TW: mentions of violence, death, bereavement.
I could write about Alice Paul, the first woman to propose the Equal Rights act, or Amelia Earhart, the first woman to land a plane. I could even write about Oprah; the first black female show host. History is decorated with great, innovative women. But this essay is dedicated to the one that made me who I am today: Nkemjika Ijeoma Ezekwe, my mother.
Born in a Nigerian village, she became the first female university graduate in her little town in the late 1990s. Her passion led her to a career in academia and, later, child psychology. 12 years down the line, she’s married with four amazing children, but she wanted to do more for the world. So, every Christmas she’d pack her bags, go back to her little town and educate women. Still, this wasn’t enough.
You see, her little town was riddled with gang violence. The constant killing left many widows and fatherless children. They were her next mission. She would start a foundation to put these children through school. She hosted group counselling sessions for women who felt like they had lost all hope. I managed to sit in on one of these meetings when I was old enough and I could not hold back the tears. She taught me the true meaning of women supporting women.
She showed that same commitment to her children too. With the rising exchange rates and never-ending pandemic, putting my siblings and I through university abroad has never been more expensive. Every time the topic of cost came up, I would encourage her to let me come back home and get cheaper education or take a gap year, but she always said no. She’d say, “I will always be willing to make sacrifices to make sure you can have the best potential at life.” A mother like that is a privilege I will never deserve.
Hats off to you mum. One day, I’m going to make you proud.
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