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The Girl Child Syndrome BY …Ijeoma Chinonyerem

The Girl Child Syndrome BY …Ijeoma Chinonyerem

When my name came out for service, our reverend in my family church asked the graduates whose names were shortlisted for service to come out for prayers.
We were just two of us in the church. A boy and I.

We came to the altar and knelt down for prayers. He placed his hand on him and prayed for him. That may the land he was going to favour him. That may he get a great job and take care of his family as the first son. May he blossom and attract wealth and greatness in the state he’s going to serve. May he meet with people who would connect him to his destiny helpers and may his service year become a stepping stone in his success story.
The guy and the congregation said Amen.

He came to me. His prayer was, may I find favour in the state and find a husband there before I come home.
That was it.

I refused to say Amen. He eyeballed me, I eyeballed him back. He told the congregation, “Ijeoma has refused to say Amen. Ijeoma why did you not say Amen?”

I wanted to tell him I didn’t say Amen because I vehemently rejected that prayer. How could you lay such blessings on my male counterpart and all you say to me was to go and find husband in my service year?
So I don’t deserve a great job as well? I don’t deserve to make my parents proud as their first child? Will onugbo sellers die if you prayed for me to equally attract wealth and greatness in the state I was posted? Was success a male preserve?

This was not about my vacillating views on marriage. It was about the fact that he could have equally repeated the same prayers he said for the guy for me. But no. All he did was ask me to go and serve and get married. Like that was all I could and should aspire to. Like I do not deserve the same prayers because I am female.

He asked me why I didn’t say Amen and seeing as I didn’t want to embarrass my parents who were in the church I said nothing. He repeated the same prayers the second time. I still refused to say Amen.

One of my father’s favourite proverbs is Ejila anya ihere loo aguwa. It literally translates to, do not swallow a razor out of timidity.

I knew he meant well, but no I was not going to accept that prayer that had no blessing for me or my folks. A si onye kwe, chi ya ekwe. In this case, ekweghi m.

He now told the church, ” Since Ijeoma has refused to say Amen let us say Amen in her place”. The over enthusiastic members gave a thunderous Amen.

Upem. My lips did not move. I rejected that prayer. We went back to our seats. After service we went home. My parents did not mention it at all because they took my side. Not just because they know my stance on marriage but because they have bigger dreams for my service year than for me to run away and get married.

Days later my mum reminded me of the incident and we laughed over it. I have seen her frown at prophets and pastors who saw “vision” of marriage for me. Is that all? Marriage? That’s all the future holds for my daughter? Nothing else? Of course she wants me to eventually get married later on but nke ifuzi ya n’uzo.

She was more likely to remember your prophecy if you had something more tangible to say. You don’t get to tell Mr A that you see him running a big company in the future and tell her daughter you see her getting married.
Like saying you saw her eating Egusi soup. Ehen? O gwula nno? Ka gini mezie?

Do not miniaturize the girl child. Do not make us aspire to mediocrity. Do not set lower standards for us by saying let the boys hustle, let the girls marry. Nopity nope. Imbue in us the spirit of hardwork too. That same drive and expectations you have for a male child should be for the female child too. Stop encouraging our laziness.

And for you girl child, dare to be stubborn. Dare to dream. My parents tell my sister and I, “I don’t want you to be called wife of governor or wife of President or wife of a billionaire, I want you to be the governor, the president, the billionaire”.

Little wonder I rejected that prayer because ndi Igbo siri na onye nna ya zigara oshi n’eji ukwu agbawa door.
He who was sent by his father to steal, confidently breaks the door with his leg.


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Posted by:- on October 12, 2018.

Categories: Literature

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