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A Journey from invisibility...

Growing up, books were my refuge. I was a very shy child whose social skills were dismal. I delved into a world of fantasy, where of course, I was loved by everyone and everything ended happily ever after. I felt safe in my small space wary of venturing out, in case I got hurt or inadvertently cause harm to someone else.

I was content to stay in the background. This meant that are often played down my opinions and needs so that it did not offend or hurt anyone else. On the other hand, I hid my anger and disapproval when I was offended. This was no way to live surely.

Fortunately, I grew up and while life hasn’t always been easy or straightforward, I have learnt that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Confidence gained has made it possible from me speak out against injustice and speak up about issues that interest or affect me. Instead of just reading about life, I am now writing about life. In my work at Alliances for Africa, I have been drawn to helping people whom society abhors or ignores at best. As a woman, modesty is considered a great virtue. However it is in the silence of our homes that sometimes, the greatest injustice is done. I speak out against domestic violence, discrimination against women and speak up for justice and gender equality.

When you are invisible, you become just a number – a statistic. When you are visible you are a reference point and can challenge discriminatory practices. The opportunity to write and be more visible came when I received an email about the VOF (Voice of Our Future). I was not aware of the PulseWire online community until some weeks ago, when I received the email. I decided it was now or never to begin to document my experiences and stories with the aim of tackling gender discrimination and improving gender justice.

My personal vision is to be the best person that I can be with no apologies and no regrets. By participating in the VOF, I hope to improve on how I express myself in writing. As well as enhance in a safe online community, the freedom to speak up for myself and the many women whose voices have been silenced or ignored.

Comments

lolatsai's picture

Hi Osai, I'm so glad you

Hi Osai,

I'm so glad you found the World Pulse community :) Your voice and writing is so genuine and I look forward to hearing more! I too, have a big love for books, and know that WORDS have tremendous power to impact and transform. Keep writing!

Love & blessings,
Lola

Love & blessings,
Lola

www.oneglowinglife.com

Osai's picture

Hi Lola, I am glad too! I

Hi Lola, I am glad too! I wonder how come it took me so long to get here.

Thanks too.

Best wishes,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

ddegarm's picture

Osai - thank you!

Your story is so honest and real... I appreciate people who are willing to take the risk and let people know who they are and what they stand for. You are doing such wonderful work and your words tell a story that inspire us to action. It is great you found your voice in World Pulse and you are helping us better understand the world in which you live. I too received an email about VOF and am overwhelmed by the precious words shared in this venue. Keep writing and telling your story. Your work will help women everywhere!
best!
Denise

“Women have a special capacity to lead us to a more peaceful world with compassion, affection and kindness. And there is no more important time for that than this moment.” - Dalai Lama

Osai's picture

Thank you

Thanks for the encouragement Denise. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful community.

Best wishes,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

...and they make me want to read more! Thank you for this excellent post, Osai! I am grateful that your language skills are so strong that you have been able to learn about World Pulse and "jump in" as you say, to share your voice about justice and safety for women.

I really like the contrast between your picture of the young girl who withdrew and made yourself invisible and the empowered young woman, ready to step up and let your voice make a difference for the people you care about, whose voices are "silenced or ignored.

I would have appreciated learning a little about what helped you gain confidence, and about Alliance for Africa. It helps to use up every word the World Pulse "allows" -- especially since you use your words so well! Way to go, Osai. Thank you for this post.

Anna

Speaking my Peace

Osai's picture

Re: A journey from invisibility

Thanks Anna! I thought over and over how best to present this story as it took me down memory lane. I would try to improve on explaining myself in more detail. Thanks for the tips.

The process of gaining confidence was not abrupt. It took some time. As I was a studious child, I excelled in academics and the teachers in Secondary School took notice. I was encouraged to represent the school in activities such as debates, quizes and other competitions. Yes, debates were scary but for some reason, I did it. I won a few prizes at school level and state level. I was like Wow! I also loved art and just before graduating from secondary school (Art School), I won 3rd prize in painting for my school in a competition held for all secondary schools in Lagos State. I don't do much art this days and I wish I did more, but that is another story.

I got into university to study law and although this was not my first time away from home (as I was in boarding school for the last 3 years of secondary school) it was the first time I could manage my time how I liked. I felt that since I was recognised for my work, I must be doing something right. I joined a number of clubs - Rotaract, Choir and got to meet people from all over the country. I studied people a lot and read more. In my first year I read the book, 'How Europe underdeveloped Africa.' I was shocked. I also met a group of amazing women, older than me who exuded confidence. They took me in their wing but did not try to change me from a quiet mouse. They accepted me for who I was and as I lived through the 5 academic sessions, I learnt from their lives, the way they handled their problems, relationships, and for the first time, learnt to laugh at myself and have a good time. I also faced rejection and had some fake friends, but each experience made me understand life was filled with roses but thorns also. The confidence I gained in those years enabled me to take the plunge and travel to a strange country where I knew no one for my masters in 2000. My years in the UK, were liberating and I enjoyed it. My experience as an Intern in the ICC, showed me the evil of suppression and war and motivated me to be an activist.

Because, I always felt a connection with people who didn't fit in and who were shy or lonely, I can relate with their fears and problems. I mentor the interns in Alliances for Africa. I look out for the new colleague or new member in the association. I seek out people who find it difficult to stand up for their rights, the marginalised and neglected because of their sex, status or tribe. I try in my policy work to draw the attention of policy holders to their issues. In my gender justice projects, I seek to find relief for women who are restricted by culture, religion or other factors to achieve their potentials. I am currently working on a public interest case that I believe would impact positively on the lives of a majority of women in Africa by ensuring that their right to work and employment is protected. One woman may feel intimidated but matters in the public interest would benefit all women.

Thanks.

Best wishes,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

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