That Story that Says – I Can Make it! Yes You Can!

As a creative person, story writer and producer I can smell a great story miles away. My ears are quick to pick up on a good story. Here we were in the office working and in comes a colleague. She had with her a copy of an admission letter to do her masters at the university. I was so excited for her because I had watched her grow from being a receptionist at the corporation to become an On-Air personality. I just had to get her to tell her story. I promise you,  It is indeed that kind of story that says – “YOU CAN MAKE IT, REGARDLESS OF YOUR BACKGROUND OR STRUGGLES”!

Her Story

My name is Lilian Onianwa(Née Ukandu)

My story is long I’ll try as much as I can to shorten it

I finished secondary school at  age16. I had everything planned out that is, get admission into the university to study medicine; finish up; get a masters degree and get married. Things didn’t work out as I planned.

I wrote the JAMB examination and got admission into Ebonyi State University to study Microbiology but only spent 2 years in the course and couldn’t continue. My father was in far away South Africa and somehow we were not getting any money from him because my stepmom was keeping it all for herself.

I had to drop out and moved to my grandmother’s house in Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria. I didn’t get tired of looking for admission because for me getting admission into school meant living…”How can I not go to school”?

I wrote many exams and got admitted into various tertiary institutions-OAU Ife, FUTA, and Wesley University Ondo. Each time the admission came through for me there would be no money to pay school fees. But I couldn’t just stop and fold my arms…NO. I knew that I didn’t have money to pay school fees but I just won’t stop! The joy in my heart each time I get these admission letters is immeasurable. I was hopeful and each time I’ll say to myself “at least it’s just money that is the remaining ingredient in my educational pursuit”. ‘I just wanted to go to school and I didn’t have a job either to support myself. I was living on a monthly allowance that I got from my Uncle.

In 2011, I finally got a job as a receptionist in a media organization, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) with my Senior Secondary School Certificate and was earning 17,300 at the time barely enough to fend for myself. Life as a receptionist in FRCN was a different ball game. Half the time, people looked down on us a lot because to them “she is just a receptionist “. In fact, I was the staff with the lowest grade level and I was constantly bullied and degraded for that. There were times I would cry and cry but I kept telling myself that one day ‘I will bag a Ph.D.”.

Finally, I got an admission into the University of Ibadan to study Psychology in 2012. It was a Part-time course and I had to combine working at my job and studies. It was challenging especially when I became pregnant with my daughter. At times, I will be on duty and I’ll have to leave the office to go and write my exams and come back to work after the day’s exams…but I kept pushing.

In 2013, I wrote a letter to the management for Redeployment to the programmes department and with the help of  Mr. Gabriel Onafurume, the Deputy Director Programmes (DDP) at the time I was considered for it. I got redeployed to the Library because that was the only unit in the department that can take a low-level staff like me. I was a Level 4 officer. However, I knew I could do more so I joined a production team and began to feature on a programme called ‘Campus Beat’. This gave me an exposure to the art of presentation and programme production and it worked in my favor.

I have had 3 promotion interviews since I started working with FRCN. Each time I go before the interview panel and I’m asked to bring my credentials, and as I hand them my O’levels result, I die 30 times over. To the glory of God in the last promotion interview which held in January 2019, I went there with my B.Sc certificate! I graduated in 2018  with a 2.2. I was 0.1 shy of a 2.1.

After graduation, I wanted more, I had to go to the next phase and the Post Graduate school, the University of Ibadan will never take me with my Pass in Mathematics(which was graciously waved during my undergraduate level). So I went back to Secondary school and wrote NECO(July 2018) exams again after 14 years. Fortunately, I made all my subjects in that one sitting and now I’m on my way to studying a masters degree in Personality and Social Psychology. and I’m not stopping there as I intend to eventually bag a Ph.D.

What motivates me: Success
I want to be a very successful woman. I have a beautiful daughter and someday I want her to read the Newspapers and see something about her mother. There was no way that was going to happen if I didn’t go to school. No matter how wealthy I am as a ‘business’ woman with no degree I will never be fulfilled if I didn’t get my degrees.

All the while, I was alive but I wasn’t living. Getting a degree gave me a new life..now I’m fulfilled. I feel like I can tackle anything life throws at me now with confidence. But then some people may say ‘it’s just a degree’; to me, it’s not just a degree, it’s the key to a new life, a new ME and a breath of fresh air.

My dreams:

  • I want to become a Criminal Psychologist and I’m already working on that.
  • I hope to own a Television show that will focus on criminals especially the ones serving time for murder/homicide, investigation of the 24 hours leading up to when the crime was committed, what triggered that action and rehabilitation for the prisoners during and after prison. And this dream is very VALID!

You can Make it ; Yes you Can! 

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Broadcast Journalist, Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

16 YEAR OLD GIRL MENTORING OTHER GIRLS – LAUNCHES AN “ALL GIRLS MUST GO TO SCHOOL PROJECT ”

In Nigeria, it is estimated that 23% of women aged 15-19years have begun childbearing and 32% of teenagers in rural areas have become young mothers, according to the Demographic Health Survey of 2013. One of the focal points of discussion at the just concluded family planning conference in Nigeria which took place on the 3rd – 6th of December, 2018 in Nigeria is the prevention of teenage pregnancy and promotion of adolescent reproductive health rights.

Youth and Adolescents were given the opportunity to speak up about their health needs so policymakers can put in place services to meet these needs. As part of efforts to make visible the works of young people making an impact in their communities, 5 young people shared their innovative work as it relates to reproductive health needs of adolescents and young persons. The youngest of them, to give a pitch about her work was 16 years old, Peace Ayo Adegbola. It was heartwarming seeing this young determined girl doing something to make the lives of others better.

Peace giving a pitch about her work with girls in her community.

Peace Adegbola is a role model to other adolescent girls in her community. She equips girls with life skills and information necessary to curb teenage pregnancy. She shared the story of her journey into becoming girls advocate in this interview with me.

A.A: Tell us your name

Peace: My name is Peace Ayo Adegbola

A.A: So are you a student?

Peace: Yes I’m a student. I just wrote my WAEC, waiting for admission into the university. I am a girl advocate and I’m 16 years old.

A.A: What steered you up in that direction?

Peace & Her Dad

Peace: My daddy works with Society for family health and so he goes to rural communities to educate these young girls about the importance of family planning. Sometimes he normally takes me along. When I go to these communities I find that the majority of these adolescent girls are not in school. Boys are going to school and a majority of the girls are at home. I was just 10 years old so I started asking questions, became anxious and wanted to do something about this. I felt like if a 10year old girl Like me is outspoken, I wanted other girls to be too and I decided to be an advocate. And my dad inspired me, the communities I have been to and what the girls are passing through.

A.A: That was how you started the girls club?

Peace sharing her story in a quick interview with Adebisi

Peace: The girls club actually started as a self-esteem session with the girls. I launched a project on “All Girls must go to School” which targeted girls that are not in school to ensure that these girls go to school. We have about 200 girls are now in school as a result and come this September more girls will be enrolled. I needed a sustainability plan to keep these girls in school. I found out that something so simple as self-esteem makes them drop out of school. So I created a small group where I talk to these young girls. At first, it was just the girls we were sponsoring to school.

A.A: How are you funding this sponsorship?

Peace: Strong Enough Girls are my key partners, Youth Hub Africa, and so many partners and some individuals that buy into the idea.

A.A: Going forward where do you see this? Are you intending to fully make a career of development work?

Peace: Yes! Because my partner, who happens to be my dad, and I currently jointly own an organization. It is something I want to do for life; it’s something that even though I do other things, this is one thing I will never leave. This is service to humanity and girls like me. I believe so much in their potentials.

A.A: Your advice for girls, adults and especially parents.

Peace: My advice to young girls is that there is time for everything; take it one step at a time. And if you have made some mistakes don’t use it to judge yourself or pull yourself back. The thing about making mistakes or falling down is for you to know the right way to take. My advice to parents is that they should have a close relationship with their kids and to actually open up. Tell them about sexual reproductive issues. Talk to your child about hygiene, menstrual hygiene. Do not code things and give wrong information, for example, say that “if a boy touches you, you will get pregnant, No! Tell them that it is sex that gets a girl pregnant. Prepare them so they will make the right choices.

Adolescent and youth health needs is a must attend to.

Someone mentored Peace Aydegbola right and now she, in turn, has become a mentor and role model to other girls in her community, nipping teenage pregnancy in the bud and inspiring girls to go to and finish school.

One person can make a huge difference

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

The Cleansing Rites – A Short Story Prt 2

My heart pounded fast as I listened to more of mother’s sob. Tears flowed down my check as I wondered whether her resolve not to give in to the rites of having to sleep with her late husband’s brother in order to allow father’s spirit to rest. Would she stand the pressure been mounted on her by his family? It was believed that failure to carry out this rite as was the custom meant that family will be under a curse, which meant more deaths in the family.

Mother had been through a lot. Only the arrival of my brother Obinna gave her relief from the pressures of father’s family. I remembered uncle Ebuka taunted her with the fact that she had no inheritance if she couldn’t bear a son. It was only through father’s support and his refusal to take another wife that gave her hope for the 9years she had to wait after giving birth to me. I finally slept off only to be woken by grandma’s early morning chanting to chi, the family god. I heard her pray that her son’s spirit would find rest in the land beyond. She prayed that chi would drive away evil from her clan. Mother got up at about this time too. Her face was swollen and I knew she hadn’t slept through the night. I greeted her and she answered with a sigh. We both knew it would be another day of sitting down on the mourning mat, receiving sympathizers from all over the village.

Meaning of Word

Cleansing RitesPurification ritual – In the context of this story, a widowhood ritual expected to be performed by a widow in some cultures to wade of certain evil occurrence.

-An excerpt from one of my short stories collection.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

The Cleansing Rites – A Short Story

The circle of cleansing was about to begin again. Now there are three spirits that must rest in peace. I look up to the ceiling where dark cobwebs hanged. A fly was caught in the web and a big spider circled around to feast on its prey. Obinna and I were now as a trapped as the fly. I turned to look at his tear-stained face and then my eyes monitored the rising and falling of his chest as he slept. It was necessary to assure myself that he was still breathing. We were both lying down on the wooden bed with the flat dirty mattress. My eyes went back to the ceiling where the spider had now reached its prey. The voices of the elders mixed with grandma’s plea to the gods to have mercy on our entire clan were now even louder.

I felt a choke in my throat and then fresh tears began to flow down my face. Their voices became distant as my mind traveled to that night I was stirred from my sleep by the whispering voice of my mother. “I won’t do it Ebuka”, said mother. “I’m only trying to fulfill the cleansing rites”, replied Uncle Ebuka. “Please leave now”, mother said in a harsh tone. I heard Uncle Ebuka’s short clipped laughter as he said, “Chinwe, you know the elders have spoken” and I heard his footsteps leaving. Mother started to sob quietly. I laid down not saying anything and my mind went back to the time father was still alive.

– An excerpt from one of my short stories collection.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

The Possibility of Ending Sexual Violence in War: Nadia Murad #2018NobelPeacePrize

The week had been busy and Friday was here, I looked forward to a relaxing weekend. Ready to sort out a few tasks for the day, the TV was tuned to CNN and there written on the screen was – Breaking News- 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to be announced shortly. My interest was immediately turned on and I sat to follow the unfolding story. Soon Berit Reiss Anderson, the chairman Nobel Peace Prize committee, stood on the podium briefing press men and out came the names of two individuals who have been lending their voices and working hard at ending sexual violence and genocides – Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. I wanted to know more about these two persons and so here I am getting ready to share a few of my findings on their stories in two separate posts.

I could never hope to capture their pain, agony, struggles and tireless efforts at mending others and speaking up to get the international community and everyone in the world to end this war crime – Sexual violence/rape as a tool for war.

But I’d like to simply share their work and story briefly in the bid to say, “I salute your courage; thank you for giving yourself so others can live in a safer world”.

                               NADIA MURAD 

Nadia Murad
Photo Credit: SBS

As I watched a few video recordings that documented a few of Nadia’s speeches, advocacy campaigns and the film, “On her shoulders”; I got a glimpse of her personality and not just her picture. One can see and feel her pain as she struggled bravely to share her story and mostly appealed that something should be done to save the Yazidis from the Islamic State’s (ISIS) determination to eliminate her people. In the documentary film, “On her shoulders”, she wept and had to wipe away her tears so she could be strong for those who looked to her as a voice for their freedom. Tears welled up in my eyes too – there is no amount of telling that will ever be able to explain or paint the picture of what she and other girls must have gone through in the hands of their abductors; not to mention the pain of losing loved ones as well.

Nadia Murad Basee Taha was 19 years old when the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked her community and killed scores of people, abducting thousands of women and girls. Nadia was taken to the city of Mosul where her ISIS abductors did whatever they wished with her and others; she was beaten, tortured and raped. Three months later she managed to escape and ended up in a refugee camp and got lucky as one of those who benefited from the refugee program by Germany.

The horrific story of her experience in the hands of ISIS soon broke out and ever since Nadia Murad has been a voice speaking against the genocide of Yazidis and sex slavery as a weapon of war. She recounts her experience and remembers how her mother, brothers and many other families were murdered.

Tired of re-telling her story as reporters badged her with loads of questions about what happened Nadia In her words said: “Do not ask me questions about how I felt when I was raped but instead ask me about how to stop sexual violence; how women and girls can be protected from being used as sex slaves during wars. “I want justice for the Yazidis”

Nadia’s quest to draw the attention of everyone who can do something to end the plight of her people in the hands of ISIS led her to start the “Nadia Initiative”, to engage in advocacy and provide support for genocide victims in 2016.

At age 27, eight years later Nadia’s courageous efforts at ending genocide and sexual violence get her the prestigious award of 2018, Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Dr Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her response to the award reveals a woman who is resilient in her mission to end the persecution of the Yazidi communities:

“I am incredibly honoured and humbled by their support and I share this award with Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence around the world:

“As a survivor, I am grateful for this opportunity to draw international attention to the plight of the Yazidi people who have suffered unimaginable crimes since the genocide by Daesh, which began in 2014. Many Yazidis will look upon this prize and think of family members that were lost, are still unaccounted for, and of the 1,300 women and children, which remain in captivity. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis, have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women, in particular, have suffered greatly as they have been, and continue to be the victims of sexual violence…” Nadia Murad. Click on this link to find her full statement”

The Possibility of ending sex slavery and sexual violence as a weapon of war

I am reminded of a personal experience my mother shared with me many years ago. In her heydays as an adolescent just like Nadia, an inter-tribal conflict arose between our community and another. She and other young girls became a target as the conflict escalated; the warriors/fighters of each community would raid homes and carry away young girls like her to become brides of the warring men. My mother was hidden by her parents for a while but soon it became apparent that she was no longer safe. Lucky for her they managed to sneak her off to the city where it was safe. My mother who is now over 70 years was one of the lucky girls, some of her friend’s lives were changed forever as they did not escape.

Sexual violence as a weapon of war is as old as our great, great, great forefathers and mothers. Will this ever end? I believe the answer is to find preventive measures and resolutions to conflicts before they escalate into wars. I believe also that we humans must give room for others to live and be for we all deserve to live peaceably and flourish. great and mothers. Will this ever end? I believe the answer is to find preventive measures and resolutions to conflicts before they escalate into wars. I believe also that we humans must give room for others to live and be for we all deserve to live peaceably and flourish. Laws should also be put in place to punish perpetrators of such heinous crime.

Nadia’s dream and goal is aptly captured in the last line of her statement: “We must not only imagine a better future for women, children and persecuted minorities, but we must also work consistently to make it happen – prioritizing humanity, not war. work consistently to make it happen – prioritizing humanity, not war.

Insight to keywords

War Crime: Torture, inhumane conducts or acts carried during a war which is against international rules guiding wars.

Yazidi: a community of people in Iraq but Yazidis can also be found in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Georgia. They are a closely knitted community who believed differently from the Islamic communities where they are situated. Hence, the reason for the Islamic State attacks and attempts to destroy them.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Meet Dr. Adeola Olubamiji: The First African Biomedical Engineer(Ph.D ): Her Life & Projects

A few days ago my boss asked me to accompany her to a meeting where I eventually met a young promising woman from Nigeria who lives in Canada and is making Nigeria proud. The story was that this lady was already doing a lot to project Africa and empower girls, women and the youth. Now that’s the kind of story I love to hear and therefore I was delighted to go meet this inspiring lady. But I actually met her via a SKYPE conversation … hehehe. I tell you our conversation with her blew me away and left me feeling good about my heritage as a Nigerian woman. She is the kind of role model young people need to inspire and motivate them to go on to achieve their dreams and goals.

So here I am trying to celebrate and project the good things this beautiful lady is doing.

This post shares a bit of our conversation with Dr. Adeola Olubamiji the first black person to obtain a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from University of Saskatchewan . She speaks about herself and an ongoing project to empower young people in Ibadan in Tie-Dye Engineering. Dr. Adeola’s story went viral on the social media after she shared her story about how she rose from a humble background to become the scientist that she now is. Adeola went on to start STEMHUB FOUNDATION to inspire young people to pursue science and discover the possibilities therein. Bolatito Joseph- BJJ (Deputy Director Programmes- Radio Nigeria) conducted the interview.

Interview

BJJ: Tell us about yourself, a little bit about your background and why you are doing this project

DR. Adeola: Recently about a year ago I happen to be the first African to obtain a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan here in Canada. My upbringing, I was raised by two people with no formal education; from hawking pepper on the streets of Mokola, Ibadan to becoming a child farmer; having to help my mum on the farm and how all of this happened to me; then because of my love for science made me who I am today. I went ahead and posted my story on Facebook the day I convocated. That story went viral and it was in the news in Nigeria and the media basically. So I grew lots of followership on social media and as such I couldn’t hide anymore as a scientist who just wanted to live my life for myself. I realize that my life wasn’t mine anymore; a lot of people wanted to be a part of it; a lot of people were looking for a role model and some people were looking for mentors for themselves or for their children. So that’s how STEMHUB Foundation started.

Mokola, where the empowerment training on Tie & Dye engineering for young people is taking place in the neighborhood where I grew up. It is in this neighborhood that I hawked pepper. So I looked at my neighborhood and I found out that it is still the same. We still have people involved in vices and using prostitution as the only means of livelihood for them. So I was looking out there to see – what Is it I can help people acquire that they can use as a means to fend for themselves instead of having to do something shady or having to sell their body.

This Tie and Dye program is not the only program my foundation has sponsored. For the celebration of Women in the month of March 2018, I partnered with the Female Designers Movement in Lagos to sponsor design engineering for 150 women. We taught them graphic design making of posters; a user design for websites.

Right now after my Ph.D., I got a job and currently work as a lead material engineer in a company that basically manufacture Pollan, parts of engines of aircraft, fighter jets and all of that here in Canada. I am very passionate about anything engineering, 3D-printing which is my area and right now I focus on aerospace.

BJJ: Great! Ok can we talk about the many awards you’ve won

Dr. Adeola: Ok one thing I always tell people is, it is a lot difficult to talk about when it comes to hyping myself; I am not good at it.

BJJ: (Laughs)

Dr. Adeola: I believe something, “If your mission and vision in life are about you, you won’t go really far.

BJJ: Yeah

Dr. Adeola: But if your vision and your mission are about the people you will go really, really far. And often times those types of vision and mission are bigger than you and require a lot of resilient for it to happen. After my story broke out on the internet, the “Media Broadcast Corporation” which is our own “Radio Nigeria” here in Canada recognized me as one of the 150 black women making Canada better for the celebration of Canada at 150years last year. Also last year the Canadian Nigerian Association honored me as “The Woman of Outstanding Achievements in Education”, July 2017. Fortunately, Oni of Ife and some other dignitaries from Nigeria attended that event.

“If your mission and vision in life are about you, you won’t go really far. But if your vision and your mission are about the people you will go really, really far.

In my absence the Ondo state government honored me as 2018 female role model of young girls in the state. I have also been nominated by the Canadian Business Treat; these are a group of women whose passion centers on finding entrepreneurs and young Canadian women and honoring them. I have been nominated as one of the people that will receive an award this year, 2018.

Dr Olubamiji at a science training for some children

There is been a couple of awards here and there but to me, it is not about the awards. It is about what I can do for people. If it wins an award, yes I am happy but I would gladly celebrate the people and the progress we are making in the lives of the people than how many accolades I get or how many awards people have given me. This dream and vision are not about me, it’s about the people.

BJJ: You have done so well for yourself and I want to tell you that Nigeria is proud of you. Now, are you thinking of coming back home?

Dr. Adeola: The Industry that I work in right now focus on 3D-printing different on aerospace material. During my Ph.D. I was fortunate to use this same 3D-printing, to manufacture. So 3D-Printing is an area growing drastically around the world; Nigeria has not embraced the idea yet. If there is an opportunity to come and be a part of trading digital manufacturing space for Africa so that we can attract automotive companies to come and open their brands in Nigeria, I will definitely love to be a part of such change. Until that moment when this type of opportunity happens I think I will stay here in Canada to grow my knowledge and without money, I wouldn’t be able to help people in Nigeria.

BJJ: (Laughs)

Dr. Adeola: So I will stay here to be able to make some money and to be able to do what I do right now (Laughing). But if you ask me where is your heart? My heart is in Nigeria. I believe that positive role models are very, very rare to find in our society. And when we have such positive role models, often times they do not have the right platform to be projected so our young girls can see them. I feel that if I were to be present in Nigeria I will achieve way more; I will inspire and motivate way more. And I could be a part of those people who can help drive success among women and young people in Nigeria. Until that time when I get the opportunity, I have to be here.

But the good news is that I will be coming home to Nigeria in August for two weeks to receive an award. I will do all I can to inspire; to encourage and be a part of the people; to let them see what is possible if you study science, believe in God and if you work hard and are resilient, you can go really far in life.

BJJ: Thank you very much for speaking with us. I really enjoyed this conversation. God bless, bye

Dr. Adeola: Thank you too Bye

I look forward to following Dr. Adeola’s journey and contributions to society and sharing more of her story and the lives she is touching. In another post, I will share photos and stories of young people I met at the Tie & Dye Training which held in Ibadan for young people. It was sponsored by STEMHUB Foundation.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

GUEST POST: MY FGM STORY by Omoye Oriaghan

This piece was sent to me a few days ago to share and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is a personal experience of Omoye Oriaghan. Great insights to her fears about Female Circumcision and her journey into discovering whether she had been cut or not. I was held spelt bound and couldn’t stop until I came to the end of this story. Enjoy it and feel free to share with others.

“How do you feel, if I cut that sensitive nub above your privates
Cut the lips to your womanly haven
And then stitch close the opening to leave only a urinary passageway
I do not stop there,
But when you get married, I tear you back open for sexual relations with your husband (as in some cases)
Can you imagine how you would feel?
Well, that is the gore of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Tolarnee

I have always heard of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), its ills and the various calls for an end to its practice in our society. Before my final year at the university, I knew little or nothing about this awful practice, maybe because I was too lazy to google its meaning and prevalence in Nigeria and Africa as a whole or maybe because I just wasn’t interested in knowing what it meant. However, during my last days at school, we had this course taught by the only professor in our department at the time, Prof Akinfeleye, on campaign messages and design (I can’t remember the exact course title now).

As part of assessments for the course, the class was divided into different groups, given different health challenges and asked to design campaign messages for them. This was to be presented in subsequent classes. I remember a particular group was to design campaign messages for FGM. As against other presentations that I didn’t accord much interest, this campaign against FGM caught my attention, maybe because the medical practitioner took his time to explain with a slide presentation its prevalence in some parts of Nigeria. The gory pictures of the different types of cuts and the girls (children) made to undergo such, aroused so much anger within that later gave birth to the hatred I now nurse for it.

Also in my final year on campus, I had a friend who when we had a discussion on FGM told me in confidence that she and her sisters were mutilated after birth by their mother. However, what was more shocking in her revelation was that her mother told her while she much older not to let her would-be husband know she had been circumcised so as not to ‘drive him away’. According to her mum, no man or most men do not love the idea of marrying a ‘circumcised’ woman because of the lack of satisfaction during sex.
I must confess that while listening to her revelation I got a bit scared because I wasn’t sure of my own status. Who knows, I may have been circumcised too! However, the fears subsided…….

I met Tunde (real name withheld) and we got really close and someday I hoped I would settle down with him (didn’t happen though *winks*) and into our relationship the talk of circumcision (FGM) came up and the fears came back in full force. I was not ready to drive my man away, or so I thought. I think it’s time I had a tete-a-tete with my mother, I concluded, but somehow I didn’t know how to bring up the conversation because my mum and I never really had such conversations. And so again, I managed to keep it in until…….

I sat comfortably as my hair stylist braided my hair one fateful day when a woman from the next shop walked in to loosen her own braids and then ‘the conversation’ began. My hair stylist (Woman A) started the conversation:

“This circumcision thing, everyone seems to be talking about it like it’s a bad thing o she said
The woman from the next shop (Woman B) replied,
“Yes o….In the olden days it was not a big deal but these days, women are discouraged from circumcising their girl-child………My mother says my sisters and I were circumcised, however, she warned us not to tell our husbands (here’s the warning again), so they don’t leave us and sleep with other women”
Woman A: “Hmmmm”
Woman B continues
“When I have sex with my husband, I pretend sometimes to enjoy it even when I don’t, so I don’t push him away………Well, my mum warned me not to circumcise my daughter so she doesn’t go through the same problem and so I didn’t circumcise her”

Now, while this conversation ensued, I was paying rapt attention, picking every detail, and of course, they didn’t know I listened. They thought I didn’t understand what they were saying because they were not having the conversation in English.
And so the conversation continued,
Woman A: “Well for me, my mother circumcised all of her female children o and me, I circumcise all of mine ( now, Woman A has three daughters)…….Not long after I give birth to my girls, I always tell my husband that I want to go and visit my mother in the village (She was Igbo and her husband Yoruba) and when I get there I circumcise them without his knowledge”
“It is good to circumcise girls so they will not become wayward” she continued “I will continue to circumcise my female children o”.
That ended the conversation and also ended my delay in asking my mum the big question.

I got home that evening and immediately put a call through to my mother, “Hello Mama, this circumcision thing, do they do it in our village?” I questioned curiously. “Well they did it a long time ago, but your grandmother did not circumcise me or my other siblings” She replied. That was all I needed to hear to have a beautiful sleep that night {smiles).

Last year, I was also privileged to watch an edition of BBC’s HardTalk with Stephen Sackur on FGM. On the show that day, Stephen had two African women with British citizenship. One was for and the other against FGM. Now, I was more particular about the lady who supported the practice because I wanted to know why anyone would support such a barbaric practice. However, after listening to her point of view, I didn’t entirely condemn her.

The lady (from Ivory Coast, if I remember correctly) explained that female circumcision was a huge ceremony in her village for women who had come of age, girls who were 18 years and above. It was a Coming out Ceremony of some sort. She further explained that she was convinced at the age of about 20 years by her aunt who had a paid a visit to her family in the UK to participate in the ceremony. Her aunt and mother told her a little about the pain associated with the procedure and some of the health risks. With this knowledge, she agreed to travel to Ivory Coast to be circumcised. She concluded by saying the procedure, though painful, was healthy and that years after it she had enjoyed sexual relations with her partner.

So for her, FGM should only be carried out on girls who are well aware of the health risks and others risks and should also be done on their consent. However, she was against the complex stages of mutilation.

As my story winds up, let me conclude by saying, I am against FGM practiced on a girl-child who has absolutely no idea what is being done to her. If when she is well of age weighs all the risk factors involved and still decides to be mutilated, then I bid her Godspeed, but again, I don’t think any girl would love to go through such pain from a very unhealthy procedure for whatever gain.
As I drop my pen, or this time, my keyboard (winks), let me say #IStandAgainstFGM and #FGMMustBeStopped #EndFGMNow

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Project Director Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development.
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com