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

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Woman to Woman Talk #27 Stop Stressing Yourself About What You Can’t Change

We women are emotional beings and therefore little things can upset us. In a relationships women are the most hit when things take a downward turn or it doesn’t work out totally.

This is a short and straight to the point post that says to you : Stop Stressing yourself about what you can’t change in your man! People don’t change easily and so you are not responsible for his action but you can choose how you react to it.

Your peace of mind and sanity is important. Some of us try so hard to change our man but nothing is working. The nagging, frustration, tears and stress pile up.

My candid advice:
He may never change. Accept what you can but not when it is a physically abusive relationship. This one you must escape for your life!!

I am talking about issues between you and your spouse that borders on… He didn’t help with bathing the children; he didn’t give me enough money, he doesn’t care enough, he did this or that… Seriously ask him to help! Some men will see you doing all the work and just believe that you are fine… Ask him to help… Tell him you are tired and exhausted.

On other family issues please stop stressing yourself. Find a way around the issues and make yourself Happy.

No one is responsible for your happiness, you and God are. Human beings are so not perfect.

Be grateful for what you have; stop comparing your spouse with other people’s husband. Relax God is in control!

Stop stress yourself about what you can’t change woman. Enjoy your life.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Woman to Woman Talk #22 – She Poured Hot Water on “the other Woman” In Her Husband’s Life

I was listening to a newspaper review a few days ago and one of the stories prompted this post.
The gist was that a woman angry with her husband’s lover decided to teach her a lifetime’s lesson: By pouring hot water on the said lady!! 😱 Now she has been arrested by the police to face the wrath of the law for physically assaulting someone.

Now tell me… What did she actually stand to gain by her actions… Self inflicted punishment. Now she will really loose her man, her freedom and her hard earned resources depending on what type of punishment will be meted out to her.

The above story is a familiar one. Often we hear of partners who express their anger towards a cheating partner by attacking his new lover/woman sharing him with you. Most times I am flabbergasted and somewhat concerned when women fight over a man. I guess such a lady /woman is trying to protect her territory.
😀

Of course you feel betrayed, hurt and some anger too when you find out that your man is cheating on you and that’s normal!

But how do you channel this emotions right such that you don’t give in to that momentary madness to harm your man or the “other woman”?

  • Understand that knowing about” the other woman” gives you an opportunity to protect yourself. Now you know that your partner or spouse is cheating on you. What if you never found out? So knowing is an information to arm yourself. This knowledge helps you to discover that there is a problem.
  • Are you really sure that he is cheating on you? I hope it is not a figment of your imaginations fired by unhealthy jealousy or possessive attitude. You stand the risk of loosing him if you go attacking an innocent “other woman”.
  • Fight your battle with love wisely. Do not act on the information while your emotions are boiling hot. Allow yourself time to let the issue sink in and achieve at least some form of calm. Cry if you have to, it is therapeutic.
  • Go for couples counsel or seek counsel from older couples whom you can trust. They should be people of experience who can counsel you right about what to do. Do not take the advice of anyone who encourages you to go fighting!! When the trouble comes rolling in, your adviser will leave you to face the music alone.
  • Confront your man and ask him directly about whether he is cheating on you. 😎 I know a good number of men will deny this and probably speak “sweet empty words” you cover up. Some even express anger pretending to be a wrongfully accused victim. If that happens and you are sure about your facts of his cheating on you, present your prove… Now watch his reaction. NOTE: If you are still too angry wait until you can have a calm conversation.
  • If you are still only dating him walk away now from that relationship. He is not going to be committed to you in marriage simply because you are the one he ends up giving a wedding ring to.
  • If you are married, it is not easy to walk away. You need counseling.
  • Find out the problem: Why did he cheat on you? Is it a one off thing or  has this been the practice with your man. It is a heart searching issue – Is there any role you played that led to this? Are there serious unresolved issues? Have you both been off sex for months unending?. You really must talk about this with your man. Counseling is key here.
  • Pray about this and just ask for guidance.

DON’TS

  • Do not report him to your family. They will be very emotional about the whole thing but if you do have a family member who can handle the matter with wisdom, go ahead. And just incase you do settle things between you and your partner/forgive him, your family will never forget.
  • Do not go telling everyone and particularly those friends whom you don’t even know if they were secretly wishing that you would lose your marriage.

Should Bride Price Be Paid When a Woman is Pregnant?

I get a lot of Google search on whether the bride price of a woman who is already pregnant for her fiance should be paid.

In this post, I will attempt to answer this question with my little knowledge about how our African culture works.

Firstly You need to understand what a “bride price”, means. It is a traditional token given during a traditional wedding ceremony between two families in a marriage rite. Acceptance of a bride price from a suitor is also the lady’s family endorsement that they willingly gave their daughter away in marriage. You may say it is an acceptance of the groom and his family. It is a token saying we value this woman whom our son wants to marry! We appreciate all that her family had done to raise her.

Bride Price is a serious matter in Africa and at least in Nigeria where I am from. People believe that a woman whose bride price was not paid did not “marry properly”. In some tribes in the eastern part of the country, if a man does not pay the bride price of his wife to be, it is believed not to be a valid marriage union. All the children the woman gives birth to belong to her father. And they have a way around this practice. In fact, if such a woman dies, the man will be asked to marry her properly by paying her bride price and performing all that is expected of him traditionally before she can be buried.

Traditionally a woman who moves to live with her man without the traditional rite is on her own. If anything goes wrong in that relationship she will not have family support in some cases.

Getting pregnant does not excuse a man from paying the bride price of the woman he intends to marry where I come from. Bride Price is simply putting a value on the woman by the suitor and his family. Getting pregnant does not reduce the woman’s value. In fact, children are seen as blessings.

Bride Price is very important so it is required of a man to pay even if your wife to be, gets pregnant. Now how much you pay depends on the family and their cultural practice/belief.

Do you pay the bride price in your culture, how is it done? Please share.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Hmmm… This Story Touched me… It just might Save Your Marriage

MARRIED OR NOT, YOU SHOULD READ THIS .………..A friend posted on my whatsapp and I simply want to share it with you.

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.

Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know crewhat I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why? You know

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

Suddenly it hit me… she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy. I drove to office…. jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart. Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away. At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed -dead. My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push through with the divorce.— At least, in the eyes of our son—- I’m a loving husband….

The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves.

So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

Remember love is the richest of all treasures. Without it there is nothing; and with it there is everything. Love never perishes , even if the bones of a lover are ground fine like powder. Just as the perfume of sandalwood does not leave it, even if it is completely ground up, similarly the basis of love is the soul, and it is indestructible and therefore eternal. Beauty can be destroyed , but not love.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Movie Review: The Wedding Party – Its dramatic, a power tussle and Love saga

Finally, I got around to watching this much talked about the movie which started showing in the cinemas in December 2016. The Wedding Party is a Nigerian romantic and comedy movie. It is dramatic, funny, a power tussle between two wealthy families and a love saga as well.

If you are a Nigerian this movie reminds you of when you first introduced your intended who happens to be from another culture to your parents!!! This can sometimes meet with resistance.

If you are from across the globe The Wedding Party showcases the cultural side of a typical Nigerian marriage. We like our wedding party/ceremony to be big with your whole village clan, family, and friends in attendance. Apart from this expect the “Mo gbo, mo yaa (Uninvited guests who are not related or known to the couple or even their family members). They are the gate crashers.

In Nigeria when you print a 100 wedding invitation cards plan for 300 guests. Yes, o…for example if you invite me and my husband we will bring our children and also neighbors who might be less busy on your wedding day and whom you don’t know. In the movie, you are definitely going to see gate crashers.

The Wedding Party is the love story of a young couple who struggle to get the approval of the groom’s mother. They also had to contend with former girlfriends of the groom as well. The story all happens in one day from the morning of the wedding to the reception where the bride takes off because of a shocking betraying revelation.

Meanwhile, the bride and groom’s parents also have secrets of their own. The bride’s father is broke and hadn’t paid for the cake wedding and other food items meant for the wedding but his wife thinks they have got what it takes to show her proud son-in-law’s mother that they were rich as well.

The groom’s parents are struggling with their marriage and for many years they haven’t been able to fix it. These secrets spilled out when the two families are held at gunpoint by an “area boy” who had earlier sneaked into the wedding reception. Tempers flared between the families and they soon found out that the only way they were going to save themselves was to work as a team.

The Wedding Party ends on a note of hope and reconciliation. A fantastic love story of the young and the old the Nigerian way.

Lessons
– No matter how old your marriage becomes you need to keep love alive.
– Stop taking one another for granted.
– Fix the problem quickly before it becomes a mighty ocean that will eventually drown you all.
– Remember to say I love you often
– Stay faithful to your partner
– Mistakes happen, fix it don’t repeat it.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

A basket of fruits and a Bride: Family Pre-wedding Introduction in Yoruba Culture

When a couple decides to take things further by tying the knot. In Africa or at least Nigeria the lovers speak to their parents and a date is fixed for what we call “family Introduction” as the Yorubas call it.

The groom to be’s  family members will go visiting their in laws with a basket of fruits. Sometimes the basket of fruits can be more than one accompanied with bottles of  wine.


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Both families meet and are introduced to themselves. After this fun meeting because it is usually a party time as the bride to be’s family prepare a table for their in laws to be.

In the end a date is fixed for the traditional wedding and church/court/Nikki wedding.

The bride’s family also give the groom’s family a carton of biscuits, bottle of wine and pack of sweets as a take away gift.


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Family support and approval is very important in the decision to get married.

This post was inspired by my  brother in law’ s “Family Introduction”. Congratulations namesake – Bisicrown  and Opeyemi. img_20161225_164904

Adebisi Adetunji (C)