Chapter 9: Changing History

More than a Woman

…History somehow has a habit of repeating itself, especially when we do not question it or seek alternative ways of being. Tradition, limitations, gender stereotypes and expectations had fermented a pattern of behaviour amongst the women I grew up with which fanned inter familial feuds, anger, bitterness and resentment. Everyone – children, aunts, uncles, cousins – was left feeling alienated and suspicious. In such environments treachery and humiliation become the dominant cultural traits, as they were in the case of the Dobu tribe featured in Ruth Benedict’s study Patterns of Culture. Far from unique, this situation was commonplace not only to families I grew up with in Sierra Leone, but also to those of many of the people I encountered in England. Treachery and humiliation were the cancerous combination that was eating away at the remnants of the Anglo-Saxon’s protestant legacy. And they were slowly destroying us… and the rest of the modern world.

In many ways, I am very grateful to my mother. Whether she was aware of it or not, just like my dad who had prepared me for the journey of my life, she did make the right decision. I was perhaps that bit more equipped and capable of dealing with the sacrifice she had to make. She couldn’t have sacrificed my brother. She couldn’t have faced up to him either. Nor could she deal with what I had become. It was right to let go of that phase of our lives, of that circle of history that we were trapped in. And, I think deep in all our hearts, in spite of the sense of alienation we suffered to one degree or another, we knew we couldn’t continue down the path of tradition. We knew we had to change history…

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