An African Poet, Novelist and Playwright COOKEY IWUOHA has released his latest creative work titled, “SATAN MUST NOT BE WOMAN”, an African Literature against the scourge of child marriage in Africa and dedicates it to the ‘Hands Off Our Girls Project’, Sierra Leone of Mrs. Fatima Maada Bio.
The book is a surreal drama of the intricacies of human emotion, as a young Nkolika finds herself in an unwanted relationship. Just encountering puberty, she is coerced into marriage to an affluent, wealthy and older Nwokolo by her father, as a means of alleviating the hardships at home. The devastating outcome of this marriage of strange bedfellows, driven by Nkolika’s desire for her stolen childhood, leads to murder and suicide.
SATAN MUST NOT BE WOMAN regardless of its theme that is built around child marriage and unwanted relationship is also about the tenacity of the human will. The African literature is an intriguing narrative of a dead man’s struggle with lost memory and a young girl’s battle with an unwanted relationship intertwined in a conflict of emotions that unites their past and present.
This spellbinding and mystical narrative unravels the tapestry surrounding child marriage in Africa and attempts to deconstruct the cultural ideologies supporting this outdated act of child exploitation, offering a pathway to eliminating this crime against the girl child in communities of Africa.
Global statistics report that every year approximately 15 million girls are married before the age of 18. The region of West and Central Africa has the highest prevalence rate of child marriage in Africa, and the world’s second highest prevalence rate (after South Asia).
‘CHILD MARRIAGE’ AND ITS AVOIDABLE TRAGEDIES IN WEST AFRICA:
The year 2014 In Northern Nigerian State of Kano Rahma Hussein, a young woman was accused of killing her husband to protest her forced marriage. She stabbed her newlywed husband, Tijjani Basiru, to death at Darmanawa quarters, in Tarauni local government area of Kano. She was 16 when she committed the offence. She was charged for culpable homicide and pleaded not guilty. And was released after 7years in Prison.
In 2015, 15 year-old Wasila Tasi’u was accused of killing Umar Sani and three other men with rat poison shortly after they were married in Kano State Nigeria. The forced marriage left in its wake four dead men and a thoroughly traumatized little girl who saw Poison – the only feasible escape to freedom – devised from the wild imagination of a naive, depressed little girl caught up in a painful forced marriage to a much older man. A tough lesson for families, communities and a government that is still ambivalent about sanctioning the perpetrators of child marriage.
Cookey Iwuoha drew inspiration for this work from this tragedies in his home country Nigeria and dedicated the work to every young African girl that was married against her will and particularly to ‘Hands off Our Girls Project’ Sierra Leone of Mrs. Fatima Maada Bio for her effort in bringing child marriage to the spotlight, drawing global attention to the scourge as well as beaming the Sierra Leone Government’s searchlight on it, to ensure its perpetrators are discouraged as well as punished when caught.
HANDS OFF OUR GIRLS CAMPAIGN AND CHILD MARRIAGE IN SIERRA LEONE:
Sierra Leone has the 19th highest child marriage rate in the world, with 13% of girls married by age 15, and 39% by age 18. These statistics only provide a partial picture of the extent of the problem, as many young people enter unions that are not registered as formal marriages. According to published report from Save the Children Org.
According to the Demographic Health Survey 2013, 21 per cent of adolescents aged 15-19 years in Sierra Leone have begun childbearing. Teenage child bearing contributes to nearly one third (28 per cent) of all pregnancies nationwide and 40 per cent of maternal deaths occur as a result of teenage pregnancy.
‘Hands off Our Girls’ campaign, which was rolled out in 14 districts across the country in 2019, reaching teachers, school pupils, traditional leaders, wives of paramount chiefs, religious and government functionaries, young people, the media, civil society and local council authorities . The campaign is estimated to have reached over 1,000, 000 participants with messages on the urgency of ending child marriage, teenage pregnancy and rape.
A total of 149 Paramount Chiefs made an official commitment to end child marriage and these local authorities were crowned champions of the ‘Hands off Our Girls’ campaign in their various districts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
COOKEY IWUOHA a seasoned journalist, is a contemporary Africa literary voice, a prose stylist and poet, dialogue facilitator, columnist and author of numerous published articles aimed at the development and decolonization of the mind of African youths.
He is an alumnus of West Africa Cohort 1 of Barrack Obama Foundation.
This is his third literary work; his maiden literary fiction work, ‘THE CONTENTS OF OUR EMPTY GRAVES’, was published in 2011 and presented to the public at British Council Auditorium Ghana, followed by ‘THE TRAGEDY OF BEING BORN BEAUTIFUL’ in 2022.