Let me tell you a story , a story that has been told several times before , a story of the African girl child , the story of Lana.
From the moment she was conceived , Lana’s future had already been planned. If she had been a boy, maybe her family would have made an effort for her to receive a proper education. Maybe she would have been the pride of the family, the heir to the family assets, the one who everyone bragged about, the one who took care of everyone, the one who carried the family name on. Unfortunately for her, fate made her a girl and that meant the matrix for her future was simple. She would learn household chores then grow up and get married. Her ultimate goal would be to bear male children then her story would end in her dying having run as good race.
Most people in the twenty first century would disregard Lana’s story on the basis of it being folklore or simply a figment of my imagination. The sad truth is that a large number of girls in Africa are in that situation in this day and age. A considerable number of societies are clinging to their old practices that deprive the girl child of her right to education , her right to use her mind and her right to make something of herself. Women and girls are selling themselves short in order to uphold their societal norms, so that they are not a subject of mockery or excommunicated. They do not speak their minds in fear of disrespecting their traditions where women and children are supposed to be seen and not heard. They are forced to adhere to decisions made by the men in their lives without any form of protest. While it is true that many developing countries have taken huge strides working against child marriages and educating girls, a lingering mind-set is setting us back.
If Lana had been born to another family, in another setting, she might have had an the opportunity to get a proper education, but she would view school as an unnecessary burden placed upon her. She would have dropped out and spent her days wondering aimlessly or gotten herself married. This version of Lana’s story is probably more relatable because it is a common occurrence in our communities. Women and girls are presented with an opportunity and the necessary tools to create a name for themselves ,but choose to pursue the path that most people in their society walk, turning a blind eye to all the problems and hardships that come along with it. They settle for mediocrity because their minds allow them to think it is impossible to do better. It is that fear of the unknown that hinders them from leaving their comfort zone . It’s time the female population stopped being myopic and realised the potential they have.
An ideal story would be that Lana had a good education, ended up successfully achieving all her professional goals and had a generally happy life. Most people would tell you that it can only become a reality of there is gender quality or if women are empowered or if women are heard. No one is coming to our rescue for we are not damsels in distress. We can work together to fight against abuse, sexual harassment and the inferiority complex. We are a force to be reckoned with and can emancipate and motivate every female.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said “Let her sleep for when she wakes she will move mountains.” It is now time we wake and show the world that we can move mountains.