“You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I rise”

-Maya Angelou

It’s been quite a remarkable year for woman hood all over the world, you’ll agree. The past one year especially has witnessed the rise of more women who are unashamed to reveal their scars. Stories have been told, tears have been shed, power women have risen! We’ve seen movements spring up such as #MeToo #TimesUp, We’ve watched the world stand up for women. What a time to be alive!

Every 8th of March is International Women’s Day and today we’ll be celebrating the African woman; The African woman who against all odds, has emerged. We share her story in this short series ‘Still I Rise’.

Still I Rise.

“They tried to bury us but they didn’t know we were seeds” aptly describes the story of 27 year old Ayodeji Osowobi. In 2010 while sharing a ride home with a young man as opposed to walking all by herself that late in the night in an unsafe community, Ayo was sexually assaulted. Her supposed place of safety became danger zone. She kept pleading with her attacker she was a virgin but he won’t stop. Soon the morning came and Ayo felt totally worthless- her pride was taken from her, what next?

Today it’s a different story. Inspired by this awful event, Ayodeji founded the Stand to End Rape Initiative, one of only two rape centers in Lagos, Nigeria. She shares: “Your worth is not in your vagina; your worth lies in your capacity as a human being to think, work and impact your generation”. One incident that was meant to destroy one woman has built hundreds of women. This is who the African woman has become- still she rises.

(Story Credit/Source: CNN.com The #MeToo stories you haven’t heard).

Still I Rise.

One Google-click will bring to your finger-tips feats of women who have done great things on the African continent. To make a list of some of the familiar names;

One thing these women have in common: They are women, they are African and they sit on the thrones in their respective fields and careers. In a male-dominated continent, all of these women have shattered barriers, beliefs and mind-sets; they have proven to us that being a woman does not equate mediocrity, there’s no limit to what a woman can achieve. Within her lies the power to be whoever she wants to be- Resilient, Successful, Wealthy, a Leader! This is who the African woman has become- still she rises.

Still I Rise.

Ummi Al-Hassan. Ummi is perhaps that young woman nobody has heard of. She’s not on Instagram or twitter, the only place you’ll find her is that thatched hut in the small, quiet village where she lives. Ummi was married off 21 years ago at age 15 as a third wife to a man aged 50. Uneducated, clueless and only a child herself, she was a mother of 3 by the time she was 19. All her life she had been beaten, raped, abused, suppressed and subdued by the very man she married- she hated his guts and was only forced to marry him so it was natural she was sometimes hesitant to succumb to his desires; but he always had his way.

Today Ummi is 36 and will graduate shortly from the fashion-designing school she had enrolled in a year earlier. One late-night about 18 months ago, she had decided that enough was enough. She picked up the pieces of her life and fled from the home of her oppressor; It’s never too late to start all over. Ummi looks forward to owing her own fashion home someday. This is who the African woman has become- still she rises.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day celebration is Press for Progress.

– It’s awesome progress to see the African woman especially, lend her voice to liberating movements   and tell her story, regardless of the stereotypes and cultural stigmas attached to women who would dare reveal their awful pasts and pain.

-It’s tremendous progress to see women sit on the throne in their respective fields and careers, in politics, in industries, in nations.

-It’s great progress to see the African woman get up and walk away from situations and relationships that have broken, suppressed and drowned her nearly all of her life.

-It is progress, to see that the African woman is beginning to realize she was made for more than providing sex or rearing children without regard to her choice; Her Life does count, too.

Your Life Counts, Woman, in every imperfection. Remember, we celebrate you for progress, not perfection. ONE step a time, not ONE hundred a time.

Happy International Women’s day 2018!


Image source: Los Angeles Times