By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
Her look in her face will tell you all – fear, uncertainty, illiteracy, ignorance, poverty and abuse – yet you can discern the beauty, lurking in the battered body of a wife whose dream was love, care and affection in her matrimonial home.
Her life, like millions of other innocent brides in Africa, Kadija now cuddling her child, a hell of a crying child, whose tantrums slowly saps her strength, breaking her down, drops on her knees, she wept.
The child is still crying in her embrace when she felt a hand on her right shoulder and raised her head, tears flowing down her face. “Stand up child!” said the elderly lady to her.
Like all young girls in her village, crave for opportunities for better livelihood had always been her dream and the only prospect for her is attracting a successful husband who will cover that vacuum. She is illiterate and lacks the skills to survive in urban towns but is conscious of her beauty, of course, her beauty stands out in her village and the neighbouring village.
Her parents too are oblivious of her beauty, and like every other parent, they savored the day a successful groom will knock on their door and ask her hands in marriage. Their sure bet is their daughter whose dowry will provide seed money for their farm.
Kadija stands up, still crying when the elderly lady takes the child from her hand.
“Look into my eyes,” she said, “What do you see?”
“Oh mammy Iye, oh mammy Iye!!” she lamented, clasping her hands on her breast, shaking and crying.
“What do you see?” Mammy Iye asked again, her eyes swelling with tears.
She controlled herself, looked into the elderly woman’s face “you are crying”.
“Yes, I am crying, but I am not crying for you neither for what I went through. I am crying because this child of yours I am holding now will be crying for the same reason you are crying today and her children will also be crying…”
Mammy Iye knows the struggles Kadija is going through. She’s heard the stories of abuse in the hands of her husband, how he locked her in a room and denies her food, having to sleep on the floor in an adjacent room because her husband has a new wife and the allegation that if she must leave, her parent must repay her dowry.
“I am crying because we are nothing!” Mammy Iye replied.
To be continued:
Africa’s social and economic development is influenced by the web of tribes and cultures with traditions that varies from one region to the other. This creates a plethora of abuse and violations that continue to deny the vast of the population the opportunity to be better stakeholders in society.
These stories, through creative writing, will try to shed light into the challenges and the solutions being taken.