I ,Jane Kalu Okereke born Jane Kalu Mba hail from the ancient city of Ohafia in Abia State, Nigeria.
I was born into a polygamous family of four wives. My mother being the last wife has to shoulder the enormous responsibility of taking care of my dad and the twenty children. Being my mum first child and a daughter, I equally have to share in these responsivities. This helped to shape and moulds me into the woman I am today.
Life in the village comes with the harsh reality of economic difficulties. Catering for four wives and twenty children in such situation is not an easy task.
My dad being a shrewd business man and a disciplinarian tried his best to keep us comfortable; his plan was for us to live well and to remain within the tenets of societal norms and values. It was impossible for my dad to adequately take care of such a gigantic family. The was need for all the wives to contribute financially towards the family upkeep.
My mum had to resort to selling corn pap. To make her business thrive, my younger ones and I had to resort to street hawking to support her. Street hawking is the worst pain you can subject a child to. I remember those days in one or two occasions that I was almost abused buy acclaim customer.it was a bad experience that the memory will never go off me. While my dad took care of school fees, buying of books and all other expenses was taken care off by my mum from her meagre income.
My community, Ohafia, being a complex society that practices the matrilineal system of relationship did not help matters. My father was at the forefront of matrilineality. In this system, it is generally belief that training a child that is not from your mother’s side is tantamount to waste of money. One who practices this system must bequeath his assets to the matrilineal family.
Coming from such a background, I was prematurely exposed to rudiment of entrepreneurial procedures. My love and care for the less privilege steams from such a humble background. Amidst such trouble I was opportune to finish my secondary school and subsequently gain admission into a higher institution.
Having relocated from the Northern parts of Nigeria, my father’s business in the village was basically agricultural sector. Being in the agricultural sector in the village, my father NEVER visited any of the farms where he invested and have interest in .He relied on the wives and children to cultivate, harvest and ensure all other agricultural procedures in his vast farms. His maternal sisters and brothers cashed in on the existing societal practice.They dictates the affairs of the family and subjected the wives and children to harrowing experience.
It was painful and challenging for one to survive and excel in such a hostile environment. The death of my father made matters worst .The painful realization that all my father’s property were traditionally willed to his maternal brothers, sisters and their children was hard to bear.
Even at death, the wives were expected to prove their innocence of not being connected to their husband death. In extreme cases, some wives are expected to swear their innocence by drinking from the water use in washing their death husband corpse.
The mourning process sometimes entails the woman keeping wake with the husband corpse for seven days without changing of cloths or bathing
Coming from such a background informs my decision of floating a nongovernmental organization towards curbing all vice against the girl child and woman. My organization has the vision of liberating the girl child and woman from the societal dogma and ills that subject them into becoming second fiddle.