The African Girl Who Succeeded The Hard Way

Jane M M By Jane M M, 31st Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1nd5r_ad/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

This is an inspirational story which shows that it does not matter where one come from for them them to succeed in life.
It also shows how families in Africa value boys more than girls.

The African Girl Who Succeeded The Hard Way


When Ruth and Joe started dating, it didn’t take long before Ruth became pregnant. Ruth was immediately forced to drop out of high school due to shame and mockery from her peers. Her parents and Joe’s arranged for her to move in with him before their baby was born to avoid the village negative talk and ridicule. Ruth’s father was a much respected man in their village and would mostly be called upon to conciliatory meetings particularly in matters related to premarital sex. His opinion mattered to many people, but now it was his own daughter who had been caught up with the so called tragedy. Ruth’s father knew that for him to retain his respect from his community, he had to sort out his mess in a rational way. He therefore asked Joe’s parents for two cows, two goats and a blanket, this was some form of bride price for his daughter. As soon as this was settled, Ruth and Joe became husband and wife and later that night, she was escorted to her husband’s house.
At the time Joe was still in boarding high school and so Ruth was left with her in-laws. Four months after moving in together, they welcome a beautiful baby Jenny into their lives. Initially life was not hard as the two would depend on Joe’s parents for financial support and anything else that they needed. However, things took a different turn when baby Jenny arrived, they could no longer receive any form of monetary support from their parents. With the responsibility of supporting a wife and a child, while still in high school and jobless, it became too overwhelming for Joe and soon he was forced to drop out of school.
When Jenny was two months old, Joe moved to the city to look for a job which would at least enable him to feed his young family. He got himself a job in a construction company as mason assistant. From the little pay he received, he would visit his family on the weekends and save some to pay for a mason course. Joe was very assiduous and within one year, he had managed to complete his course thereby becoming a full mason. His family remained in the village while he continued to live in the city. It must have been hard for Ruth to live miles away from her husband considering the fact that she got married at a very tender age. Within the next five years Ruth already had four other children beside Jenny and so it became vivid that her most crucial role was rear her children while their father was busy working to provide financial support for them.
This kind of lifestyle was very common in their village and so Ruth would find solace from other women who were in the same situation as herself. Joe’s work was very unpredictable; it had its high and low seasons. When the construction company which had employed him got good contracts, he would make a good deal of money and would make sure to save some for the rainy days. During low season, he would stay with his family tilling the piece of land he had inherited from his deceased father. Since they got the share of the land, Ruth had been busy cultivating and planting food to save on money they would otherwise spend on buying food. Despite the hurdles they encountered in life, Joe made sure his family lived a good life even though they resided in the rural area where there was no electricity, running water or even tarmacked road. He was there when his family needed him most, and even though he could not provide a lavish life for them, he certainly knew that they had enough to survive.
Despite the fact that Joe seemed like a perfect dad and husband, he had his flaws as well. By the time their third born baby girl Diana was born, he was already tired of his wife giving birth to girls only. At the time, boys were highly regarded in the society as they would become heirs of the family wealth and continuity of the patrilineal lineage. Parents who bore male children would receive more respect from the society than those with female gender. After all, girls would be married of anyway. Having three daughters and no sign of ever getting a son, Joe felt that his wife was to blame for their misfortune and deserved to pay for making him the laughing stock of the village. One Sunday evening, he told his wife to pack her bags together with the children and go back to her parents. Ruth would not protest or even talk back to him, those were the days when women were socialized to respect and never raise voice to their husbands under any given circumstances. With her three little girls, Jenny, Ann and Diana, Ruth went back to live with her parents.
Joe’s decision to separate with his family was received in great shock by families from both sides. Ruth’s father was more than furious considering the fact that his daughter had dropped out of school and given up her youth because of Joe. It was a painful and selfish act which caused tension between the two families. Disappointed at her son’s denial to own his responsibility, as a father and husband, his mother summoned village elders to put some sense into him. It was the most trying and shocking moment for Ruth who had been forced to become a single mother at the brink of an eye. More obfuscating for the situation she had found herself in was the fact that she was being blamed for a problem she had no control of. After months of deliberation between Joe’s and Ruth’s families, it was agreed that Joe should take his family back and act responsibly. Just months after resuming their life again, Ruth gave birth consecutively to two boys. Perhaps after getting the first male child, she hurried to get another one just in case the gods decide to change her fate. If miracles are real, this was one woman who could attest to them. Finally, Joe could be accorded the respect he so craved for by the society while Ruth would walk shoulder high.
Little Jenny was very adorable and her brilliance could be detected at a very young age. She had learned to walk at eight months and at one year she was already making comprehensible sentences. She never ceased to amaze people with her maturity yet in a very tiny body. At five years, Jenny would help her mother take care of her siblings while she was busy with farm work. She would carry her little brother on her back with a piece of cloth that her mother had sawn and sooth him to sleep. During feeding time, she would feed him as well as supervise the others while they were feeding. Ruth had taught her children to be responsible while they were still very young because the only help she could get was from her husband who was not around most of the time. He would only come home during weekends and so most of the work was done by Ruth; taking care of her kids, the farm and her domesticated animals.
Just like any other child in their community, Jenny joined kindergarten at five years. However, she could not proceed to first grade the following year after failing the examination that was being administered then. The test involved putting one’s hand over their head in order to reach their ears. Her body was very tiny and as fate would have it, she was forced to repeat kindergarten for another one year. At no one point was she discouraged for being in the same class for two consecutive years, perhaps she understood that everything happens for a reason. She understood clearly that so long as her acumen was in great condition, her physicality would not deter her from reaching her life goals.
Jenny’s first day in grade one was perhaps the most memorable of all. With both her parents accompanying her, they all walked into this huge school with very tall buildings and for once in her life time, she got scared. Her parents on the other hand could not understand how their little girl would maneuver her way around and get attuned to her surroundings. “How long would it take her to make new friends?” they would wonder. Jenny was sort of introverted unlike her other siblings who seemed to fit in wherever they went. She was the kind of child who would keep things to herself. Prior to joining grade one, her mother had tried to talk to her about opening up. She had done everything possible to show her precious little girl how the world outside looked like. The most scaring thing for her was the fact that her child might be bullied at school and never reports the incidence to anyone. Fortunately, this was not much of a big deal for Jenny; after all, she had gone through kindergarten and succeeded. Jenny failed to realize that at the former school, all children were of the same age while in the current one it was a totally different scenario.
As years went by, Jenny grew fonder of her school, her teachers and fellow students. Reading became a part of her. During her free time, she would sneak to the library and read books which were even far higher than her level. Seeing how her parents were struggling to make ends meet, she understood from the beginning that only education would liberate her from the vicious cycle of poverty. This meant working extra hard; sacrificing playing with her friends and sometimes denying herself sleep once in a while. Her dream was to become a doctor in future not because this was every other child’s aspiration but because she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Jenny clearly understood that for people to contribute to the positive development of their nation, it’s imperative for them to be in great health.
Jenny’s school was the most closest to her house just about four kilometers away. With her dad working as a mason and her mother a subsistence farmer, this family could neither own a car nor afford to purchase a bicycle for her to ride to school; she had to walk to school. It would be her worst nightmare and the most challenging task that she would have to deal with on a daily basis for eight consecutive years. Her only solace was the fact that there were quite a large group of children from her neighborhood who attended the same school. In the morning, the students would come knocking on each other’s door just to make sure they don’t get late for school. It was essential for students to be in school by 7 a.m. from Monday through Friday and failure to do that, severe punishment would be administered.
Those days caning was very much permitted in schools. As a matter of fact, parents supported the idea arguing that it was the best way of disciplining children. Some would quote the famous bible saying, “spare the rod and spoil the child” to justify the use of cane in schools. Many are the days that Jenny received the caning particularly due to lateness, but this did not deter her from working hard. Sometime Jenny would sleep very late reading. Although their house did not have electricity, she was lucky that her parents owned a kerosene lamp which she could use after everyone had gone to bed. It was the only lamp they owned and for her to use it to study, she had to wait for everyone to go to bed. Jenny had no choice but to work hard in school and also in helping her mother take care of her youngest siblings. Her dream was to become a doctor one day and help her parents financially. After much sacrifice and endurance, Jenny was able to make it through medical school; she became the first girl in her village to have such a big career. Her success inspired so many girls in her village that almost every girl wanted to follow her career path. Three years after getting the job of her dream, she got married to the man of her dreams. They got two children and lived happily ever after. Even today, Jenny is still very much involved in her community, her parents retired from doing hard manual work and all their needs are taken care of by Jenny and her other siblings. Life has never been the same again for Jenny’s parents.


Tags

African Culture, Bride Price In Africa, Girl Child In Africa

Meet the author

author avatar Jane M M
My areas of focus include issues facing women, family and friends stories, children experiences, personal life experiences,daily events around the world among others.

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Comments

author avatar Jane M M
31st Jul 2013 (#)

This is a very inspiring story. It is very touching and gives hope to those from destitute backgrounds.

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author avatar Mariah
31st Jul 2013 (#)

What a compelling read, got totally enthralled from start to finish, and what a positive well deserved ending for Jenny.
Thank you for sharing this
Mariah

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author avatar Jane M M
1st Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks Mariah!

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author avatar BubbaGump
31st Jul 2013 (#)

wow long article, good one

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author avatar Jane M M
1st Aug 2013 (#)

Thank you for taking your time to read it!

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