I grew up between the hills and valleys of Lebialem. I had the opportunity to experience lots of what rural life could offer. When I was 13 years old, and a form two student in the secondary school, I belonged to the Sunday school group in Church, and later grew into the Young Presbyterian (YP) group all in the Presbyterian church of Lebialem. It was always amazing how i had fun in all group activities. One of these activities that I remember vividly, is my drumming experience in choral music and traditional dances. Of course, socialization patterns had spelt out clear gender roles. This alone made me seem odd in the domain. Drumming was however seen as a thing for the boys. But how I got here was based on competence.
“You’re good at it. All these boys are bullocks ” Said my songs teacher- Mr Kan Vincent. He was that strict man even adults feared. Yes he was that strict. I was happy I could stand out.
I played the role of the “drummer girl” during our rehearsals till the rally day arrived. I played the drum during the choir and the traditional dances.
It all happened on a Sunday. Our rallies were usually big events that pulled Christians from different parts of the Sub-Division. Amongst the visitors was my ICT teacher Mr Emmanuel . We called him – Homer
The looks on the faces of onlookers could only define how shoked they were. But the excitement painted on their faces got me blindfolded. I couldn’t dictate what could be written on their minds. The fingers pointed at me from multiple directions in all my innocence meant quite nothing to me then. I was the lone drummer girl among the few drummer boys.
It was on the following Monday morning when my ICT teacher arrived in class and with no delay, he could spot me in a class of over 60 students. In total amazement, he explained to the entire class how shoked he was to find a girl that drums. My classmates couldn’t wait to process it but burst into laughter. I stood with my face facing the ground. I felt humiliated. I felt shy. I felt embarrassed. I could conclude i did the wrong thing. It didn’t end there. Each time he saw me, while smiling, he would ask me “do you still still drum “? This however didn’t sound to me like he meant any thing close to good. Often, it sounded just as saying “do you still steal ” ? This went on for a couple of months.
Well, this drew my attention to the famous Igbo-Nigerian movies, Western movies and musics which portrayed men as those playing the musical instruments and above all the drums, while all the ladies did the singing and dancing. In my brain, I could quickly scan through posters and flyers,text books and story books where only male images described a drummer. Hence you could only have a drummer boy not a drummer girl. And that was my conclusion since I had no role model. I never for any reason could drum again. My desire had all been watered down.
However, the nice thing is,the narrative is fast changing and seats are being switched. My thinking was shaped by society and exposure. There’s no such thing as only boys can do this or that. If your passion should drive you towards a certain path, walk the path till you arrive.
You see, my case was just drumming in the field of music. Stereotypes like this have killed the innate potentials in many women and girls, killing their ability to discover the best version of their selves. cutting accross the world of arts through the sciences women and girls face similar challenges. Above all odds, let competence speak, and not assumptions or stereotypes.
How ever, I plan on engaging in my music lessons again. I never take it for a defeat, I take it for a lesson.