Njideka Ekuma Mbam: She Ran and Her Whole Community Had to Make A Decision

There are stories that you hear and it just gladens your heart in a warm way. And when something you were a part of contributes to the success of the story then you get a sense of fulfillment that you have made a difference in someone’s life. The telephone number featured on the FGMC sensitization radio drama “Pim Pim Pim” became a life line to people who attempted to get help for three girls on the run.

Njideka had listened to education talks about the negative effects of female genital mutilation and cutting also known as female circumcision on girls in school and in church. In her community girls must go through the rite of female circumcision to attain womanhood and soon the drums heralding her time to be cut began to sound.

A few days to her being circumcised Njideka ran to protect herself. Two other girls joined her. A series of event took place which finally lead to the IZZI community abandoning FGMC. Njideka is indeed a brave girl and a hero in the fight against a harmful cultural practice. Here is a short video telling her story and that of her community:

Adebisi Adetunji (C) BusyBee Media for Social Change & Development. Email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com twitter – @DebisiBusybee 

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I Met A Girl at a Bus Station

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While waiting to board the bus en route to my destination (Calabar) on an official assignment this young lady, Amara(not real name) who sat beside me suddenly sighed out loud. Unknowingly she voiced out her thoughts, “How long will I continue to do this”, she mumbled. I was sited beside her and since we had been chatting earlier on about life in general, I took the liberty to ask her what the matter was in a concerned tone. Amara said she wish a man would come and whisk her off in marriage. She was tired of selling in a shop at the bus station. Enquiring further about how long she had been there, Amara said 7 years.

It has been 7 long years for her working at her uncle’s wife’s shop without getting paid. Amara was simply tired of this life that made her future look bleak. In her mind’s eye, the ticket to her freedom was getting married. Her hope is to have a man set her up for a business. I listened to her talk about her life and frustration then I gently told her that marriage is not the answer to the kind of freedom she dreamed of.

I shared with her the importance of having a job or some kind of trade of her own. Something to empower and give her financial freedom. Our discussions further revealed that she had finished her secondary school education and also has acquired skills in fashion designing(sewing clothes). I then encouraged her to pursue this business while waiting for the right man to come. It seemed to me that she had no choice but to live with her uncle’ wife who by the way had died. The widow housing her is probably doing her best to feed and cloth Amara including her own children.

After my attempt to inspire Amara to pursue her dreams she had this to say”Some girls are lucky; they get married and their husband sets them up in a business. Why can’t my own be like that?”. I kept quiet and thought to myself … “you may never understand the reality of her world”. Soon Amara stood up trying to chat with some men and bus drivers who work at the station. As I boarded my bus on the way to my destination, I hoped that things will turn out well for Amara; I hoped that she will not fall into the hands of men who will take advantage of her.

I wished that I lived in her town to possibly still keep in touch and help link her to opportunities and resources but all I had were my few words of counsel. Many young girls are out there just hoping for a brighter future like Amara. Perhaps if she had a higher education maybe her life might be easier in getting a paying job.

A lot of girls out there who come from a humble and economically struggling background as I have observed believe that finding a husband who will provide for them is the answer to their financial troubles. Maybe a few girls get lucky but often these girls find themselves in tougher situations when the man cannot provide as they had hoped.

We need to educate our girls/women; we need to empower them. It starts with each family, don’t just allow your girl/daughter to only sell for you in your shop, ensure that she is truly empowered for the future. Marrying her off is not the answer to your economic and financial problems. You may soon have to care for her and her babies if the man is irresponsible. This will become a big burden. You can also share this wisdom with people who think like this as they come your way in the marketplace, bus station, taxi or wherever.

Educate a Girl, Give her a better future
To empower a woman is to empower a family and nation.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

She Needed A Chance to Believe Part 2

Catch up on the first part of the story: She Needed A Chance to Believe Part 1.

Alexandra is the second born of her siblings. She saw her older sister, Esther get enrolled in the university while her closest younger siblings were getting ready to also get into college. She felt left out and a bleak future stared her in the face. She badly wanted to continue her education but this WAEC mountain refuses to give way to her dreams. To challenge her father’s plan to enroll her in learning a trade was out of the question. Her father was revered and his authority was not to be challenged. He wanted so badly that his children succeeded and Alexandra’s case left him feeling like all his hard work to provide was wasted.

If only I would be allowed to attempt the exams again”, Alexandra thought to herself but even she didn’t believe that she could pass any more than her parents.

Days, weeks and months pass by and then one day her father announced that she would be sent to her grandma’s place in the village to enroll in something. Alexandra’s heart was torn in a different directions.  To her it felt like a plan to abandon her far away from home. She was not ready to leave her siblings and all that was familiar to her. Her self-esteem took a deeper downturn.

One day in the midst of all this her older sister who was in the university shared a hopeful news with Alexandra. There was an opportunity at the university where her sister was enrolled in to do certificate courses that did not require scoring up to 7credits in WAEC. Alexandra had a few passes and probably one credit, she wondered if she would be admitted to do the course. Her sister insisted that it was possible but they had one hurdle to cross, convincing their father who by then had lost hope of Alexandra getting into the university.

Her sister, Esther summoned the courage to speak with their father but the meeting took place at his office. Convincing their father was not easy as he argued that Alexandra was terribly weak in learning and so it would amount to a waste of money. Her older sister, Esther pressed harder and had to promise that she will ensure that Alexandra pays attention in school. Esther had to agree to be held responsible if Alexandra fails again.

When Alexandra got the news that her father was willing to give the certificate course in Library science a try, she was ecstatic! Her siblings celebrated this news in their room. The next step was to actually get her admitted into the course. For some reason, the university didn’t give her any hassles as she was admitted. It was a lifeline for Alexandra, she gave the course her best shot, studying so hard and getting her brilliant course mates to teach her. Many nights she will sleep in the class studying and learning as far as she was concerned she was now a university/college student. Never mind that people wondered what good could come out of such a not so “prestigious course” of the times. It wasn’t even a degree or diploma just a certificate course. Alexandra did not care she kept at it and when her one year course was over, she scored 4points, she was an A student. Alexandra wept as she looked at her result, it was unbelievable.

She never believed that she had what it takes in her to succeed as a student talk more of coming out with an A grade. Her parents and siblings celebrated this victory and all voices and ideas that said,  she wouldn’t make it through school were debunked.

Alexandra went on to study nursing, midwifery and became the only medical person in the family. None of her brilliant science-oriented siblings ended up in the medical field and there were high hopes for at least one doctor…hahaha; although there were engineers, biochemistry who ended up as bankers and more.

Well, this story is not about her siblings but about Alexandra, a girl whom many thought couldn’t make it through school and she started to believe it herself too until she faced her mountain squarely in the face. Interestingly years later Alexandra would write her WAEC and scored credits and As in science subjects that she never did while in secondary school. She wanted to make her papers in one sitting and she did it.

Believe in yourself; Believe the best of your children and others. Never give up.

This is my immediate younger sister’s story and I am the older sister who had to face my father to get her to continue her education. I look at her today and marvel at the great woman she had become. Never give up on anyone, keep believing the best.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

She Needed A Chance to Believe – Part 1

via Daily Prompt: Believe

What you believe today matters as it brings the life you wish for tomorrow.

Often we hear the phrase “believe in yourself” but still we are unsure. Nothing can stop you except you so you’ve got to believe in yourself. But we also need others to believe in us so we can believe as well. That was the case in Alexandra’s story:(A True Life’s story)

Alexandra was born into a family of eight of royal descent. Her father and mother worked so hard to ensure that their children got a good education. The expectations for Alexandra and her five siblings were very high. Their parents wanted them to be graduates of prestigious professions like medical doctor, Lawyer, Accountant. In those days everyone wanted their children to become medical doctors so they can be called, “Baba Doctor”, “Mama Lawyer”.

Each child had their strength but most were brilliant and others very brilliant, the A students except for Alexandra who struggled with her academics. It was tough through primary and secondary school. Finally, she graduated but failed her WAEC woefully. Alexandra wept bitterly as her father was really disappointed and felt let down. Lesson teachers were hired to prepare her to rewrite the exams for without this there was no moving on to the university. Alexandra sat for the external secondary school leaving certificate (GCE) again and hopes were high that she would make it this time.

When the results were released it was no better than what Alexandra had score previously. She rode the horse of GCE again to see if she could break its back but it threw her off again. Alexandra became withdrawn and felt that of all her siblings she might not be caught out for school after all. And soon extended family members and friends started to sell the idea that, “not all children are meant to go to school” to her parents. Suggestions were made to enroll her in learning a trade, Alexandra fell deeper into despair and self-esteem began to ebb away. Her father gave up in a way as he began to consider this option.

There was tension between her parents and her siblings discussed in hush tones about the plan to enroll Alexandra in a trade. They were not happy and none of them wanted a future where only Alexandra will be the one who didn’t finish school. Her mother was worried sick but was also helpless in the matter. Who would face their father to challenge this plan to stop her from furthering her education?

Find out what happens next in Part two of this story.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Dear Diary…Something Terrible Happened on Campus…TBEE Writes #19

I dragged my body out of bed lazily this morning really feeling tired and exhausted from studying till 2 a.m last night. It is not easy to be a student o! You see my goal is to get  first class and so far my grades from the first year are looking good. Our exams are coming up two weeks from now and I hope to read my handouts and notes from cover to cover.

Hurriedly I got ready for class and on my way, I scrolled through my text messages and sure enough, DT had sent me like three early morning love notes. I smiled and felt this is how to pamper a girl you love. DT knows how to make my world spin. I looked forward to catching up with him after lectures. My zeal for the day was rejuvenated but on getting to the lecture theater I saw students standing in groups and talking. Something was definitely up…my chest became heavy … I prayed and hoped it was not another bad news of losing one of our course mates. So far this semester there hasn’t been any fatal incidence apart from the lady who burnt her roommate with electric Iron. Thank goodness it the girl in question is fine.

I walked towards where Lizzy was standing with Peter the class governor and some others. “Guys, why is everyone standing outside instead of been seated in the lecture hall”, I said. Lizzy held her folder containing a few notebooks around her chest looking really blue. Agitated I asked, “will someone tell me what is going on here”! Peter responded finally, “It’s Dr. Bosun”. My heart started to race, “hope he is not…”Lizzy finally got her voice back, “no he is not dead but critically injured and in the hospital”.

The whole gist came tumbling out. The previous night, Dr. Bosun was attacked somewhere around the campus. His car was vandalized and he was seriously beaten. This meant that his class for this morning was automatically canceled. I was flabbergasted and not happy even though I had just recently been the object of Dr. Bosun’s attraction. No one knew who the attackers were. Trust students, some believed that perhaps Dr. Bosun was reaping from his past actions of harassing his students. The gist is that the school authority had vowed to investigate the matter and deal decisively with the perpetrators.

At last, we were forced to all disperse to attend other lectures for the day but this Dr. Bosun’s incidence became the center of discussions throughout the day. There are students who will really be happy about the fact that he was dealt with in that way. I mean there are many female students repeating his course simply because they won’t accept his sexual advances. Could it be one of them or what is it just that he ran into some cult guys who were about their usual midnight routine? Hmmmn, God please save us from these cult guys o. I really hope that they will be caught so we can have a safer campus.

The good thing about this is that now I have been spared the stress of having to turn down Dr. Bosun’s disguised advances in the name of been his P.A at a seminar. Life is full of twist and turns …hmmmn see how God saved me…now that is a wicked thought! Well…I wish him a quick recovery. Goodnight dear diary.

Catch up on Previous episodes of Dear Diary

Dear Diary…An Invitation to my Lecturers Office…TBEE Writes #16

Dear Diary…The Soup Thief was Caught But A threat is Underway TBEE Writes #18

 

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Dear Diary…The Soup thief was caught But a threat is under way…TBEE Writes #18

 

Dear diary,
The thief that stole I and Lizzy’s pot of soup has finally been caught! Heehee…she is going to pay for it. Was it our hatched plan of getting her caught that did the magic? Yes we had intended to set a trap for the thief but as providence would have it she was caught right in the act stealing another person’s pot of jollof rice. You won’t believe who this thief is…It is the “effizy” and popular girl Romoke who behaved like her parents owned all the money in the world. Romoke carries herself like she didn’t even visit the toilet like the rest of us (Pardon me if I caused you to squeeze your face). Her fake shakara has caught up with her. Why couldn’t she make her own meals from the big monies she always talked about? If she can’t cook at least she could at least hire someone or buy from the bukas or restaurants in the school.
It was a big disgrace to have been caught like that. Now, am I sure Romoke was the one who stole our pot of soup? Well she is the only one that has been caught so she is the prime suspect in any other food theft. As far as I am concerned she will pay for my pot of soup…very costly one at that!

Apart from the saga with Romoke, DT my boyfriend now knows about Dr. Bosun’s new found idea that I accompany him as his P.A to a presentation. I thought he would hit the roof but he took the matter calmly. In fact he even said that I should go with him to the presentation and that he would be watching my back. My own plan is to fane that I am sick when the day finally arrives. DT smiled and told me that I should simply play along and that if Dr. Bosun tries anything his boys will be waiting. Now, this got me worried. “I don’t want anybody getting hurt DT”, I said. He smiled and told me that they will only teach him a lesson for daring to harass me his girlfriend. I tried to tell him that he and I could get into serious trouble with this his plan. DT had this wicked smile on his face which made me to wonder again about what I really knew about my boyfriend. Anyway we chatted about other things and thought of going out on a special date. This made me happy and I felt special but there was this knot in my stomach. Something is not adding up.

After DT left I got a call from Peter my class governor again. This is beginning to become a habit. He said he just wanted to know how I was feeling about the Dr. Bosun’s matter. I told him that I was ok then he quickly added that he hadn’t been seeing me at the school chapel for services. Peter is beginning to sound like my parents. “I go when I have time”, I said. He gently encouraged me to try and make it on Sunday. Hmmm, Peter the evangelist, I said and we both busted out laughing. We said our goodbyes and then I lay on my bed suddenly comparing Peter with DT, I mean in terms of how they handled Issues. I sighed and prayed that this matter of Dr. Bosun will not spiral into something out of control. I just want to graduate from the university in one peace.
Good night dear diary.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Dear Diary…An Invitation to my Lecturer’s Office…TBEE Writes #16

Remember my stolen pot of stew…hmmm, Lizzy and I found the empty dirty pot beside the general tap area where we fetch water in the hostel. It brought back all the anger in me. The silly girl couldn’t even wash the pot after feeding on our priceless stew that we made with a lot of money. The desire to catch this thief became stronger. Lizzy and I are hatching a plan of how to catch this “senseless and wicked thief” in our female hostel. Hope we succeed.

Finding the thief gave me the energy to face my day. I went for lectures with that in mind. While gathering my notes together after our lecture with Dr. Bosun, he walked past me at my desk and casually said, “Miss TBEE see me in my office”. A confused expression on my face said, “what for?” But he didn’t wait to get any response from me. I quickly scanned the room full of students engaged in petty chats and others were rushing out to attend their next lecture. At the far extreme was our class governor Peter struggling to collect another bundle of spiral bonded assignment of students to be submitted to Dr. Bosun. “Surely Peter must know why Dr. Bosun wanted to see me”, I thought. So I went in his direction with my own assignment in hand to give to him and as well find out what was up with Dr. Bosun. I called out Peter’s name, but it took him a while to see him as he was surrounded by other students all wanting to submit their assignments at the same time. He looked exasperated and even snapped at a few fellow students.

I waited patiently until there were only about three people or so to submit mine. It was my last lecture for the day so I had all the time. As soon as we were left alone I asked, “Peter do you know why Dr. Bosun wants to see me”? I don’t know, he replied. Then it dawned on me that this might not be a course related invitation. I held my books and folder close to my chest and took deep breaths. Peter understood and said, “If he asks you for anything you are not comfortable with, you have a right to say No”! “See what you have caused now Peter, I said referring to the day he made me accompany him to Dr. Bosun’s office all in the name of submitting assignments.

Peter offered to follow me to Dr. Bosun’s office or at least to the door while he waits outside but I told him that I could handle Dr. Bosun. Then he reminded me that he still had to submit our finished assignments to Dr. Bosun’s office. And he suggested that we go to the office together which might prevent Dr. Bosun from whatever agenda he had in mind. I wasn’t feeling as brave as I sounded. The last thing I wanted was to be in the bad books of a lecturer who will want to frustrate my academic pursuit simply because I won’t date him. Dr. Bosun is known to be notorious for chasing after girls on campus. And sometimes girls who didn’t cooperate were made to carry over the course. I muttered silent prayers hoping that I was not about to be another victim because I have no intention of dating my lecturer.

We entered Dr. Bosun’s office with me helping to carry a number of bonded copies of assignments. The bald shining head was the first thing I saw before the grin on his face when he saw me. “Haa Miss TBEE, you are here already”. I didn’t even bother to answer; I just stood staring at him waiting. Peter also stood waiting but Dr. Bosun was determined to see me alone so he asked Peter if there was anything else he wanted. Peter took that as a cue and so he stepped outside.
“What does this man want with me?; I fumed on the inside while maintaining a serious look on my face. Dr. Bosun did not waste time in explaining why he had called me to his office. He simply said, “Miss TBEE I have followed your performance in my course and I can see that you are a serious student. Keep it up”. I responded, “Thank you sir” while screaming in my heart, “can I go now”.
Clearing his throat, “I like girls like you who do not waste their parent’s money”. I waited for the bomb to drop and it did in a subtle way. “Em, I have a paper presentation coming up and I will like to give you a chance of making a few bucks by going along with me as my P.A”. I stared at him in disbelieve while he added that it was an opportunity that he rarely gave to students. See me see trouble; this man must think that I am dumb. He was hitting at me with a promised opportunity as bait. Now was not the time to blurt out a No, so I simply thanked him for this “rare opportunity” and made him feel like I was looking forward to it. However, I knew I had to put a plan in place to escape this trap. How was I going to achieve this? I seriously don’t know yet.

Finally I got out of Dr. Bosun’s office and sure enough, Peter was waiting. When I told him what Dr. Bosun said, he was relieved but I was far from been relieved.

Dear Diary, I am wondering why my life is wrapped in so much drama. Well, time to rest my throbbing head. Tomorrow is another day.

Catch on Previous Post

Dear Diary…A Thief in the Hostel TBEE Writes #15

Adebisi Adetunji (C)