From the Editor: At 9jafeminista, one of our aims is to document the experiences of Nigerian women from all walks of life. We are particularly interested in examining why Nigerians believe we do not need equality, that things are just fine the way they are .
Marriage is a big deal in Nigeria. Domestic violence is a common occurrence. In actual fact, the Penal Code endorses violence against women, as long as there’s no ‘bodily’ harm caused (for more on laws that shows Nigerian women as second class citizens you can check out this link).
In spite of the fact that people know how damaging domestic violence can be and how it has often led to death, over 90% of women in Nigeria believe that there is nothing wrong with a man beating a woman.
Meet Ayomikun, a 30years old woman who, besides running second-hand clothing shop, is a printer at Mokola (Ibadan). Ayomikun has been separated from her husband of 6years for the past five months, she has tried everything within her powers to bring about reconciliation between them.
She told us her story in an interview which we’ve transcribed below. The unedited audio version is here . The transcription was edited for easy reading.
9jafeminista: What’s your name?
Ayomikun: Oluwadamilola Ayomikun
9jafeminista: What do you do?
Ayomikun: I’m into buying and selling
9jafeminista: Do you own a shop?
9jafeminista: Where’s your shop located?
Ayomikun: At Mokola market (Ibadan)
9jafeminista: What are your educational qualifications?
Ayomikun: I attended Command Primary School and St Louis Girls Grammar School, here in Ibadan. For my tertiary education I attended Federal Polytechnic, Ede
9jafeminista: So what course did you read?
9jafeminista: What kind of things have you ‘marketed’ before?
Ayomikun: I’ve marketed some banks, like Intercontinental Bank, now Access Bank, then one microfinance bank, Easylink Intercontinental, then Cadbury… But now I’m marketing myself
9jafeminista: You’re building a brand
9jafeminista: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Ayomikun: In a higher place, to become a higher person. I see myself going to Dubai and even the UK to buy stuff, instead of these second hand clothes.
9jafeminista: Would you mind sharing your story with us?
Ayomikun: Before I got married I was once a gospel artiste, I write, and sing. I was writing for a newspaper called Daily News for Celestians, I had a page there. After that I worked at a Law firm in Ikorodu. Then I met my husband. We met in 2002, at Mokola (Ibadan). We courted for about eight years, I was preparing to go into a tertiary institution.
9jafeminista: Are you saying that when you met him you were still in secondary school?
Ayomikun: No, I’d left secondary school, I was applying for admission into a tertiary institution. When we started dating, then I was even a virgin, but due to all these Mokola stuffs he didn’t believe that he can still find someone like that. After some years he requested for sex, which I decided not to give him because in my heart I’d decided that whosoever I got married to, that was the person that will deflower me. So the guy was like ‘don’t worry, we’re getting married very soon.’ Then I later accepted my fate, we had it. The first time I had it, it was so painful, but then it was a pride to me, because we were getting married. After I gained admission into Federal Poly Ede, we continued the relationship. We eventually got married on February 21, 2009.
After we got married he asked me not to work, but I told him I can’t be a housewife, we dragged the issue until we decided that I’m going to work.
9jafeminista: What was he doing?
Ayomikun: He was into interior decor. He then helped me to get a job at a microfinance bank, three months later, after coming back home from work, that night, he had already written a letter that I should withdraw, that he doesn’t have any interest in the job any longer, that I should stay at home. And then we’ve been having a minor problem about the issue of baby. That day when I returned from work, he had already written a letter which he asked me to drop at my office. I didn’t even know he had helped me to write a resignation letter.
9jafeminista: You mean he wrote a resignation letter for you.
Ayomikun: Yes. I didn’t even bother to go through it. The next morning I went to drop the letter, my Oga now said ‘sit down, what happened? What kind of letter is this?’ I said ‘my husband asked me to give it to you.’ He didn’t even tell me what was written in the letter. My boss was shocked and asked me ‘Mrs Ogunbiyi what happened? Why are you leaving the job?’
I was considered the best marketer in the company back then, they were about to increase my salary.
In order not to ruin my home, I decided to pretend that I knew about the letter. I left the job and stayed at home for another three months, I became uncomfortable because I’m not the kind of woman who stays at home, I’m a very hard-working person. My husband and I started quarrelling again, because I can’t stay at home, we finally agreed that I should find a job. So I went to my brother (my blood brother) who helped me to find a job at Intercontinental Bank (Ijebu-Ode), I was shuttling between Ijebu-Ode and Ibadan, I would leave for Ijebu-Ode on Monday morning, come back on Friday night, everything was going on smoothly, but after three months my husband started grumbling, ‘I can’t condone it anymore, we said we’re looking for a baby and we’re living apart, we are in a far distant relationship. I can’t have you anytime I want you, I eat jungle food, etc’
I was finally able to persuade him that instead of resigning I should ask for a transfer, but the bank refused, because I was new and I am not even allowed to have a child until I’ve worked with them for three years, so I was like, I will not wait until this thing will ruin my marriage, so I decided to quit. I returned to Ibadan and started sitting down at home again. Later on one of my husband’s sisters called me and said ‘instead of sitting down at home, I have a shop at Alesinloye,’ she was working at a printing press at Bodija then, that I should assist her. My husband accepted that I should work with her.
9jafeminista: Let’s pause here.