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Omote Omam’omo – Francis Ewherido

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Francis Ewherido

No suspense, the title means that the girl child is a good child. Sometime ago, I read the story of a woman, who surrendered her two daughters, aged 13 and 18, to his “man-of-God” lover to sleep with, because he promised to heal her sick SON. The foolishness that comes with desperation knows no bound. God condemns all forms of sexual immorality; how then can you believe someone, who tells you that the same God has revealed to him that he should sleep with your daughters, one of them under-aged, as a pre-condition for healing your son, and you mumurishly believed him? That was what the woman did: a man, already sleeping with her, slept with her two daughters, deflowered the younger one and impregnated the elder one, if I still remember the story correctly.

Anyway, the woman’s inexcusable naivety and foolishness are not the points of interest today; the point is, if any of the daughters was the child who was gravely ill, would she have gone to this extent to save her? The answer is capital NO. To her, daughters are dispensable. After all, soon they will get married and sign off their surnames and adopt the husband’s surname. The thinking of many people is that the male children sustain family names. For crying out loud, where are Plato’s, Socrates’ and Shakespeare’s male children? Are they the ones sustaining their fathers’ names? Are the male children of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa and many other great Nigerians, who have left for the great beyond, the ones sustaining their names?

Thank God many men, especially, are now wiser. They know that their works and legacies will sustain their names, not male children. Children have their own lives to live and have to make a name for themselves and have their own legacies. These days, many Nigerians, who have only female children, hang their boots after the specified number of children that they had planned to have and move on. Some are now grandfathers. So, we do not have to go to America to cite Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Contented fathers with daughters only are here with us. There is a media personality I used to be close to. He has only daughters. When he was done with the number of children he wanted, the wife wanted them to try one more time to see if they could get a boy, but he put his foot down. Today, even from afar, his life looks very complete to me. Sons will not keep your name alive. The life you are living now will determine whether or not your name lives on after you. So, if you are still busy running around like a naked toddler, looking for a male child that will keep your name alive, you are on a wild goose chase.

Besides our culture, which placed and still places premium on of male children, women are the main culprits who treat the girl child unfairly. I said so previously. I know a family with only one male child, where the mother practically makes the daughters worship their only brother. He does no chores and does no wrong. If he misbehaves and the elder sisters want to discipline him, the next thing you will hear is “leave my son alone; he is the only one I have.” The husband has told her she is spoiling the boy, but his admonition has fallen on deaf ears.

I fear two scenarios for this family: one, the boy will grow up to be a very lousy husband, if not a monster. These days, many young couples go to work early and come back late. So, in the morning, while one is preparing the children’s meals, the other is getting them ready for school. In the evening, while one is cooking, the other is busy with other household chores. With a husband, who knows nothing, but only how to eat when food is ready, how will the marriage fare? Two, the daughters are growing up in a home where they are second-class citizens. It is possible they will have an inferiority complex. When they get married with this mind set, they can sit in a marriage and suffer mental, emotional or physical abuse, thinking it is normal.

Another aspect that irritates me about this almighty male syndrome is when a daughter is the first child and sons follow. During crucial family matters, the eldest daughter is shoved aside in some families as if she does not exist or have a brain to think and make valuable contributions. The one that irritates me most is when accomplished women, intelligent women and well exposed women are side-lined and their only sin is that God created them women. Very important family decisions are then left for almighty eldest male children. I would be less bitter if all these eldest males were responsible and competent. But some of these guys are drunks, drug addicts, layabouts, good-for-nothing lousy bums and school dropouts who are painfully limited in knowledge and scope. They end up messing up everybody and leading the whole family into the gutter.

If you like o, treat your daughters like slaves and second-class citizens in their own homes. In my home, it is a level-playing field. I am bringing up my daughters up to be lionesses; self-assured. I tell them to be tough because they were born into a society where the odds are against them. My eldest child is female and she is firmly in charge of my household. When my wife and I travel, she takes full charge. Her younger siblings know there are grave consequences for anyone who disobeys her. The boys might have muscles, but they keep their muscles to themselves and obey her. Where I see excesses, I correct her.

All children must be trained to have self-worth, but it is especially necessary for the girl-child. A girl without self-worth sells herself cheap and falls for every “Dick,” Tom and Harry, looking for acceptance and affirmation. You do not want that for your baby girl. Our culture is important, it is our identity and must be jealously guarded. But some aspects of our culture are obnoxious and every obnoxious culture should be jettisoned. That was why killing of twins ended in Calabar. That is also why every aspect of our culture that makes the girl-child a second-class citizen should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

I see encouraging signs, but we still need to do a lot more. Recently, the Orovworere of Effurun-Otor, King Johnson Duku, added me to the list of elites of Effurun-Otor. By African standard, I am not eligible because I am maternally from Effurun-Otor. But King Duku, in my estimation, treasures emor’emete (children of daughters) and sees me as one of his subjects and I am happy about it. Urhobo, Delta, Nigeria, Africa, omotejohwo, odi’ohwo vo, omamo r’ohwo (the girl child is also a human being; not just a human being, but a great human being). Love her, honour her, respect her, and give her what is her due.

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