HOW I SURVIVED TEN YEARS OF PAIN AND HURT – BOLD & BEAUTIFUL

Guest Post: She went through hell… but came out on the other side bold and beautiful. Olusola Haastrup shares her story. 

Marriage should be a thing of joy and a dream come true for any single lady looking to settle down but mine was a Nightmare from day one. People asked why I stayed for ten years since the pain was as long as the marriage, all I did was give excuses for his monstrous cruelty.

Initially, I thought it was as a result of his Joblessness and I did everything within my capacity to help him secure a job. Luckily, he got a job paying better than mine. This never alleviated my pain but rather aggravated it. I was in the marriage praying for my life to be spared as each day passed. I made different attempts to quit the marriage but every move proved abortive. I was considering suicide at some point, but, the love for my children kept me on. My children were the reason all attempts to leave him failed because he was always abducting them each time I left and security agents would Not do anything since he is the father of the children. I will return to him after leaving; crawling and apologizing for leaving the house.

We were living in Ilesha then, on 24th March 2014, I left with my children and my credential after another round of severe beating. It started on the night of 23rd and while my pastor and his wife pleaded with him but he told them to take me away or else he will kill me overnight. My pastor hastily adhered to his advice and took me to their home. I slept there and in the morning I returned home because my children were with him. He continued with the beating and threatened to kill me. Fortunately for me, he got a call and left the house at that moment. I hurriedly packed my credentials, wore school uniforms for my children as if I was taking them to school. We took a bus and landed in Ibadan wearing bathroom slippers. I left all I ever worked for including landed property which he sold eventually.

I was able to secure a transfer from my office and he didn’t know where I and the children were. At work, I changed my name all in a bid to avoid being found by him. After a year he finally got to know where we were and he came looking for us. Afraid he would take the children away from me, I agreed to get back with him. I thought I would only have to endure him as a weekend husband since he worked out of town. Things turned for the worse, he came home one night threatening to kill me as usual. I had to hide somewhere within the compound, hoping he will get tired and go to bed. When he couldn’t find me, he started hitting the children against the wall and as he was about to throw the youngest off the balcony upstairs, my neighbors ran to our rescue and saved my two years old baby. The older two didn’t struggle with him because they were used to his abuse.

I found myself sleeping in police stations, uncompleted buildings, the frontage of locked shops at night while trying to escape from his beatings. On the 7th of January 2017, I left my house, after another round of beating with bruises all over my body.

A friend called to say “No pain No gain, if you want to stay alive you have to let go of these children”. I had to do something and so I decided to hide my children somewhere. I was wearing a hijab(headscarf) to cover my head and face so that he won’t spot me while I kept the children away from school for a term since he was using them as bait.

After a school term, I took them to boarding school; the youngest was only three years old then and it really broke my heart, but that was the only choice I had at the time. At that point, I was ready for war; I realized he was only leveraging on my weakness and timidity. One day, he came to my office and he asked for the children, I boldly asked him to sue me for keeping the children away from him. He went away and started begging.

I later went to court to file for divorce, a process that showed me how painful and slow the Nigerian judicial System could be. I later withdrew my children from the boarding school when I realized the coast was clear and I was strong enough to stand up to him. 

In all of these I am sure someone would be wondering what my offenses were to deserve the beatings, let me list them:

When he wanted me to borrow money from my friends and colleagues and they declined.
When my salary was delayed for like a week
He must not knock the door twice before I opened or else according to him I was trying to hide a man
My phone must not ring for too long when he calls
When I didn’t wash his shoes because I stayed late at work
When I refused to give him the children’s school fees
I bought a car which he claimed, so whenever the car had issues and I dIdn’t have money to fix it, then, I must be ready for another round of beating; mind you I was not allowed to learn driving let alone driving the car.
When I refused to apply for the third bank loan because he could not account for the first two loans I obtained for him even though he earns more than I do; to mention but a few.

Finally, I got my self-esteem back and I realized life could be beautiful. It’s all in the past now, I do tell myself every time that I AM BOLD, STRONG AND BEAUTIFUL. I now strongly believe that I can go places if only I see myself doing so. My children and I are one big happy family. Trust me: I am loving my life. I have risen above my hurt and pain and gladly facing the future with boldness and determination.

Abuse stops when you say so and stand up for yourself. Stop excusing your abuser! Do not wait until one of you gets killed!

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

#WomenYouCanRun 3: Inspiring the Next Generation of Nigerian Women: Lecture By Mr. Soji Eniade

Credits: Photo By Louisa May Alcot

This post is an excerpt from a lecture given by Mr. Soji Eniade ( Executive Assistant to Gov. Abiola Ajimobi on Administration) at the NAWOJ special seminar to commemorate the 2018 International women’s day. It was nice to see a man advocating for the emancipation of more women in governance. I hope it inspires some woman to go for her dreams:

Lecture: The International women’s day is a day designed to celebrate women all over the world where contribution and achievements of women are appreciated. It gives me immense pleasure to share that Nigerian women have contributed immensely to the growth and development of Nigeria. However, there is room for more development.

The level of significance of International Women’s day is increasing yearly and has become a convention. It is a celebration of respect, of appreciation, love and care towards our women. It is a day to reflect on progress. According to Joyce Bander, former Malawian President, “The seed of success in every nation on earth are best planted in women and children. This year’s celebration #IWD come at a time when there is advocacy for women’s right, equality, and justice. And a call to put an end to sexual harassment, violence, discrimination against women, kidnapping, trafficking and child abuse amongst others.
Women in Nigeria are usually given high regard and respected though as wives, daughters, and even widows. It is in this regard that I classify my wife, my daughter and my mother as the three most important women in my life. They have not only made me a better person today and supported me through thick and thin they have equally inspired me to my present status. I am sure that many successful men in our society will not have attained their various successes if not for the women in their lives.

The status of women across the world today is precarious, about 70% of the 1.3billion people in the world living in extreme poverty are women. In developing countries, women own less than 2% of the land. Worldwide it has been reported that about 60 million girls are missing due to female for sex slavery. About 5 thousand women are murdered in what is called in some realms honor killing.

93Million children who are out of school are female children. These are issues that policymakers should give attention to.

While good governance has been identified as a key factor for rapid and sustainable development bad governance is increasingly been regarded as one of the root causes of all evil in Nigeria.

When women are seen as equals and are given equal responsibilities their participation enriches governance. Examples are seen in Mrs. Margret Thatcher of UK, Mrs. Theresa May, Angela Merkel of Germany; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia amongst others.The population of women in Nigeria in the last 15 years has grown substantially from 26.8 million to 94.2 million as at 2017. Women and children are regarded as the vulnerable in any society’s demographic composition. However different empowerment programs are been designed to encourage and equip women and further spur them to live meaningful lives and encourage their participation in all areas of human endeavor.

Traditionally our women are involved in home management and just regarded a baby making factories. My own mother was a primary school teacher and I am very proud to be her child. But look at what is happening today, more women are coming boldly out and they are blazing the trail. Then women were less educated and had many societal inhibitions and most especially during elections. Men ask their wives to stay at home during elections back then bot knowing that the right he has, she also has.

Women such as Mrs. Margret Ekpo, Mrs. Janet Mokelu, and Miss Young were members of the Eastern state house of Assembly. Mrs. Funmilayo  Ransome Kuti was a big voice in the Western region and was the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria. Hajiya Gambo Sawaba fought for political and cultural emancipation of women in the North while Anike Agbaje Williams was a  highly talented television broadcaster. These women were all trailblazers but have we improved on their legacy?

We must stop gender stereotypes and seeing of our women as objects of pleasure. Women that are bold to step out are seen as loose women but these women know what they want.

We must involve men and boys in the struggle for gender equality and women empowerment. Boys at tender age should be encouraged to protect their sisters, female neighbors and their women when they grow up.

I want to submit that there is no doubting the fact that women participation in policy and decision making as a whole which is abysmally low in Nigeria is what we should encourage. If encourage this it will benefit the whole society.

I hope to see the next generation of Nigerian women who will stand up to take their destinies into their own hands and lead this country to greater glory within their sphere

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder 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

Just thinking Out Aloud… Are we paying enough Attention to our Boys & Men? key to Gender equality and creating a safe environment for women & Girls

We talk so much about empowering women and girls that I feel we are beginning to leave the boys and men far behind in the scheme of things. Leaving them behind would only hinder our goal of achieving a world of equal opportunity; safety and well-being of women and girls.

 

 

Examples of what I mean
1) A few months ago(May 2017) there was a joint cry raised against boys from a secondary school in Lagos who after finishing their final exams decided that the best way to celebrate was to physically/sexually assault the girls. They were practically tearing the skits and gowns of their fellow school girls with razor blades and had sport attempting to force themselves on these girls. Thanks to one brave woman who stood and raised alarm to save some of these girls. It was a very disturbing and mind boggling story for me.

My question is this: What are we teaching our sons? Are we teaching them to value girls and respect them? Are we teaching them that a real man protects and not hurt or harm? Catch them young is the solution here.

2) In my office these days we seem to have more women in employment more than men. It is so funny sometimes when deciding for dual presentation programs where we need a male and a female, we meet a wall. There are not enough men to go round….hahaha. Then we start asking “where are all the men?” It looks like more women are determined to get an education and succeed. Now, this is a good thing going by the past and even presently in some communities and homes where girls are still prevented from getting an education. Trends of women gainfully employed have evolved over time.More women are likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29 according to U.S department of labor blog.  More women have become providers in the home although the matter of equal payment still varies from country to country. In Nigeria at least I know for a fact that in government organizations men and women earn equal pay as long as they are on the same level e.g L10.

Balance is what I am advocating for here:

While inspiring, empowering and encouraging girls and women let’s not leave our boys and men behind. This is key to gender equality and women’s access to freedom, safety, and progress.

When a father treats his wife well and shows her respect, his son will likely learn from him.

When mothers teach their sons to respect girls and treat them as equals and not inferior then he will know how to treat all the girls and women around him.

Catch them young, teach right values; share the chores in the home; teach him to become a responsible adult and man.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

What is your Take? Is a Man in Trouble when his wife Earns more or is the Bread Winner?

In this short video I shared a bit from an issue that came up while discussing with a few male colleagues at work. And the question is about whether a woman treats her man as a footmat when she earns more or has to support the family when he is out of job for whatever reason. Share your thoughts after listening. It will take you just about 4minutes. This debate gets interesting! Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Shela’s Dad had a Frown on his Face

angry-dad-2

Wehena stared down at me and smiled. I tried to get up but dizziness engulfed me. She gave me a hot potion to drink from a calabash and told me to rest because I was with child. Shivering and in shock, I suddenly remembered what had happened between Manya and I the night before.

At last, I was going to have a child, now my husband would love me dearly, now the gossips would stop. Day by day my baby grew and Manya walked tall in the village. Wehena, brought food for me every now and then; she was proud that her first grandchild was on the way. We all looked forward to the arrival of this child. Finally the day came.

Manya held the baby smiling but there was a sad line around the corner of his mouth. We celebrated and named her, Shela . A few days later Mama visited me to shower some love on her first grandchild. She asked me about a scar she saw on my face, I told her it was just a farm work injury. Then she said, “Tarra, I hope you get pregnant soon again”. I laughed. “Come on mama Shela, is just a few days old, and I’m still healing up”. She smiled and told me that a woman can only earn respect and show the strength of her husband when she gives him a son. I had seen the shadow cross Manya’s face as he held his daughter the day she was born.

Excerpt from my short story, “Face in the Mirror”.

Every child  boy or girl is a great gift.

Many girls lift and hold the hands of their fathers at old age

Gender does not determine strength.

Photo Credit: Angry father Stock Photos

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

…..But YOU are A WOMAN – Dividends for MEN Allowing WOMEN to BECOME…

One morning while driving to work we tuned up our radio to listen to news updates, sports and any other good programme that floats out of the media. On this day it turned out to be a sports programme. I and my husband enjoyed the presenter’s style of presentation in the Yoruba language which was breezy, funny and just about right for that kind of programme. It was fun until I heard this conversation between the presenter and a caller on the programme: Women sport

Sports Presenter: Please share your thoughts on what games you think Nigeria will do well in, in the Rio Olympics 2016.
(Studio Phone Rings)
Lady: Hello…
Sports Presenter: Hello Lady…share your thoughts please…
Lady: I believe Nigeria will do well in the Track events.
Sports Presenter: Wonderful, so what sport do you like.
Lady: I love football…
Sports Presenter: Football?!! But you are a woman…
Lady: Yes I am a woman who is a football fan and lover.
Sports Presenter: Ok o…thank you for calling.

I was annoyed that in this 21st Century a man…”a media man” who is supposed to be educating people about been gender friendly still believes that some sport should be gender based. I mean as a sports presenter he should be aware that there are female football clubs/leagues as well as players!!!

In Sports like Rugby and American football that in my opinion are games of stamina and believed to be dangerous if a player gets injured badly…women are stars in these games. So seriously our men particularly African men should accept the fact that women are succeeding in every facet of life whether as sports women, politicians, CEO’s, Managers and so on.

When women are allowed to use their talents everyone benefits from it particularly the men!!!
For example: The Williams Sisters are women Tennis Champions…I know for sure that their dad and the men in their lives are so proud of them. And of course they get to share in the dividends of their success *wink*

So please as we say in a local slang in Nigeria”Free me o”! Allow women to become, celebrate them; tell them they can do it…for indeed they can!!!

Photo Source: Women’s Sports Foundation

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

She Built a House under His Nose

HOUSE MODEL

There has been argument for and against a woman building a house without her husband’s knowledge. Unlike in developed countries where housing is planned and anyone wanting to own a house has to buy one, in Africa it’s a different ball game. You want a house or want to be a “landlord” as we say, you have to go through the process of buying a land and saving or loaning money to build your desired dream home.

Largely men are expected by society to be the “chief owners” and landlords of houses. Again i found out that more women now take up this role when they have the resources to own their own properties. Interestingly even though in times past women’s right to own their own lands, houses and properties was frowned at by society my grandmother who is now late had not just a house but she owned a number of properties and did manage to leave a good inheritance for her children.

Now where am i going with this gist? Well there seem to be a lot of quarrel over a woman building a house or even owning a property without the “express permission” of her husband. There are those men who do not like the idea of their wives building a house at all. To them it is like undermining their ability to be “the man” that should provide/leadership role. The other side of the divide are women who do not carry along their husbands in this great investment of building a house/owning a property. When such a man finds out all hell breaks loose. It becomes a big family feud that will require external intervention. Sometimes these marriages break as a result.

I believe there should be nothing hidden between spouses. If i have a land or would like to build, I’ll carry my husband along in my plans. In fact i turned up my nose against women who leave their husband in the dark about such huge steps until i heard this story…

There is this couple whom i would refer to as Mr & Mrs Ray. Mrs Ray purchased a land and built a house without the knowledge of her husband Mr Ray. She held this secret tightly to her heart and revealed it when something happened. Mr Ray’s family showed up one day to inform her that their son, Mr Ray had a baby by another woman. They pleaded with her to forgive him of this betrayal and our dear Mrs Ray refused to go berserk because of this news. Days later she invited her husband to the location of her property to show him the house she had built. Mr Ray went into a shock. When he did recover he accused her of “backstabbing”and was very furious with her. Why did Mrs Ray acquire her own property secretly? Could it be that she did not trust her husband? Perhaps so because it was later revealed by her that Mr Ray collected every penny she made from her business often and had assaulted her physically. A lot happened between them that i would not like to go into in this story but the couple eventually separated.

Sad way for that marriage to have ended but i am forced to ask what is wrong with a woman owning properties, lands and houses? Why do some men feel threatened by this?

A man who supports his woman will be the bigger beneficiary of the dividend.

Men and Women should support one another to succeed for the world can be no better with just one of the gender.

Photo Credit: How to make a model of a house

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Girls Should not Command Boys?!

As we mark another International Girl child day, this drama in my home comes to mind. I’d like to share it with you again.

This years theme: Girls Progress= Goals Progress- What Counts for Girls

Boys and girls 1
Siblings quarreling

It was a week day and we just came home from work and school. I decided to take a few minutes to rest on the couch in the living room before heading for the kitchen. My kids dropped their school bags in the room and shortly they emerged having an argument as usual. I looked up and wondered what the sibling fight was about this time again. My son was pointing an accusing finger at his sister and she was challenging him as well. Out came these words repeatedly from my son’s lips:

“Girls should not command girls!”

I was caught off guard…while thinking to myself but many men answer to the command of my female bosses at work. In a split second it dawned on me that my son was getting older and he is beginning to flex his male ego muscles. Where did the words, Girls should not command girls, come from I asked myself. He had just started secondary school (High school) and he definitely is beginning to mingle and learn from the other boys at school I thought.

Well I had to intervene in the siblings quarrel by asking them both to keep quiet. Then i asked my son why he thought girls should not command boys. I decided not to be quick in judging the statement to be another stereotyped way of viewing girls or the female gender. It turned out that he felt his sister always commanded him to do things even though he was older than her. He felt she wasn’t respecting him enough. I laughed but took his concern seriously. Of course they are my children and I am aware that my girl was out spoken and finds it easy to express her opinion. Often times she tends to override him but we try to remind her to show some respect for her older brother. So again on this day I reminded her and she had this naughty smile on her face as usual.

I couldn’t pass the opportunity to teach my son the lesson of not thinking that girls or women should be subservient to boys or men.

However I couldn’t pass the opportunity to teach my son the lesson of not thinking that girls or women should be subservient to boys or men. Boys are not better than girls and vice-visa. I explained to him that boys and girls should treat each other with respect. In the end they both agreed with me to show some respect for each other but I knew that I would soon be settling another sibling quarrel over something else that is inconsequential. It never ends until they are fully grown and come to cherish each other more.

Boys and Girls should treat each other with respect.

I thought that was the end of the matter on boys and girls superiority but it wasn’t yet over. It so happened that their grandma was present while I was giving my kids this lesson. She tried to explain to me why she believed men are supposed to be “head over women”. I smiled understanding where she was coming from. Ok from the Biblical point of view a man is the head of his home meaning that he should take responsibility for what goes on in his family. This does not mean that a man is better than the woman; this does not mean that a woman cannot have a brilliant and better idea in decision making; this does not mean that it is a taboo for a woman to occupy a leadership role. Boy or girl, woman or man none is better than the other. We are all equals as humans.

It is not a taboo for a woman to occupy a leadership position

Boys and girls 2
Happy sibling moment

Every child matters: Invest in girls health, safety, education and rights – in times of peace and crisis (UN)

So my final take on this is, each boy or girl; man or woman has being endowed with different abilities and gifts; let’s create room for both sexes to flourish. Let us begin to teach this lesson of respecting the opposite sex and treating each other right from our homes then gender inequality will not be an issue in the next generation of adults.

Let’s create room for both sexes to flourish especially girls.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)