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VOF Week 2: (I Refuse to be Defined by Society)

I was born to Cameroonian middle class parents. My father’s job took us all over Cameroon. My mother is a teacher.While my father was a loving dad, he was hardly a good husband and many at times my siblings and I would find my mother crying or both parents quarrelling heatedly. Always it was because of the numerous mistresses my father kept. I never understood how my mother could stand it. As early as twelve years of age, I remember wondering why my mother put up with my father. I used to tell her to get a divorce but she would refuse and say she worried about us the kids. But as I grew older I realised that she needed the cover of marraige because society was not kind to divorced women. I also found out that she had married my father not only out of love but to prove to society that women from her family could marry (her elder sister is single to this day and back in time, tongues were wagging). Don't get me wrong, I loved my father but hated what he was doing to my mother.

I like to think I am a very open minded person. I think very independently and I don’t believe in gender roles. I remember that as a kid, I never understood why my brother was allowed to play all the time while I had to help mom in the kitchen. To this day, cooking is not my thing and that, in my context is an unconceivable thing for a woman to say. But, I refused to be defined by what 'society' thinks.

Because I have never wanted to depend on anybody, I broadened my horizons immediately I graduated from university. I was 18 and in my country that is too young to attempt finding a job. I was not frightened. I had just lost my father and I knew I had become some kind of pillar my mother rested on. I volunteered for a couple of organizations before becoming employed by state media just one year after graduation. I still volunteer for an NGO that works with underprivileged kids.

This is not enough for me because there are a lot of restrictions. So I cast a wider net. I always look for training opportunities for journalists on the internet. I do not want to work out of my country permanently. What I want is training so I can change my country using my pen. This is how I got connected to WorldPulse and PulsWire, through IJNET.The internet has proven to be well of opportunities anyone can fish from. It has also proven to be an instrument of change if used correctly. My dream is that Cameroonian women come to understand that they can do whatever they put their minds to and that they do not have to be dependent on men for any reason. I need women to know that marrying for cover is marrying for all the wrong reasons.

Comments

enDhruva's picture

I can relate...

Hi Nelly2.0 - I'm one of your listeners for your VOF assignment this week. Your journey is one that I can relate to on some levels. My father also had many mistresses and it hurt me now to think of what that did to my mom...but I too did love my father. It is hard to reconcile all those feelings sometimes isn't it? From your writing, I am imagining the struggle that women have in your country with the gender roles being so strictly followed and marraige being such a seemingly important thing to do. I absolutely applaud your courage to step outside the "rules of society" and being willing and determined to share these steps you have taken with other women to empower them to rethink their choices. Because they are choices! :-) I am so happy that you found PulseWire and the Voices of our Future program because it sounds like it is a very right fit for you! With you on their side, Cameroonian women have every reason to feel empowered and inspired.

Many blessings,
Erin

Nelly2.0's picture

That is great

Hi,
It's good to meet you. I'm glad you understand where I'm coming from. It was always quite painful finding the balance between love for my father and hating all the things he did to my mother.

Can I add you to my friend list so you know everytime I post on my journal?

Many blessings too
Nelly

enDhruva's picture

Yes, I would like to be on

Yes, I would like to be on your friend list!

-Erin

ENIE NDOH CECILE's picture

Skeptical

Hi Nelly,

As much as i admire your dynamism i am kind of skeptical and at the same time curious about this fact.
As a Cameroonian who grew up in Cameroon and schooled there too, i am in the know that the average age to enter secondary school is 12 years for those who start kindergarden at 4 years which is the supposed recommended age.

Secondary education is 5 years. Then high school 2 years and University courses are atleast 3 yrs. All this sum up makes a standard graduate to earn a degree at the age of 22 years.

However, the least age i have seen any body get to secondary is 9 years plus. And to add up the 5 years in secondary plus 2 years in high school and a degree program of 3 years, that person should graduate at least at the age of about 20 years.

As such i'm curious how you could graduate at 18 years for even here in the US 21 years is about the standard age, judging from kindergarden age through middle and high school to collage.

For instance, I am a mother of five and my first daughter is a graduate. My son is a first year student at the University now. They started pre-school at age 2yrs plus , then did 2 yrs in kindergarden, 6 yrs in primary so got into secondary at age 10years plus. So to add all up he too like his sister should be graduating by 21yrs.

Wish you all the best

Nelly2.0's picture

You wouldn't be the first!

I know you are skeptical. You are not the first,many in Cameroon find that hard to believe. I began school at the age of 2 and a half. I did one year in nursery school, six years in primary school, six years in secondary school (I wrote the GCE A levels in lower sixth) and did three years of university. Add that up, and I am sure that gives you 18, that is when I got my first degree. I got my first job at 19, after writing a competitive exam into CRTV and was one of 21 selected out of 540. I have been working for three years now. Add that up, I am sure that gives you 22.

Some would like to describe me as a genuis, but I assure I am not. I just have a high IQ, but not to qualify me as a genuis.

It is almost painful that you doubt me. I wish there was a way to have you convinced. You are worried about me, then I should not even tell you about my younger brother. He got into university at the age of 15. Did four years of primary education and one year of high school.

But I guess you are entitled to your opinion. Thanks for the comment,
Nelly

ENIE NDOH CECILE's picture

Thanks...

Thanks for curbing my curiosity. As i said i was just curious because i have known very intelligent kids and i have intelligent kids too but my mom as an educationist does admonishes the issue of children being promoted and ascending fast. She holds at a certain level they become immature and misfit, because each class has its syllabus and missing a class creates a vacuum.

Even my last daughter now 6yrs who could say her alphabets and count, say her name, where she lives, the capital of Cameroon etc by two i wanted to put her in Nursery one directly but they refused because of her age. They said she was too young.

These are some of the reasons I never imagined anyone could shorten their studies as such- so please look at it from the perspective of me being inquisitive. As i said my son for instance is an all through honour roll student but was left to follow his normal course. He had 17 points in the A'levels.

Hope you see my own point view.

Congrats and thanks for the explanation and hope no hard feels please.
Being in the profession you should know journalist are very inquisitive.

Stay Blessed and Cheers

ENIE NDOH CECILE's picture

Daughter

I just wanted to inform you that my first daughter is a year older than you. I had her in August and turned 16 in Oct.
After her graduation she worked for a while with Brasseries and in Abuja. She is presently doing her post graduate in South Africa. So hope you wouldn't mine if i refer to you as my daughter.

I was married, having my kids and schooling at thesame time.
Although i am the last child,I always loved children and i was told at age 5yrs i had said i will start having kids before i finish my secondary education. Strange i guess.

Nelly2.0's picture

That's okay

I understand you. Like I said, a lot of persons usually think I have reduce my age. Only my classmates from secondary and primary school. And you can call me your daughter, I don't mind. I am used to. A lot of my older colleagues do that too. I am not offended. And I also understand the concerns that skipping classes might cause you to be social misfits. My younger brother almost found himself in that situation. My mother is a teacher and I am sure that counted a lot.

No hard feelings, really.

Nelly

msakereth's picture

being young

as her former classmate I can vouch for her being that young and being in school. I remember thinking what is this little girl doing in my class? lol...but I later started to respect her interlligence. Some people are just gifted in that way.

freesuukyi's picture

I really enjoyed reading your

I really enjoyed reading your post. My parents divorced when I was young, so I know the pain and confusion that goes along with unhappy parents. Good luck continuing to discover what is next in your life!

Megan

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