressions last a life time.

Joke Credit: Explore Magazine…Beyond the classroom pg. 23, Vol 1. No 1

By Adebisi Adetunji

Aisha’s Wailing

A 1
A young distressed girl

She was innocent, young, and still had her life ahead of her. We were all teenagers then but i was older. Aisha( not real name) was barely 13years old but she was married to the man next door, our neighbour. Alhaji Bako(not real name) was as old as my father if not older. There were nights when we heard wailings coming from his flat. I used to wonder then but soon i got to know that it was Aisha’s wailing that filled the dead air at night. She cried every time her husband, Alhaji Bako had sex with her. My family felt so sad for her but we couldn’t do anything to save her. We were sojourning in that part of our country which believed in child marriage. Though we are all Nigerians but we were in the minority in terms of tribes residing in that city. Many times when we went shopping at the market in company of my sisters and mum, it was not uncommon to get marriage proposals from men in the market. My mother would tell them that in our own culture/tribe girls don’t marry until they attain tertiary education. Most of the men would exclaim in disbelief. As far as they were concerned we would be too old to get a husband by the time we concluded our University education. My father also responded to marriage proposals by  insisting that his girls must finish their tertiary education before thinking of marriage. He had dreams of his four girls becoming doctors, lawyers,accountants, etc.

I think my father found it most frustrating watching Aisha in her predicament with our neighbour. He couldn’t imagine any of his daughters being given out in marriage at such a tender age. So we watched on helplessly as she is forced to stay at home waiting for the return of her husband everyday while we went to school. Fate they say is something beyond human control. Life continued and we all minded our business until none of us even remember that Alhaji Bako was married to Aisha.

One Christmas period, as is our family practice to share food and drinks with our neighbour, i was asked to extend this love again to our neighbour Alhaji Bako. He opened his door and collected the food and drinks. At first i wondered why it wasn’t Aisha that came to the door as the dutiful wife but i couldn’t ask him. Alhaji thanked me and asked me to greet my parents. The next day while shutting our gate after my dad drove off in his car, Alhaji met me with a dish in his hands. He was about to return the dish which i had used the day before to give him food. I greeted him and extended my little hands to collect the dish and with a smile he handed over the dish in his large hands. Thanking i and my family, he suddenly asked if i had been the one that cooked the food. I told him that i had helped my mum made it. Alhaji, with a grin on his face said you must be a good cook. Instead of saying thank you i found myself asking about how his wife Aisha was doing. The grin left his face immediately and the words that flowed out of his mouth surprised me. “Aisha ran away”, he said. My young heart couldn’t feel sorry for him, so i just said, “oh”. Alhaji mistook it to mean that i was feeling sorry for him, so he tried to explain but his next words left me with anger. “Aisha was not a good cook”. Though young i wondered what he expected anyway. I mean how was a child expected to take up a role that my “adult mother”, sometimes find overwhelming? It just was sheer meanness to my young mind. This thought went through my mind as i stood looking into the eyes of Alhaji who was obviously expecting me to respond. I didn’t know what to say, so i just said my mum was waiting to send me on an errand and my small feet ran into the house.

This news about  Aisha’s escape from the claws of her much older husband became the topic of discussion in our home that night. We were all delighted but a lot of questions remained unanswered. Had she gone back to her parents? Not likely…where did she go to? Is she safe wherever she was? According to a UNICEF report world wide 1 in 4 women were married before 18.  Hence the large number of child marriage. This often results in early pregnancy which is why there is high rate of maternal mortality and Vesicovirginal Fistula(VVF) amongst such girls. Child marriage often compromises a girl’s development and advancement.

I am forced to think about what makes marrying a child appealing to men.  A chat between two men i sat beside in a taxi in my University days comes to mind. One of them was getting married and the excitement filled their voices. It was a marriage with another child. One of them with a wide grin on his face said that he prefers marrying a young girl who would begin her menstruation after he had married her.  I felt like giving him a slap across his face to wipe the silly grin. Why would a parent willingly send their precious underage jewel into what i feel is a lion’s den? It dawned on me that i and my sisters were few of the lucky girls who had people who protected us. My parents ensured that their dreams for their girls came to pass. We were given the chance to develop and advance in life. Today we are all married and didn’t have to wail like Aisha; we didn’t have to struggle with health problems and psychological trauma of marrying a man as old as our father. Today we are adults contributing meaningfully to our society and we are well equipped to take care of our parents in their old age.

Many countries were signatory to the International Child rights act law, how many are truly enforcing this law. In my own country Nigeria, some states are yet to pass the child rights into law and even in states where these rights are recognized, it is not enforced as it should. As we mark another day of the African child with the theme: Accelerating our collective effort to end child marriage in Africa the question is how serious are we? I believe ending child marriage starts with every parent. You can choose to go against culture and society to protect your girls like my father and mother did.

By Adebisi Adetunji

FinaLI…OUR Husband Has Gone MAD

Manhood in African interpretation means the ability of a man to procreate.

A Happy Crazy Man http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo

A man is not a man unless he can impregnate a woman. A man who can perform in bed (sexually viable) is highly recognized by his male counterparts and the female folk as well. So how does a man explain to his wives that he can no longer father a child? This was the case with Mr Aritowose (not real name) and his wives. He is a trader who is married to three women. They all live in a big compound with separate apartment for each of the women. Mr Aritowose usually called meetings to settle quarrels between his wives or to give a timetable of days that each woman would sleep over in his room. On this day he called a meeting and the women thought it was the usual gist but they were about to receive a shock of their lives. All they heard him saying was that he was pleased to announce that he would no longer be able to get anyone of them pregnant. The women looked at their husband in dis-belief! Seeing that they didn’t understand what he was trying to say, Mr Aritowose stated again that he could no longer father a child and was so pleased with himself. At first one of them broke down in tears, soon the other two joined and they all started wailing. His wives looked at him and expressed emotion that says that their husband had gone Mad! No it was certainly unheard of that a man would announce such a thing with his friends talk more of his wife/wives. It was almost a taboo. Mr Aritowose tried to reassure his wives that he was of a sound mind. Their wailing increased; they knelt down and started begging their husband. The youngest wife asked whether it was a plan hatched to marry a new wife and get rid of them all. Mr Aritowose laughed out aloud and in one sentence said, “I simply decided to plan my family since all of you refused to stop making babies”! The women went silent as the meaning of his words dawned on them. It turned out that Mr Aritowose decided to go for Vasectomy since his wives refused to adopt a family planning method as advised by the local health workers. Ever since health workers had visited their community and explained how family planning helps to improve total family well-being, Mr Aritowose made up his mind to put an end to child bearing in his already large household. He had given his wives money to go for family planning at the local clinic but instead, he had seen them becoming pregnant. New babies were born in his home. Each woman wanted to outdo her rival in the number of children they had for their husband. Frustrated Aritowose visited the clinic himself to ask why his wives were still having babies in spite of the promise family planning methods held. While there he discovered that none of them had visited the clinic to make use of any birth control method. It was then he decided to take his family’s future into his own hands. He wanted to be able to care for his children and send them to school as best as he could. Therefore he opted for the contraceptive method, Vasectomy.

When I initially heard this story though in the real story he hid his choice of vasectomy from the women, I thought it was funny and I actually laughed. However the seriousness of the issue dawned on me. It is quite rare to see a man do what this man had done. It meant that he was serious about creating a better future for his family (children & wives). He was also doing it to give himself a BREAK! I mean it must be a big burden to cater for such a large family. Family planning is usually seen by society as a business for women to take charge of. How many men are actually involved in the business of planning their families? 98% of the family planning methods are for women while only about 2% in my own view is for men. Why do I as a woman have to be the one to swallow pills, get injected, get something inserted into my Virgina or my arm all in the name of not getting pregnant? And all a man had to do is to use a barrier called condom which a number of men don’t even like using. Any talks about getting a permanent method of “killing all the man’s sperm” (Vasectomy) before they are even born is simply cutting his manhood and a taboo to both the men and women folk alike. No one would hear of it. An extended family meeting would be held to prevent such a man from taking such a step and even his wife (in Africa at least from where I am from) will say, “Ma koba mi, ma somi di oloriburuku” (Don’t put me to shame; don’t make me a laughing stock).

So should the choice of using a family planning method be left to a woman while her husband snores away? I believe a man and a woman should discuss and continue to discuss this issue. Some men don’t even know the type of family planning method their wife is using. It’s a case of, “let her just get it done”! A man should care and know about whatever family planning method his wife uses, its side effects, how long it should last, when she is due for a renewal. Knowing all these will help to achieve the desired result of a woman who is a happy user of her family planning method. She would not feel alone in the effort to have a healthier family.

In some cases some women would prefer to use the natural fertility management method known as the Billings Ovulation method if for some health reasons she cannot use any of the modern day method. This method requires that the man cooperates with his wife because it has to do with counting days of her menstrual circle; safe & unsafe days. If the man is not interested, then there is going to be a lot of fights about why she refuses him sex on some days. And eventually unplanned pregnancies will show up. So what I am trying to say is this – men need to be more interested in the family planning methods their spouses use. More male involvement is needed in family planning not necessarily that you must go for a Vasectomy.

By Adebisi Adetunji

Help…I am so pregnant


A heavily Pregnant woman

One sunny Saturday i went to the market to shop for not just a few things but a lot of stuff for the house. Usually that kind of foodstuff shopping will require hiring the services of people we call “Alabaru” ( Goods carrier) in Yoruba language.

Nigerian-market 3
A typical Nigerian Market

Interestingly at the busy market you find mostly women carrying a big pan, while the men carry goods on a wheel barrow. When i have a lot of goods to carry i don’t like engaging the services of the elderly or pregnant women for that matter. So on this day i had this woman who was so heavily pregnant following me around insisting that she wanted to help me carry my goods even when i wasn’t done shopping. After a while  i asked her if she could carry the goods and i had a lot! She pleaded with me so much that i had to give in. I helped to lift the goods unto her head, that effort in itself resulted into a lot of sweating. I almost changed my mind again but she bravely balanced the pan containing all my shopping items on her head. Then we began the walk to the car park. Usually i make sure i walk behind the person carrying my goods because you never know someone might just disappear with all your goods in such a busy market. But on this day, this heavily pregnant Alabaru woman moved at such a slow pace that i had to walk past her and wait a few times in order for her to catch up with me. The sun was high and hot plus she was sweating profusely. ” I kept asking her, are you sure you are ok?” Each time she would reply, “mummy mo wa paa” ( I am fine ma). Finally we got to the car park and i just couldn’t let her go without finding out a few things. I asked her about her husband and inquired into whether she had registered with any hospital. She said she had but was trying to raise money to buy her delivery items ( cotton wool, clamp cord, methylated spirit, baby’s first cloths etc) as required by the health centre. Her husband or should i say the man responsible for the pregnancy was not willing to support her. This woman must find a way to support herself.

I felt so sorry for her. Women like this Alabaru woman struggle with poverty and they bravely fend for themselves and the babies in their womb. Many women who are low income earners in Africa refuse to register for antenatal at the hospital. When they finally manage to do they end up giving birth in unsafe places/condition because they can not afford necessary delivery kits. Women like me didn’t share her experience. I was equipped with the knowledge of safe delivery and motherhood; i was equipped with the resources to register, even pay money for the delivery of my babies at probably a private hospital. I was lucky to have gone to school, to be educated and therefore armed with skills that puts me on a pedestal above poverty.

Many girls and women like this Alabaru comb our market places doing menial jobs and earn money that is just enough to get a meal or two for each day. Sometimes they have to go hungry. Added to that is their exposure to street men who take advantage of them sexually. A lot of times this results in pregnancy and the man would of course move unto other vulnerable girls and women. If only this pregnant Alabaru had the opportunity to go to school, to get an education,perhaps she would not be in the hot sun carrying my goods. I looked at her and wondered if she would not add up to the data of the maternal and child mortality rate we are so desperately trying to reduce. Poverty is a major contributor to maternal mortality.

I gave this woman my phone number and a sum of money ( though it was not enough for what she needed) hoping that she would use it to purchase what is needed and not spend it on food. As the car carrying i and my goods moved away from the market, i looked on in the mirror at the very pregnant Alabaru woman still standing in the sun helplessly. She buys a N5 sachet of  cold water and pours it over her head to cool off the heat. I prayed and hoped in my heart that she and her baby would survive. My prayer was answered when a few weeks later i got a call from her saying that she had just delivered a beautiful baby girl.  I did confirm this when some months later we met at the market again. She looked healthy, her baby was at an almost free day care centre within the market and she was still struggling to help shoppers carry their goods. It was a great relief to see that she was ok for now. The question now is – how long would she remain at that level? This Alabaru woman’s daughter may also not see the wall of a school if she can not afford the fees. Thus the circle of poverty may continue.

According to a UNFPA report, “A woman’s chance of dying or becoming disabled during pregnancy and childbirth is closely connected to her social and economic status. The Alabaru woman was lucky to have had a safe delivery but many other women struggling with poverty are not so lucky. Therefore the education level of more women particularly in the rural communities and at the grassroots needs to improve. My proffered solution to that is provision of a viable adult education programme and also ensuring that more girls go to school. I’d say catch them young. How do we achieve this? Government, communities, families, everyone need to invest in educating our girls. As we make these efforts then we can begin to see the ripple effect in improved social and economic status of women and eventually much less maternal and child mortality rates.

Photo 1 credit: www.nation.co.ke

Photo 2 credit: www.travelstart.com.ng

By Adebisi Adetunji