Being born a girl in African Muslim setting is not a joke. If it was, I could be laughing every day and enjoying the humor that comes with it. I am the third girl in the family of seven, so our family can make suitable basketball team with my parent playing coach and assistant coach.A girl or a female gender in an African Muslim community of the eighties meant you are never good enough. You had defined roles, and none of them is neither to be smart or intelligent, that is the work of boys.
Western education is usually treated with great caution since it might spoil the girl. As you grow up, your roles are defined and limited. As a community girl you should understand and obey the Quran, this is your religious obligation and can never be negotiated. The second role was to learn how to please your husband. Your husband is anybody of any age who you might or might not love that your family decides you will marry.I was lucky enough to be taught how to read and write by my aunt, Zuhari, my aunt had a volunteering job at United Nation camp, twenty-two kilometers north of Kismayu.
Zuhari was a bright girl, and with brains. She was far sharp and smart that my ten male uncles combined. She had a quick in understanding, and by ten years of age, she could correctly express herself in English. She understood the importance of education. I was her favorite, so I thought. Her amazing intellectual ability earned her job as a translator at the peace keepers camp.As we grew up in Somalia, we understood the culture, the rule that governed the girl child growing up, and the punishment that girls bared in case they went against tradition. This is an oppressive system that has been lace for ages. Zuhari and I deep inside we felt we should fight more, and we should educate or enlighten our community about the girl child.
However our society was deeply sunk in ignorance and male chauvinism that such steps could have cost us our life, let being expelled from our community. We could not risk being excommunicated since we could not enforce change from inside our community.Our identity is solely tied in how the society defines us.
As a girl and Muslim that is my identity, and I cannot isolate that from me. Indeed all the girls in my shoes want better let alone to deserve better. However, we cannot separate ourselves from our society.I was born in this situation, I didnt have an opportunity to choose and so grateful for my family.
Understanding intersectionality does not mean accepting it. I have an excellent understanding on how my society treats and expect and not expect from me. I have mastered communication and draw a better perception of enlightenment from the small part of the community that is willing to listen and learn. The goals we are making and setting wont be achieved overnight. The goals set today might be fulfilled long after Zuhari and I are gone.
Zaal article is almost similar to what we are we are going through as African Muslim girls. However, we differ whereby in Zaal article the phobia is without her case and as for our case the dread is within. The other point of difference is in Zaal article it widespread religious discrimination while our situation is gender religion oppression.
Reading Zaal article gives us an understanding and comparison in dealing with intersectionality better.Understanding intersectionality gives option, tools and better approaches on how to approach oppression in a more decisive and precise manner. Such procedures create long-term smooth solution and liberty of the oppressed party.