Tosin Akingba’s Story on Gender Equality – #UnbowedVoices
“When I was 12, I escaped a traumatic abuse that left a great mark in my soul, I was scarred for life; psychologically and emotionally. I was exposed to a lot of negativity that was life-changing. I suffered abuse by a family friend, I was exposed to situations which made me very vulnerable and I was always faced with tough decisions all through my teenage years.
Facing all of these, and reporting to my parents, my guardians and older people (men and women alike), all I got were lectures – always cover your head, always wear big clothes to cover your body, do not play with boys. They were good lessons I held on to, but then, nothing or very little was done about the boys and men who molest and abuse women.
All of these put together pushed me into a state of depression and confinement, with no one to talk to. Those times, drawing was my only means of escaping from worries and depressing thoughts. From then, I began to have more and more interest in becoming an artist and sharing my thoughts through my drawings.
While growing up, I discovered my love for drawing and I thought to pursue it professionally. I got a lot of backlash on the drawings I made as a lot of comments were focused on who was actually making the drawings. Most people never believed a girl could be talented enough to make beautiful drawings. Most people did not believe in a young girl having such talent, they felt it was for boys alone.
This dissuaded me from developing my talent because not many people believed in what I could do. I still get such comments today such as, ‘You made this drawing?’ ‘You, a girl?’ ‘I can’t believe a woman made this!’ ‘How is this possible?’ ‘You are a girl!’ It is disheartening and demeaning to me that these still happen in our age and time
I advocate for Gender Equality which is giving the same rights, status and opportunities regardless of one’s gender or sex. Let us give our girls and women the same opportunity given to men to thrive and excel in every aspect of life. I believe the world will be better if men and women all have equal rights.” – Tosin Akingba
About Tosin Akingba
What is #UnbowedVoices?
Read more about the campaign here: #UnbowedVoices – An Orifunke Lawal Campaign.
Also Read: Oluwatomisin Akingboye’s Story on Gender Equality – #UnbowedVoices
Oluwatomisin Akingboye’s Story on Gender Equality – #UnbowedVoices
“What struck me the most while growing up was how people made it seem like it was the worst thing for my mother to have only daughters. Prayers and fasting were held for God to bless her with a son. Extended family members would berate my dad about spending so much on education for girls.
Female children’s rights to some things were questioned just because they are female human beings. I didn’t know it but I started becoming a feminist at that young age. I went through so many “you are a girl, you can’t do that” and its many variants in discrimination through secondary and university education that at a point, I couldn’t recognize it anymore and just took it as a norm.
Then I started working and went through rapid promotions. I felt great until a particular co-worker said to my face “The only reason you went through rapid promotions is that you’re a female and the boss likes you”. It hurt because I knew the work I had put in, it hurt because I knew the same colleague, who told me that, had gone rapid promotions before (based on his performance) as well. I just couldn’t understand why my gender had to come into play because I got something I truly deserved.
We can try to mince words as much as we want, but the truth remains that a lot of people do not view a male child and a female child as equal. I have put so much work into shaking off the social conditioning and have several times taken the bulls by the horn, but I am also realistic enough to know that there are so many women who are still held back by their upbringing, background and societal “norms”. These are women who grew up hearing that they are not supposed to take certain steps just because they are women.
It is not enough to create opportunities for women, we have to work towards destroying the conditioning that keeps them back from taking advantage of those opportunities.
My name is Tomisin; I identify as a woman, a passionate feminist and I believe in gender equality because I know I am equal to men and I deserve to have access to same opportunities and guilt-free freedom to choose those opportunities.
I believe in gender equality, because hey! why shouldn’t I?”
About Oluwatomisin Akingboye
Oluwatomisin is an HR professional who has a number of achievements including:
1. Incubating the HR unit of a company in the financial services industry (setting up the unit, the processes, designing the payroll structure etc).
2. Successfully performing as an Accounts Officer, despite not having prior accounting experience. She also amazingly runs a food business on the side. You can find her on Twitter: @Marrgarritah
What is #UnbowedVoices?
Read more about the campaign here: #UnbowedVoices – An Orifunke Lawal Campaign
“I Am Glad I Studied Yoruba”- Akintujoye Ayomidotun Daniel #FreshGradTales
Akintujoye Ayomidotun Daniel is a graduate of Linguistics and African Languages (Yoruba) from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He is a Language expert and a music instructor with a keen interest in stage performances. He leads a worship ministry “TWM” and a Gospel Owanbe Music band called The King’s Kousans.
You studied Yoruba as an undergraduate. Why Yoruba of all courses?
Hmmmm….. Bẹ́ẹ̀ làá bini o…I applied for LAW but was offered Yoruba due to my low performance in the entrance exams.
What were the major challenges you encountered in studying the course and as an undergraduate generally?
The course has a very broad scope of study because it involves language, culture and literature. One problem I had at the initial stage was that I couldn’t speak, write well, and I was not familiar with some Yoruba cultural materials. Many of the things we did would have been quite easier if we were born when the value of the Yoruba culture and traditions were standard.
How were you able to overcome these academic challenges and outside academics did you encounter other challenges?
The challenges disappeared gradually as I related more with the course. I also got to know more through research. I also had a little financial challenge. I was unable to afford a lot of books. It was not a limitation though, as I was able to get all the important materials even if they were photocopies.
Did you at any point feel intimidated studying Yoruba, and how were you able to deal with people’s reactions whenever you told them your field of study?
When I first saw the course on my portal, I went to the living room and acted like a Yoruba newscaster, then I told the house I had been offered Yoruba. I didn’t feel intimidated at all. I talk about it everywhere even before people dig into it. I’m proud to have studied the course.
I understand you play various instruments and you also sing. How were you able to balance academics and attending to invitations to minister?
That was really demanding then. There were times I arrived from ministrations a night before exams. The truth is: I don’t know how I coped. I didn’t always read so much. What I did was to pay attention to details in class. I had very little notes although I never went for exams and tests unprepared.
If you have/had so much passion for music, why didn’t you put in to study music?
I didn’t want to focus on making money with music. If I had studied music, I would have had to make money with it by all means.
If you were given the opportunity to start over as an undergraduate, what are the things you think you will correct or do better than you did at first?
Few. I actually did a lot as an undergraduate. What I didn’t do was enough business ?. I would do more if I have the chance now.
So did you have a bae on campus and if yes how were you able to balance being in a relationship and academics, was it a distraction or an advantage?
(Smiles) I got committed to a relationship towards the end of my part 2?. It was no joke at all. It had advantages and disadvantages though. Bae always took care of me, even after programs late in the night. Thank God there are no night rules as such in OAU. So I made up for seeing Bae at nights. When I have early morning classes, I leave Bae on time. ?
Asides having your degree In Yoruba, what other things did you gain as an undergraduate and if your certificate was taken from you, how do you know you have what it takes to survive the outside world?
This is a big question o. Music, itself, is enough empowerment for me. I did a bit of politics then too. Plus I am a big-time thinker and man of different talents; I don’t need a degree to be the best of myself. I needed to be at the University anyways.
What are the moments or things you would miss about OAU?
I will miss the worship attitude of OAU, I will miss the ‘Arò’. I will miss my funny lecturers. OAU is such an interesting place to be generally.
Now that you are done with school, what’s next in line?
I’m waiting for mobilization. While I wait I’m doing some business, serving, teaching and taking up an internship.
What advice do you have for undergraduates and those aspiring to get into the university?
The University education on its own will not give them all they need to survive on the outside. Everyone should work on having something tangible to offer the world. Build capacity, and be versatile. Don’t concentrate on academics alone?, get involved in other life-changing activities on campus. Above all, get God ?.
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DID YOU ENJOY DANIEL’S INTERVIEW? READ INTERVIEWS OF OTHER FRESH GRADUATES HERE >>>> #FreshGradTales
#FreshGradTales is a series of interviews with fresh graduates from ALL universities in Nigeria. This initiative aims at hearing and sharing the stories, struggles, achievements and experiences of fresh Nigerian graduates. We do believe everyone has a unique story that someone somewhere would love to read and benefit from reading as well.
If you are a fresh university graduate and would love to share your #FreshGradTales, we would be glad to hear from you on [email protected].
Also follow us on Instagram: @Freshgradtales
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This interview was conducted by Deborah Bamgbose, a final year student of English, Obafemi Awolowo University. Deborah is a lover of God, words and good food. She doubles as a baker of cakes and snacks.
You Can’t Graduate From UNILAG And Not Have Sense – Damilola Ajani #FreshGradTales
Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us today of #FreshGradTales. Today, I am very pleased to have Damilola Ajani, a fresh graduate of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and he studied Materials Engineering. From his interview, though, you can easily tell that this is one of those people who really love UNILAG. Loool. But you will learn one or two things from his interview and I do hope you enjoy it. Don’t forget to drop your comments when you’re done.
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How would you describe your journey through the university?
It was terrible, in fact, horrible! I titled my Faculty, “A prison yard”. We didn’t do interesting things; No parties, no clubbing. (Laughs) I don’t like those though. But really, my journey throughout the university was no fun at all.
What were the best thing and worst thing about attending your university?
The best thing about my university is the same thing I do tell people. One thing I’m sure about UNILAG is; once you miss it academically, you’d use your talents to be great. It’s a platform where you can showcase what you love. UNILAG is a school you can be and make money if only you’re smart. I don’t think there’s any worst thing about my university.
If you had an opportunity to start all over again, would you still pick your university? Why or why not?
Yeah! Yeah!! Yeah!!! I would pick my university over and over again but I will never choose any course relating to Engineering?. If I hear anything Engineering, I will japa (run away). I would choose UNILAG again because it’s a school where you’ll improve academically and socially. Besides, You can’t be a graduate of UNILAG and not have sense (not make money)… Laelae (Not at all)!
If you had a second chance as a student, what would you do better?
Ehhhh, If I had another chance as a student, I would learn and perfect my photography skills or learn Tailoring. And I’ll just make money and create perfect awareness in school.
What did you learn most from being a student in your university?
I learnt so many things… First was how to dress well. You can be intelligent and make sense simultaneously. This is obviously what all UNILAG students possess. I learnt how to relate well with people. I discovered it’s only your attitude that can make you remain at the top, not your certificate.
Tell us about your relationships, maybe?
I dated one very fair and beautiful lady before entering the university. That was my first relationship and we dated till I got to my second year. I guess I wasn’t giving her what she wanted?(you don’t need to know that) so she broke up with me because of that and it affected me academically a bit. I had the worst G.P that semester. I don’t break ladies’ hearts, I fear God?.
What challenges did you have as a student?
The only challenge I faced in school was the funds aspect. I used to leave school for work when classes were going on. I did all kind of jobs as a man to feed myself and get materials for subsequent weeks in school. So, it affected me a bit too.
How were you able to combine having a side-hustle with your academics?
I must confess it wasn’t good. I wish I had a choice but I just had to do it.
Do you think you would have graduated with a better grade than you did if you didn’t have to work alongside schooling?
Yes, I would have. I’d have had more time to read assiduously and rest better.
Would you say you had any achievements? If yes, what are they?
Yes! I was exposed to a lot of things; I did a lot of certification programming while in school and I met the best set of people in UNILAG.
What advice do you have for those who are still students in higher institutions and those who are looking at going to school soon?
Focus and be Determined. When I was in 300 level, I had written my letter of deferment already because I was extremely tired of school. But I was determined to keep going and finish it at once and I was focused too. For the soon-to-be students, acquire skills before entering school. It would help you a lot in school. Add skills to the certificate you’re pursuing. Get professional certificates for any skills you acquire, it might be relating to your field of study or not.
Now that you’re a graduate, what’s next for you?
Now that I’m a graduate, the next step is to make money; Cool money, travel all over the world, get married and have sex?
Any final words?
Whatever you do, be good at it because one day, your knowledge will be challenged and only the studious will not fall victims.
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#FreshGradTales is a series of interviews for fresh graduates from ALL universities in Nigeria. This initiative aims at hearing and sharing the stories, struggles, achievements and experiences of fresh Nigerian graduates. We do believe everyone has a unique story that someone somewhere would love to read and benefit from reading as well.
READ INTERVIEWS OF OTHER FRESH GRADUATES ON THE BLOG HERE: #FreshGradTales
If you are a fresh university graduate and would love to share your #FreshGradTales, Orifunke would be glad to hear from you on [email protected]
When The Man Earns Less…
I have always wondered what relationships look like when the man earns less than the woman. In this part of the world where the man is saddled with the expectation of taking care of his woman, it is unconsciously expected that the man should earn more.
Women who are thus more successful and earn more are advised to keep their achievements away from the knowledge of their lovers as it could be a stain on their ego if they get to find out that their women earn more than they do.
This is bullshit, anyway
Well, I hate to generalize and so I needed to know. Is it true that men would find it uncomfortable dating or marrying a woman who earns more? And is it true that women would find it uncomfortable marrying a man who earns less? And then, I asked this question across all my social media platforms and got replies. Of all the replies I got, about 90% were of the opinion that a man earning less than a woman wasn’t a problem. Of these 90%, a little over average were males. I found it interesting that guys thought it was absolutely nothing if their women earned more than they did. And although I wasn’t surprised, I found it equally interesting that women didn’t care either.
Perhaps there were guys who wouldn’t support the idea and they just didn’t comment on my poll for fear of going against the popular opinion, I really do not know and I cannot say. However, I’ll choose to go with the results of my poll and see this topic in that light till I am influenced by a different opinion.
Now, would I have a problem with my man earning less? Absolutely not. I would be more bothered if my man was bothered about me earning more. For the baby girl that I am though (Lol), Maybe I’d like it if my man earns more than I do. So that he can at least be buying me shawarma and ice-cream. And I won’t be feeling guilty for eating his money. I’m kidding. I think the problem is not if I’m earning more or if he’s earning less or whatever. But on how much we love each other and are willing to make it work.
I have heard of guys who take their more-earning women for granted or see her as an opportunity for them to get rich. And there are some other guys who absolutely drop the efforts to buy nice things for their ladies because she’s earning more and can afford it. They think their efforts are no longer needed since she can handle that herself.
Now this is not something I subscribe to. That I am earning more shouldn’t mean you shouldn’t want to take me out or buy me nice things. (And if you were thinking of asking, relationships are more than buying of gifts). It shouldn’t mean you stop making the efforts. Personally, I don’t care about how much or how little you spend, as long as you’re showing me you do care.
So here’s my bit for ladies; if you are dating a guy who earns less, there should never be a point in the relationship when you rub that in this face. Respect the fact that he works hard to make his ends meet whether he earns more or less. What a man earns really should never be the basis for your respecting him.
And for the men; you shouldn’t be bothered about it. A woman who doesn’t care will not give a damn about what you think. A woman who is well-meaning may not feel free to help out when you need it. You shouldn’t feel insecure at any point. If she’s a good woman that you love so much, you would do well not to ever bring up the issue in a disagreement. And of course, if there are things you should do for her, you shouldn’t rescind on your decision to make her happy in the little way you can.
This is what I think. Your opinion(s) could be different. So what do you think? For the ladies, would you date/marry a man who earns less? For the guys, would you date/marry a woman who earns more?
On The Issue Of “Bae Allowance”
The discussion of Bae Allowance or Girlfriend Allowance appears to come up every now and then on social media.
If you do not know what “Bae Allowance” means, it refers to an amount of money that a guy gives his woman on a regular basis.
Would you believe that until some months ago, I had no idea that there was anything known as girlfriend allowance? I mean, I knew that girlfriends could enjoy special financial privileges from their boyfriends. Like him taking them out or giving them money when they need it and if he does have it. But I had no idea there was a regular “salary” thingy.
Okay, fast forward to now that I know. I have studied that there are different sets of people who have varying opinions about this matter.
First, there’s the set of people who think it’s absolutely fine to give your girlfriend an allowance, as long as you can afford it. Just so that she can be comfortable and not be tempted by other guys. (Lol)
Second, there’s the set that thinks it is absolutely irrelevant unless they’re married. Such commitment should be attended to in marriage, abi?
Third is the set of people who are absolutely indifferent about it. If it comes, fine. If it doesn’t, it’s still fine.
For me, I think I just have mixed feelings about this issue. I don’t think the lady should expect it and I don’t think the guy should be under obligation to give her a regular allowance. If he feels the spirit is leading him to continously sow into the ministry of the bae monthly or regularly, he can. As long as he is not inconveniencing himself or his pocket to make that happen.
“Bae Allowance” is not something I am entirely cool with simply because I kinda sorta think receiving a monthly allowance would mean you being indebted to him one way or the other. And I love my independence like ki lo de. Well, what do I know except for what I think?
So, what’s your take? Do you support Bae Allowance or not? Let me know in the comments. And please don’t forget to share with others.
P.S: I’m going to do another post on the different opinions of this I have received so far. Your comment could be one of them.
Meet Adejumoke Famade, A Nigerian Lady Who Repairs Computers
A few weeks back, I got the mighty privilege to interview a woman in tech, Adejumoke Famade. I came across her online and was intrigued by the fact that she repairs laptops and computers for a living. I wanted to find out certain things; One was how she felt doing the job. Second was how people viewed her and third was why she opted for it. Because I don’t want this text-interview to be too long, I regrettably have reduced the content largely. Nevertheless, you will absolutely enjoy it. Cheers!
Please tell me about your educational background?
I went to St. Bernard’s Nursery and Primary School, Akoka. My secondary school was The African Church Model College, Ifako-Ijaiye then I went to Covenant University, studied Computer Science and graduated with a second class upper.
Oh, so did that lead to your love for computers?
It started during my IT. I went there as a computer software student but my supervisors there were mostly for infrastructure so they influenced me to do infrastructure. The plan was to learn infrastructure for three months and programming for three months. I started with infrastructure and before I knew it, I was going four months into it. From the first month in infrastructure, I was already dismantling and assembling systems in less than thirty minutes. I also started fixing systems for even the Human Resource Director (HRD). When I was leaving, they bought me my own tools because they knew that that was what I loved.
So tell me about your family background.
I’m from Ogun state; Ijebu-Ishara while my mom is from Bayelsa. My mom has two children (my elder brother and I) while my dad has four other children. My father and mother are no longer together.
Was Computer Science a course you just picked for study or was it as a result of your love for computers?
I initially wanted to go for medicine but thank God I failed JAMB! I had 171 and had to stay at home. Although Babcock picked me for Social Works, my mom disapproved of it. Then she later enrolled me at a computer school (NIIT). It was there I found out that computer science was actually a cool course and when I wrote JAMB again, I picked Computer Science and I passed the cut-off.
When you tell people you repair computers, what do they say?
Well, they usually want to test to find out if a female can truly repair computers. Even at work, most systems are always on me because people want to see what I can do. However, some women look down on me. Sometimes women don’t like when women progress. There was a time a woman called me incompetent because I was female.
What other challenges do you face?
The other challenge I face is when a client wants to fix a system and I am at work (this is not the only work I do). Then there are people who message you at odd hours to make enquiries. Another challenge is that many of my clients are also from South Africa and other states in the country. And then there are also people who want you to repair their laptops at a ridiculously low price.
What can you say with regard to women and tech?
What I can say is a woman can do what a man can do better. This is not me being feminist. If men are in tech, why can’t women be in tech? Women use technology so why can’t we know what makes things happen? I am pretty curious about how technology works and always want to know what’s behind the scenes.
How do you deal with comments that are degrading?
I just scroll. I don’t even have time. I know my Bible and if I want to make it, I must have enemies. The hateful comments make me want to keep doing what I do. It’s a normal thing to be talked about. You must be able to manage your emotions so that nobody brings you down. There are people who find it harder to commend you than to criticize you.
What’s the big picture?
If I tell you my picture, you will shake (laughs). I see myself as one of the richest women in Africa in tech in the future.
Any final words?
Just do it. Whether it works out or not.
Thank you for reading. Trust you enjoyed it. Please drop your comments and don’t forget to share.
You can connect with Miss Famade on twitter: @famshizzle
[Book Review] My Thoughts On Toke Makinwa’s “On Becoming”
I read Toke Makinwa’s book “On Becoming” recently and well, what a read it was! I have not gotten over the wave of emotions that hit me from time to time while I read the book. I have had one or two people tell me that it is dangerous to believe a one-sided story like Toke Makinwa’s and I agree to an extent. But something deep within me believes her story hook, line and sinker and it’ll remain that way until I’m proven otherwise.
The book is opened by Toke Makinwa narrating the story of her family background. She tells a gruesome story of how she loses her parents to a fire incident that happened in their home while she was a kid. In the book, she also describes her growing up, education and the main gist of the book- her relationship with Maje.
Toke Makinwa’s story is relevant, to me, because she openly tells about the experiences of many ladies who will never have the strength to tell them. Her story also reveals the failure of the African society that would rather blame the woman for the dissolution of a marriage than blame a man. The faulted system that suggests that a broken marriage would have been prevented if the woman “cooked better for him, gave him enough sex and blah blah blah.”
I was angry while reading the book because I couldn’t fathom why she kept going back to a guy who kept cheating on her. I really wouldn’t blame her though. When a woman loves a man, she easily forgives him when he apologizes with the hope that he will change. Of course, he might not and the cycle continues.
I was disgusted because I really couldn’t place why he always kept cheating and coming back to say “I’m sorry” knowing well that he was no where near the changed man he acclaimed himself to be.
I was sad because of the trauma she had to go through and how she could have avoided that a long time ago.
The end of the book however brought me a feeling of unsaid joy and relief. I am glad that she was able to find solace and strength in God’s Word during the trying times.
Here’s a lesson for ladies: If a man keeps disrespecting you over and over again, don’t go into marriage with him. Yes, you really love him and trust that he’ll change. But if he keeps hurting you again and again, please leave. If your relationship with a man doesn’t change him, don’t expect your marriage with him to do that either.
Disclaimer: My views are solely based on reading Toke Makinwa’s account of her relationship with Maje. The story may change if I ever get to read or hear Maje’s side of the story.
By the way, today is Toke’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Toke Makinwa!
Six Reasons Why Jumoke Adenowo Is My #WCW (Reading This Would Make You Love Her Too)
I stumbled on a video on YouTube where Jumoke Adenowo was interviewed. It was in the #KingWomen series of Kemi Adetiba. Prior to this time, I had never seen Jumoke Adenowo in any video before, never heard her talk before and I knew almost nothing about her. I only knew she was an architect who is pretty much good at what she does and that was about all I knew about her. (She runs AD studio; AD consulting firm, a firm she founded in 1994).
I half-mindedly used to wonder why she was usually invited to speak at events pertaining to women and all. However, watching and listening to her speak for more than thirty minutes, I instantly fell in love with her. Watching her interview, I gained insight into her growing up, her educational background, some of her views about life and her principles. Needless to say, listening to her made me have a great deal of respect for her. So here are just six of the reasons why I am getting to love and respect her all the more:
1. Jumoke Adenowo is a woman who loves to dream big. She comes off as a lady who doesn’t settle down with mediocrity. She doesn’t allow society’s opinions affect her way of thinking and her goals. And she doesn’t support you being side-lined or not doing anything great because you’re a female.
2. Another reason why I am crushing on her is because she is one person who respects herself. Listening to her would just make you have an increase in your self-esteem. She is this person who doesn’t settle down for less than who she is. And she really doesn’t take nonsense from people.
3. Jumoke Adenowo is an intelligent woman! And intelligence is a turn on for me anyday anytime. When you hear her speak, you know this isn’t someone who doesn’t know what she’s saying. She does. And I should attribute this partially to the fact that she grew up reading books and travelling round the world with her dad. You listen to her and you just know she has so much upstairs to give and to impart.
4. She is also a big risk-taker! Thinking about how she started her business, I’m not sure I would be able to take such a risk. But yeah, life is all about risks.
5. I love how she has been able to love and build her family and imbibe in her children a sense of her origin culture.
6. And this is the biggest of everything. I love how much she is a lover of God and of the things of God. And my dear woman is giving to the service of others. Don’t even ask me how I know all this. But it’s true. Jumoke Adenowo lets you know that it is much possible to love God, do His work and still excel in other parts of your life.
In the future, I look forward to getting to speak with this amazing woman. And I am sure the “future” isn’t very far from now.
Physical Disabilities Can Be Defeated And This Woman’s Inspiring Story Will Show You How.
Reading through this young woman’s story for the first time, I was both thrilled and intrigued. Her story sent a number of emotions through me. I was awed by how much and how well she was able to handle her son’s physical disability and turn it into an advantage and a strength. As someone who has a brother who is struggling with another type of physical disability, I can quite relate. Her story encapsulates the genesis of the problem, the journey through the years, the struggles she has had to face and the eventual victories. Her name is Anne Bessong and you will enjoy this story and be inspired by it down to the very end.
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I got married in December 1994 and on January 3, 1996, our first baby was born. At birth, David was just like any other baby until he cried or smiled. Then his whole face shifted to one side and the contorted sight wasn’t nice, to say the least. That was how our journey into the world of physical human disorders started. The doctors called it partial facial palsy, asked us to observe him till he was over 9 months old and we started getting referrals to go to different places.
After he turned two, I got fed up & stopped taking him to the Children’s Hospital. I just ensured he exercised his facial muscles by chewing on all the recommended stuff we had been told to use.
Just before he turned three, we travelled to America where a doctor commended David for being well-behaved and handed him a lollipop. David accepted it, smiled and said “thank you” & the problem started! The doctor began to ask several questions as she wrote down everything. Next thing, she brought out her pager, sent a message and some other doctors rushed in. We kept a few appointments before we returned home to Nigeria and he continued with his schooling. Needless to say that every time he cried or smiled, he was made the butt of jokes and jeered at because his face got contorted as it shifted to one side.
At age 5, David began to ask questions about people’s reactions to his laughter or cry. I got tired of telling him not to mind them, got tired of making excuses for their insensitive behaviour, got tired of buying him toys to take his attention away from it all. I quit my Media/PR job and had to become a full-time teacher so as to be closer to him. (I grappled with the financial step-down for a while).
Fortunately, he is very brilliant and so each time he got laughed at and came to me, I’d bring out a mirror and ask him to smile at it. I’d then ask him what happened. He would reply that his face moved. I’ll ask him to look at the mirror without smiling. He would say his face was okay. Then I would smile at him and tell him in a firm voice that his problem was outward and so temporary. I would also encourage him that it would have been a big problem if an internal organ that we couldn’t see was affected. I encouraged him to be the best at everything and after some years, he believed that the problem with his face wasn’t as bad as his peers with woeful results since that meant they had a problem with their brains!
And that was how my son went through primary and secondary school. People still made fun of him, laughed at him when he laughed instead of laughing at the joke he was laughing at. But I had groomed him to develop a thick skin and instead pity their lack of knowledge. He even went a step ahead each time he introduced himself and always added that he was born with partial facial palsy which made his face shift to one side when he smiled or laughed (remembering to add that it wasn’t contagious). Against all odds, I groomed David and his brother (who I had after him) to be complete gentlemen, God-fearing, well-behaved, focused, respectful and helpful.
In December 2015, at the age of 19, my son graduated with a First Class in Network & Telecommunications Engineering from Universitie Africaine Du Management Et Du Technologie in the Republic of Benin! He was posted Bayelsa State for his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)! I talked about it with him and my young hot-cake First-Class engineer was excited and expectant about going to serve in Bayelsa. Even at the Orientation Camp, he was nominated the Social Leader of his platoon!
Today, I can claim without sounding boastful that I’m one of the best teachers there is! My pain led me to a profession I’ll never give up for anything. Today, I encourage other mothers and help them see that indeed there is light at the end of the tunnel. Today, I can say with even more pride that I have a son who conquered stigmatization to become the best in his chosen field of study. He has since completed his NYSC and is leading a normal life like any young man his age.
To mums out there with children facing challenges, let David’s story encourage you. Focus on the good in that seemingly bad situation and work on it like raw gold in the refiner’s furnace. The journey may not be easy, but the outcome is sure worth the effort! His face still shifts to one side but years of exercise has reduced it a tiny winy bit and we’re grateful for that little improvement!
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