MARIE ANGELE ABANGA is a significant tale of rough childhood life lived and then told by the sole survivor of such turbulence . She is a creative genius amassed with multi- coined life experiences. MARIE ANGELE ABANGA is a gem cut out from rough diamond ore .ABANGA is a sun glowing with purposefulness, a breath of reason and a spring of wisdom. Her stories and poetry are a candid reflection and true testimony of vulnerability, poverty and abject abuse .Vices young people face as they grow especially girls. Unlike many of us, the genius did not surrender her creativity and experiences into dungeons of rigidity, sorry and waste. She soldered on to be today’s teacher of other survivors of life traumas and sorrows of yesteryear. She have since become advocate of girl child against almost all vices of abuse .ABANGA is the candlelight in the darkest moments of youth and girl child vulnerability. One interesting thing is MARIE is multitasked. She is a qualified Counsellor, a trailblazing motivational writer and a public law practitioner. MARIE ANGELE ABANGA is God’s gift to Cameroon, Africa and the entire World. I have to confess .I tool more time before I read into her work to try and know her better. It was such a mammoth task. Comrade Sister MARIE ANFELE ABANGA, You are star in your own way, you are unique .Keep shining and lighting other candles .Let other sisters and brothers learn and tap from your experiences through an extract of your story.Marie Angele Abanga is the WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS SHE-Hero of the April 2019 Edition! For future projects Contact Chief Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRAVING IT AND MAKING IT IN SPITE OF MY FRACTURED CHILDHOOD: MARIE ABANGA (Ayo)
Well, dear Ayo, I admit I owe you an apology. I should have written to you at least 7 years back, even if only to encourage you on the next leg of your journey (our journey after all). But, first things first, let me start from the beginning, by wishing you and us a happy day of the girl. When I read stuffs about nurturing our inner child, I smile because I give that a 100% yes and yes and yes, all the way. I was told Ayo meant soft in our dialect, and I used to wonder if we were ever left to live up to that awesome nickname. I mean, when I reflect on all we went through in our girlhood, it wasn’t soft. Maybe, we had to be the one to make it our own version of soft, but what did we know, and which resources did we have at our disposal? Fractured is what I chose to candidly label our girlhood. But I am so happy and grateful that despite that severe fracture brought about by all those adverse childhood experiences and our dramatic transition to motherhood of sorts at age 12, first to our siblings and then to our own baby at age 24, we made it and are living our own version of soft. You see, I even added merry to Marie which is the name we got at baptism.
No one needs to remind me how bouncy and full of life you were at birth. Mum says she left from school on a certain Thursday 18th January 1979 at 5 pm, went to the hospital and had you by midnight (no doubt you are such a full moon now). She then spent the next three days at home showing you your way around sort of, and was back to school on Monday, with her friends wondering where the little bump on her belly had gone. Could that be the beginning of your independence and hyper activeness? How could everyone not love you? And you did love everyone back too, always there everywhere and for everyone to do just what had or needed to be done. And yes girl, you enjoyed the first 7 years of your life until the great disastrous move. I mean, daddy could have even discussed that move with you, not like you wouldn’t have understood nor interacted. Everyone knew you were his girl and if anyone could hold any conversation with him, it was you. But I guess, the strain in their marriage and your growing ‘rebellion’, was now making you less of his ‘golden child’.
And so, it came to be, that the entire family was uprooted to another city far away from all you knew and your friends, and you had to try settling down in a new school and neighbourhood. Gosh, the new house was so big by your standards, and in a big fence with a scary gate. All other homes in that neighbourhood looked same unfriendly, neighbours barely spoke to one another. As if that was not enough, their marriage dissolved 3 years later, and mum left you 4 behind. Now, even if your nickname meant soft, what could any softness help with? Your brother was fragile to say the least, mummy’s own golden child and your favourite sibling too. He needed taking care of, it wasn’t long after that he got diagnosed with epilepsy remember? It became a matter of survival, especially with the arrival of stepmom with her own set of rules and regulations. “Don’t touch this, don’t touch that. Indeed, I don’t even want to see your faces around, keep to your room or bear the consequences”. We didn’t want to find those out and so we kept to our room or locked ourselves up in the loo for as long as we could, just for a break sometimes.
I wish I could say your baby brother got better, but you lived it all and saw how the epilepsy and stigma and shame, and marginalization and all other in between, got the better part of him and his mental health took a big hit. The diagnosis for the mental illness attracted all sorts of names which left you scared. The trauma of skipping over the high fence to go find food because you dare not touch step mom’s, the pain of seeing your brother in pain and being so helpless, the fear of what tomorrow will bring, all of that took its own hit on you too. Even when he started calling you ‘Mama Ayo’ when you were barely 14 that did nothing to make life seem any better.
You struggled to survive, at least your grades only dropped but you never failed an exam. Both of you were very intelligent and ever determined not to let the two years of torture at dad’s and step mom make you failures in life. How you wish, he had lived to tell his own tale! I know this is about us, but can we ever talk about us without him? Then when adolescence hit you hard, and all those hormones, and no one to even talk to you about basic stuffs like how to properly wear a pad, of course only some blunders could be noted. You were beautiful even if you didn’t believe that then nor smiled at all. But, let me be candid that you still are and I appreciate how we smile now. The boys lured with just what you most craved for. They promised to hold you and love you for infinity. You may not have even known what that really meant, but you did give them some trial periods. The inevitable happened, that was exactly 15 years ago, you had him and even though from a most forbidden love, you didn’t care.
You were almost homeless, and so unstable both in thoughts and actions. Marriage to you seemed the best way out. You even saw it as a refuge remember? And you did it girl, you met a guy in December, told him either marriage or nothing, and by March you both exchanged vows in front none other but your own father who was the lord mayor of your village at the time. Ha, whatever we were expecting I still can’t tell up to this day. But what we got, I can’t start talking about that in this very letter. Let me just say, we tried our best and took some real abuse, we tried to fight back and gave in, up, out after 6 years. How many kids you had by then again, ah yes 3 boys. How many times you had gotten pregnant again? 4 times. Remember there was the first pregnancy even before the vows were exchanged, that one you miscarried at 5 months, then the angel you had in 2008 and barely cradled in your arms before she developed the respiratory infection which took her back to her maker the very next day. By then, pain was your companion.
But darling Ayo, all the above reflections and recollections are not to open old wounds or throw any pity party, no that’s not what soft girls turned women and mothers do. Our girlhood may have been fractured and interrupted, we may have had some real adverse childhood experiences, but our stubborn but passionate faith kept us going. I wouldn’t lie to you when I say some days today are still tough especially as a single parent living with both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but when I think of how far we have come, girl I owe you a big one. We strive on for our own sake but also for his sake, gone so soon but will live in us forever. We strive on for the boys and all those young girls who look up to us for inspiration and motivation. We are so grateful we can mentor many and we can equally give all those talks and write the books to share our story and tell people it is possible. That girls if given the chance can become just anything and can even run a home and why not a country. We are forever grateful for all the love and lessons, all the accomplishments, and all the networks. Indeed, the fractured girlhood only made it tough getting here, but we are tougher.
Darling Ayo, I am so honoured and humbled to have finally written this long overdue letter to you. I conclude by telling you how joyful I was when a Nigerian friend told me Ayo in their dialect means Joy – you see Ayo isn’t only an exclamation like the native Dualas use it for.
MARIE ANGELE ABANGA (simplified to Marie Abanga) aka MAG likes to describe herself as a “Jacqueline of several trades”. She is an everyday woman and mother with a zigzag profile. Let’s give it a try! She is an Activist, an Author, a Coach, a Consultant, a Feminist, a Lawyer, a Lecturer, a Prince 2 Project Manager, a Psychotherapist, a Philanthropist and an etc! She just loves to sum it up by saying she is a person of passions and a tale of talents. Her life’s journey has filled 6 books already and her three musketeers keep her busy at home.MAG is also the founder and CEO of the association Hope for the Abused and Battered, and the Country Director of the Gabriel Bebonbechem Foundation for Epilepsy & Mental wellbeing. I am also the Global Mental Health Peer Executive representing Cameroon.The plethora of life’s experiences and shenanigans she has lived through and learned from in near 4 decades of existence, have equipped her with such an arsenal to coach, train and motivate just any and everyone. She is so charismatic, dynamic and full of life, going by her designed mantra of 3Ds: Determination; Discipline and Dedication. These sum her+her quest to be the best version of herself and impact others perfectly. She attributes all her wealth of knowledge to her conscientious attendance of both informal and formal school. Let’s see what she got from formal school below …
Ms Abanga had her LLB Hons from the University of Buea, a Maitrise in Public Law from the University of Yaounde II.A Higher Diploma( Distinctions) in Transport and Logistics from ODECI Cameroon, an LLM in International Law with International Relations from the University of Kent, a P2PM Foundation and Practitioner certification from the US, and a CBT Psychotherapy Diploma( Distinctions )from the United Kingdom. She is currently studying Msc in Psychology .
CHIEF EDITOR( WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS)
MBIZO CHIRASHA is (ihraf.org) 2019 International Fellow of the International Human Rights Arts Festival New York. (2018)Recipient of Global Literary Influencer Certificate of Merit by Directorio Mundial de Escritores through Academia Mundial de Literatura, Historia, Arte y Cultura (http://directoriomundial.allimo.org/Mbizo-Chirasha/). Vice President of POETS OF THE WORLD in Africa (poetasdelmundo.com). Recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017) .Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in
Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism
Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized
Writer/Poet. Recipient of the EU-Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund (2017). Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe. Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. Curator and Editor of Brave Voices Poetry Journal (miombopublishing.wordpress.com).Founder and Chief Editor of WomaWords Literary Press. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbizo_Chirasha
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