Issue 3/ Spring 2014
babies:to have or not to have? 4 8 10 12 14 18 20 24 26 28 30 34 36
The Mum Check Box: My thoughts on Motherwood by VB William-Eguegu Political Correctness: The Real Question - Food for Thought Must we even have children? by Adanna Gideon Asiegbu Dear Mama, but you never said... by Kechinyerem Amaka Nwoga The African Girl - by Tyna Ezenma Babies and the re-birth of ambition - From Jacqueline Di Crisci’s Diary The Sahndra Fon Dufe Agenda Faith and Contraception: Open discussion Pregnancy: the “Un”factor The Nanny Trap... by Abiola Okubanjo Acne: “not all breakouts are created equally” by Dr Vivian Oputa EVIA H.O.P.E - W.A.R with Esther Ijewere-Kalejaiye Poems
Magazine Credits & Contributors Editor in chief – VB William-Eguegu Graphic Design – Clorinde Bloc http://clorindebloc.blogspot.fr/ Photography – Tyna Ezenma (http://www.tynaezenma.com)
Contributors Abiola Okubanjo Adanna GIdeon-Asiegbu Jacquiline Di Crisci Kechinyerem Amaka Nwoga Dr Omas Ubiame Tyna Ezenma Dr. Vivian Oputa Dr. Omas Ubiame, MBBS.MPH
Website Design Huitouch International Ltd. 2
Issue 3, we’re doing this for real! Très excitée! Thanks for reading and commenting on the EVIA story so far. In this issue, in no small way we broach the subjects of Babies: to have or not to have? This is the question. Don’t bother asking me, because I don’t know. I’m not a mother, at least not biologically. And the ease with which some people handle motherhood, wifehood and livelihood to be honest does little to convince me of my suitability. BUT, it’s not about me. In this issue we discuss having babies, MUST we? How and when is it ok to have a baby or babies? And when is it not? Join the discussion! We will continue on the website on more topics such as abortion, adoption and contraception. As always we provide other interesting EVIA digestives – such as an interview with leading Cameroonian Actress Sahndra Fon Dufe and Charity organiser, Esther Ijewere! Follow our health tips and more! I hope we keep you reading!
The Mum Check Box by VB William Eguegu
my thought on motherhood
t really isn’t my intention to throw a damper on things for my readers, but I can’t help some of my cynicism – like my cousin always says, ‘at the end of the day, its who I am’ so that’s my disclaimer. I press on. When I told my friend who is also EVIA’s graphic designer what this issue was about, she being a mother told me, and ‘you know it’s really important that you talk about this. Having babies, going back to work, getting care for your baby whilst you go back to work, all that stuff... I mean, we [women] have been having babies for a long time now, I think we [the world at large] can get these things better organised!’ Clo, I couldn’t agree more. However, before we start the campaign about motherhood-friendly employers, which in a lot of countries, [apart from Norway and a few other European
Countries] haven’t got the foggiest idea what is needed; for instance in Nigeria, a newly married woman, is least likely to be hired afresh because, chances are that she might get pregnant soon and... then what actually? Its hard to tell. My friend, who just got back from her maternity leave, continues to perform on her job and heaven forbids she drops a full stop in the wrong place; she’s suddenly not competent enough because she’s just had a baby, like it’s a condition. In my version I’m speaking for those who want to have babies and for those who do not, for those who want to have a baby or babies and still work and for those who are not able to work or choose not to in order to stay with the babies – All have a right to their choices.
The Mum Check Box
The Guilt of Motherhood I had to add this section after two different friends told me how they cried, on the first day they had to return to work after giving birth. Actually one of them only stopped her daily tears after three weeks of returning to work, then another experienced mother in our midst added ‘welcome to the guilt of motherhood, that feeling never goes away’ So when you see a sister who gets back to work when her baby is still a few months old – do not judge her, she has a right to build a home as well as a career, she is capable of doing so and is allowed to. Do not add to her pain, by saying ‘na wa oh’ because her role in the home goes beyond birthing and cooking, she often times is a key factor in bringing home the bacon and her kids have the right to a Mum that went for her goals.
The Check box
Yep, some women don’t want to have babies, it is true and I have met some. No, its not a taboo, its not just a phase, they actually don’t want to be mothers and for some not just yet. The funniest phrase to me when it comes to having kids in Nigeria is ‘just have your kids now and get them out of the way’! Errr, breaking news, they don’t go anywhere; they’re never out of the way. I’m over thirty and independent blah, blah, but a few weeks ago I had some issues and we called, guess who? Our Mum and Dad – even if only to get two pairs of sympathetic ears! We should be out of their way, but they still have sleepless nights when they haven’t heard from you after you’ve set off on a journey. Point 1 – Kids are for life. So you can’t just have kids because you need to fulfil some kind of cultural or religious obligation. It’s not a good enough reason for you to have kids and it’s not a good enough reason for a baby to be brought into the world.
Some employers and colleagues don’t help either, watching for your errors to ensure that they are right in their chauvinistic thinking that a woman cannot work and be a mother at the same time. Making stupid statements like, this one should just go and sit at home with her kids! Shame on you all that think that! I have more than enough evidence of great and even single working mums on top of their game in both arenas. What about the guilt that some of us feel, when we slow down our careers and dreams, in order to cope with motherhood and then other people with kids still go ahead of you? As someone that likes achieving, I know that if I ever had to stop work, and postpone advancements in my career, I will definitely fall into this category especially if I hang out with those just-got-it-together-people-, you know the ones I mean. But you made that choice, and I hope you did so yourself. Be happy in it. I once worked with a German colleague, whom ordinarily
The Mum Check Box
Fulfilment should have been ahead of me, but she took 5 years out of engineering to raise her kids, but she returned and just got on with things, – the good thing is that, you can get back on that boat and you can strengthen yourself to do the things you always wanted to do, when the time is right for you and your unique circumstances. Everyone’s race is different. My advise which is what I told a sister who had that concern, look at what you have gained and be sure that you are gaining something that you can celebrate. That’s what is important.
The Guilt of Non-motherhood Yes O! This one comes too. If you’re married healthy and even remotely settled (meaning out of school), in the minds of certain people and from their lips you hear, ‘What are you waiting for?’ Now ordinarily it should be yours and your partners choice when you want to plant a bun in the oven, but I’m sure if you’re Nigerian, you probably get this question on average once a week, that’s assuming you live miles away from your family and your in-laws. For those that live close by, you never win this fight, as by now you most likely would have given in. Any reason will come up, from it being God’s call on your life, to owing it to your husband’s family line, to owing it to the women around the world who cannot have kids (I’ve never figured how that one works, but it comes up) - at the end of the day, the message is loud and clear, stop wasting your womb! And the older you get, as the biological clock ticks; you’re haunted by the fact that you’re taking your perceived fertility, for granted. At this stage heaven forbid you admit in public you’re actively preventing pregnancy and not living it to fate! (Smile if you know what I’m talking about!) 6
At my brother’s wedding, I watched my older sister play and dance with my niece singing along with a song that was playing, titled Adanma, which means, my beautiful first daughter – it was a beautiful sight, I could see the love and joy that her daughter (and child number three) brought to her. I was moved. This is not always the case though. Hey I know life goes on, but the ease, speed and frequency with which some people hand over their kids makes me question if they fall into the check box category and literally want to get the kids out to the way, but to do what then? In Liz Gilbert’s memoir, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. Her best friend who just had a kid had this remark ‘Liz, having a kid is like getting a tattoo on your face, you kind of want to have it’ i.e. it doesn’t go away! So when you know that the reason you’re having kids or a kid, is because you really want to, I believe that you should go for it, knowing of course what it takes to raise one.
The Numbers Actually, people never ask me if I want a kid, they ask, ‘when are you going to start having kids’ plural! I think this is also one area in which we Africans are greedy. A sort of street-wise statement I’ve heard oft times from Nigerians is ‘kids bring wealth’ yah, if you sell them! Every parent being honest will tell you KIDS ARE COSTLY! So why do people have more than they can raise and cater to? Here are some reasons I’ve heard: - My in laws are pressuring me oh, they say its time for another baby - We’ll keep trying until we have a boy [another story in itself]
The Mum Check Box
- I just want to have my girl and I’m done I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have kids – (ok some people shouldn’t) but a bit more planning and realistic thought is necessary. If like me you were born into a many kids family, you will know if the enormous benefits there are to having your siblings around you – but ( and my parents will never admit this) looking back, having lots of kids takes a lot out of the quality of life they and probably us could have lived. So why the fuss anyway? Are we born with a natural gift to nurture? Is this why the onus is on us to want kids? I think my doctor friend who had to watch a nonchalant mother not know about her kid’s illness and eating patterns will beg to differ.
If you, heaven forbid, put your career or furthering of your education over having a kid or a second one even, you somehow come across as evil and tampering with the will of God. And since we [Nigerians] have the monopoly on knowing what God wants, we condemn people that make that oh so damning choice. Any child who grew up with a mother, who either wasn’t ready, wasn’t happy or somehow felt cheated by life, knows what I’m talking about.
You have to want to have kids, before you have them.
So I ask why is the expectation to want kids so prevalent on this part of the world, and why don’t we truly respect a woman’s right to choose?
Choice Now here’s where I’ll stop hacking away. Having babies should be whose choice? I feel (and I don’t know for sure because they never admit it to me) most of my peers who are mothers, I mean these days, didn’t want to be. No they weren’t forced, but they did not choose either. They decided not to choose in summary, this is what I’m saying. Like with everything, kids should fit into the plan of your life, the overall picture so the timing is really important. Most of us (well not me because face ain’t buvered really) feel guilty to even mention the fact that we don’t want kids at all, or not yet. It’s like sacrilege, because you have been given a womb and it’s a sin not to use it, right? www.eviawoman.com
The Real Question :Food for Thought
n a world where political correctness has gone mad and a country (Nigeria in this case) where certain thoughts, topics and ideology remain taboos thanks to culture and religion; I dare to ask “Is it wrong for a woman to decide not to have children?” Let me start by stating that I am a married mother of four children and two grandchildren and I thoroughly enjoy being a mother. I grew up knowing that I wanted to be a mother and truth be told, knowing it was expected of me being Ibo and having no Reverend Sisterhood inclinations. Would I have been disappointed if I had discovered I couldn’t have children? Definitely! But thankfully, I was spared that torment. Note however, that that is me. We live in a society that has certain expectations of us all and women in particular. These expectations sometimes stemming from what is considered ‘The Norm’; the way things are done or have been done for a long time. The Nigerian society in particular assumes that a woman
would marry and procreate! (Soon after marriage might I add?) Whilst there has been a slight shift from ‘The Norm’, i.e. women now choosing to be single parents and having babies out of wedlock or even choosing the route of fertility treatment thereby cutting out ‘The Father Figure’; Society still struggles with understanding or accepting women with no desire to have children. The Nigerian Society is a religious one (albeit hypocritical at times). We like to base our arguments on religion and the will of God i.e. Women were created with wombs therefore are expected to have children, full stop. There are no allowances for differences, thoughts or feelings. Whilst some of these beliefs and approaches can be quite forceful, mean and inconsiderate most times; it is worthwhile to explore this way of reasoning and why it exists. In the same way that some of us might not wish to have children for various reasons and expect society to accept it, so also will societal expectations be there for one reason or the other. (Albeit right or wrong depending on whose definition it is) Is it wrong for our society to have these
expectations of us if this is the way it has been over the years? Are we too quick to judge a society that is struggling with change? As much as we expect society to understand our need to be who we are even when we defy it’s ‘normal’, should we not also be accommodating of societal views and dwell on how to make positive changes/as opposed to out rightly condemning these views? Do women have the right to decide whether or not to have children? Yes they do. But should their decision be as a result of trying to prove society wrong or should it be based on their needs or who they truly are…contentment? Kat Kinsman summarises it all for me in her extract below;
On Mother’s Day, I’ll come downstairs, rub the sleep out of my eyes, pour some coffee and cuddle in with my odd little pack on the couch. There might not be a greeting card for that, but I don’t need one. Everything I want is right here.” (I am nobody’s mother and never will be Kat Kinsman, CNN Online May 8, 2013) Now there’s a woman who fully understands who she is and is very secure and content in her choice.
“To friends and strangers who ask, I say I just don’t want to… Less easy to shake off is the assertion that a female who does not bear a child is somehow not a real woman. I’m secure in my choice but deeply disappointed that one woman would wield that as a slur against another. I’ve no right to mandate what a mother should teach her daughter, but I hope, deep down in my nullipara heart, that some of the lessons would be about personal freedom, the beauty of difference and the possibility that a person could be content and complete all on her own. And I am not alone. In the world I’ve made for myself, I have a career I adore and friends who fill my head, heart and waking hours. They are in various stages of couple and singlehood, childlessness and largebrooded, and each illuminates my world in a different way. They make my heart larger, stronger and better. www.eviawoman.com
From the momentI started I announced my pending marriage, receiving suggestions of how many children I should ha ve and when I should ha ve them. My aunty suggested four or five Must we even have children? children. On my wedding da y, my friend ga ve me a whole spiel about ha ving children, the the better”. No Bysooner, Adanna Gideon Asiegbu one ever asked if I or my husband wanted children.in fact i got the impression that it was my duty to have children
rom the moment I announced my pending marriage, I started receiving suggestions of how many children I should have and when I should have them. My aunty suggested four or five children. On my wedding day, my friend gave me a whole spiel about having children “the sooner, the better”. No one ever asked if I or my husband wanted children. In fact I got the impression, that it was my duty to have children (I can draw that conclusion because no one had that talk with my husband) resistance is futile! I am 35years old! It proves my point that they are scaremongering when they start in your early 20s to pressurise you to get married on the grounds that “you’re running out of time”, by the time you get to 26-27 years you’re treated like you’ve passed the menopause and unfortunately a lot of us fall victim to that scare and make incredible mistakes of our lives. OK, OK, yes I was born by my parents but my parents made their own choices. From conversations with my mother and my father it appears they were looking forward to having children, although in my view they should have stopped at the first two as the rest seemed like a strain even though they did their best. The assumption that everyone wants children or must do what they can to have children is dangerous. I am talking about people, we all, know from the signs in their character and what they’ve expressed at different times in their lives that they do not want children, but we, friends and family proceed to pressurise them. 10
As an Igbo girl, I have only ever met one person who knew they did not want children and lived true to that. No one will EVER admit that they did not quite fancy children, everyone I have met wants three or four children, in my Mum’s day it was 4 or 5 children, with the most “happening” ones wanting “just three children and am done!” - this was always accompanied by a tap on the belly. I recently watched my friend have her third child; OK you’ll ask what the big deal is. The Big deal is she was already overwhelmed by the first two, which were one of both sexes, that I did not quite understand why she proceeded to have a third. In my view she should have stopped at one child and when I mentioned it, she rolled and eyes and made reference to fact that I have lived abroad for too long. An uncle who never wanted kids, fondly referred to as Dee John. In his life time Dee John endured all sorts of verbal abuse at his lack of “responsibility” and “selfishness”. His mother has resorted to all forms of manipulation and conniving to no avail. Eventually, late in his life the pressures subsided. What I find most striking is the admission from everyone including his mother that they knew right from when he was a mere boy that he would not. He loved life too simple, he only wanted to earn enough for him to feed, did not want a big house, was not interested in women (or men) for that matter and just loved to paint (he was an artist). To his death he wore the same brown shorts (patched round the bottom area so many times) walked everywhere only ever asked
that I brought some good magazines for him when I came home on vacation from University abroad (that I beautifully obliged he was a relief as every other person automatically thought I was made of money simply because I went abroad). Everyone had a sneaky suspicion that he may not like to have a family with children but they still treated him like he was an outcast for not following the mandatory law, set by them â€“ whoever they maybe, to procreate! Nobody thought to think what kind of life he would give those children if he had them.
when she had hoped her daughter would not need her as a mother but be a nice young girlfriend she could go shopping with. When she was put in the position where she should have been motherly, she sent the daughter back to her father. She was not interested, breaking her daughterâ€™s heart immensely. Might I add that after she walked out she has since remarried except this time she made sure the man she married did not want any children? Thankfully she lives in a society where that choice is respected even though it may not be agreed with.
Whilst living abroad, in one of my numerous jobs I had to do to see myself through University, I had a manager who was a single dad. I automatically assumed he was a widower and with sympathy one day, I proceeded to ask how long she had been dead for. I was surprised at his response! She was not dead. She abandoned her baby at 3 months old and left! I was shocked, normally that is a story associated with men but not women. Reading the expression on my face he proceeded to tell me his story. He met her when she was 19 years and he was 27 years. She told him on their first date that she did not want children but he ignored that and thought she is only young and she will change her mind. After dating for 5 years and he finally popped the question. Soon after they married he wanted to start a family but she would not. He just put it down to her needing a little bit more time. On one occasion they did not use the normal precautions and she became pregnant, he remembered how unhappy she was about the news but as the pregnancy went on she had an easy pregnancy and enjoyed all the attention, he thought the worst was over.
Bear with me whilst I suggest having children may not be for everyone! The decision not to have children is as important as the one to have children. It should be a decision made by the two people involved and no one else! With the population of Nigeria supposedly at 150Million plus, every couple have a moral duty to consider the wider implications before embarking on adding to the population my dear husband adds, a very good point on population control!
During the birth of the child she had to have a C-Section and unknown to him she asked the medical team to sterilise her at once. They had a beautiful baby girl. According to him she did not take to the child at all! She did try though. Eventually 3 weeks to Christmas while she was setting up the Christmas tree she left her baby with a note under the uncompleted Christmas tree and walked out. She never visited her daughter or asked to see her daughter until her daughter was 16 years old, a good age
The pressure put on couples by way of jest statements, unsolicited advice plus in extreme cases, abuse is in my opinion disrespectful of the marriage unit plus the family unit as a whole with very expensive consequences especially to the children. I cannot believe that any grandparent will just settle for having grandchildren, surely, the joy is in knowing that the grandchildren are loved because children do not need to be sent to Motherless Babies Homes to be rejected, in fact the most rejected live in the same house as their parents and have everything they want except their parents. The consequences of having children you are under prepared for are very high as it penalises the innocent children and jeopardises the future of the society at large. Although a number of rejected children turn their lives around to become pivotal contributors to the society, the majority never recover from the knowledge that they were not wanted by their parents. Is it worth us putting our children through such suffering?
Really, Must we have children? All of US?!
Dear Mama, but you never said… By Kechinyerem Amaka Nwoga
Episode 1 – World Wide Woman. Hey Mama, You’ll never guess where I am; sitting in a coffee shop in Champs-Élysées in Paris. It’s beautiful Mama and the shops are to die for! Yup, another shopping spree paid for by my dutiful husband Dennis. He’s really outdone himself this time Mama. I have a credit card with no limit and instructions to knock myself out! (I’ve really been trying but they don’t do Vodka like they used to, Lol!). Oh Mama, I miss you. I miss our little chats where you told me everything to expect from my marriage. I remember how we would hide under the dressing table in Grandma’s room whispering whilst you tried to distract me and drown out Papa’s pounding on the door. I remember asking you what he would do if he succeeded in knocking the door down, as I stared at your bruised left eye; and as always your answer was, “I’ll deal with it, whatever it is, this is marriage.” 12
You told me to forget the screams and shouts; the bruises and the fists but to remember playing in the park, having Sunday dinner at Nana Trisha’s and most of all that Papa loved us both very much, even when he was mad. You taught me well Mama, because Dennis loves me more after he’s been mad. He flies me across the world and sends me on shopping sprees. I counted recently and in two years of our marriage. I’ve been to fifteen different beautiful cities; that’s how much he loves me. My last trip to London last year, after he… after I lost the baby was the best of the lot. He let me go by myself, First Class and all expenses paid of course. It was a very depressing time but like you always say Mama, God moves in mysterious ways. That’s where I met Helen… my best friend. My sister, my lover, my world; she taught me that I could be loved in so many gentle, different ways that didn’t hurt. She listened
to me, held me close when I cried and told me it was okay to scream, to be angry. From then onwards, she joined me whenever I was being treated to a shopping spree and it was heaven. I forgot the pain that led to the spree. In some sick way, I looked forward to these sprees now, willing to take the pain as long as it meant a trip abroad… a chance to be with Helen. She came to Paris to meet me last week. Mama, only thing is… so did Dennis. They got on well… really well, after his initial shock at me having a real human being as a friend. But you never told me Mama … you never prepared me for this side of him. You never told me that he would take her too. That he would have her, on our bed, just to spite me. You never told me, that there were some things I couldn’t deal with, even in marriage. You never told me how many times you tried to pop these pills but didn’t for my sake. Well now I know Mama, and since I lost my baby before I had her and since the Vodka here might as well be water, my pills have gone down well, knowing she’ll never know.
that we inherited in our marriages. She will never feel the fist or the gentle touch that comes from the men of our dreams. You see, you sacrificed your life and joy, and stayed in a marriage to keep me safe; to give me what you thought was a normal and stable life. (Funny how I’ve out turned out isn’t it?) But Mama, You forgot to remember that I love you so, that I look up to you, and your life became my life too. You are a good mother Mama and you did your best for me; for that I am grateful…But I choose to break the cycle now Mama. I choose let go. Got to go now Mama, I hear the sirens. I must be in the room to welcome them when they come for the bodies. Besides, I really need to lie down… Love you Mama.
Read More of Kechinyerem Amaka Nwoga’s stories at http://www.eviawoman.com/ eviaStories.php
She will never feel this pain, sorrow and joy www.eviawoman.com
THE AFRICAN GIRL Script and Photos by Tyna Ezenma
father had always wanted to have a son, he never believed in a female child; neither did his friends, so on this day, they were all so sure he will have a male child… an heir. BAMO Dolapo wa joko o, there’s no need for the worries, GREGORY THE AFRICAN GIRL
[A bit tipsy] No need!!!
-Script and photoshoot by Tyna Ezenma
ince I was a little girl, my life has been a living nightmare. I felt guilty and ashamed of myself. I cringe in memory of those days all the time, although deep down I know it wasn’t my fault. I was just a child and I didn’t choose my gender. I often thought ‘I do not blame God for it because I know it is a test and I am going to get through it. But I would still like a friend who I can talk to someone who can understand my situation and help me get through it.’
The boy will come out strong and healthy like his father… Adedolapo
I didn’t want to end up being a helpless and so-called ‘innocent’ child abuse victim; I wanted to be like others, to live and have a social life. I wanted my personality back - the self that I lost as a result of all this. I wanted a reason to live; just one reason… My name is Ronke Davids and from the moment I was born, my parents have termed me a disappointment; an unwanted gender, a rejection. I was born 1st of August 1977 as a first child to my parents. My parents had been married for 6yrs and been looking for a child. My 14
GREGORY [Cuts in] Junior!! [To Dolapo] You be strong Man Dolapo, na strong Baby boy you go get BAMO [Dolapo sits and Bamo hands a drink] Take, drink and be merry [Cry of a baby is heard as they all startle up and towards the door. A middle aged woman comes out from the doorway to Dolapo] WOMAN Congratulations Dolapo, you have a Baby Girl… [Dolapo face expresses shock and disappointment; his friends move back in disappointment as well, woman is confused]
another man’s room and kitchen. When my brother went to school, my father’s sister who was staying with us will ask me to go hawk Agbalumo, Purewater or Orange on the streets. I hawked through the rough and lonely road, in the sun and in the rain. Most times I saw my friends coming back from school my heart would just sink into the deep. My ambitions became dark, my focus turned shallow. I was like a shell, empty and alone with no one to turn to, no one to cry to…..
According to my grandmother, my father would not even look at me as a baby, he didn’t throw the usual 8 day old party for me, never cared if I was sick or healthy, my mother had to bear that burden alone. Soon my mother was pregnant with a second child, even after the doctor warned that it was risky for her to have another child but papa’s pressure was unbearable… and everyday he would warn her and threaten her about the sex of the child. The more I listened, the more I felt more inferior about myself. He threatened my mother that if she had another female child, she would be sent parking; I saw him push mama down to the floor on several occasions while they argued about how he treated me, even with her heavy pregnancy. Papa always called me all sorts of names, useless, worthless and good for nothing. He says all a woman is good for is cooking and making babies… nothing more. Soon I began to believe him, I began seen myself as every negative utterance he says Mama gave birth to my brother Dolapo but she didn’t survive the birth, she lost a lot of blood in the process. So I lost my mother, had a brother and not sure if I still had a father. Few Years later, papa withdrew me from school even though I was the brightest in class. He says its waste of money to send me to school because I will end up in
Soon papa said I couldn’t stay with him anymore, he took me to a strange family. So I moved in with strangers at the age of 10. Adjustment problems soon began for me. I was unaware of the changes that were to take place. They were a newly married couple; Mr. and Mrs. Bankole. At first they were both impatient with me and even started to spank me on small things. They would hit me, slap me, and kick me. Mrs. Bankole would sometimes put pepper in my eyes and my private part whenever I mistakenly break a glass or a plate. Sometimes in the dark I would cry myself to sleep. Something in me told me to be strong, for that was the plan, my only goal should be to please this new family. Years went by and I learned to adapt to the pain and torment, I learned how not to make them mad; they actually became nice but I was too naïve to see what was coming. When I turned 13, they started buying me things, especially Mr. Bankole. On my 15th
Birthday, he bought me very nice underwear and chocolates and asked me not to tell his wife. I was confused, didn’t know what to do, there was no one to ask for advice. Soon he started making funny advances towards me; I would sometimes wake up from sleep at night and feel someone touching me, then I would wake up to see Mr. Bankole on my bed. If I resisted, he would pull out his belt and threaten to beat me up. He would give me money and hush me to be quiet with his hand but his hands had a face from the past, a hand that only for a short time would last. A hand that suppresses the ego and worth of my choice.
Trouble took a different turn when one morning, Mr. Bankole was on leave and his wife had gone to work. I knew he was going to try and touch me, he had told me that he would turn me to a woman that week and that it won’t hurt at all. I had not had the courage to tell his wife about the touching and kissing that had been going on all the while, they looked so happy together and I didn’t want to be the one to break them apart by telling her what her husband had been doing. When I was done with the cleaning up, he had had some drinks and I could tell I was next on his agenda, I had never been so scared in my life. I was practically shaking. He went into his room and started calling out my name. At first I didn’t answer, then he called out the more, 16
I walked slowly towards his room… when I pulled aside the cotton, I saw him lying down on the bed naked. It was the most horrific scene I had ever seen at that time in my life. “Come over here little girl” he said. Without thinking I turned around towards the door. I ran out of the house…into the streets and never stopped running for hours. I didn’t know where I was going; I just wanted to get away… away from everything The streets became my home, I found shelter under the bridge, Mechanic workshops, Kiosks and uncompleted buildings, wherever the night finds me, there I lay to sleep. Could this be the reason why my father didn’t want a girl child? Are all female children caused to go through hell and make married men do stupid things? I slept through the cold night without blankets, dirt and dust mattered but little. A naïve teenager in the wild, no food, no money, no shelter and friend; my third night on the street was the worst night of my entire life. I was sleeping in an uncompleted building with two other girls, who were homeless too, we could only see from a ray of light from a distance building, then some men came in, there were four of them. At first I thought they were police men or property owners coming to harass us but they sounded drunk and looked offensive. I could barely see their faces from the little ray of light. Before they came close the other two girls ran away because they were familiar with the guys but I was naïve and before I could figure out the situation and run, it was too late… the four of them, they slapped me, beat me so bad, broke a bottle on my forehead, my face was covered in blood and one by one they raped me [silence]. By the time they were done, I had passed out. I woke up in a bloody mess, the blood that purged out of my virginity, my virtue, my innocence… Those looking on could not see and would not see the pain that was so deep inside of me. Distance and time closed for me as I sank so deep in my own silence and heartache, I thought about taking my own life or going to my father’s house but papa had moved to Port-Harcourt; I was just caught up alone in a world that adorns confusion, molestation and fear. The more I blamed myself, the more I felt like I brought this curse upon myself because I was a girl.
At 17, I was a wild street child. Each day I woke up with no hope for the day or the day after, I lived everyday as they came and went through two more ugly rape experiences... I knew I had to survive and after going around begging for months with little or no help, I fortunately met a lady who took me in and gave me food and shelter. She told me the only choice I had was to exchange my body for money. She introduced me to the system and at 18, my body was a feast for strange men who didn’t even care about my name or what I believed in. Young men, Old men, disabled men, Smelling and oozing with odour would come around but I needed the money. They called it prostitution, I called it survival.
child is the voice of a beautiful generation and should not be relegated to the back seat. I am a woman, proud and successful; I am the voice of a new generation of powerful women and I say no to the neglect and abuse of the African girl…
I had no choice and I was desperate to survive. At first I felt cheap and dirty but I started getting used to the routine. Every day, while on the street I had only one goal in mind and that was to prove my father wrong about the girl child been worthless and useless. So when I worked as a sexual worker at night, I would go to school during the day. I knew I needed to get an education to make headway in life. I was determined to succeed; failure wasn no longer an option for me. I learnt how to make clothes, I started making clothes for myself, I was my first customer. My friends saw my clothes and liked it, they requested the same kind of clothes and before I knew it, I was making clothes for a lot of people. I saved enough money to get my own apartment and made clothes from home. I was done with the streets. I knew I didn’t belong there. In 12 months, I launched RODA… my own fashion Label and in less than 3yrs I had won 5 local awards and 6 International fashion awards. I also was recognised as a United Nations Ambassador for peace. As I progressed I thought about other girls that are still on the streets; I thought of a way to empower young and homeless girls who are victims of rejection and abuse like I was. So I started RODA foundation; a foundation to advocate for the abused girl child. We have so far empowered over 32 girls and taken them off the streets. Today, I sit here as a testimony that the girl www.eviawoman.com
Babies and the re-birth of ambition From Jacqueline Di Crisci’s Diary
As I lay on the sofa watching Michael McIntyre’s comedy road-show, the one in which he talks about the woes of parenthood, using his adept humour to reenact scenes such as getting the kids ready to leave the house each morning... a wide smile creeps across my face, a grin purely because I can relate completely with each of the scenarios Michael describes.
This is partly due to the maternity period. Returning to work can be daunting and difficult for new mums. I remember after returning to work from a two year hiatus. I felt like I was back to being a fresh graduate, with my work being checked as if having a baby had diminished my competency. This led to undue pressure to ensure my work delivery was prime.
It is indeed amazing how my life has changed over the past few years since I became a mother. Who knew I could survive on only four hours of sleep, certainly not me. One thing however that hasn’t changed is my drive and ambition. Which begs the question how do women maintain a balance of parenting and career progression? This is something that plays on my mind a lot, and a topic of worrying discussion I have with gal friends and cousins who are mothers alike.
Then there is the guilt of leaving poor baby full time at nursery, whilst casually feigning obliviousness when the stay-at-home-mums give you that condescending smirk and say “I stay home with my baby because he needs me at this age”.
What’s most apparent is that the path ahead is no longer filled with the same level of optimism it once appeared to be. It now appears bleak where once it was reminiscent of a ‘yellow brick road’. 18
One mistake some career mums make is returning to work part time, but still having the same level of ambition. The consequence is overworking within limited hours, leading to tiredness and even stress. Ultimately the time then spent with the baby isn’t the quality time intended and needed. Then there is the inequality of parenting. Yes mothers have to carry the baby for circa nine
months; yes mothers have to nurse the baby in the early months, hence maternity leave. In fact some men are given a paternity leave and this is invaluable to mother child. BUT... Who determined that when the child has chicken pox or a flu that by default mummy stays home? Where is it endorsed that mummy is primarily responsible for school visits and activities? When was it confirmed that daddy going away for work is fine, but when mummy has to go away, crisis ensues and emergency response is required in the form of mother-in-law. With all of these, a woman’s ambition and drive must remain strong, right? So how should we do this? The path ahead postnatal is in indeed a bumpier road. Here are my suggestions; • Planning is key, career milestones must be set, and if many children are intended then plan pregnancies to align with career milestones. This is easier said than done, but having a plan is better than having none.
• Be honest to your boss and your husband about your career goals. • Never be ashamed of wanting a promotion, and don’t be scared to ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get (within reason and logic of course). • Finally, spend quality time with your children. Enjoy your kids, have meals together, play games, and make sure you take two family holidays each year, which can even be spent at home. All mothers make sacrifices for their kids, everyday and being a successful career person is a form of sacrifice, and is not in any way less significant than being a stay at home mum. Both have their pros and cons. As a successful parent you teach your child that they can achieve anything, giving them that drive to succeed, this is applicable whether you stay at home or you work, you will pass certain values to your children that will define in what way they impact society when they’re older.
The Sahndra Fon Dufe Agenda
“I seek to do that which is greater than me, for the greater good of all humanity.” – Sahndra Fon Dufe
ameroonian born Actress, writer, producer businessperson, humanitarian and a 100% African Woman! At just 23 years old, this Meisner trained actress from the New York film academy already owns her own production company, African Pictures International; an indie production house dedicated to telling stories from the motherland in a new point of view. Wait there’s more…
She’s the writer and lead actress of the block buster movie YEFON, a movie inspired by true events, a film starring Isaiah Washington, Adrianna Barazza, Jimmy Jean Louis, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Leleti Khumalo, Uti Nwachukwu and many others. Does she stop there though? Delighted to tell you, ‘No’! Sahndra’s dream is to use her art for Social 20
Change – she’s passionate about Children’s welfare, Africa’s Development and Women’s right and respect. When our editor got an email from Sahndra agreeing to this interview here’s what we found as her signature: ‘’ I am a strong woman. I will put my country Cameroon on the map for film, in my lifetime. I will be the first black African woman to win an Oscar. I will be a successful businesswoman and family woman. Because of me, millions of African girls will be inspired to chase their dreams.’’ I’m sure you now understand why we had to make her our cover story for this issue! We’re totally inspired by Fon Dufe – here’s what we talked about. EW: I’m not even sure where to start… ok so where did ‘it’ all start? By ‘it’ we mean realising your dreams to the extent that you have in what is clearly record-breaking time! [Have you always wanted to act, write, produce and well give so much?] Sahndra: Omo you wan kill record breaking? (Had to squeeze in some Naija swag to gain your love! Lol) But for real, I have always
been an artist. I was that bold child that will look you in the eye and say exactly what she was thinking. I was also very creative. I wrote 10 books at the age of 5, did ballet and majorette and liked public speaking at school events and it guess it all just blossomed from there. EW: Can you share some of your career highlights most of it seems high from where we look but what are your most memorable occasions, achievements awards, honours and privileges? Sahndra: This is a very difficult question only because every moment, every little achievement is so beautiful and unique so, its really hard to single one out, but let me think… Hmmm, YES. I gotta tell you this one. So my father is a very quiet, reserved man and recently when I was in Cameroon, he made this speech in front of about 20 people about how proud he was of me, and I guess it really made me cry. I was soooo touched. I also remember being at my tribal convention earlier this year. It was at the Hilton, and I remember walking in to the reception just to take pictures of the event. I mean it was like morning, I hadn’t showered or nothing. Next thing I know, a group of gorgeous little girls run into me like OMG I’ve never met any one famous etc. I’m like ‘where’ ‘where’? Turns out it was me. Lol, we ended up sitting on the floor of the hotel and talking for hours. EW: Tell us about growing up in Cameroon and your childhood and immediate family life, and how it’s shaped who you are today? I mean growing up in Cameroon is awesome. We have Great food. The country is peaceful, life is simple, I mean, I really appreciate it more, now that I’m older and I try to stay in touch as much as possible. I also have a beautiful family that I miss terribly. Socially, Cameroon for me was hehe… interesting. I was very popular among my peers, but definitely different and somewhat controversial. I think growing up in Cameroon definitely made me more mature and responsible, and I would say it really affected my sense of style. I’m really into like African prints and all that.
EW: I can’t imagine that it’s easy to get things moving here on the continent, with being young and being a woman, is that assumption correct? If so or not, what challenges in these aspects and others do you face? Sahndra: I mean I’m in an industry where 1% of people actually make it, and then you look and sound different, and you’re dealing with a society where people are so focused on specific physical attributes as being ‘’the it’’ thing. And then you have to deal with a lot of rejection. To make it, you gotta bring something MAJOR to the table, and then ok you come up with YEFON. Simple concept, let’s make it happen. BOOM. Sounds easy right? Try spending time and money trying to raise money, you get promises, you get really close and then Bam! no result; After all that time, energy and I mean believing in your dream so blindly. Your heart gets broken and sometimes you get into the ‘’ Can I really do this? Did I make the right choice? What if… what if…’’ and then you just kinda shrug yourself back to reality and get back on your feet. It’s tough. EW: Your causes, I have seen from your facebook page you’re s staunch supporter of development in Africa Child welfare and particularly Women’s Right and Respect? Can you tell us what fuels your passion for these areas? [Especially the Women and Children aspects] Sahndra: HEHE thank you for stalking my Facebook. Lol! No, for real, I sincerely feel somewhere within me that I was sent here to use my art to help humanity. I realized that after a deep soul searching (which is still on going) in which I found myself. Women
and children, as well as ANYTHING that has life are a big part of my life. Children, being my biggest soft spot; I love them and I seek to help those who have no one else to help them. I’m not in this position for no reason. It is to make humanity a better place (May Michael Jackson RIP). It’s not only about giving them food really, but helping them become productive and giving them the strength and inspiration to believe in themselves and over come life’s tribulations. I am currently working on a PSA (Ed. Public Service Announcement) for breast cancer, which will be screened on Womens Day in Cameroon. To be continued…
brothers and fathers who have put their women on high pedestals. You will be blessed. EW: Ok you’re obviously very beautiful inwardly of course, but stunning on the outside. What is your take on women and beauty, where the emphasis normally lies – why it lies with beauty and where it should lie? Sahndra: Thank you. I would say, to me beauty is not only about how you look outside. I believe that when your heart and spirit are beautiful, the light inside you shines out so bright that you stand out where ever you go. However, we as ladies need to take care of our physical selves. Treat your skin and hair with respect, eat healthy, keep fit, dress to taste, and brush your teeth. Lol. You know basic stuff. Hihi.
EW: Where do you think Africa is when it comes to respecting, protecting and appreciating the role of women in the EW: Does it annoy you when your beauty is society? fixated upon or is it part of your ‘weapon/ Sahndra: We are making progress, but it is not strategy, do you think? yet perfect. I think Africa needs to continue to remember that our mothers, sisters, wives Sahndra: Not really, because it’s not but and daughters are the channels of life. They then, they already knew that. They have help God continue the process of recreation. seen women far more beautiful, classy or If for nothing else, we deserve that respect. intelligent. If they found me interesting, then Also, I’ll say this: Women are not just baby it was something else ;) making machines, cooks or sex buddies. EW: So what’s in the pipeline for Sahndra, They are people with brains, dreams, and what should we look forward to? Causes, aspirations too. Enough said. books, movies, songs new look! Just tell However, I must congratulate those African us more, because we won’t get bored of
hearing from you, not in the next 50 years anyway! Sahndra: Shebi my projects many ooooooo. Wetin man go do? Na only hustle (HAHA) In the short run, 2013 was mostly about my baby YEFON (coming to theatres soon, we hope). We will continue the hard work of pre- production, then shooting the film, post production, all that good stuff. Also, I am working on a movie with a certain unnamed Ghanaian producer. I have humanitarian projects to help spread awareness on Breast Cancer, and that’s all I have planned for now. But, Evia, I am here to stay. I will be doing this at 70. EW: There are lots of women on the continent who are not even permitted to dream of anything outside of the rules of their cultures (religious or traditional), how do you imagine being Sahndra Fon Dufe will change the future for those women? Sahndra: I WILL inspire them. I want them to know that you can be anything you wanna be in life and nobody/ nothing can stop you from fulfilling your purpose. I want them to believe in themselves. I want to change some of their situations. Some of the proceeds from the movie YEFON will be going to build or renovate an all girls’ school. We are currently scouting the area to see what will be the best option. Maybe I won’t be able to save all of them in my lifetime but I sure pray that my life and work may be an inspiration to someone else, to continue where I ended. EW: THANK YOU SAHNDRA YOU REALLY ARE AN INSPIRATION TO AFRICA! WE’RE DEAD PROUD AND HONOURED TO HAVE MET YOU! WE WILL LOVE TO KEEP HEARING FROM YOU. I am so honoured that you chose to tell the world about me in a magazine with such a beautiful purpose. Just so you know, I read the MARRIAGE ISSUE and I freakin LUUUUVED IT ! Enjoy your day and I look forward to talking with y’all in the future. Enjoy ;) www.eviawoman.com
Faith & Contraception – OPEN discussion
had a most random discussion with a doctor who I think should be struck off the register for his stupidity! But things don’t work like that in Nigeria, we do not punish evildoers – we salute them. Just after I got married I was in search of a method of contraception that won’t interfere so much with my cycle and well my body to be honest. So I went to see a GP in Lagos. In the course of our discussion, he asked if I was married and I asked why that was important. He’s response? “We won’t give contraception to single women” and I asked why, he’s response again “are they supposed to be having sex outside of marriage? Other hospitals can give but here we don’t encourage them to have sex so we don’t give them contraception” I bet you help them abort unwanted pregnancies though right?! Tsk!
What does your religion say about contraception and how have you reacted to that?
Also send in your personal stories on contraception including abortion and your faith to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will publish them on the website! Make sure you do! This discussion will be continued on the website www.eviawoman.com
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burden to bear and for a long time too; one she may find she has in common with her very own teenage daughter. Overview
PREGNANCY; THE ‘UN’ FACTOR Unintended! Unexpected!! Unplanned!!!!
t was a regular Wednesday morning in the Ikoyi military hospital - obgyn surgery day. I walked into the private ward of the female wing, to as usual reassure my 48year old banker patient about the ease of her procedure; what surgeons call a ‘ToP; termination of pregnancy’ but met her weeping. Thinking something that could jeopardize the procedure had gone awfully wrong I asked ‘Madam is everything ok?’ She looked at me sadly and said ‘Doctor, how did this happen? I have always been careful’ She sobbed and continued, ‘I didn’t even have the courage to tell my husband’, and she sobbed some more. After spending over half an hour trying to pacify her, it dawned on me. Here was a 48 year old bank manager, mother of four children. With probably tens of workers under her authority, crying, afraid to tell her husband she was pregnant? It dawned on me that the travails of unintended pregnancy is beyond the purview of the clichéd young teenage girl; the one who is expected to gain admission into the university to read medicine come fall, the one whose father is a preacher in a local church, that one whose baby daddy is the neighbor’s school dropout son. Indeed the travails of an unintended pregnancy is ageless, it is every woman’s
The US Center for Disease Control CDC defines unintended pregnancy as; a pregnancy that is unexpected, unwanted and unplanned for, at the time of conception1. Studies have shown that the average woman today spends ‘only’ about five to eight years of her reproductive life actually desiring pregnancy and expends well over three decades; more than three-quarters of it, trying to avoid getting pregnant2. Especially, worsened by increase in female education and arguably improving economic opportunities for women.
Adolescents, singles - unmarried / formerly married, women of low socio-economic status, those who have less access to contraceptives, less education about sexuality and family planning, and fewer career opportunities - are the groups of females most at risk of unintended pregnancies. This group is more prone to contraceptive non-use, mal-use and failure. Most recently available data puts the 2008 global rate of unintended pregnancy at 55 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, of which 26 (about half) ended in abortion4. At similar time in Nigeria, the rate of intended pregnancy was 79 per 1,000. An estimated 208 million pregnancies in 2008 resulted in 102 million intended births, 41 million induced abortions, 33 million unintended births, and 31 million miscarriages4. The highest unintended pregnancy rates were found for Eastern and Middle Africa and the lowest for Southern and Western Europe and Eastern Asia. Putting in place preventive mechanisms that comprise of comprehensive sexual education and availability of family planning services have reduced globally within a decade, by 29%, unintended pregnancies in developed regions and by 20% in developing regions. Causes Contraceptives account for the 2 major causes of unintended pregnancies •
Contraceptive none / mal use whether
inconsistently or incorrectly. •
More likely to be of low birth weight / preterm delivered. They are at higher risk of child abuse and parental neglect8.
At greater risk of infant mortality and are more likely to be less mentally and physically challenged.
Less likely to succeed in school; more likely to live in poverty; need public assistance; and display delinquent criminal behavior8.
Contraceptive failure (the method was used correctly, but did not work5.
Adjunct explanations associated with the above reasons are •
Coercion – for example rape or involuntary sex which sometimes happens in the context of domestic violence, birth control sabotage.
Lack of knowledge about sex and reproduction, lack of planning or ambivalence about whether to have a child, over the counter unavailability of contraceptives or shame over embarrassing doctor appointments5.
Religious / cultural beliefs that discourage or prohibit contraceptive use, or contribute to ignorance about them or how to use them correctly.
Prevention and ‘Cure’ Unintended pregnancy is a worldwide problem that affects women, their families, and society. In many developing countries, poverty, malnutrition, and lack of sanitation and education contribute to serious health consequences for women experiencing an unintended pregnancy.
The consequences of unintended pregnancy are far reaching and adversely affect mother and child:
Regardless of the cause, unintended pregnancy and its negative consequences can be prevented by access to ageappropriate and culturally sensitive reproductive health care services, including emergency contraception, safe and legal abortion services, and a society that allows women to determine their own reproductive choices9.
Unintended pregnancy can lead to late initiation of antenatal care and inadequate preparation for parenthood6.
It precludes the chance for prenatal testing and maternal screening to detect problems like congenital defects and sexually transmitted diseases before pregnancy6.
Unintended pregnant women have poorer maternal mental health; increased risk of physical violence during pregnancy; reduced likelihood of breastfeeding, resulting in less healthy children and poor quality of mother-child relationship7. Associated increased likelihood that mother smokes tobacco or drinks alcohol during pregnancy; resulting in poorer maternal and child health.
Children whose births were unintended are:
In 1920, Margarets Sanger said, “No women can call herself free who does not control her own body.” 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention available online http://www.cdc.gov/ reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/. 2. The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), Fulfilling the Promise: Public Policy and U.S. Family Planning Clinics, New York: AGI, 2000. 3. Forrest JD. Epidemiology of unintended pregnancy and contraceptive use; Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY 10005.; American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology [1994, 170(5 Pt 2):1485-1489] 4. Susheela Singh, Deirdre Wulf, Rubina Hussain, Akinrinola Bankole, Gilda Sedgh. Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress 5. Eisenberg, Leon; Brown, Sarah Hart (1995). The best intentions: unintended pregnancy and the well-being of children and families. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. ISBN 0-309-05230-0. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 6. J. Joseph Speidel, Cynthia C. Harper, and Wayne C. Shields (September 2008). “The Potential of Long-acting Reversible Contraception to Decrease Unintended Pregnancy” 7. Logan C, Holcombe E, Manlove J, et al. (2007 May [cited 2009 Mar 3]). The consequences of unintended childbearing: A white paper. 8. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive doi:10.1111/j.1931-2393.2005.tb00045.x.PMID 1615065
9. Carrie S. Klima CNM, MS. UNINTENDED PREGNANCY: Consequences and Solutions for a Worldwide Problem. Article first published online: 10 JAN 2011;.DOI: 10.1016/S00912182(98)00063-9
The Nanny Trap: Finding One and Getting her Up to Scratch By Abiola Okubanjo
ne of the benefits of living in Nigeria is that labour is cheap. So for working Mums (and those who can) having a nanny is a great advantage. But can you find a good nanny? Abiola Okubanjo, Director of Tiger Lily Children’s Wear shares her views on finding that rare gem and reveals just what it might cost you to achieve this feat. Benefits of getting a nanny I had always heard that living in Nigeria would be a great experience as a mum. Where before I struggled valiantly alone with all child-rearing duties, now I would enter a period of living it up like a Queen. No more getting the kids up in the morning, ‘sayonara’ to the ritual of bath and dressing, and ‘so long’ to the school run. I could turn my back on the endless cycle of cooking and feeding, put a thumb up the nose to the mad dash through traffic to make it in time to pick the kids up before the school called social services on me and say ‘goodbye’ to the exhausting bedtime routine. 28
How to find a good nanny I arrived in Nigeria ready to embrace the freedom of being ‘a Madame’ and then… I noticed the terms and conditions of my new status. In bold, and highlighted for the world to see, it says “You employ staff to take over the bits of child-rearing you can’t be bothered to do”. However, the devil is in the detail, the small print shall we say. It’s here you learn what a trial it is to actually find competent staff to entrust your pride and joy to. You learn that far from discussing the merits of different child-rearing philosophies with a modern-day Mary Poppins, you cross off “Why do you want a career looking after children?” from your list of interview questions. When the answer is invariably “I don’t, I just need the money” accompanied by a baffled look, you have to lower your expectations. What nannies are asking for these days Eventually you make your choice from the
slim pickings of money-focused ladies of indeterminate age (I have had women in their forties claiming they are under 25!) and delusions of where their ‘skill’ places them in the pecking order of the labour market (from their salary requests you would think I was employing a PhD graduate for a chemical engineering role). Lets assume that the gods are smiling on you from above and your chosen lady actually turns up for work at the appointed time and day. Lets also assume that she passes the medicals you insist she takes with a trusted clinic of your choice, after all you have been warned that All Clear medical checks from the ladies themselves or their agents are to be treated with caution. How to train your nanny Finally it is just you, the Nanny and your wary kids. This is where the real work begins. You can forget the idle life of the underemployed mama sitting back and allowing her to get on with it. Oh No, you have now become a one-woman Health & Safety Expert, Distributor of First Aid Knowledge, Infection Control Police, Practical Child Care Trainer, Implementer of Safe Working Practices, Fire Marshall and Work Ethic Mentor.
Trap we have to deal with in real life. Tiger Lily Children’s Wear is an affordable luxury mail-order and online brand for newborns to teens that cares about style and believes in value for money. Founded by former hedge-fund manager and mum of 2, Abiola Okubanjo and international fashion stylist, Yety Akinola, Tiger Lily has headquarters in London and operations in Nigeria. From our New York office, Yety, who styles celebrities such as rapper Kanye West, singer Justin Bieber and actress Danni Minogue, expertly puts our range together. You can buy our unique collection of clothes, shoes and accessories online at www.facebook.com/tigerlilynigeria. You can also email us at email@example.com or call 07035 922 335 to receive the latest catalogue.
Nannies, even the experienced ones, do not necessarily come burdened with prior knowledge or understanding of simple childcare skills. Do not be surprised if your Nanny thinks it is perfectly reasonable to allow raw meat to gently defrost on a shelf above peeled and chopped fresh fruit. Shrug it off if you have to explain the merits of holding on to the banister while she carries your precious, squirming toddler up two flights of marble staircase. Merely sigh when you have to remind her AGAIN to wash her hands with hot water AND soap before she prepares your little one’s meal, especially as she has just left the ladies’ room. With such vigilance required on your part, you would be forgiven for snorting in disbelief at the picture painted of idle, wine-swilling ‘Madames’ that you were initially presented with. That’s the Nanny www.eviawoman.com www.eviawoman.com
Acne: “not all breakouts are created equally” By Dr Vivian Oputa
[Previously published on Eden Lifestyle Nigeria - http://edenlifenigeria.com/acne-not-allbreakouts-are-created-equally ]
There is no single disease which causes more psychological trauma, more maladjustment between parents and children, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority and greater sums of psychological suffering than does acne vulgaris.” -- Sulzberger & Zaldems For some people acne is just an annoying condition while for others it is a significant problem that has a very significant impact on their lifestyle and quality of life. Acne can show up as pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, congested pores, pustules or cysts (deep seated pimples). It is one of the most common skin conditions affecting most people at some point in their lives. All forms of acne start out as a clogged, congested pore. Skin normally sheds its dead cells and pores get blocked because sometimes this process is not complete. Leftover dead cells mix with excess surface oil and block the pores and as a result, the cells, sebum and bacteria get trapped leading to inflammation which shows up 30
as tender, red bumps. These blemishes are seen in areas where there are many oil producing glands (sebaceous glands) mainly on the face, back and chest. A lot can be done to control acne with over the counter preparations. More difficult cases need to consult a physician. Acne shows up in puberty as the oil glands come to life when stimulated by male hormones produced in the adrenal glands of both boys and girls but why it affects some and not others in not well understood. These oil glands, located just beneath the skin, constantly produce and secrete oil through the skin pores to lubricate and protect the skin. When the pores are blocked by dead cells and debris, the oil produced builds up and naturally occurring bacteria feast on the oil and multiply leading to the inflammation of the surrounding tissue. If the inflammation is near the surface, you get a pustule; if it’s deeper you get a papule which is a pimple; deeper than this forms a cyst. When the oil breaks through the surface, you get a whitehead and if this oil oxidises turning from white to black, you get a blackhead. Faulty skin cell turnover and stress may also play roles in the development of acne.
Stress boosts the hormones that stimulate oil production so acne tends to worsen in periods of stress. There are mild, moderate and severe degrees of acne. Regardless of the degree of acne that may be present, the oil-bacteria-inflammation cycle has to be broken to get clear skin. Acne is not just a teenage problem as cases of Adult Acne are on the increase. Adult acne eruptions usually occur along the jaw line and chin and are typically stubborn, under the skin cysts. Fortunately, therapy for preventing and treating acne are more effective than ever before. The major contributing factors to acne breakouts are hormonal imbalance, stress, diet and genetics. The Acne/Diet Relationship For years Dermatologists have stated that foods do not affect your skin but recent studies have shown a relationship between acne and the food we eat. Foods with a high glycaemic index such as processed carbohydrates and refined sugar are the culprits. The glycaemic index measures how a food affects blood sugar levels and hence insulin release. The faster a food breaks down during the digestive process, the higher the glycaemic index. It is believed that the rapid breakdown stimulates a rapid rate of insulin release which in turn stimulates increased oil production and skin cell turnover in the pores providing a feasting ground for bacteria. Foods with a high glycaemic index include Donuts, cake, sweets, white bread, corn flakes and potatoes to mention a few. Reducing your intake of such food may go a long way to help reduce breakouts. Foods that contain preservative chemicals, artificial flavouring and colouring may also lead to breakouts. The Acne/Hormonal Imbalance Relationship Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate body function which circulate in the bloodstream. Hormonal imbalance may occur at any time in oneâ€™s lifetime and usually starts at puberty and for women, occurs during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and
menopause. Increased levels of circulating Androgen hormones increase oil production which contributes to the acne cycle. Monthly breakouts in women around the menstrual period is related to increased progesterone levels. Nearly 50% of all women experience monthly premenstrual acne flare ups. Progesterone causes fluid retention and puffiness. This rise in tissue swelling affects the skin compressing the pores shut leading to sebum build-up and blemish formation. Hormones responsible for acne include Testosterone (an Androgen), Gonadotrophins, Anabolic Steroids, Coriticosteroids and Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone (ACTH). Stress leads to an increase in corticosteroids. Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) produce too much Testosterone and are likely to have problematic acne and increased growth of facial and body hair (hirsuitism). Androgenic acne may be as a result of producing too much testosterone, producing too little oestrogen or a natural sensitivity to androgens which is the most common cause. Oral contraceptive pills help in the treatment of acne by reducing the level of circulating androgens and blocking androgen receptors. The pill increases the level of Sex Hormone Binding Globin (SHBG) which binds to circulating androgens preventing them from reaching their targets. DepoProvera (Medroxyprogesterone acetate) a long lasting injectable depot progesterone contraceptive occasionally has acne breakouts as a side effect. Spironolactone (Aldactone), a diuretic used for the treatment of hypertension binds to androgen receptors blocking androgens and thus inhibiting their effects. It is often used in addition to oestrogen supplements for the treatment of PCOS. Yasmin, a new generation OCP containing the progestin Drospirenone, has a structure similar to spironolactone and its associated properties of androgen receptor blockade and diuretic properties making it a good choice for women who want to avoid the possible water retention associated with the use of other.
Treatment The focus of both prescription and at home therapy is to unclog pores, kill bacteria and minimise oil production. Mild Acne This exists if you have a few whiteheads, blackheads and occasional pimples. Treatment and prevention begins with regular exfoliation to prevent the build up of dead cells. Active ingredients to look for are salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acids. Affected skin should be washed twice a day with a gentle cleanser such as Dove soap, Cetaphil, Neutrogena Rapid Clear Oil Control Foaming Cleanser and Clinique soap. After cleansing, a toner or clarifying lotion containing salicylic acid should be swiped over skin with a cotton pad like Clinique Clarifying lotion and Skin Success Exfoliating Toner. At night, Benzoyl Peroxide 5% or 10% such as OXY 5 or 10 should be applied to affected areas to kill bacteria. It is important to use a suitable moisturiser. Oil control moisturisers like Clearasil Total Control All Day Mattifying Moisturiser can be used to blot excess surface oil. A variety of mild scrubs and treatment masques can be used. Scrubs such as Botanical Buffing Beads by Peter Thomas Roth contain gentle jojoba beads that won’t scratch or irritate the skin. Sulphur containing treatment masques such as Origins “Out of Trouble” should be used once a week to help deep cleanse the pores and mop up excess oil. Moderate Acne This exists if you have more frequent pimples in addition to blackheads and whiteheads. If the above treatment regimen fails to improve skin condition after two weeks, a dermatologist should be consulted. Prescription retinoids such as Retin-A, Differin, Tazarotene and Tazorac are tried and tested with excellent results. This is usually given in combination with topical or oral antibiotics. Microdermabrasion, which is the “sanding off” of the top layer of skin, helps control acne by decongesting blocked pores and 32
is usually prescribed as a series. This is also achievable by the use of chemical peels. Clearlight, a high intensity light source similar to a laser and safe for use on black skin may be used to kill bacteria. A series of eight treatments is given within a month and results typically last four to six months. Another option is the Nlite-V a fast-pulsed dye laser. Two sessions are required and results last about three months. There is also hormonal treatment for acne using birth control pills and androgen receptor blockers. When women produce excess androgens (male hormones that naturally occur in women in small amounts), the sebaceous glands are stimulated to produce excess oil leading to more blemishes. Oral contraceptives help stabilise androgen levels and if this does not work alone, an androgen blocker such as flutamide or spironolactone may help. Women who get breakouts at the same point during their menstrual cycles are the best candidates. The occasional one pimple every month does not warrant the use of hormonal therapy.
An alternative to Accutane is the Smoothbeam laser that heats oil glands slowing or stopping oil production. A series of four to six treatments are recommended. Skin clears within a week and results can last up to six months. Thanks for reading my article.
Get yourself glowing!
Dr. Vivian Oputa is a Medical Practitioner and Specialist in Aesthetic Medicine, Surgery and Dermatology. She is the Medical Director of DermaCare Medical Ltd. and Clinical Director of the Clover Medical Company Beverly Hills, USA. She is also an Anti-Aging Medicine Expert Memberships include the Nigerian Medical Association and The American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery.
Severe Acne This exists when you have deep painful cysts in addition to whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. Cystic acne is deep set with no surface opening and is most likely to form acne pit scars due to the way it heals. Skin is pulled downwards leaving an indentation). A good skincare regimen is needed in addition to a Dermatologists care. Each cyst should be injected with Cortisone by your dermatologist. This is neither convenient nor cost effective for chronic sufferers because it doesnâ€™t reduce outbreaks. Prescription Accutane can be prescribed for a 15 week cycle which may clear acne for several months or sometimes for good. Accutane (Isotretinoin) is an oral Vitamin A derivative wonderful for the treatment of severe, resistant acne that works by shutting down oil production. The downside is that it is highly teratogenic and may have serious side effects and as a result should never be given to pregnant women.
EVIA H.O.P.E Helping Other People Excel] W.A.R with Esther Ijewere-Kalejaiye
ape was on our mind and not just the fact that it occurs, but how unmoved we are about it. It ranks as one of the least reported crimes, with only about 28% of the cases being reported and even where this is reported, statistically in Nigeria, less than 50% of the victims were dissatisfied, according to a report by the CLEEN Foundation. Its sadly not the only issue we try to push under the carpet in Nigeria, but for some strange reason, the victim is often blamed! And very often by women. This bit I do not understand. However, there’s hope with new legislation and religious bodies calling for harsher punishments for perpetuators. How we follow through of course is another issue, especially where the offenders are in positions of power. I caught up with Project Coordinator of the Walk Against Rape (W.A.R) Nigeria, Mrs Esther Ijewere-Kalejaiye. Here’s what we talked about. Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, growing up in Nigeria as a girl etc. I’m a graduate of Sociology from the 34
Olabisi Onabanjo University, wife and mother of one (daughter). I’m also the Executive Director of Rubies Ink Initiative and Project Coordinator of Walk Against Rape Nigeria. What is W.A.R about? W.A.R acronym for Walk Against Rape, it’s an annual campaign for victims of rape and domestic abuse aimed at demanding for justice on perpetrators as well as encourage victims to speak up and report cases of abuse. Might seem an obvious question, but why Rape? Rape because of passion for humanity and my strong affinity for change as it relates to issues affecting women. My colleague who is a well meaning 34yr old man, in discussing rape with me made
this statement “this rape thing sef, is it really common in Nigeria? I don’t think it is o” Why do you think people either know too little or care too little about rape in Nigeria? They are not informed and some are just plain ignorant or would rather not accept that such act happen to other people simply because it doesn’t affect them directly. Can you tell us some statistics on rape in Nigeria? The statistics has gone up drastically in the last few years and it’s worrisome and alarming, between 2012 till now the number of rape cases shot up from 12.5 percent to 84 percent, sadly these are only the number of cases reported, most cases go unreported making it difficult to get the actual figure of rape cases that occur on a daily basis.
There’s the new law being passed for perpetrators of rape, do you believe it will help with this epidemic? Yes it will, Lagos state is setting a good example already by jailing some offenders for the number of years approved and endorsed by the house according to the bill. Can you share with our readers where victims of rape go to for support and counsel? There are several NGO’s in the country that offer counseling and support , but most times we recommend the Lagos State Ministry Of Women Affairs where they can get counseling, medical care as well as Justice.
Its so often said about rape victims, especially when they are young outgoing women, “Na she dey find am” or “why did she go there?”, Why do we rush too quickly to blame the victims of rape, but not victims of robbery or murder etc? Lack of sensitization, the more reason why we are creating awareness on how victims should be treated and also campaigning against stigmatisation of rape victims. I have known women who have felt raped, because during consented physical intimacies, they didn’t want to proceed further, is this considered rape? Yes it is, a woman has a right to give her consent and at the same time give you boundaries and when she says NO the man should respect her and not either have his way by force or through violence. How would you define rape? The act of having sexual intercourse with a person without their consent or will Some husbands rape their wives, how can this be dealt with? They are not above the law, the same way every offender is dealt with. www.eviawoman.com www.eviawoman.com
Endless Blue As I stared out the window Gazing for a finish line I saw breaks and patterns Layers that intertwine I worked my eyes further Cutting through some heights Down a steep valley And unfolding ray of light Should I look even further? And search without a clue The awesome mystery Of this Endless Blue
‘Hope for beginners’ A Poem If time allows for a few mistakes And always healing for the heart that breaks Then it’s never too late to join the winners Cos there‘s hope for us beginners If I’m too weak to fight my sorrow But I survive to see tomorrow And I just seek to find in me a winner Then there’s hope for this beginner If silently I scream in anguish But inwardly, hope on my wish Though broken I can stay positive And in darkness, light I still believe I’ll soon be in the company of winners As there’s always hope for beginners Wings aid flight And knowledge our might Not too late to be a love believer cos there s hope even for beginners
Published on May 3, 2014
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