An African woman is born.
"It's a baby girl", the midwife announces.
The mother stares back in horror.
Another girl? She says to herself.
My in-laws will surely throw me out this time.
Days later, mother and daughter are leaving the hospital.
The nurses are asking for the child's father.
Mother smiles and shakes her head; more to herself than to the nurse.
She refuses to announce that her husband stormed out of the hospital
when he learned of the baby's sex.
Only with numerous pleas and promises of a son is that female child allowed to cross the door to her father's house.
Barely 3 days old and she already knows rejection.
An African woman is 7 years old.
She trails behind her mother and her 3 sisters as they find their way to her father's farm.
She swallows down the anger rising in her gut. She tries hard not to think about her twin brothers who are allowed to sleep on even though
she is only a year older than they are or why she has to work her palms off whilst her mates are in school?
At the thought of school, the anger gave way to sadness. It wasn't that she couldn't do well in school, afterall she often helped Nana with her home-work. But she would never forget the mockery on her father's face when he said, " what is a girl doing in school? What will she use the skills for? A girl is born to support the mother in caring for the home, to get married, bear children and cater for the family. Do you need school to learn that? Leave school for the men who will require it inthe future."
Only 7 and she already knows inequality.
An African woman is 15 years old.
She bites back tears as she watches the ceremony going on without her.
He will make a good husband, mama had said. But what does a man lusting after a teenager know about being a good husband?
She is married off to a man more than 3 times her age, without her having as much as a say.
She sees his teeth coloured with tobacco as he promises to be careful.
He does not keep that promise.
Tears, warm like a summer day, roll down her eyes. She wills herself to endure until it is over.
It is over...
While she cannot scream out, her lips quiver and her womanhood trembles, begging for relief.
Only 15 and she already knows pain.
An African woman is 17 years old.
Her eyes are tearing up from the smoke in the kitchen.
She reaches out a hand to caress her enlarged belly, saying a silent prayer that this one will stay.
It is hard being pregnant, she thinks to herself. A thought she can never voice out because a thousand women will shut her up before she can explain.
Her thoughts are interrupted by the persistent pain in her lower back.
5 hours after screaming for help, an African woman is in labour.
She is in pain; her idea of going to the hospital, trumped as they asked, "are you not a woman? You can bear it."
But she can't and in some ways she feels at the losing end of the battle.
After what seems like years, a cry is heard. Her daughter.
She cradles the bloody, pink figure in her arms. Tears flowing freely,
she says a last prayer, "Lord save my daughter from the life I lived."
One breath later, an African woman is dead.