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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Nigerian Woman

I bought this statue last year from a local artist named Reuben. When I first saw this statue, I thought to myself, "This statue is a perfect representation of Nigeria." I have tried and tried to get pictures of the women I see on the streets, but none of them could ever show so accurately the expressions on their faces as they are working so hard...
It is very typical here to see a woman working with her baby strapped to her back. The expression on the woman's face in the statue is a perfect replica of the expressions I see on the faces of the Nigerian women every day. She is doing her work...her expression doesn't show that she loves or hates it...she just knows that she has to get the work done or there will be no money or food for her children.
The baby sleeping on his mother's back is such a typical site. I really can't imagine ever working as hard as the women I see with Elizabeth strapped to my back...I don't think I could ever get anything done! But, somehow, these women manage to work, take care of their children, families, homes, etc. all the while by doing manual labor. In Nigeria, it is not uncommon for an able bodied man to be standing next to a Nigerian woman and expect her to carry the heavy load ...on her less! It is not unusual for a poor Nigerian woman to give her earnings straight to her husband for him to keep.

Happiness, is an extremely hard- working Nigerian woman. We talk a lot about the differences in how she grew up and how I grew up in the U.S. She has been working at one thing or another since she was in grade 5. She did get to go back and finish high school while she was working, though. Her education is very important to her. She told me soon after I moved here that one thing she has learned in her life growing up in Nigeria is," Madame, You can never ever trust a Nigerian man. I don't even trust my own husband!" She actually makes her husband give her some of his salary so she can buy food instead of the other way around. I always tease her and tell her she is a very un -Nigerian Nigerian!:) She seems more American than Nigerian.:) I am sure there are some trustworthy Nigerian men out there, but when Happiness doesn't trust many of them..I think I'll take her advice.:)

When I look at this statue every day, I remind myself how lucky I am to have been born outside of Nigeria. I am so happy that my daughter will not have to have the life I see so many young girls and women have here. For all you women who are living in countries where you have equal rights as men it is so easy to forget that there are still so many women struggling to have a voice of their own. Please know how blessed you are to have your own voice, your own opinions, your own money. Living here and seeing the things I see here everyday is a very good reminder of how blessed my family and I really are.

1 comment:

  1. The last paragraph of this is so true! yes I was born in Nigeria by Nigerian parents but I am so grateful to have been raised my whole life in the U.S. moving back here in 2009 I have seen so much that I am grateful I never had to experience. I have learned to appreciate and respect the idea of equal rights in the states.