The past two months I have been overwhelmed by reflections and inner seeking of something deeper than what I am and where I am. I have been meditating on my childhood, particularly around the age of 12. I recall this age as a time when I was full of curiosity and inquisitiveness that shaped my desire to seek or become a seeker of knowledge. Despite growing up in a family where my father was not religious and still isn’t, and my mom was too busy to guide us through the path of faith, I developed a spirit of desiring to know who I am and an inquiry of life beyond what we see with our eyes.
However, life’s difficulties and challenges led me to lose sight of that childlike curiosity as I took on responsibilities beyond my years. I started working at the age of 13.
Recently, I’ve embarked on a journey to rediscover that inner child, connecting with the innocence and joy I felt at 12.
Today, as a founder, a team lead, and a project manager, or whatever titles I have collected along the way, I am still committed to preserving the essence of that curious child within me even in instances where life demands or needs me to grow up and show up differently.
As I was riding my bike in the forest today, I felt the joy and peace and how it would feel to be a child again, to be free, to be liberated.
Although Africa as a continent has both matriarchal and patriarchal traditions, most of us hail from cultures that are deeply patriarchal and know the limits that have been imposed on us by culture, society, environment and sometimes religion.
I am grateful for the family where I was born — five siblings, three girls and two boys — because they provided me with the space to ask questions and be curious, and I am grateful for my parents for not restricting us to learn and know; even though they were busy, I had the freedom to ask questions. Chores were not assigned based on gender or special treatment. My parents allowed us to grow up as humans and not boys or girls in that regard.
The work of the Girl Child and Her Long Walk to Freedom resonates deeply with who I am. The project walks with organizations and individuals working with girls and women through creating paths of freedom from the weight that has been imposed on them by patriarchal cultures. These are individuals and organizations engaged in doing the challenging yet significant work of healing society from wounds and relieving them from burdens caused by patriarchal culture and values that have placed girls and women in the categories of “the others” and “the least of these.”
Together, let’s break free from cultural constraints and empower the next generation to discover their true selves.