What She Said: 10 Must-Read Stories of 2021

December 29, 2021

This year, we got to document so many different stories that show us that being an African woman is not one dimensional. There are different layers to each woman’s story. Although there might be similarities, each story is it’s own.

These stories range from battling PCOS, to marital and fertility issues to enjoyment and what it means to live your best life. As we look forward to a new year, here are ten What She Said stories you have to read.

1) What She Said: An Ovarian Drilling Made Life Make Sense Again

Imagine one day starting your period, and having it just not stop? A period lasting for ten days is already difficult as it is, but what if it went on for as long as 123 days? This article is about a woman’s journey with PCOS, how it affected her mental and physical health, and finally getting a solution to her problem. Read about her journey here.

I laid down for an ultrasound, and he pointed at my ovaries on the screen and said, in the most condescending tone, “See that? You have what we in the field call polycystic ovaries.” After we’d sat back down, he wrote me a prescription for 4 packs of birth control, handed it to me, and said, “Lose some weight and you’ll be fine”. That was all. 

2) What She Said: Marriage And Children Are Not Tickets To Heaven

It is common practice in a lot of African countries that by a certain age, women should be married with children. A lot of people believe that young women who say they neither want to get married nor have children will live a sad and unhappy life. So, we spoke to a 61-year-old woman who neither got married nor had children and she told us about how much she enjoys the life she currently lives. Read about her life here.

Initially, I did want to get married but the men were never faithful to me. They were disappointments and I just decided not to get involved with them anymore. I am very happy with my decision. I have my family around me and they take care of me. They always make me feel welcome.

3) What She Said: After Surviving Cervical Cancer, I Just Want Peace

This woman has had a tough life. She had to deal with abusive friends, a tense relationship with her mother, and also cervical cancer. It’s no surprise she only wants to experience peace for the rest of her life. Read her story here.

I recently discovered that I was circumcised. Apparently, when I was younger, I stayed with an aunt while my parents travelled. One night while I slept, she cut off my clit. Because of that, I’m always tense in my sleep, as if I’m expecting to be attacked. Everything is a trauma response for me. From the way I walk, to the way I sleep. The first week of therapy left me really depressed. 

4) What She Said: Choosing Enjoyment Meant Leaving My Husband

What does enjoyment mean to you, and how do you prioritise it in your life? This article is about a woman who doesn’t want a life that includes any form of suffering. She would do almost anything to protect her peace, even if that thing is leaving her husband and raising her children alone. Read why she did it here.

When I was younger, I did not handle being rejected well. There was a time a guy said he liked me but didn’t want to date me. I was stunned. Like how dare he? Why would he allow common sense to derail him from enjoyment? I am a big believer in enjoyment, so this did not make any sense to me. 

5) What She Said: People Demonise Me Because I’m A Traditionalist

Ever wondered what it’s like to have your beliefs and traditions demonised? Well, this woman does. Born a traditionalist, she talks about what it’s like navigating being a traditional worshipper, changing the narrative on what its like to be a traditionalist while constantly demonised because of her beliefs. Read about it here.

People have this perception that if you’re a traditional worshipper, you have to look a certain way. So I am deliberate about the way I dress and everything. My life mission is to show people that they can “worship idols” and be baby girls and boys while doing it. I think this helps with how people see me —  they may still want to bind and cast me, but it helps.

6) What She Said: Getting A Job Saved My Marriage

For the woman in this article, there were a lot of things she wishes she knew before she got married. She also thinks it would have been a lot easier in the beginning if she had waited a while before she had her child. The early part of her marriage was filled with children and arguments with her husband, but getting a job helped fix that. Read how here

If I could go back in time, I probably would have married someone who was like two years older than me. There were some conversations we’d have that used to annoy me. If I wanted to express myself, he’d think I’m arguing.  He’d say, “Why are you arguing? I can be your brother; I can be your uncle.” And I’m like, “No, you can’t be. You’re my husband.” 

7) What She Said: I Didn’t Get A Chance To Be A Child

The African first daughter experience is being made an adult while still a child. Imagine having to care for and look after children while being stripped of your own childhood? The woman in this article got her childhood taken away from her by her parents. Read more here.

This is why I feel like a second mum. I never had a chance to be a child. Everything that concerned my siblings was done by me. If they made any mistakes, I got the blame. They tell me I’m supposed to know better because I’m older. I have no space to myself. I started cooking for my siblings when I was eight. I couldn’t make soups, but I was making sauces, potatoes, yam, etc. They still expect that from me.

8) What She Said: I Am No Longer Pursuing Conception Anymore

PCOS has a lot of life altering symptoms such as depression, weight gain, and infertily. After dealing with multiple miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, the woman in this article gave up on conception. Read her journey here

You keep asking yourself why your body does not function the way it is supposed to. I had a picture of a family of four, but it wasn’t happening because my body was failing me. My son wanted a companion and friend. He used to cry when people who come to visit go back home and was always so emotional when people talked about their siblings. I just wanted to give him that. 

9) What She Said: My Parents Sent Me Away When I Was Seven

There’s a lot to be learnt from the lives of older women. The woman in this article gives us an insight into her life. From facing abuse when she was sent to live with her half-sister at the age of seven to her brother’s wife helping her heal and forgive. Read her story here.

My brother’s wife encouraged me to forget about the bitterness. She took me everywhere she went and made me believe I could make something out of my life. She treated me like her own sister and made me feel wanted.  She even updated my wardrobe, and gave me some of her clothes.  Since she was a  teacher, she helped with my school work. She is a wonderful person.

10) What She Said: I Was Asked To Withdraw From Pharmacy In My Final Year

Starting over is never easy, especially when you were so close to finishing. The woman in this article wanted to study Agriculture, but ended up studying pharmacy to make her father happy. From falling sick to being put on probation, read here to find out why she was asked to withdraw in her final year.

In my third year, I carried over almost all the courses I took. There was no definite reason why. It was rather, a combination of a lot of things. I was sad, tired, and exhausted. I had a lot of clashing classes because of the courses I was still taking from my lower class. Studying got even harder to do. There were back to back tests and I was extremely anxious because I was scared of failing again. It was a really difficult year for me. 

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