Following the resumption of primary and secondary schools, which put pressure on parents’ hustling and bustling spirits, particularly single mothers who are raising their children independently, Within Nigeria journalist, SODIQ LAWAL CHOCOMILO spoke with a number of single mothers who opened up about their struggles and how their husbands had abandoned them.
In the last part of this series, he writes about two single mothers with two and four children, respectively, who are designated as Adebimpe and Adejoke (not real names). He talks about Bukola, whose children had left their private schools and were considering dropping out of public school too, and Abiodun, whose mother struggles to afford her children’s tuition.
Adebimpe, 46, feels that although her current circumstances are challenging, they may be a necessary stage in her life’s path. She believes that fate is currently working against her. She promised that the situation would improve.
As this reporter entered Adebimpe’s shop to purchase onions and dry pepper sachets, she was busy preparing “jollof spaghetti,” as it is affectionately known. On a Wednesday morning, a reporter walks into her main store and notices her children sitting on the floor. He asks why they are not in school.
Has today been declared a holiday? As he walks toward a handcrafted basket to pick onions, the reporter asks. She retorted, “No,” What made you ask? She questions this journalist. This reporter said, “I asked because I see your kids playing in your shop when they should be in school.”
A small-time trader named Adebimpe informed this reporter that she wants to switch schools while complaining about the high tuition costs. To avoid paying for bus transportation, I’m thinking of choosing a school nearby my shop. My eldest child and his brother won’t be returning to school, and the tuition of the school nearby is considerably less, and I will enroll them on Monday, she admitted.
The 46-year-old mother of five discusses the enormous debt she would have to accrue as a result of the new schools her children would be attending as well as her choice to send her eldest child to learn how to service cars.
I truly love learning, but it costs a lot of money, she says to the reporter. I lack the resources to pay my eldest child’s tuition fee because he is in secondary school. I should enroll him with a mechanic as an apprentice so that he won’t be wandering around aimlessly, she said.
Adebimpe inquires about the reporter’s assessment on whether or not her choice was sound. Because he couldn’t give her any money to ease her problems, the reporter nodded in agreement. She turned to face the reporter before walking over to her mobile bank – a white plastic container and pulling out lesser denomination bills to serve as change.
The father of her children was a subject of interest for this reporter. You cannot continue to raise four children on your own. Due to the difficult economy, you will be in bad financial and moral shape. The easiest way to obtain help is through their father, the reporter said calmly as he collected his change.
Their father has moved on. He has a new family, and he has neglected us for the past five years. I don’t even know where he resides.
What actually happened? This reporter interrupts. I would have explained if you hadn’t interrupted me, but I’m not at all sad because I’ll enjoy the fruit of my hard labor on these kids, she said in return.
“He had a child outside of our union. He got someone who considers me to be her sister pregnant. I eventually conceded that he can only take the child, but he argued that he would accept both the lady and her child despite my objections. Prior to him inviting the woman to our home, I assumed he was making a joke. When it became clearer, I gathered my belongings and left.”
“I brought my children along. He demanded that I return to his home since he was upset that I had left. We never agreed that he would take a second woman. He insisted that I return his children, but I am unable to do so since I am unable to entrust another woman with my children. He told me that I could care for his children on my own if I didn’t bring them back. He was sincere when he said he would leave us, and he has done so for years.
Adebimpe said they cannot be married again, but he has unrestricted access to his children if he wants to care for them or see them. This was in response to the reporter’s question about whether he intended to resolve matters with her ex-husband for the benefit of their children.
“I can’t really take care of these kids by myself. I have to do it despite how exhausting it is. I always ask him for help with school costs and other things before we lose touch, but he always declines. He would claim that I intended to use his funds to support my male boyfriends. After making multiple fruitless attempts to approach him for money, I made the decision to stop.
Before the phone rings, this reporter wants to get one more question in. A teenage, about seven years old, who is thought to be her last child approaches the wall outlet and takes the phone off its charger. Her mother receives the phone from her. She answers the phone and tells the caller she will meet them in the market in ten minutes. In order to get Okada to her destination, she walks to the main road while removing her purse from a wooden table. She bids the journalist farewell.
When this reporter met another woman named Adejoke (not her real name), the tale was similar but had some new elements. Adejoke is a private school teacher who does odd jobs and teaches extra classes to support her two daughters.
According to the 33-year-old Adejoke, who has two children enrolled in a private school, the bad economy makes it extremely difficult for her to afford their tuition.
Adejoke acknowledged that she uses her salary to cover her children’s tuition and that she uses earnings from extra-curricular activities or other jobs, such as housecleaning, to cover their rent and daily expenses.
I am a trained teacher. I graduated from NCE with honors. I recognize the value of education and its significance. I am unable to bear the thought of my children being at home. I won’t try to hide the truth that it has been at all simple. Adejoke continued, “It would have been better if their father had been there.”
Why are you raising your children on your own? This journalist enquired. She answered, “I am a victim of interethnic marriage.”
“Until the mother of the father of my children begged me to see her, we were living in peace in Lagos. When I counted beyond eight people, I was astounded. I also met my children’s father while he seated in a corner. They informed me that I am Yoruba and my spouse is Igbo.”
“My partner’s mother advised me to leave my two children in her care and pursue a new life because they (family) do not accept our togetherness and we cannot continue to be together, ” she said. I was trembling as I turned to face my partner. I was unable to hold back my tears. Adejoke said, “They told me to pack up everything I own and leave his house because I no longer had the right to occupy it.
How were you and your two girls able to escape the building together? This journalist enquired. “Thank goodness, before heading to the conference, I had previously dropped my girls off at my sister’s place. I wouldn’t have had custody of my daughters if I hadn’t taken this action, she retorted.
I almost went insane after leaving the home of my partner’s mother, but she was saved by the kindness of family members who stood by her, according to Adejoke.
It was a terrible situation, and I don’t even pray for my enemy to go through such a situation. I informed my sister about it when I went to her home. No pins were taken from the house by me. The following day, I took my kids and left for Osun. I really struggled, she continued.
The mother of two emphasized further that she afterwards spoke with her spouse.
Before he quit returning my calls, he paid two terms and provided some cash for maintenance. I would phone him from an odd number, and he would answer. He would hang up the phone the instant he heard my voice. Later, it was unreachable. I keep working while battling mightily to pay my kids’ education expenses. Later, I found out via Facebook that he had remarried and had twins, a pretty dejected Adejoke stated.
This reporter approached the entrance of Adejoke’s shop after noticing that she was sobbing and acting emotional. What else could he have done than encourage her with some words? This reporter urged her to maintain her composure, saying, “This phase will pass.” The reporter made a few purchases for her lovely girls before bidding her farewell.