Once in 2014, i met a young girl of about 8years in a small town in the south west region of Cameroon.Out of curiousity, i sought to find out why she had braided her hair because in this part of the country, students and pupils don't plait their hair. Then she surprised me by letting me know she doesn't go to school because she is a "money woman".
i was then interested to know what is the meaning of money woman. Took her to a quiet corner and then she further explained to me that as it is, she is married.
i then engaged her to a conversation:
Me: married ?
Money woman: yes ma, i am.
Me: How old are you?
Money woman: 8years old.
Me: Have you finished primary six
Money woman: No need ma. I am already leaving with my husband.
My embarrassment knew no bounds as I started wondering how a child would not go to school but rather be given out for marriage.In a bit to know more my embarrassment was further compounded when i finally found out that it is a tradition and that some of the wives are married as foetuses.
As a matter of fact, there are two types of money women. But I was very interested in this one because of the injustices melted on innocent children.
A man may be in need of some money. He borrows from a friend or a neighbour and the obvious security for the loan will be an unborn foetus of a sister or his unborn daughter. Once the deal is seal, the woman (wife) has no question to ask. On the contrary, as soon as the foetus is born, the supposed (creditor)husband starts bringing gifts of various kind. Things like firewood, laundry soap, palm oil, bush meat etc. All this as part of the dowry for the infant.
In some marriages as soon as the girl is 4years old, the senior wife of the suppose husband is handed the responsibility of taking care and being in charge of the upbringing of the infant.She sleeps with the most senior wife in her hurt while they wait for her first menstration to transfer her to the husband's room.
In other cases, the parents will be as compassionate enough to send the girl to her husband about the age of 8years old.
These young children are living in an uncompromising situation. I couldn't bear the injustices as i continued to dig into the "Money Woman" thing.
In my quest for more answers, I was fortunate to have met with a few of them. One of them explained her situation with tears.She was(as of 2014) 30years old with seven(07)kids and no husband because her supposed husband died after she bore 02 children for him. She was further inherited by the old man's brother who intends makes life miserable for her, ceased her piece of farmland, then abandonned her. In a bit to take care of her children she found herself moving from one man to another thereby bearing more children.
Eventhough she keeps on bearing children, no family relative is there to assist her whether financially or otherwise and none of the men who bore these other children have rights to them. All seven kids belong to the late husband as tradition stipulates. But as soon the girl children she has will come of age, they are automatically "Money Women". Then the husbands family will start giving them out just like she was.
I decry such injustice melted on infants, girl child in general and the woman as a whole in this century of ours.Even some traditional authorities i met simply told me it is tradition and cannot be changed.As I write, I was so touched that I took one of these girls who is peacefully attending school.
Arrah Bertha Nkongho
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