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My mum believed that by holding the hands of her girls, we would have the fortitude to conquer our challenges. After the birth of her fourth girl, mum’s mother-in-law mounted pressure on her to give my dad a male child who would carry on the family name. According to grandma, it was the tradition of the Nigerian Ibo people dating back to centuries before, and she did not want her name linked with shame. Grandma asserted that girls were meant for the kitchen only and that when we were older, one of us would have to remain unmarried, perhaps get pregnant by a stranger so that the illegitimate child would bear the family name. Mum rejected the idea. She knew then that she had to prove grandma wrong.
I remember that mum used to call us for meetings and while holding hands as if she wanted to pour some hidden strength into us, she would tell us how the world viewed women. She would tell us that women were seen as procreation tools and that we would have to work extra hard to be successful.
“The world believes that the place of a woman is in the kitchen,” she would say. “You have to prove them wrong. None of you will shame me, you hear?”
Through those meetings we learned of our duties to life and our duties to mum. She and dad gave up all luxuries just so that we would have the best education. We knew that we had to come top of our class; that we couldn’t succumb to boys who wanted flings, a way of conquering a woman’s dignity. The thought of ending up as a man’s play thing or as a baby-making machine hung above our heads like a light bulb waiting to be turned on.
Now, we spend our lives remembering our hands held in mum’s firm grip and her stern voice ringing in our minds, “you have to show the world that being a woman is something to be proud of.”
I would like to think that it is one of the reasons we chose male dominated career paths – I, in fine arts and my sisters in engineering. As we journey through life, we can never forget our promise to mum. In our little way, we have to make the world see that being a woman is so much more than they think.


Elisabeth Lehr's picture

A Woman's Dream

Dear Ifesinachi,

This piece is wonderful. Such a powerful and wonderful message your parents gave to your family. The story is beautifully written.

Great work.

All the best,


Elisabeth Lehr

Cara Lopez Lee's picture

Beyond the Kitchen

Thanks for the story of strength passed on by your mother, Ifesinachi. It's important to remember that your grandmother's belief still exists in the world, even in some places in the United States, and that it wasn't long ago that most people thought like that. Good for you for staying strong and showing your worth.

My grandmother raised me. When I was a girl, and I didn't immediately catch on to something she tried to teach me about cooking, she would tell me I would never get married if I didn't know how to cook. I did learn to cook, though I'm not exceptional at it and don't care for it much. But today my husband does most of our cooking, and he's good at it. We both share duties in the marriage, and sometimes he does more traditionally masculine tasks, while sometimes I do more traditionally female tasks, but it is all give and take and we are not defined by sexual roles. I'm a professional writer, and my husband supports my profession, just as I support his. Just think how much stronger the world would be if we all supported each other to live to our potential, and all shared sacrifices equally.

Fawzia's picture

I love your Mum!

I like your story and I like more the strength you carried from your mother!

Yes, some old women still believe that girls are shame for family while it is hounerable to have a boy!! because the boy will carry tha family name... and what kills the most is when they force a woman to have a male baby as if it is in her hand!! I met many people who still think the same and this is something really bad, women need to be strong and through education they can break the silence and change those old traditions.

Good luck for your in your carer life!

LOVE, peace & respect

Ammoura, Fawzia

jodelight's picture

one mystory entry

Hi Ifesinachi,

I see you have submitted two entries for the mystory2010. Is this the one you want to submit, as it is only one entry per person. Please let me know!


PulseWire volunteer

Ifesinachi's picture

mystory entry

I apologise for the mistake. I thought the first one had not entered so I resubmitted. I am trying to delete the second one.


Ifesinachi's picture


thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. Hope my story inspires other women facing similar challenges.

Are you referring to the oli -ekpe custom of the Nnewi people? It is a myth that a male child is better than a female child. Let us all look around us and see the great things women have done and are still doing. Any man who's principal reason for having a male child is to carry on his family name should do something significant himself for humanity so that his name shall never be forgotten. How about that!

God bless your mother!


Nusrat Ara's picture

You have proved your mum

You have proved your mum right. God bless you and may there be more women like ur mom.


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