Big sis, mentor, madam, mummy, mama, sweetheart and coach are some of the names people call me these days. They call me depending on how I have impacted their lives or the relationship I have with them. Lying in my bed this day I couldn’t help but reflect on where I started, the challenges faced and the insults received before I am what I am to different groups of people.
Yes I got pregnant and had a crude abortion as a teenager which is an abomination and a thing of shame in my community. I failed my parents as well as disgraced them because I got pregnant out of wedlock. In addition I was a topic of gossip to my friends since I carried out a crude abortion something only “cheap”, “badly brought up” or “promiscuous” girls do.
My parents especially my mum felt betrayed and disappointed because I got married at the age of 19 after acquiring just an advanced level certificate. My mum will cry whenever my name is mentioned saying “Mamon has failed me even after seeing all the suffering I am going through in marriage”. My siblings didn’t find it funny too. They expected more than me just getting married because I am their lone sister who has destroyed her future by marrying a man whom they considered not qualified.
I must confess that sally too was disappointed with herself. After about two months into marriage reality dawn on me. My love who promised sending me to school and providing all my needs couldn’t even spend three straight nights with me in the same house. I couldn’t eat decently because there was no food not to talk of dressing properly. I feel like laughing now because was it really my husband who failed me? Can a man give you what he hasn’t got? Was it his fault that I got married as a follower or servant without a clear vision for my life? Truly I failed and disappointed the beautiful dreams young sally had. Where did I keep my dream of becoming a teacher, lawyer or a journalist? How was I to provide for my mum and my unborn children when I could barely feed myself? Wasit not the end of me thinking that I could reach out to my community and help others since I can no longer have a job which can finance that? In fact the list is long.
Amazingly I am able to do most of these things to myself, loved ones and my community as a whole. Are you surprised? Please don’t be. I failed myself and the people who believed in me but I realized it is never too late for a woman to start again. As immediate solution to the problems I had I decided to start by learning a skill (braiding). My friends laughed at and gossiped about me because they feel it is not normal for an Advanced level holder to do braiding. Most of them were my customers just to make a mockery of me. Though pregnant at the time I didn’t give up since I was determined to change my story.
It is from that trade that I could raise money to register for the competitive entrance into teachers’ training college. This act of making right my wrong gained my mother’s trust and later on my siblings who came back and continued supporting me. Did I tell you my husband was not part of me going to school? I was the reason he can’t succeed in anything he does. Oh no I graduated from being his love to being his source of bad luck
Thank God I made the decision to work hard and go in for teachers’ training course. That is the pillar I erected to change my story and become what I am today. I had the opportunity to make money which gave me the chance to cater for my mum, my family as well as finance my community development activities. Working closely with teenage girls as my students made it easy for me to reach out to them and their parents to discuss their sexuality. My husband no longer sees me or our marriage as bad luck or burden but as an empowered woman whom he is proud of.
The most important thing is my activism has its foundation on the things I failed in. I have carefully turned all my stories of failure into great reservoirs of inspiration from which women and girls can tap and make a difference in their lives. In short the three major things I do are borne from my experience: Every Girl for Any girl intiative (my crude abortion experience), Empower Me Don’t Blame Me Campaign (ignorance I suffered from in managing my sexuality) and Storie&Coffe (my bitter experience in marriage).
The successes registered in my activism has made me conclude that “my stories were like frozen lemons shot at me but I have turned them into lemonade that many drink of it”