In commemoration of the international day of the girl child which has long passed, let me tell you about the few times I’ve been marginalised because of my gender. And each time it happened, it hurt deeply.
First was when we were trying to get a death certificate for Mr Banji at the Garki Hospital. I was there with kidbrother and Mr N, dad’s assistance.
We were given a form to fill. Mr N handed it to kidbrother to fill. I thought that was because he was at the scene of death but nevertheless, anyone could have filled it. We had both been through a lot in the past 24hours, going to police station for police report, taking police officers to the house to take pictures of the scene, arguing on whether an autopsy should be carried out, going to the morgue at National Hospital, getting burial clothes at Area 8 and so on.
After giving the information as to the time of death, the police report and all, the certificate was issued.
As if on impulse, Mr N collected it and gave it to kidbrother right there in my presence.
I was just a spectator through it all. You would have thought I was just a friend of the family who just accompanied the real children of the deceased😂.
I actually enjoyed a very robust relationship with Mr N(i still do). During the entire trying period, he deferred to me in matters that were inconsequential. Those situations he felt a lady could handle. Like getting burial cloths sorted at the market.😁
However, some few months down the line, the office needed the death certificate to close his file. I was summoned. I called kidbrother. He said he couldn’t find it. Just like that. Lobatan. He lost that certificate.
I told Mr N. And I had my ‘i told you so’ moment. I was asked many times but I kept on avoiding them at the office. When they couldn’t find me, they asked Mr N to ask me for it.
One day, I walked into the hands of one of the people who needed it. The people who demanded it are HOD admin and another higher boss at the Admin Dept.
And she said
“Yetunde, we’ve been asking you to produce the death certificate for months now. I give you 48hours from today to produce it”.
So I ran to Mr N’s office. He was angry and regretted his action but he still made a statement
“I had to give him because he’s the man”.
Kidrother is fourth in line to me notwithstanding. But he’s the man. Patriarchy had an advantage over me for sure.
I had to take responsibility for it. I was told to go and swear to an affidavit that I had lost the document. So, the law recognises that I should be the custodian of the document but obviously, Patriarchy doesnt.
I did the affidavit and submitted. File closed.
Again, family chose to send a letter of appreciation to the management. They actually came(through a representative) and had a meeting with Mr N who collected the letter on their behalf. But, they boycotted me….in my own office. They never even asked to see me. They never even felt it was appropriate that I should be the one to submit the letter(as the direct heir) or at least carried along. I don’t even know the content of that letter till today. I only heard from Mr N that they sent a representative. “They” in this context refers to the extended paternal family. They went on Whatsapp chats planning the burial without my knowledge. They felt my younger siblings should carry me along after they had decided.
Everything I later saw on the day of the burial, I knew nothing about it. Only the boys did😀. Except for the decisions I took single handedly in Abuja sha.
But when it got to taking his body back home, kidbrother refused. On the grounds that he wanted to read for his bar finals. I took Dad home and what did I do?
I dropped him at a morgue in Ibadan and made them all believe I was heading home. I was with officials of the court including policemen. So, I went with maternal uncle to lodge them for the night at a place very close to my dad’s house…quite a 3mins trekking distance.
They were calling me and waiting for me. But I did a Uturn and went somewhere else to sleep. I never went home that night. The next morning, I came back to Abuja with the court vehicles. We dropped the ambulance in akure and drove back to Abuja.
Their anger gave me some pleasure.
The girl child in Nigeria may never get any recognition especially from her paternal family. Of course, the maternal family tree is always the best. They are always protective. They defer to you. But the paternal tree is most times repulsive and egocentric. They want you to bow to them, to see them as demi-gods.
My dad exhibited some traces of patriarchy too. I wrote a post on how I asked him questions about the house. Till today, I don’t even know what I was smoking that made me ask him that kind of question that day.
“Dad, where are your house documents?”
And I still don’t know why we had the kind of classified conversations we had just few months before his demise including who was owing him.
Before he gave me the info about his house, he had first said
“But you are a woman now, what do you need the document for? It’s for the boys”.
But anyways, I’ve told first son where I kept it,” he said
First son is third in line to me.
My head did gbagaun. Not that I needed the house or the documents, I just needed to know. If mum was alive, I would never have asked some questions. But since I was technically his right hand person in place of mum then, I felt I needed to know certain things.
That conversation came back to me months after his demise. And what did I do? I boycotted his entire property. I never took a pin out of his house. Which is what would still have happened if we never had that conversation. But this time, I did it with spite.😀 I was called severally to come and pack things but I asked them to call people who needed it. Let me not lie, I would have loved to inherit all his evergreen Ebenezer Obey CDs. Mehn, he had a huge collection of them.
I won’t bow to patriarchy.
The kind of things an average married Nigerian woman goes through would make you cringe.
The funniest of it which annoys me is when her own husband’s version of respect is to turn her to ‘mummy’😀
You hear “mummy lagbaja, ki le se sile?”(what did you cook).
I remember another time. I was in primary four in a standard private school in Ibadan. The school had just finished her third term and I clinched the first position in the class followed closely by two boys including the class captain who got the third position. I just joined that school that session and I swept away their highest position.
Our class teacher had a prize for us.
For first position, he gave me a very big plastic cup😀😁😂. I don’t know if it was new or fairly used sef. My teacher didn’t do it out of spite. Infact, he loved me so much as a student. He was always praising me in class. But, with the way an average nigerian human male brain is wired, boys always deserve the best of everything. He did the only natural thing he thought best. Since it was a sacrilege for me to have come first, he gave the deserving award to the boys and only gave me my position.
I can’t remember what he gave the second position(it was better than mine as well) but my focus was on the third position who got a new sparkling stainless steel cup with something else which I can’t recall. But I’ve never forgotten that stainless cup all these years. I’m still feeling bad even as I recall that incidence now.
As at then, it didn’t mean a thing. But I didn’t understand why the third position got a better prize than the first position. But now it makes sense. I was the female. They were the boys.
But as it is, we did not inherit the silence of our mothers. We did not inherit their perceived weakness in relation to men. We are the real deal. Nothing has ever been handed to me on a platter of gold. I’ve worked(and still working) twice as hard as my male counterparts.
I am gold
I am a girl child
I am the future!!!!!