I was born in a typical Ugandan village and I have spent all my early years living a village life. Attending burial ceremonies, funeral rituals and marriage ceremonies with elders, sitting among them and listening to them talking about either how the different young girls have gotten married and how rich the husbands are according to the dowry, how a certain girl in the village has failed to get married yet she is not growing young or how someone’s daughter has aborted many times!. As young as I was, I had to save all that in my mind since no one cared to chase me away because I was young and everyone ignored me thinking that I didn’t understand or I wasn’t minding. In actual sense, I was understanding and taking in each word and saving every face that uttered out a certain word for I couldn’t remember the names.
Hearing all the stories about marriages more over about young girl not some many years older than me made me believe that girls who get married at an early age are actually forced by either their heartless parents, uncaring relatives or shallow minded people who pretend to be caring about them for the bride price they see in the future. Girls who are about my age are now married with more than two children, living a comfortable village life which is actually not comfortable for someone who has been able to go to school and at least hear stories about how different people live.
I have carried that belief about early marriages for so many years up to a few years back when I was able to leave the village and come to town. It’s in town where my eyes got opened and I met the reality about very smart, sharp and fast men. It’s in a Ugandan town where a guy can tell you about himself and you believe even though he is lying even if you a city born. And it’s these days where marriage is preferred to studies, a girl’s dream before finishing her studies is finding a handsome man and getting married then the rest follows. A guy once told me that what I study to get is what he has brought that was after he asked me about my hobbies and studying was part of them.
Because of the many university graduates who are on streets looking for jobs, my friend once asked me why we were stressing with studies yet it’s crystal clear that there was no light at the end of tunnel. We were 15 years old at that time and in senior three in our first term, First term ended and at the beginning of our second term, my friend didn’t come back to school. She told me that she found a lighted tunnel! She met a guy who promised to marry her, wed her and make for her a business. I still don’t know whether the promise was fulfilled but the last time I had about her was that she had a baby boy and the man had another wife!
About Uganda’s education system where a child is forced to study what she even has no interest in, I met another friend a year later Linda (not real names). Senior four is a candidate class according to Uganda’s education system and it’s usually so stressing with a lot of tests, assignments, studying up to late, waking up so early because you have to reach school early and it’s some distance away, a lot of house chores waiting at home and not forgetting, looking for a place with light to do homework from because the teacher needs it the moment you reach school and power went off last night. All this made life so hard and education unattractive. Because of all the stress the results were always not good. I remember Linda hated so much chemistry, Christian religious education and biology etc but liked history and geography. She would pass what she liked and fail what she didn’t like and because of thi her report was always not interesting. This made her hate school so much and I remember her one time telling me that she should leave school because it looks like she was wasting her parents money! It was not long before the term ended and because she wasn’t able to pass those subjects she didn’t like however much we discussed, the school eliminated her.
Because she was eliminated and couldn’t join another school, and there was this guy who worked abroad and had always been chasing after her. She decide to give him a chance and got married to him at 16 years. I don’t whether the guy really worked abroad but I don’t know what happened next I’m still trying to look for her.
It’s not me alone who grew up from the village then came to town an adult, Betty(not real names) was also like me but slightly smarter and had an eye for good things and a good life. Remember I told about how men can blow their own trumpet especially if you show that you know nothing. We were both new in town and after some weeks, Betty told me that she meet this guy who drives! At my age I had nothing to say about it but asked her what she thought and I don’t remember getting an answer. It was not after long that I heard about her pregnancy and that she couldn’t go back home so she decided to live with the father of the unborn baby! Early marriages still exist but it’s not the culture responsible this time but we are all responsible. I believe me and you have a story also, a very long story you can tell our girls. That we all passed through that life but persisted and never let go of our dreams.
Special thank to: http://www.umdf.or.ug/news/early-child-marriages-blamed-decaying-social-structures pecial credit to;