The Curse of Growing Up As A Girl In A Traditional Home

Opinion

I never got the chance to attend University but instead he got me a job. Fresh from High School, I was employed in Government. He told me my salary was to pay for myself at college and not to buy clothes and all those things we want to buy as girls.  I did just that. I got a college and enrolled in accounting paying for myself and not a cent from dad.

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Children are a blessing from God and are supposed to be treated with love and equality. Our African culture has proved that the boy child has more advantages over the girl child. He is considered the “King” of the family and the head of the house is usually thrilled to have a boy child as it is considered an extension of the clan. They go out of their way to ensure the success of their boy child’s education. Well that was the case growing up among boys with a mother who did not have much of a choice as the house wife.

Growing up was pretty good and easy. I would see the difference between my two elder brothers and myself with my sisters. I am the third born and a girl. We attended the same primary education though and different high schools. Things took a downward turn when we were to attend university. My brothers were brilliant at school and I was looking up to them and told myself whatever they achieve I will also achieve. Immediately after high school, my dad went out of his way to get them the best University in Southern Africa. He did not consider the costs, as much as they were to get scholarship, but he also had to pay a share. They went for interviews and got in without any problems. He would drive them to the varsity and spend money on the road trip just to ensure safety and for him to know his boys were alright, leaving us with my mother behind.

My turn came to attend University no one cared much. Everyone was relaxed, only the school as per their curriculum took interest in ensuring their students applied for University. I applied through school and I was accepted in the local University for teaching. I had applied for accounting and I was told a lot of people had applied it was already full except for teaching. My dad was sort of “take it, atleast you were accepted for something.”  My application was a by the way as my passion was radiology and I had to apply outside our local University. I had told them my passion and my dad was like I will see. I was hoping the same courtesy will go for me but it never really happened.

I never got the chance to attend University but instead he got me a job. Fresh from High School, I was employed in Government. He told me my salary was to pay for myself at college and not to buy clothes and all those things we want to buy as girls.  I did just that. I got a college and enrolled in accounting paying for myself and not a cent from dad. Change from that money I would buy things my mother needed, I had to make sure she had all her desires. That made my heart feel at ease. Every month I would ask her what she needed and she would tell me an electricity stove, I would buy or whatever she needed for the house. I set up our house through mum and dad would then assist after he saw what I was doing at home but not contribute towards my school tuition or anything. Whenever I asked him for money he would complain until I tell him not to give me because I did not like the words that came out of his mouth. My mother was aware of all these things.

One time I asked him why he did not care much where we learn and what we do as girls but consider his boys more. He said we were going to get married and leave his household and the husbands will take care of us. His answer shocked me, I asked myself what if I did not want to get married or what if I never marry. What would happen to me then. My mindset changed, now I had to switch the way I though. I took up womanhood at an early stage. I told myself I had to achieve more and succeed with school. I did school part time as I moved from job to job. Jobs were pretty good with me that I got lazy and concentrated on making money. Marriage was the last thing on my mind.

The girl child is expected to get married and they do not want to waste resources on her because they will not get anything in return. She will go and feed another family with the knowledge she had been equipped with and I guess that is not ideal for the traditional men, each person must fight for their own. If you marry my girl child you must feed her, educate her yourself for your own gain. This is my take on the whole issue. This is what I call the curse of being a girl in a traditional home. Choices are made for you from birth, the only thing left is for them to choose a man for you.

At the age of 22 I bought land behind my parents back. I wanted to build a home for myself and adopt a child. I called them to a meeting to inform them of the land and what my plan was. My dad refused me, he was shocked and did not believe a word that came out of my mouth. I invited them to the official hand over of the land by the chief’s runner. They were my witnesses. At that time my brothers were still looking for jobs and I was making it and slaying.

The upbringing was not easy on my younger sister as well. She was like the looser of the family and I had to make sure she did not see herself that way. I went all out for her because I understood where I come from and the mindset our father had. I pushed together with mum until she also made it in her own lane.

Now that I am all grown and married, I look back at all these blessings and appreciate what happened. I blamed my father for being less considerate of his girls and taking care of his Kings. all I wanted was for them to explain what went wrong and why we were treated differently and for them to know how unfair it was to us but we forgave them. Mum simple said she had no choice as she was the house wife and being married to a staunch traditionalist did not help the situation either. I look at my brothers and their lives, they are managers and directors and had we got the same treatment we would be in the same league and pushing life.

Not all animals are equal. I appreciate the woman I have become and if God blesses me with a girl child I will ensure she does not endure the same things I endured. I am content and happy with my life the way it is.

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