The last time I shared a series was two years ago! Another one is long over due right? I agree.

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My name is Titilayo Umeh, I love stories, real life stories and I believe only you can tell your story the best! Every day is a page in this story. And wait! no!, my father is not Umeh! Let me take you down memory lane. 

May, 1955 

The woman was writhing in pain; she looked like someone who had seen a ghost. The midwives’ soothing words did nothing to comfort her. 

“Bisi, sorry dear. It must be a girl; girls are very difficult. They seem to always want to punish their mothers but do not worry, you will be fine.”

Bisi let out another of her heart-wrenching screams. 

“I don’t think I can do this, where is my husband?” she asked slowly, turning towards the entrance of the room. (I guess it should be in past tense)

“He went to Alalade the herbalist, he has to get the herbs that will make this childbirth easy”, one of the midwives popularly known as Iya responded.

Bisi squeezed the palm of one of the women and tried to push harder, this baby is going to be one troublesome one and he will meet a mother that is equal to him she thought as she pushes harder again.

Her husband knocks at the door and Iya beckons on him to come in. He enters carrying a small calabash containing a mixture. Iya collects it and beckons on him to leave, he looks at his wife’s naked form on the birth stool and could not escape the pain written all over her face. A sharp pain seared through his heart like a stray bullet as he looked sorrowfully at her and then walked out slowly since the midwives would not let him go near her.

“Bisi, drink this herb and you will have enough strength to push this baby out, we are staying too long here and it is not good for the baby ” one of the midwives said.

She mustered strength, sat up halfway and opened her mouth. Iya cautiously brought the calabash to her mouth and she drank the concoction. She belched loudly and returned to her initial position. 

“Now push, dakun, the gods of our land strengthen you. If you have a boy, your husband will be the happiest man on earth” Iya said rubbing her arms with one hand and placing the other on the woman’s huge tummy. 

Bisi had a sudden surge of energy; she sat up a little briskly and pushed very hard. The baby came out. The midwives squealed with joy. They became very busy with one clamping the umbilical cord and another trying to make the baby cry. It remained still for some seconds before suddenly letting out a cry, initially soft and then harder.  One of the women took the baby to the next room to wash it and the others were trying to clean up Bisi who was looking exhausted yet relieved.

After delivering the placenta and cleaning up both mother and child. They brought the baby to Bisi who was already looking very weak. She looked at the baby and noticed it was a girl. Bisi turned her face away and started to cry. The now quiet midwives tried consoling her, her baby started crying again and it took the women a lot of talking before Bisi could agree to breastfeed her baby. She was the third wife of the most prosperous man in Oola village. He has had other wives before and they all gave birth to girls. He needed a male child that would inherit his property but such gifts seemed to always elude him.  He consulted the oracle after his second wife had her third girl and the oracle said he should marry Bisi. The oracle said Bisi’s family members had mostly boys and he should try as much as possible to convince her to marry him.  That was the beginning of a lot of wooing and convincing. Bisi did not want to be a second wife and being a third wife was out of question, it took a lot of work before she finally agreed to marry her husband and now, she also gave birth to a girl. She hated her child. Why can’t it just be a boy? What was the essence of marrying as a third wife if I cannot fulfil the purpose? She thought to herself.


Chief Ojo sat on the specially crafted rocking wooden chair. Usually, the hut was a resort of some sort for him; he usually reclined there to do some thinking or relaxation alone. He had been lost in thought for most of them time. Despite all the community members coming to congratulate him on the arrival of a new baby, he was not happy at all. He tried to mask it but it was becoming more difficult by the day. He had secretly slipped into his personal hut to have some quiet moment and he was sure, they will soon start looking for him. “Now, this is the third wife and seventh child, all girls!” he said to himself “all girls!” he said again flinging his hands. “I don’t know what to make of this life, who will inherit my properties? Who will carry on my name?  Who will continue my line of trade and businesses? And I do not want to have many children. All these girls will marry their husbands and leave my house or even leave this village and after my death, my name will be forgotten” he shook his head. “There has to be a way out, I am an African man and we do not accept defeat! There has to be a way out!” he said with a strong assurance as he stood up and joined the rest in the common hut.

Stay tuned for the next episode.

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