The trouble with being a girl

 

you can be anyone,anything,anywhere!

GROWING PAINS

Being a girl child in a traditional African setup is no easy thing.By the time you reach a certain age you are expected to know how to run a household. One should know how to cook for a household of as many as 10 people while you are 12 years old yourself.By now you should know how to sew your doll’s clothes, occasionally to sew a button onto old ones.Meanwhile the boys will be outside playing with their toys.On that subject,boys get the toy cars, the planes and the guns.The girl is placated with simple dolls.

I still vividly remember one Christmas when father came home with presents. “Please let it be a toy car,” I prayed in my little girl voice. To my dismay it was another doll. How many dolls does one little girl need though? Chido got a toy aeroplane that day. Needless to say i was quite disappointed. My older sister seemed immensely happy for me . “Dolls are for girls Rose,and cars are for the boys,” she said attempting to comfort me.

Not to say I did not like my dolls.  I’m just saying maybe if I had been exposed to other toys even as a child I would have been more ambitious.

By the time  I reached my  teenage years, domestic training continued with “exciting”  new dimensions. These included learning to effectively do large volumes of laundry. My cousin sister had a baby around that time and I had to include looking after the baby to my new duties.  Meanwhile, father  would go out with Chido. He taught him how to drive before he was even 14 years old. My father was an entrepreneur, just starting his own boiler making company.Sometimes he would go with my brother to the office and show him the ins and outs of the business. I did not know what it was about but I was intrigued by the few things Chido told me.

One day and I asked father what his job entailed. The narrative he gave me was very short. Although i had further questions I could ask as his tone had shown some degree of irritation. My mother laughed it off and told me not to worry about “men’s business.”I thought my interest would make him invite me along.Alas that day never came.I started to wish i had been born male.So that I would be able to see the exciting new world that lay beyond the walls of my house.

Growing up this way  subconsciously taught me to take the back seat in life. That my job was to simply take care of the mundane household chores and do the bare minimum. The more challenging,technological tasks were to be done by my brother.  And my job was to sit back and focus more on the social aspects of life. Subconsciosly as girls we are taught that we are not equal to the males.As evidenced by disparities in the way we are brought up even in the same house.The male child is taught to be dominant,enterprising and entrepreneurial whereas the female is indoctrinated to be submissive and carry out less challenging work.This model of upbringing encourages complacency in the girl child.

The result of this is evidenced in the career paths shown by the two genders.  Females are underrepresented in mentally challenging disciplines such as computer science, engineering and mathematics. Within the medical field in itself men tend to choose the more challenging and higher paying specialties. These include orthopedics,cardiology and gastroenterology. Females opt for the less paying ones such as gynaecology and psychiatry.

WIDENING GIRLS’ HORIZONS

I feel that perhaps it is time we taught the girl child,from formative years to be innovative and hardworking. Charity begins at home so they say. Parents should encourage their daughters to be creative. The same way that mothers in society train girls to be efficient house hostesses,we ought to train them to become CEOs and CFOs. To not be afraid of challenges. Let us assist them to evolve into assertive, successful women. Gone are those days when the football playground was no place for women. It is just as important to mentor the girl child as it is the boy child. Give her mind the freedom to grow and be more imaginative. While being nurturers is nature’s role for women, we have the potential to do so much more. It is imperative that we widen the girl child’s horizons in order for us to create better leaders of tomorrow.

 

Nothing without a man?

The night before

Old man sleep refused to visit me last night.Although I felt a lethargy like no other i couldn’t get myself to sleep as the day has finally come. That which my whole family and neighbors had been anticipating for years. Ladies from church had all bruised their knees in prayer on my behalf. Pleading with an unknown greater force to grant me the most coveted price of all. A husband.

The dreaded question!

By the way my name is Ntombi,doctor Maya to most I am a medical doctor. I have a house to my name, a car and a bank balance that is flourishing most of the time. The day I graduated was one of celebration.My whole neighbourhood went crazy. Father even slaughtered a cow for me and planned a party. After the whole speech giving part my aunt Clotilda followed me to room and asked the foreboding question first. “Congratulations Ntombi my dear you have made us all very proud.So when are you getting married?”

To say the question surprised me would be a lie. All I could think of was why she couldn’t be satisfied with the achievement I had made so far. After that night i got that question from all kinds of people. Even my own mother started dropping hints about how she now wanted grandchildren.

In time my boyfriend Sipho proposed. I was thrilled to be honest. My mother’s excitement however seemed to be even more than mine. I could tell from the radiance on her face that my marriage announcement pleased her immensely. It was as though a secret shame had been removed from her. The unspoken of shame of having an “old” unmarried daughter. I was astounded by the haste with which my family wanted the marriage proceedings to go.

And so here I am today sitting at the edge of my bed waiting anxiously for Sipho’s family to come with the bride price. I cannot lie and say I’m not happy because i do love Sipho after all. However  I cannot get over the thought that everyone thought i was half a person before Sipho decided to marry me. It is as though Sipho is the validation I needed to finally get acceptance into society. My father looks at me these days with a new kind of respect in his eyes. As though I have finally done the one thing that could please him more than anything. Am I to believe that my commodification is what makes me whole?

Owning it!

Personally I find the whole notion ridiculous.Academically I exceeded my parents’ expectations.Professionally I have one of the best jobs in the country.Prestigious men and women have even sought my advice on several topics concerning health.Recently I joined a charity club offering help to orphans and vulnerable children.Not to toot my own horn but I believe I am making a difference  in the community.As I am.As Ntombi and not Mrs so and so.

It is part of my culture that once a woman reaches a certain age one must get married.But times are changing now.With more ladies involved in running businesses and even furthering studies.Some even opt to not get married.Ladies out there should own their success!Be proud of what you have achieved so. Life is not a rehearsal where you get a second chance try. So my advice for those who are still not married is to live a full life.Don’t waste your youth waiting for someone to come and swoop you off your feet.Or give in to society and get hitched to the wrong person.Live now! Chase your dreams.And remember,you are enough.Never let anyone bully you into thinking you are nothing without a man.

The monsters are us

 

 

The monsters live within us,they are us

look inside and you will find them
they live in us,they are us

Sleeping with the lights out.Taking a walk in a shadowy area.Seeing a shape that may or may not be a person in the dark.These were all fears of ours as children.I didn’t want to be alone in the house lest monsters from unknown worlds creep up on me.They took different forms in our minds.My young subconscious perceived them to be very tall creatures.Ones with missing members and pointy teeth.Stories were told of monsters who sucked the happiness from one’s life.Stealing sweet dreams to replace them with nightmares.Only now do I realize that these monsters are not otherworldly,the monsters are us!

The real monsters have no sharp talons and pointy teeth.They do not lie in wait in the dark.Instead they live within us.We are the monsters we have long been hearing of.The terror not only in the night but in the daylight.We are greed,we are hate,we are the thieves.

We take from the poor, and give to the rich.The vulnerable are abused by  appointed protectors.The tears of children soak the earth,children exploited by their own fathers.Stories of authorities violating the innocent are all over the news.Brother killing fellow brother.While malnutrition is rampant in one continent, over consumption is a culture in another.Words spoken in  love turn out to be as empty as the soul of the one who speaks them.Honesty dwells in our hearts no more.Each seeking gain from the other.In this dog eat dog world,what is the fate of the puppies?

It would be much safer to stay hidden from it all.Lest the monster finds you and devours you.It is much easier to point fingers.To blame another for all the suffering in the world.It could be the economy you blame or the circumstances of your birth.They can seem to be the monsters you are running away from.But what happens when you are the monster?Each time you turn a blind eye to the suffering of others.A deaf ear to the cries of the innocent.When you withhold a service which you could freely provide to assist another.The monster in you grows.

Slaying the monsters

To save ourselves and our children,these monsters must be slain.The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately 800 000 people died from suicide in 2015.Some of these deaths could have be avoided if we treated each other better.If we saw ourselves in others.Empathy,sympathy and love.These are the secret weapons we must all yield to destroy these monsters before they destroy us. I try to slay the monster in me daily.It is not a battle I always win,but one that must be fought.Perhaps if you put an effort to slay that which dwells in you,the world would be a much safer,serene place.

 

of trees and falling..

keep climbing even after you fall!

 

falling from the tree
Oh no,I’m falling again!

As a child i loved to climb trees.This might be odd for a girl child but its true. There was a very tall chinkee apple tree at my old house.I cannot count the number of times i climbed up and sat on  the highest branches.It had one of these tasty round juicy delicious fruits.The tree was spiky and therefore it was not an easy climb.Not to mention the number of times i would fall or stumble trying to get to the top.All that mattered was getting the juicy fruit.Now i cannot even go halfway up that tree.Mostly because as soon as i look down I get this intense feeling of fear of falling!In my earlier years I could make it up because i wasn’t afraid of the falling or of the scars i would get.

Likewise we often fail to go up in different areas of our lives because we keep looking down instead of up. We keep going back to old fears and insecurities, dwelling on them.The beauty of looking up instead of down is that it sets us free.Free to check the new challenges,enjoy the process of overcoming them. It enables us to formulate strategies and anticipate oncoming obstacles.

Instead of constantly beating yourself up over a mistake that has long since passed, analyze where you are now.What opportunities are available at present? How can you make them work to get  from point A to point B?.Keep in mind that glittering fruit you are aiming for.

I have started using this train of thought myself lately and i am seeing results. Not only does it give me more confidence but it also keeps my mind working. As i navigate my way through day to day work i give myself small challenges and set small sub goals.The little things brought together produce for me the bigger picture.There is a chance to see progress if you look up ahead instead of behind you.Success is just as much about the climb as it is about the end game.And remember even if you fall, rise again and climb that tree.The fruit is not going to grab itself!!

.Keep in mind that glittering fruit you are aiming for

 

Keep looking up!

 

 

Keeping your eye on the prize

More often than not we get distracted. People start on the right path, determined with a plan of action then along the way we meet obstacles. Some of these obstacles seem coincidental, others we create ourselves through habits that we may not want to let go of. They end up creating a web that gets you entangled such that you find yourself welling more on these rather than the main goal. There is therefore a need to be focused, to keep your eye on the prize and do things one at a time. 2nd reason we fail keep our eye on the prize is because we tend to multitask. Continue reading “Keeping your eye on the prize”

The Box

So this morning I woke thinking of that phrase “think outside the box.”And it had me thinking more about this “box”. For me, the box signifies those mental confines we cage ourselves into, those limitations that we impose on ourselves. The box comes about as a result of fear, past experiences, self doubt, negative self talk and in some cases a desperate need for approval from peers. More often than not these limitations deter us from reaching our goals. But today I’m here with good news everybody-YOU DONT HAVE TO STAY INSIDE THE BOX!!

Continue reading “The Box”