Culture is an integral aspect of every society regardless of the religious beliefs of its people. This is sufficient to say that there is no society without culture and culture cannot exist in isolation. Haven known that culture is an embodiment of both arts, customs, beliefs and values that characterize a particular society or nation, it is therefore, pertinent to note that, the concept of culture in Africa, generally and in Nigeria particularly cannot be overemphasized, it has tripartite sides which are the good, the bad and the ugly.
My culture and the girl-child from the perspective of the Igbo nation has been one that has always streamlined and relegated the girl-child to the background. The girl-child is made to understand that the male child is more Superior, important and has a brighter future hence, he is sent forth to school to be educated leaving behind on the premise that educating her is of no consequence because she would be married off. Hence, she exclusively belongs to these two rooms:”the kitchen and the other room”.
Consequently,it has been observed according to Igbo culture that the girl child should be introduced into the kitchen at a very tender age so as to be able to cook and take care of her siblings in the absence or presence of her mother irrespective of the truth that the siblings could actually be older than her; worse of it all if she is the only girl . But then, I wonder how absurd it is for one to leave the task of nourishing one’s body in the hands of another on account of gender. This leads me to ask the question “is the girls child born with cooking gene?
Although it has been said that, culture is an indivisible part of any society, but should we continue to absorb it’s barbaric aspects even in this 21st Century?The Igbo nation believes so much on the masculinity of the male child so much more that they bring up their girl-child to live being dependent on the man. She is not taught to aspire for greater heights aside getting married, make babies, take care of them and the home which she considers to be an achievement. She is taught to live in fear so that she could be protected by the man-child, to have no dreams or vision else, she would scare men away and be termed “unmarriable”.
The Igbo culture has made it in such a way that the girl-child is brought up in a box-like form. They make decisions for them- at this age, you should be married with kids, set principles, heights and limits. Sexually, she is made to believe that she shouldn’t be promiscuous (but the man-child can be) hence, she should be married as a virgin. She is taught to cover up herself, talk in a certain way, sit in a certain way and be subservient to a man-child regardless of his age or status.
My culture and the girl-child has been a story of struggle, of survival and lately of mental emancipation, of no retreat, no surrender. This is my story, your story, our story as a girl-child that, it is almost a crime( if not one ) to be born as a girl- child and you have to fight too many battles in order to carve a niche for yourself be it politics, education, administration, you name it. And you also have to confront so many male folks in other to gain recognition.
Suffice it to say that, Africa in general, Nigeria in particular, and the Igbo nation to be precise have given the girl-child no room to live out her potentials. It is therefore evident that they don’t believe she has potentials.
She is charged with the burden of bottling up, feigning strong when she has continuously been assaulted brutalized and victimized. She has been “raped” and drained psychologically on the basis of being weak.
But the girl-child is never weak. she is full of potentials which society has failed to harness, cultivate and nurture due to gender. The truth remains that, darkness fights against light -the girl-child is light. My culture is only revealing this.