Everyday across Nigeria and in several other countries of the world; the girl child is being made to fight for survival to make it into limelight. It is a cruel world out there for most of them; apparently because the African tradition seems to favour the male child to the detriment of the female child. The story you about to read is one that will touch you to the marrow, probably bring tears to your eyes; but above all, should inspire you to not allow yourself to be put down by anyone.
My name is Loretta, and I come from not just one of the poorest families in my community in my state, but also from one of the poorest regions in Nigeria.
It is the dream of every poor girl in my community to acquire more education, for the opportunity to learn and go to school. Unfortunately many of us are not that fortunate. The day my brother was born was bittersweet; that day marked the end of a dream as I was no longer allowed to go to school. Due to the increased household responsibilities, my father told me that I must stay home and eventually begin to work.
So while the birth of the first male child in the family brought my parents so much joy, it killed my dream of being catered for academically by my parents. After four attempts at having a male child, my dad finally had his dream fulfilled; but of course, it meant that as a first child I had to quit schooling in order to channel all income to the new face and hope of the family.
At just 14, I was already working as a firewood and water fetcher for a woman who operated a local restaurant. My parents were not only happy because I got the job to keep me busy, they were also happy to see one of their daughters working to help sustain the family. No one bothered to talk about my schooling anymore; apparently the birth of my brother shattered my hope of completing my Junior Secondary Education as I was only in my second year in college then.
I knew I only had to wait a couple of more years before my parents start talking about getting me a suitor. That is how it works in my community, as soon as a girl turns or finishes her JSS (in this case my parents didn’t allow me to), men starts coming after her hand in marriage.
At 14 I had started showing traces of a maturing woman; with my breast and other feminine features manifesting, I knew it was only a matter of time before the first man comes to seek my hand in marriage…