Sixteen and a set of twins

Kadi_lokule
Posted September 26, 2019 from South Sudan

Young and beautiful! That was the first impression i had of her from sight. Then after interacting with her - hospitable and hard working. 

'My neighbor' - That is how i saved her mobile phone number because i kept forgetting her very traditionally difficult name. Her smile was infectious - her laugh was loud and convincing. She was from a tribe i was discouraged from associating with. It felt wrong - she was a female like me. We shared so much in common even motherhood.  I was thrown off my daily assumptions - how could this be i thought! The little boy who always ran around her in circles was her son? - but it couldn't be, he must be her younger brother. She must have been about 18 years old - he looked a little under 3 years of age. Then she shared her harrowing story with me over a glass of hot cinammon flavored tea. It led me to break down in silent steamy tears and angry hot sobs at the sight of her dissapointment and surrender. She began:

I was in my second year of high school. i had friends and i was doing okay in my classes.  My mother often called me to check on how i was doing. Then one day he called: It was my father, strange because he rarely did so. 'There is a family emergency' - he said sternly into the phone . 'I have requested the administration to give you a pass-out so that you can come home immediately' he added with urgency. I did not know what was super important that needed my presence - maybe grandmother was dying- i asked - he said NO it wasn't that - he refused to tell me- i panicked. I thought again - maybe mother was dying - or worse even dead. He still refused to confirm my suspicions. 

I boarded the rickety old and rickety, rusty yellow buses to Juba - the capital of South Sudan. As i left Uganda the landscape changed from green lush to the dust caked landscape i was used to seeing on my way back home every holiday. My clothes were coated and my face - a foundation of dust too. We alighted into the immigration zone on the border between the two countries - like a scene out of a movie; old one roomed buildings with faded paints and even more faded police uniforms stained with sweat waiting on the inside of the hot, congested rooms with broken-down fans that had seen years of battery from negligence and whatever attitudes.

I got my passport stamped entry - never knew it was the last time i would crossing that border.

When i got to the house - a flood of aunties came out to receive me - and everyone was calling me arusa - meaning bride. They must have been mistaken. Until i realised the house was being prepared in festivitiy for MY WEDDING - a wedding i had not consented to - a wedding i was not consulted on or even informed about. 

My father and mother caled me into their bedroom. "Our dear daughter time has come for you to make us proud- we have married you off to a very good man of status - he is the son of a chief in our area in the village and they have paid all the cows due. We are lucky so please do not refuse. I was furious - i said no and i was given a thorough beating for being stubborn - needless to say, i got married to this 40 year old man- i was 16, i gave birth - hopeful that i might be allowed to go back to school. He told me 'school is for children. you are a wife now and you need to start acting like one.' That was the end of the conversation.

At the time of this incident my neighbour was pregnant with her twins. It turned out that her husband was an irresponsibile man - he never provided like he was supposed to. Food was hard to come by without a quarrel. He never followed up on medical treatments of their son leaving her to beg her relatives for money to do so. To top it all off, he was an alcoholic and abused her frequently. When she reported his behaviour to her family members , all they said was " The dowry has been paid and we can't interfere or do anything about it."

In the culture, it may be more feasible to return the dowry to the groom's family and split which isn't an option as it is quite the amount of wealth that may have been utilised or is too considerable to return since it is mainly in form of cattle.

There are many ongoing advocacy programs and mentorshp programs for girls on the importance of education and danger of early marriage.  It will take a while before this mentality in form of patriachy and tradiitonal curlture is fully eroded and girls given a chance to be decision makers in their own lives. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments 21

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Lisbeth
Sep 26
Sep 26

Dear Kadi,
You are such an amazing writer. You took me into the cinema haha. Please how are you twin now doing? They have grown now I guess?
Sorry for what you have to go through. Yes we must speak up so innocent girls might not be victims in the future.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Warm regards

Kadi_lokule
Sep 27
Sep 27

Your comment is very encouraging thank you. The story is actually about my neighbor who narrated me her story. She is currently raising her three children on her own while trying to sell second hand clothing in the market to make ends meet. We have so much of this practice going on - so its 'normal' in its nature

Lisbeth
Sep 27
Sep 27

Oh wow, you are just a great writer that I could not identified the narrator haha. Thanks for the explanation. Yeah all these things have become "normal " in our societies.

Tarke Edith
Sep 26
Sep 26

Hi kadi
I am so sorry to hear about this issue of eaily maraige or uninform maraige system.
Well l think gone are those days of such attitude.
Parents and children now knows the inportance of education.
Thanks for sharing.

Kadi_lokule
Sep 27
Sep 27

Well for our nation we have so much sensitization and advocacy to be done before we begin to understand that early marriage isn't right for the development of a young girls body including her mental health and much more. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Hello, Kadi,

I agree with Lisbeth, you are a gifted writer, a great storyteller.

I’m angered that this happen to your neighbor, although I know situation like this exist in some tribal groups in the Philippines. It’s like a betrayal to be married off by her parents without her consent, and they could not do anything with the domestic abuse because the dowry has been paid. I just want to hug that woman right now.

I hope she can ran away from the hell she’s going through. It’s not her fault.

Thank you for sharing her story: Please continue writing. You really are a great writer.

Kadi_lokule
Sep 29
Sep 29

Hi Karen,
Her story is not very unique many girls of her age go through the same forced marriage but the nature in which it was done was what shocked me and i was very horrified and agered. Thank you for passing by and reading my story - i still encourage her to this day.

Hello, Kadi,

It's heartbreaking, really. Thank you for being a voice to speak up on their behalf. Thank you for encouraging this woman always. You are a gift to your country. Keep up the great work!

Anita Shrestha
Sep 27
Sep 27

Dear kadi
Thank you for sharing.

Kadi_lokule
Sep 29
Sep 29

Thank you Anita too for reading appreciate you taking time to read through. All the best dear.

Anita Shrestha
Sep 29
Sep 29

Welcome Kadi

Jill Langhus
Sep 27
Sep 27

Hi Kadi,

That poor girl. She might as well have been one of the cattle that was traded off since that's how she was treated... deplorable. I will never understand how parents could treat their own child like this. And, yes, it will take awhile to educate more traditional people on a more humanitarian approach to parenting. Thanks for sharing and bringing awareness to this issue.

Hope you're doing well, and having a good Friday!

Kadi_lokule
Sep 29
Sep 29

The way children are loved in the west and many gestures done to show appreciation and parental love do not exist in the same form in our society and when a girl is born the paternal relatives already see it as an opportunity to get wealth in form of dowry. Saddening but a reality.

Jill Langhus
Sep 30
Sep 30

I know, but it's still not right:-(

ANJ ANA
Sep 29
Sep 29

Dear Kadi,
Thank you for being with her and hearing her. I hope she might feel comfortable with your company and shared her feelings to you. Definitely, you are a true encourager and compassionate person, hats off to you.
Its pity that women have to pay off a lot, for being women, even her family doesn't listen to her and not with her.
Keep continuing to be with her and boost her confidence. You can also encourage her to join world pulse, she will have a platform to share and learn lots of things form the sisters across the globe.
Best regards,
anjana

Kadi_lokule
Sep 29
Sep 29

Thank you so Much Anjana, i love to listen to people who have something to share and if they need a listening ear whenever i can i always would like to be of help. She is currently attempting to seek asylum abroad to find a way to cater for her children since she has been abandoned by her husband. Thank you for the encouragement, all the best to you.

ANJ ANA
Sep 30
Sep 30

Dear Kadi,
So sorry to hear about her. Hope she will recover soon.
Keep continuing to helping each other, my dear sister.
best regards,
anjana

Beth Lacey
Oct 01
Oct 01

Such a sad story and even sadder still that it will take a long time to eliminate situations like these

Kadi_lokule
Oct 01
Oct 01

Yes Beth, you are right about the timing to eliminate these situations. We only hope that this time will actually be realised.

Amarachi Okpala
Oct 02
Oct 02

I can really feel the pain of that young girl...poverty must have been one of the reasons that forced her parents to marry her off.
We really need to intensify educating illiterate parents on the dangera of forceful early girl-child parents.
Kadi, you are such a great writer.

Kadi_lokule
Oct 02
Oct 02

Thank you so much Amarachi, i felt i did not do justice to how she was feeling in this story, its was an hour of heart wrenching sharing and her story made me passionate about the issue.