Mammy Iye knows the struggles Kadija is going through. She’s heard the stories of abuse at 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, while carefully brushing the child’s hair. “You have a beautiful girl”.
“Yes,” replied Kadija, “I wish she were a boy to take the tears away when I am old”.
“It doesn’t matter young woman. I only have girls but today they are the pillar for my happiness,” replied Mammy Iye.
The loud shouts of a crying female distracted their attention. The child shuddered, and like the two women is startled by the horrible sound.
“He will one day kill her. That man is the devil!” retorted Mammy Iye.
“Our men are all the same. Mine is even doing worse,” replied Kadija.
“But we hardly hear him beat you like that devil is doing right now!” continued Mammy Iye.
“It’s because I do as he pleases. Mine would have been worse than Marie’s. I am afraid to challenge him. The last time I tried by complaining to the chief and the local police at the village over the water when my husband hit me with the pestle the whole village was against me,” said Kadija.
Marie is still crying loudly, her voice reechoing in the small village of 25 houses. From afar they hear the loud voice of the village headman asking Marie’s husband to stop beating her.
“We are not the only village around. Can we have peace,” his voice loud and strong.
“He’s a clown!” retorted Mammy Iye.
Kadija chuckled. She has heard about Mammy Iye’s distrust for the village headman.
“He’s nothing but a clown!” she continued, “I wish we have a say on how headmen are voted into power; this squirrel would not have had the opportunity”.
“But he is not like the other men. He treats his wives right and the kids are all going to school,” Kadija replied.
“That’s what you know my child, but what about abuse of women and girls in the village? Every one of us relies on the river for drinking, washing, and laundering, while our neighbors have water wells. He spends his time all day drinking palm wine while his wives tend to the fields to feed the household and you saying he treats his wives right!”
“I never thought about these problems,” replied Kadija.
“You are not to blame Kadija. You are too ignorant to understand to see the face behind the screen. That clown is behind a screen!”
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.
The stories brought to you through creative writing will try to shed light into the challenges and the solutions being taken.