Ethnic group: Ogoni
Lesi grew up, with four brothers and no sister, under a roof which often resonated with: ‘Don’t you know you’re a girl?’
At first she did not like being reminded she was a girl. She knew and needed no one to remind her. And because she was essentially a girl, she felt that somehow things would work out on their own and she wouldn’t miss out on anything she needed to mature into a full-fledged Ogoni woman. In fact, by the time she was feeling so, the mother had already armed her with such weapons as cooking egusi soup, that weakness for every Ogoni person, and other delicacies and housekeeping among others.
So whenever she felt the monotony of being a girl, she did such boyish things as walking about the house bare-trunked or peeing while standing, her skirt and panties pulled off.
Though her budding breasts were only the size of palm nuts and hairs were yet to grow on her private parts, still any of her four elder brothers who saw her never failed to reprove her and remind her she was a girl. And each time, she loathed the reminder the more.
But her mother saved her in time from the looming consequence of the unnecessary dislike of that reminder. She told her that the question – ‘Don’t you know you’re a girl?’ – was actually men’s admission that women are special, more special than they.
Henceforth, she began to see herself in a new light, as extraordinary, one that every man must adore. She longed to be reminded she was a girl, that she was special, more special than boys. But nobody did again, as she didn’t degrade herself again by doing boyish things.