Marriage in my community is a just like a prison cell with inmate(s) and a warden. It gives the man(warden) the right to violate, torment and enslave the inmate(woman) because of the laws put in place. Many have died in silence because the main rule given to all inmates is obey and don't talk because the warden is always right and telling on him is a taboo.
Being a member of such a community I was no exception. Prior to my getting married to my "king" that I was to "serve" for the rest of my life, my mother told me amongst other things I should never talk when my husband talks. Like a sheep we started the dehumanizing journey of marriage. Barely two weeks after marriage the"king" whom I was supposed to be his "queen" slept out for two days without any explanation. How would have l known this was the beginning of the journey of marginalisation and exploitation?
A year later the torment had heightened that basic needs like pants and pads could not be given me by he who is supposedly the head. Then I decided to learn braiding which fetched part of the money I used to register for the competitive entrance into higher teacher training college. At this point I thought to myself that I have overcome the dominance from the "king". What a fallacy?
Going through the training college and my early years with no salary was not the concern of my king. My mother and brothers saw me through. My mother like most women in my community advised me not to feel I am above my husband because I am receiving a salary. I followed this advice to the latter.
Oh!!! How stupid I had been to do that? My king took advantage to use the money in whatever way he deems fit. How could I protest? I am a woman and should not question a man. Ironically I had education, money and a life which were being controlled by the man. He will constant remind me that he is married to me monogamously which according to him was a favour since polygamy was the "norm".
I remember one time he got a lady pregnant and blamed me for the act. I was dying slowly but how could I talk. If I do he will send me out of his house and it will be a disgrace. Other women will call him at anytime and he will shout at me if I dare answer question. I was choking but couldn't talk.
In 2012 he had a third child out of our marriage and asked me to accept the child. This was the turning point. I realised He had taken away the woman. I had no dream or vision for myself. I was only protecting the "crown" of marriage which is the only thing my community regards a woman as successful. I will not interact with others because I was not sure of myself anymore. I hardly discussed on anything because i believed nobody will listen. At this junction of confusion a friend advised me to continue my education that it will help me forget my stress. My husband rejected the idea that I need to take care of our five children. For the first time I didn't listen to him so I went back to school.
Using the internet for research as a student equally exposed me to realities that culture had hidden from me. I began from that moment to revalorize myself especially when classmates will appreciate me for a task well done or a proposal I made. Not long I found myself leading social activities in class and many looking up to me to lead. This gave me new perspective in life. Then I remembered the things I had dream of doing when I was young. I had dreamt of being the voice of the voiceless.
Thank God sharing my story with classmates inspired many of them. Many will call for advice and encouragement on different issues. Before we graduated in 2014 I had become a resource person in marriage issues. Surprisingly in 2015 I did what many rebuked me for. I took my husband to the social welfare service where I got him give me money for the kids and take his eyes off my money. When it worked for me many around me suffering marginalisation followed.
Today I am the founder and CEO of an organization with the mission to help change women's mentality towards gender development since my experience taught me I suffered marginalisation and exploitation because of lack of knowledge. I am working with teenage girls to help guide and build their mentality towards marriage and life as a whole. I also work with women who are victims. I just started but I believe I will make a mark difference.
Ignorance is a disease only knowledge can cure!!!