Anwangabasi could not wait to show her new self to the whole world. Her hands and legs which were decorated with golden Ekpa ku kwa gears, her waist-length braids which were covered with over-the-top hair pins, and her colourful Ofong Ukod Anwang knee-length gown which accentuated her new round waist-line, were just the physical proofs to the Efik people of Akpabuyo that she had transformed from a girl to a woman in just six months.
When Anwangabasi was born, she was much less heavy than her peers. This worry about her weight caused her parents to name her Anwangabasi – God knows best. Once she became of marriageable age, they did not hesitate to send her to Nkuho, where she would gain a woman’s proper form. Life at Nkuho was lonely, and Anwangabasi cried herself to sleep most nights, in her dark secluded hut where she ate everyday to gain weight. However, anytime she slept, she dreamt of the teachings she also received: “Though afang soup takes a while to make, it is a labour of love”; “Your body is your husband’s ”; “A good woman doesn’t neglect housekeeping”. It was these teachings that comforted her, that gave her hope of becoming Awunwaan itiaba – a woman worth seven women.
As Anwangabasi danced her way from her secluded hut to an awaiting crowd, loud cheers greeted her. With her plump body adorned with white chalk, she danced to the beats of the conga drums, a dance she had mentally rehearsed for six months. To the crowd, they saw a new voluptuous woman, but to Anwangabasi it was not just her body that changed, the teachings changed her soul. Indeed, for her, Nkuho was more than a fattening room, it was a school for women who will be good wives.