It is not always true that ‘where two or more women are gathered there is war.’
That’s the thesis in the movie titled The Women, by Blessing Egbe. In it, one of the main characters, Teni, played by Omoni Oboli made this statement and it seemed like a universal truth, she declares women gathering, ‘ a silent war’.
Well, last week Friday, at the first TedxMendeWomen organised by Florence Atunwa Olomudimu; there was no war, silent or loud. There was no infighting or any need to look better, speak better or dress better than the next woman; there was nothing brewing, save admiration for one another amongst the women gathered; there was a lot of support, comparing of notes and plenty of women cheering one another as each told stories of their challenges and successes at home and at work.
Yes. Women gathered and they held one another up!
I wasn’t one of the speakers, no. I went to cheer my partner, Toni Kan, who was the odd one out among the speakers; he was the only male speaker among the women at the event.
I found myself abandoning him and going to cheer several other women whom I had long admired from afar and was finally getting a chance to meet and hear their stories.
On Friday, my ears were full at the Renaissance hotel in Ikeja. I met one of the women I have always admired; Nkiru Olumide Ojo (go and Google her.)
I have always looked at her as a well-put together woman, and I still do by the way. Nkiru is always well dressed and impeccable. The picture Nkiru presents is that she always has it all together.
It was funny to learn that she thought the same of other professional women but all that was until she inquired from them how they were so in control, how they never seemed flustered; that was when she learnt that everyone of them, just like her, was going through something.
Anyway, while rehearsing her speech, Nkiru made an off the cuff statement that I latched onto it like a hungry baby at its mother’s teats. She said, ‘Who ever made the comment, ‘Don’t cry over spilt milk’ has never had to pump breast milk.’
I swear, she nailed it!
Everyone burst out laughing and only Toni Kan, the man amongst us, seemed not to fully appreciate the extent of that statement.
‘Very true, o,’ we all echoed as each recalled the frustrations she had faced while juggling babies, careers and husbands; we recalled the pain experienced after child birth from nursing bloodied nipples caused by hungry babies; we laughed over the pain from gorged breasts that breast milk that leaked onto our shirts and the blouses we’d managed to tuck in to look professional.
We reminisced on how we hated the breast pump and how painful it was pumping milk for our babies as we headed out to work. In fact, someone said the breast pump must have been invented by a man; God help you if your breasts weren’t bringing out enough milk that woukd last till you got back from work. It was painful and often frustrating.
So it’s very much in order to yell and bawl if after squeezing milk off your tender breasts, it spills!
There will be tears o!
I recall how I always felt used every time I had to go to work and my mother approached with the breast pump for more breast milk for my baby. Didn’t she realise how painful the process was? I would snatch the pump from her and march angrily away or I would just tell her I was done pumping for that morning. Pumping any more breast milk would be drawing blood and some of us often drew blood!
But beyond spilling breast milk, women have had to recover from a lot more.
Tope Oshin for instance told of how at the age of 27, she had four boys under five and she didn’t know what next to do with her life. She was running half-crazy upon realising her romantic dreams of ‘happily ever’ after were not to be.
She said the recollection of the words of late Amaka Igwe was the wakeup call she needed to rouse her to change her life. She changed careers from an actress to the award winning Director of hundreds of movies she is today and yet didn’t have to sleep around to accomplish that!
There were other women with equally amazing stories; even the lone male voice had an inspiring story about his mum; the woman she was before sickness came upon her.
The theme of the talk was “Building Bridges”, and those bridges could be anything that helped 7women, men, people achieve their noble aims. It is about realising that we need one another in this circle of life. Each of the speakers had people around them who helped them, one way or another, in becoming the women or man they are today.
That, perhaps, was the meat of it all; the milk of human kindness can help others get to the top!