The beautiful state of Cross River, with her pleasant welcoming and exciting environment, Lush vegetation, green fields and beautiful people, this is where myself and a thousand other wonderful young girls were and are still born. With pain, rejection and suffering that surrounded the girl child, all we dreamt of was to soar high and look for a brighter future.
The creek town girl child would be the object of ridicule among her counterparts because she had to be sold into slavery, the Obudu girl child would climb the lonely mountain with wobbly feet, under the heartbreaking rain and slippery slopes to farm while her mates went to school, the Ogoja girl would be left at home to take care of crawling babies and droll in loneliness because she had no right, worst still, the Ukelle girl suffered more, she was exchanged to house owners for a fee to send the boy child to school, the Ukelle girl child was the most sought after, she was seen as naïve, a workaholic and regarded as a dumb and submissive maid, while the Ikom and Boki girl child knew her life revolved around the coco farms and plantain plantation. A typical Calabar south girl would narrate her tale of sexual exploitation to the unbelieving ears of the listener while at an early age the Yakurr girl was forced into marriage and made to give birth at the tender age. Every girl child grew up knowing that they belonged to the smoky, dark sided plate breaking side of the house, (the kitchen) and the only time your voice was to be heard was you declaring that the meal was ready. A lot of female kids knew that their lives didn’t revolve around there, there knew the sky was their limit. All wondered what could be done, silently of course because speaking was a taboo.
Growing up as a girl child was risky, she would be harassed emotionally, sexually and physically, most times by the people who were supposed to whisk her fears and pains away. She couldn’t take part in any decision making because she was Gods second option and had nothing valuable to contribute, the girl child didn’t need adequate health, financial or even moral care. It was a waste of resources. Most or all of the time, our mothers could say nothing because there were afraid to be beaten, and sent back to their fathers house, after all there where the weaker vessels so all they did was cry in our sufferings. What there failed to understand is, she possessed strength and will power.
Then came the point where the girl child would be given away in marriage at an innocent age for a big price to a man, probably old enough to call her “granddaughter”. If you were not lucky to be punished with such a marriage, you won’t escape being a slave in the fattening room for the bride, in all of these, what hurt the most was the pain of realizing that our self confidence was lost and killed in the process of the daily hustle.
The cry of the girl child has rang from years past, the gospel against girl right offenders has been preached every second, and the sweet melodies of the abilities of a girl child with a voice and an opportunity keep resounding, the pains keep getting mild, the world is accepting us for who we are and realizing that we have enough to offer.
Thankfully, more and more women are getting up and giving a stern look at domestic violence, harassments both in the community, household and at work places, lending their voices politically, religiously, Academically, Socially and economically, getting free from the shackles and bond that confined them to the kitchen and learning the act of creativity and versatility and of course refreshing and renewing the confidence of the girl child. Although the struggle for total freedom for the girl child is on, many other people have stiffened their hearts and heads to this development. All we have left are the insignificant scares that the discrimination and rejection left us, and a typical Cross River Girl child is building beyond the scars.
Christiana Ukung is a 200 level Accounting Student of the University of Calabar, Connect with her on Facebook: Ukung Alawa
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