Not all men are bad

Not all men are bad
Not all men are abusers
Not all men are rapist
Not all men would abandon
Not all men are child molesters
Not all men are irresponsible
Not all men walk away
Some men  would protect
Some men would sacrifice all
Some men stay
Such good men are sometimes not rare to find

DSC05189 BILKISU Olalekan Rasheed is one man that stayed. His pregnant wife was involved in an auto mobile accident and she had being in the hospital for several months. Olalekan Rasheed had no stable job. He is in between being a bus conductor and other odd jobs. Bilikisu his wife was simply a petty trader before the accident. In my line of work as a journalist I follow some stories and I have come across a number of disturbing trends. A visit to the hospital reveals that a number of men abandon their women on the hospital bed because of their inability to pay the hospital bills or perhaps it was finally an excuse to leave. There were so many cases of Runaway Husbands. On one of such visit i met this man whom over and over again the hospital staff  attested to the fact that day and night Olalekan stood by his wife…when she was unconscious, when she came round but couldn’t speak or recognize anyone; when the hospital bills kept increasing. Meanwhile the baby was growing and decisions had to be made about whether to amputate her legs…Olalekan never left…never abandoned Bilikisu. He was hopeful and he kept on praying for a miracle. Help did come when Some Philanthropists showed up. The baby made it alive and kicking, she is such  a beautiful baby. Still Olalekan waited patiently, helping to nurse his wife. It turned out that her legs didn’t need to be amputated again.

The impact of abandonment can be quite great on any individual talk less of a family. Breaking free from the impact of abandonment is a long road to healing for people who might have gone through abandonment by a father, husband, or even  a wife. I am aware that sometimes women walk  away too,abandoning their families.

The next time you want to walk away, list out reasons you should not. You might be amazed at what you come up with. Don’t let fear, responsibilities, or the complexity of marriage/relationship (yes it is complex) put you on the run. You might be running for the rest of your life because the next relationship/marriage comes with its own complexities or even bigger problems. Be a hero to your family. Like i said in an earlier blog, none of us is perfect, and none of us will ever be. So stop running, stay and fight for your family, you’ve got what it takes to make it work. If you need help ask for it…seek help in the right places.

This is just my way of celebrating and appreciating every man who would not walk away; who would and continue to cherish that girl, that woman in their lives.

By Adebisi Adetunji

Feature: Celebrating a Girl, a Woman every month

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A mum and her little girl

I will be celebrating the achievements of a girl, a woman once every month. It’s all about the story of one woman or girl who has made a difference in “little ways”, “medium ways” or “big ways”, from the market woman to the CEO. It can be an act of kindness . You are welcome to send in a girl or woman’s story whom you want to celebrate. E-mail me with that special someone’s story on bisimodupe1975@gmail.com. I’ll write a summary blog mentioning each woman/girl whose story has being sent in and then post the full story of the most unique story of the month acknowledging the author. If you are a blogger like me, a link to your site would be included. This unique story will be posted on the 20th of every month. So watch out for this feature on femininematerz.wordpress.com every month!

Being My Neighbour’s Keeper

FLOWERS
http://www.hdwallpap.com

Have you ever had neighbours whom you thought or could see that something was seriously wrong… something that keeps you worried but you just couldn’t do anything about it? Sometimes you are afraid to offer your help because it amounts to meddling in another person’s business. Some of us just adopt the attitude of , “they don’t bother me, i don’t bother them”. I think the issue sometimes is about not wanting to infringe on the right to privacy of a neighbour. But there might be a need to remove the boundary of privacy when a neighbour is in danger. Let me begin to unravel my thought line with a few stories that mirrors what i mean by being my neighbour’s keeper.

I and a friend were having a chat about problems in marriages and how it can be minimized. Out popped this story about her neighbours. Once upon a time…time…time…i wish it was once upon a time fairy tale but it is a reality in the life of a woman who was hemmed in. So Mr and Mrs Tanimowo (not real names) have the usual misunderstanding as any marriage would have but how it is sorted out is another kettle of fish. Whenever Mr Tanimowo was really upset with his wife, he punishes her by asking her to stand outside their entrance gate into their home. Sometimes this woman sleeps in the gutter outside until the next morning.  It beats my imagination how this is even possible … I just couldn’t believe that someone would have to sleep in the gutter not because he/she was homeless or a destitute. But my friend insisted that it was true after-all they were her neighbours.  All other neighbours were aware of this continued abuse but nobody spoke out against it… nobody offered Mrs Tanimowo a bed in the safety of their home whenever her husband meted out this punishment. Everyone simply minded their own business. I ask myself how far should we really go with minding our business when a neighbour is seriously in danger or being abused? Shouldn’t we be our neighbours keeper?

Another story of a man who  regularly punches his wife comes to mind. This man whom i would call Patrick simply “flexes  his muscles”, every time he was crossed with his wife Mary. Her cries became  an unpleasant music in the ears of their neighbours. A young couple who lived in the next building close by endured the situation for a while until they got restless and just couldn’t take it any longer. On one of the days that Patrick physically assaulted his wife as was his custom they finally reported the matter to the police. That was how Patrick was arrested. Mary’s family thanked these neighbours profusely for saving their daughter. But for their neighbour who blew the whistle on Patrick, Mary his wife could have been maimed or murdered in the face of constant physical assault.

It is easy to turn the other eye but we can do a lot to stop the number of abuse that goes on around us. I know it is difficult when the person being abused is unwillingly to speak out or get help. Many cases of abuse go UN-reported until it is too late.

I have to share yet another abuse story where a family member refused to speak up against the abuse of a child. Imagine a  14year old girl is impregnated by her father and infected with HIV. Her mother knows about this and even takes the teenage girl for treatment but has refused to blow the whistle on her husband. They continued to live in the same house and he will probably abuse his other daughters or other young girls, thus the circle of HIV and abuse expands. This mother does not understand that it was no longer a matter of turning the other eye but that of fighting for her daughter’s right against abuse and that of many other girls whose rights would also be violated. And since she was not willing to have her husband prosecuted for his crime there was nothing anyone could do to stop the man.

My Neghbour 2
http://www.hagleyparksda.com

So who is my neighbour? The parable of The Good Samaritan paints a vivid picture. According to this parable, a neighbour is someone who is hurting beside you, you don’t have to know the person from “Adam” as we sometimes say. The familiar definition of who a neighbour is, is someone who lives next door or near you. The person next to you cuts across a colleague at work, child in your class as a school teacher, friends from a club or activity group. Do you also know that people you live with in the same house (family, friends, children, spouse) are your neighbours as well? And yes you all live together in trust and should watch out for each other. Nobody wants to live with or next to someone whom you don’t feel safe with. We once had a crazy neighbour who “terrorized” and bullied us in so many ways. The last stroke that broke the camel’s back was when he physically attacked a neighbour’s son with a cutlass! That was when we knew that it was time to not just speak up with one voice but to scream for help to the appropriate authorities! But we had allowed the bullying to go on for too long, thankfully the case was not fatal.  It takes courage and love to speak up to help another, especially our neighbour.  Neighbourliness goes beyond a hello; neighbours should look out for each other.  It all starts with knowing  the answer to the question who is my neighbour?.

Now i know that these cases of abuse are sensitive and sometimes you just don’t want to get involved. However, it is possible to think of a creative way of helping an abused neighbour. First try to get the person being abused to talk about it, if he/she is a close acquaintance. Then give them information about how and where to get help for abused persons depending on the type of abuse. It means in other to help my neighbour it would be important to read about where help can be gotten. Educators have a duty to report any suspected case of abuse.  As a class teacher who might be privileged to sense or see traces of abuse in a child under your care,be swift share your concerns and get counsellors or your school social worker involved who will handle the matter professionally. If the abuse is happening within a nuclear family, somebody must speak up. Many mothers sweep cases of child abuse going in their home under the carpet all in a bid to  save their marriage or retain their economic status. This is a silence with great cost. It is a silence at the expense of another fellow human’s safety. Speaking up many times saves lives whether as the one being abused or as an observer. Before we decide to mind our business let us all put ourselves in the shoes of our abused neighbour. A simple phone call to the right person who can help  will make all the difference. goodneighbors I really don’t know how to end this piece but all i am just saying is that it is okay to be my neighbour’s keeper and we should all look out for each other.

Letters…Letters…Letters

Letters image
http://www.mostinspired.com

This post was inspired by The Daily Post writing prompt titled, “Dear Mom”. It suddenly struck  me that i had taken the art of  writing letters to my loved ones for granted. I was further inspired by a post in response to this same matter written by a course mate on bloging101. I therefore decided to share my own thoughts on the matter hoping you’ll be inspired too.

The Old fashion art of writing letters  seems to have been thrown out of the window with the age of our ever evolving technological era. Many people find it easy to write letters that have a promised “benefit” or “reward”. An application letter though requires a lot of articulation and thoughtfulness is a must write for a job seeker. A proposal letter is also attractive because of the hope of getting a juicy contract or deal. “Yours sincerely”, is easy when a letter is written for one of these two reasons. When was the last time you wrote a letter that says something special about the people in your life? It could be your parents, friends, sisters/brothers, spouse,partner and so on and so forth. I and a couple of my female friends where complaining or should i say lamenting over how men just forget to write those love poems again to their wives as soon as they put a ring on her fingers (not engagement ring) …i mean a real wedding contract ceremony. We all gave different reasons laughing and giggling about it. It was funny but not also funny when reflecting upon some of these reasons: Too busy making money and trying to take care of the family; she would always be there; i tell her i love her verbally every now and then; the kids are getting in the way…and on goes the long list. This is not just about men,because i ask myself : when was the last time i actually wrote a love letter to my husband? A very…long…long time ago. The sad part is that we only send text messages to each other about who to pick the kids from school, what time we are getting off work, what stuff we need to purchase for the house…it is simply all about other things and people except ourselves. When was the last time you wrote a letter to your dad or mum telling them about how much you love and care about them? Guilty like me i guess! The quick excuse will be to say..oh but i speak to them on phone a lot so they should be ok.

Why do we need to go back to the old traditional art of writing letters to our loved ones? A saying comes to mind: ” the faintest pen is better than the sharpest memory”. Letters remind us when we forget about our deep love for each other. And believe me we all do forget. In times past when men and women still took the matter of writing letters seriously, i used to bring out all letters i had received and read them all over again. It was heart warming and up lifting to know what my family and friends thought of me.

So you don’t want to visit the post office to send a letter to a friend or loved one…who does that in this dispensation?! I get what you mean,our friends, family, colleagues are all a click away on the internet and phone. Yes you are correct…it is faster and easier but we make our relationships all the more special by sitting down to put pen to paper. A good old letter will be there to remind the people who matter in your life about your love for them when you are not there. Sometimes life can be cold, a memorable letter can warm up it in more ways than you and i know.

So  as i write this piece, i am giving myself an assignment to write a few letters to tell someone they matter in my life or at least remind them about past shared good old memories. Ok, so i should start with writing a letter to my husband because i haven’t done that in a long while… Who are you thinking about writing a letter to?

A Tribute: Too Tired but i can not rest yet

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dnafricanpregnant.jpg

Tired and worn out, yet i have to be back again tomorrow, to my routine.
I keep the homes of others shinning
I make life easier
I help dry the tears of the little ones in my care
I help clean up after the elderly whose kids are too grown and too busy to do this unattractive chore
I barely get days off

I have to tend to the garden of others so my children would not grow hungry
And though i am expecting another life growing in me, but i can not dare expect to get the much needed break.
To expect a break would mean losing my role, my job
Too tired but i can not rest yet, i must go on.

A tribute to all domestic workers who work so hard to support themselves and families. It is my hope that if you have someone doing your domestic chores,that you make life easier for them. Be kind to them, treat them as fellow humans with dignity. Be fair in wage and please let them have days off and maternity time off if and when they do get pregnant. I once had a domestic help who had to stop working for me when she got pregnant. She was a friendly hardworking woman and i was sorry to let her go. She connected me to another house keeper but after she delivered her baby we remained in contact and i engage her services from time to time giving her a chance to still make some money. Now she is just a phone call away.

Domestic Chores: Men and Boys

woman washing cloths
Women and girls washing cloths http://blog.becauseiamagirl.ca

Domestic work typically is expected to be a woman’s turf. Once you are born a girl you have to learn…to master the art of a homemaker. Meaning  performing various household tasks such as cleaning, cooking,washing, gardening, caring for children or elderly people and caring for “The Husband” ….and so on and so forth. When it comes to house chores and performing the task of keeping a home running one would find out that it is a herculean fit. Women usually are saddled with the job of running a home and trust me, it is a crazy and sapping job. Most times working women think that they are the most hit but trust me it doesn’t get easier because you are a stay home mum. From my experience on days i am at home or on working leave, i find myself cleaning, cooking and washing from dawn to dusk. You suddenly remember the wardrobe or store/basement you have been planning/ wanting/meaning to clean. Right in the middle of all the stuff and dust that you are covered with, you look up at the clock and remember that your kids will soon be home and lunch or dinner(depending on what time they usually come back home) needs to be ready. Off you go to the kitchen to take the heat of cutting, washing,frying, baking and staring just in case it is Amala, Semo, Eba (solid food/ Yam, corn or cassava flour paste in Nigeria), and if it is pounded yam…you pound. When the cooking is done you rush to take a shower in order to smell fresh and look happy to receive everyone when they come home(An ever smiling super mum)…i don’t know about you, that seldom happens for me. Most times i am still neck deep setting things up with strands of my hair hanging and I’m sweating seriously too. Once they (my family) storm in through the door…my job moves to another round shouting… guys put your school bags in place; don’t leave your socks on the couch/floor; take off your uniform…get your towels so you can take a shower…any home work? On and on the chain of command goes. Something i am glad about is that my husband lends a “big helping hand” most of the time but he is what i call an “arranger” (organized and a perfectionist). In between all the noise to get everyone organized he would sometimes say, “honey this place is so disorganized and scattered”, meaning that he would like it to be arranged, sparkling and clean. My already exhausted mind and body would respond inwards saying, “Mi o le wa ku o!” ( I can’t come and kill myself (pidgin) or I can’t take anymore, don’t even think about it! (proper English way of saying it). Thankfully most times, he would just start setting the place in order himself.

Society generally feels that domestic chores is a woman’s business and therefore a no go  area for a man. Biologically women can multi task while men can most times handle one task at a time, so I’d say the task of home management is a gift to women and a blessing. I am delighted to be rewarded with hugs and kisses from my kids and husband with words like, “this food is delicious, thanks mummy”, “you are a good mummy”, “thanks honey”….. However, unless you want to have a worn out woman/wife, it is important to do your share of domestic chores. Don’t expect her to give you a great sex after she must have been worn out by putting everything and everyone in order until about 12midnight everyday! And seriously  i don’t want to age faster than my husband as we grow older. It’s important to age gracefully looking sweet and healthy. A number of women when their kids are out of the nest suffer from an ailment or disease as a result of accumulated years of exhaustion/fatigue from the hard work of domestic chores. Sometime ago I heard of a woman who could barely walk as a result somethings she had to  do in order to keep  her family going while the kids were growing up. Some other women with prolonged fatigue have to live with diabetes, hypertension, Arthritis and so on as they age.

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Private family photo

I hope that my son would be like his dad  when he grows up, to be a helpful man to his wife one day. Right now he doesn’t like to help with chores like sweeping,washing plates and so on, but since i have a lot to say about that, he is learning to do them. My girl on the other hand naturally likes doing house chores and sometimes i have to literally pull her away from doing some stuff because i feel the task might be beyond her capability. The idea is this, train both your girls and boys to manage a home. There is no law against boys knowing how to clean, wash and cook. Some girl, some day would be lucky being married to him. And seriously because i have help with chores at home, at 40years i look younger than my age and “The husband is enjoying and loving it”.

 By Adebisi Adetunji

Introducing Meeeee (blogging101july2015)

DSC05387Hello and welcome to my world. It’s easier to introduce others…what part of me do i share with you? I am a woman…(obviously), who is very passionate and i apply myself to whatever task i have to accomplish. I love writing and i think it comes from all the times i would crawl up on a couch, engrossed with reading one story book or the other as a child. In fact if you wanted to get me to do any chores at home, promise me a story book. I simply traveled to places in the world of the books i read. Not too long i started scribbling down my own stories and thoughts…a bunch of funny write ups, i sat down on the floor laughing about one day while trying to clean my wardrobe as an adult. Today i found myself doing a job that requires me to write loads of scripts week after week…by the way i am a journalist, a broadcaster, producer all intertwined. The best part of my job is that i get to write and tell stories: fiction and reality. So sort of, i have been able to produce a good number of Radio Drama alongside other radio programme formats. Why did i start blogging? It was inspired by a course i attended on Sexual Reproductive health- getting the stories right. I came across stories of real people that left me concerned and i was reminded about stories of other real people whom i had met in the line of my work. So i thought about sharing some of these stories with others and perhaps change a few minds and attitudes. I decided to start a blog site titled,  Femininematerz on WordPress platform in order to share stories of women and girls thereby lending my voice to issues that concerns us as women. But of course, in telling a woman’s story there is always a man around the corner who plays a major role in her experience. So men have a lot to learn from my stories as well. I hope to start other blog sites to write about other things that i am passionate about after this course (blogging101july2015). Have fun reading and feel free to make comments. Glad to have you on my page.

My Cows – My Brother’s Bride’s Price

A Typical  Bride in Nigeria
A Nigerian Bride

Namazzi was born into a family who made their living running a farm. She came from a small community where everyone knew one another. People meddled in Other family’s business. So often gossips about what goes on within a family spread easily. Girls were expected to be virgins or else no one would marry such a girl. Sometimes a girl gets pregnant and her family is made to feel the sting. The mother of such a girl is blamed and becomes the laughing stock of the community. Some men end up disowning such a daughter and her mother. If the pregnant girl is lucky, the family of the man who got her pregnant comes to pay her bride price and take her hands in marriage.

Everyone is afraid of being at the receiving end of the treatment meted out to the family of a pregnant girl, hence, families marry off their girls as early as possible. The problem with this is that, the bride price is overwhelming for men. Girls were means of bringing wealth to the family they belonged to; an enviable investment. It takes a lot of sweat and struggle to get the required bride price. A man was expected to present 20 Cows. Only capable men could marry because they have to work really hard.

Namazzi , now 16yrs old, was already been prepared for marriage. Her older brother Mukasa had begun to taunt her. Mukasa was in the forefront of championing her betrothal to any man who could pay the bride price. It was his bridge to the girl he had dreamed of marrying… Namazzi was his only hope of paying the bride price. Many older brothers are anxious to get their sister’s married off in the community. He simply keeps the cows and use them to pay up his bride’s price. Namazzi ’s family did manage to get a cattle rarer, Akelo to marry their daughter. When the cows arrived their compound they were all excited, even Namazzi . She had been told that she had just made her family proud and would be respected by everyone in the community. As soon as Namazzi left another wedding bells was ringing. Finally Mukasa got the cows he needed to marry his bride.

In the first few months of marriage, Namazzi added some flesh as is expected of every new wife. She had gotten pregnant and that was a good sign. Her husband Akelo was happy. At the end of nine moons she was delivered of her first son. It was celebrated and she was rewarded for been fruitful. As soon as her son was weaned Namazzi became pregnant again.  She prayed that this time it would be a girl because her husband wanted a daughter…remember, they need to earn cows as bride price on the daughter to be able to pay for their son’s bride’s price. A girl must be born who would bring good wealth to the family. But Namazzi gave birth to another boy (more cows to pay) and another until she had four boys. By then her husband had begun to make her pay the price of not giving birth to a girl. He had thought that if she had just given birth to a girl, he could in turn collect a bride price on her; a payment for the price he had to pay in marrying his wife. Boys only meant losing the already merger resources. If only Namazzi had given him 3 daughters and one boy, Akelo calculated the number of cows he would have been a proud owner of. Namazzi became a property to be treated anyhow the owner chooses.

So is the practice of paying a bride price a good or bad thing? I believe it is a good practice from my African perspective. It is intended to make a girl precious not cheap and also a  sign of respect for her family. When a man pays your bride price as a woman, you make your family proud, your in-laws respect you and remembers this when conflicts arise in the future. In my tribe when the couple do have certain issues in the future that threatens the stability of such a home, families can intervene because they believed they were a part of the process at the beginning. But what is meant to be a family loving transaction sometimes becomes shackles in the hand of the new bride.

Bride Price is a practice amongst many culture and more pronounced in Africa. What is regarded as a bride price differs from culture to culture or tribe to tribe. It is a token that seals the deal of a marriage between the couple’s families. In Africa, a man who does not pay the bride price of a girl before marrying her is seen as a “thief”. He has stolen the daughter of a house. In Nigeria, the Igbo traditional bride price is something a would be groom must seriously plan for. Not paying a woman’s bride can sometimes  mean that all the children of that union belongs to the wife’s family. Interestingly in some other culture like India, a woman is the one who pays the bride price making the man a “dangling Apple” to be grabbed by the one who can pay. This had resulted in modern trends of a higher dowry demand by the grooms family. A trend which has led to family violence. The challenge of over bloated bride price leave many men and women with no other choice than to remain unmarried. There are instances where because a man had been made to pay a huge bride price, he claims ownership of his wife that is a property he had paid for. What this means is that he could do anything and treat her as he pleases, because he had “bought” her. Some women are maltreated badly because of this, and many suffer in silence. It should however not become a sale of one’s daughter regardless of who is paying(man or woman). When the bride price/dowry costs a fortune the bride’s family might have just sold their precious daughter like a Ram tied with a rope to be sold in the market. We all know that such a Ram is going to be slaughtered and fed to the owner. In order words a woman/man’s family demand to seal a marriage can sometimes lay an uncomfortable/thorny bed for that marriage.

 By Adebisi Adetunji