One Monday afternoon, I jumped on a bus and rode to town in a sweltering afternoon heat. As if adding insult to injury, the bus’ widows would not open fully.
As the bus slithered through the winding Sonatube– Rwandex road, a discordant conversation at the back caught my attention. It caught my attention because of two reasons; one because it was in English and, two, because several people in the bus were breaking their necks turning back to catch a glimpse of the conversationalists.
An innocent looking young girl and a fairly mature gentleman were engaged in an academic discourse. Overly, the discourse was good because it concentrated on academic success of the two, who from the discussion, I presume were in high school. The discussion veered from jubilant success stories in school to the barricades and blocks of succeeding in academics.
The man, apparently senior in school, invoked his entire intellectual prowess to put out the dream and determination in the girl.
It all started with a question from the gentleman, ‘which subject combination do you intend to take in ‘A’ level?’’ PEM (Physics – Economics – Math),’ the girl answered. The conversation paused for a moment for the gentleman to gulp some breath to quell the shock waves that triggered his body system as a result of hearing a ‘shocking’ answer that a feeble looking girl would opt for a science combination. One would quickly tell that the gentleman had not come to terms with the current trends in education or he had no idea about anything of the sort.
Pulling out a Senior 4 physics examination paper from an old faded school bag, the gentleman challenged the young girl to answer a single question in the paper. Sure enough, the girl flipped through all the pages of the question paper and came to the bitter realisation that she would only answer one question out of the several numbers that were there. This gave the gentleman ground to shoot from the hip, “I swear you cannot manage physics. Try History maybe,” he opined.
It was as if the gentleman had adequately prepared for the discussion though to the unwelcome listeners like me, it was spontaneous. Was this gentleman a physics student? He did not sound like one but I wondered what a physics paper was doing in his bag.
My point is that getting the girl child at the helm of success and out of the whims of prejudice needs mass action. Yes mass action is needed to sweep through the minds of the patriarchal society to root out negative attitude and superiority complex from the masses.
Girls need to be helped to have a positive self image and enduring determination to favourably compete with men to oust the inherent mindset that women are meant for just matrimonial responsibilities.
Let the many girls who dream to be scientists compete. Let those that discourage girls and women take back seats and witness women presiding over monumental changes and grandeur success.
Yes, let schools provide platforms for girls to showcase their talents and let the media celebrate the girl child’s achievement.