I got a call from Fountain University Students coming for internship at our organisation.
Few hours later they walked in, one of them, Iyanda mariam, putting on Qimar, it was such a long hijab but her face and hands were revealed. The other one was Toyeebah, covered everything including face, hand and leg. A typical “eleha”.
I felt a bit uncomfortable, eleha in a media outfit ? i also dislike traces of religion domineering around our business, this is why we don’t bring religion to what we do at BTR Lenses.
Some of my students that saw them while coming in gave me several reasons she should not be admitted here, another one said i should tell them no vacancy for I.T here anymore. another said eleha cant cope with u. I heard but couldn’t.
I have preached against discrimination several times. I was worried but i may not forgive myself if i send her away, the guilt will keep living with me. I don’t know how to reject anyone just for the choice of her dress and religion?. It is her choice.
One day after they have resumed work, one of my regular students who is even a muslim walked into my office, he told me the Eleha was sitting at the reception, he wanted me to tell her to go sit in her dept because client may walk in and seeing Eleha is not too good. Hmmm
The following morning at meeting, i reaffirmed our company law that no student should sit at reception, everyone should sit in their department except i call for them. After the meeting i felt bad knowing that the law was made strong to restrict Toyeebah (eleha).
Another day she came telling me she will be attending anti natal every tuesdays, that’s when i knew she was pregnant, i allowed her resume work 9:30am against our official 8:30am. i also mostly release her before closing hour.
I concluded it is unfair to restrict the lady and decided to give Toyeebah all the free hand she needs, she walks around the office as she desire. I no longer allow others opinions to aid my judgement.
As days passed by, we began to get used to Toyeeban, she was incharge of our online TV documentary shoots, she is nice,creative, playful, and engage in discussions.
When client comes around, most always look her with shock, some people ask me ridiculous questions on why we have Eleha here, i cut conversations anytime people raise that, and whenever i post her pix here on Facebook along other students, i see derogatory comments like “Beta wale where did u see eleha”, “why is eleha taking photo”.
Some of us even come here to call her egungun (masquerade). You all say Donald Trump hate blacks, here you are hating people too. Well i always reply you all nah.
You see, depression jn Nigeria is not solely because people have problems but because you as people created one for them.
The more you talk down on people because of their choice the more you kill people morale.
When you tell people they are too fat, or you pressured over 30yrs old lady about marriage, or when you gossip about married couple that doesn’t have kids, or when you condemn a widow for remarrying, or when you mock a graduate for doing menial jobs, or when you backbite about people lifestyle, or when you condemn people for their choice, or you look down on people for being poor or being a single parent. If you do any of the above, you are a depression distributor. shior!
I learnt so many things from Toyeebah, we discuss alot around Islam, i asked questions on why she chose to cover her face despite not a member of Tebliq. I questioned why she chose mass comm as a course since she is eleha.I asked how she urinates in public, how she breastfeed her first child in public, what her reactions will look like if a male doctor ask her to open part of her body for examination during anti-natal, we also discuss hell of discrimination she go through in public for being “eleha”.
I learnt more about pregnant women through her, there were days she just chose to sit on floor lol. One day i gave her assignment and while i was complaining she was slow, she yelled at me and changed her eyes, i kept calm, something told me this is pregnancy aggression.She is different from everything we assumed about elehas, she rolled with troublesome students of BTR Media Academy.
Everyday she climbs two storey as a pregnant woman, she drives, and engage in all productions at studio, we play alot, I mostly tell her i dreamt and saw how her face look like, and also saw she has pink lips, most times she roll with laughter at my jokes. I always tell her she will give birth at office and i will be the one shouting PUSH for the child to come out and she would scream at me.
One day we were discussing sex education matter at office and she made a contribution, i said to her “Toyeebah, do u know about sex that much, you eleha. she laughed and told me that Islam even taught muslims how to have satisfying sex, Toooor!!
Toyeebah is one out of all the Interns at our office who most times come with gift and drop it on my office table, she motivated us all to have kolo (piggy bank)
She has one of the best savage replies oooo, and she mastered all the office slangs. i allowed the full practice of her religion at office. I gisted her about the practice of eleha in northern part of Nigeria called “Kuule”, where the woman will not come out of house at all except at night till old age, she rejected it and said she cant. Now I realized life is perception. While many people see her as extremist, she also see others as extremist too.
She walked into my office one afternoon and said “Beta Wale i need to go home now, am not sure i will be able to come again”. I looked through her eyes and something told me she would give birth soon, Three days later, mariam told us Toyeeba is delivered of a baby.
Everyone who discouraged me from admitting Toyeebah became her friend before she left. The guy that came to report her for sitting at reception was the one that willingly took over Toyeebah’s project at office when she put to bed.
Not everyone in this cloth is an extremist, not all are sadist or lack social life. I have learnt these from Risqoh Adetunji and Arikewuyo Zainab Winjobi in past, these two are hijab ladies on BTR TV but too playful, especially Risqoh, and Zainab can savage for Africa. That we do not believe in what others do, does not make ours right. We must learn to respect others.
The film “My name is Khan” is so right that there are only two people in the world. “THE GOOD AND THE BAD”. there are bad and good people in every religion. We can always live together in peace if we respect one another.
We were first human before anything, we were born with no language, religion or profession. I chose christianity she chose islam yet the origin remains that we were first humans, all other factors matters not. Here at our organization, we have Christians, Muslims and traditionalists relating as brothers.
We missing you Toyeebah. I call her “sweetheart mi”. Aku ewu omo, we wish you and 6 other interns well as you resume back to school to complete the last lap (final year).