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How I discovered that my voice is my freedom – part 2

How I discovered that my voice is my freedom – part 2

“Girls education is not worth the hassle, the beauty of a woman manifested is when she is married.” In many of our languages there are sayings that de-value girls’ education. However education has set my family free from the cultural baggage of “the ideal wife”. Illiteracy is still high in my country about 75% of the population is illiterate. My husband was the first generation of University graduates in his family. It was rear amongst his ethnic group, especially in the 1970s and 80s. At the same time I was also the first girl in my family to complete high school in the 1980s. This gave us a unique opportunity to build a new generation of family life where education would be a priority and women’s voice are loud and clear. This was a silent revolution our own way. We did not argue with the “elders” as expected but we took them by surprise with whatever we wanted to do.

It is the business of couples to decide how to plan their family life and nobody should decide that for them. We decided to space the birth of our children. It became a concern that our first child had to be four years old before we had another one. Something must have been wrong and the most obvious thing culturally was that I the woman had a fertility problem. Delegation of aunties came to find out what the problem was. In our society the man is the last suspect when a couple do not have children. To find a solution some husbands would be forced into polygamy just to have many children. I was expected to provide an answer because there is a general assumption that infertility and sub-fertility is mostly because the woman has a problem. But I had already prepared my answer because there were unofficial hints that I did not have another child for “too long”. I told my aunts “it was not Allah’s time for us to have another child” this kept them dump for a moment, because they could not question God so to speak. Once again my voice gave me freedom.

As the years went by through my work as a broadcaster, I came into contact with anti female genital mutilation- (FGM) campaigners. In the mid eighties, the only women’s organization that dared speak about a taboo subject such as FGM was GAMCOTRAP. I reported on its activities and I found myself taking an activist stand to discuss the issues on radio. Today I work full time for GAMCOTRAP.

By 1993, I had to face another challenge where my voice would give me my complete freedom. I had another baby girl - my symbol of complete freedom. She is my guinea pig in my 18 years of experimenting that I do not have to follow tradition and culture blindly. They are coded belief and practices and we have to be courageous enough to unpack them. The unpacking in my family was not easy but it had to be done. I had to take some risks and this contributed to who I am today.

In our culture when a woman gives birth, she is massaged as she recovers from childbirth. I took the risk for that not to happen when I took the decision to get my baby’s ear pierced in the hospital instead of waiting for the traditional rites as expected, for the decision to be taken by others.

I took the risk of being snubbed by family members because I would not subject my baby to FGM. I took the risk of being identified as a Westerner or “Tubab” because I would not abruptly wean my baby from the breast milk and let her cried for the whole day and kept away from me for at least a week for her to forget the breast milk. I took the risk of being categorized as a ‘mad woman’ because I had taken the decision that no family member would bully me to be carrying my baby with me for fear that she would be subjected to FGM in my absence. I made a declaration to my extended family. “If anybody subjects my baby to FGM, three things would happen. I would make sure that I leave a mark on the person’s face to be a permanent reminder for mutilating my baby. I would be imprisoned for causing bodily harm and finally I would be divorced,” because the likely person to do it would have been one of my in-laws.
My voice become my freedom that baby is now 18 years old. She has survived the risk of being married at 14 years of age and today she would not have been admitted to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana to pursue an undergraduate study. My voice is my freedom.

Amie

Comments

ArtByMia's picture

Thank you

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful piece of writing and sharing your most powerful tool to FREEDOM your VOICE!! yu are a true inspiration to many!!

Mia

amiesissoho's picture

Thanks

Hi Mia,

it is interesting when you discover that things you take for granted are what people struggle for everyday. Thanks for reading it.

Amie

Amie

Stella Paul's picture

Moving

If I ever were to carry a little book title 'my heroes', your name would be on its very first page! Pen on!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

amiesissoho's picture

What an encouragement!

Dear Stella,

what a sisterhood spirit of encouragement. Thanks you very much. The sad thing is there are many more women and girls out there in our communities who cannot write their stories or dear speak out but we shall speak for ourselves and in the process speak for those who have the confident to tell us their stories.

My voice is my freedom

Amie

Amie

YAOtieno's picture

Your freedom voice

Loved reading every bit of your story. Laughed really loud at the last part o your story - I will leave a mark on someones face...!! It worked!!!

Keep writing,

Y

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

amiesissoho's picture

Thanks

You're welcome. at times they have to think you're not "normal' for you to get your freedom.

Cheers,

Amie

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