‘My perception of the girl child in Nigeria is one of a struggling plant trying to take Root’
Moradeyo Adetosoye, an SSI student of Lagoon Secondary School, is the winner of the maiden edition of The African Women Power (AWP) Network/Guardian Nigerian Writing Competition, which was launched last year to mark the International Day of the Girl Child. The 14-year-old, who competed with over 200 other girls between ages 13 to 20, wrote on the topic: How Has The COVID19 Lockdown Affected You As A Young Girl Living In Nigeria.
In this interview with Maria Diamond, Moradeyo, who recently received her prize money, spoke about her life and the challenges of a girl child in Nigeria. She also gave insight into the preparations that earned her top price in the writing competition.
Could you tell us about yourself?
Let’s start with who I am, or who I suppose people assume I am. To others, I am a cheery 14-year-old with a great personality and a thirst for new opportunities. But I feel differently from their perception. To me, I am just an average kid who seeks ways to become better. I take lots of advice from those around me, and I won’t exactly say that my personality is cheery, as I have my ups and downs sometimes.
I am the kind of girl who when she stumbles on a great opportunity, I seize the opportunity, no procrastination. I prefer to read books in my spare time and I like to read both hardcopy and softcopy books of all genres, but my favorites are thrillers. I won’t deny that I also love to talk a lot.
You were recently announced winner of the AWP Network/Guardian Nigeria writing competition, how did you get to know about the competition?
My mother came across The AWP Network/Guardian Nigeria writing essay competition online and told me about it. She encouraged my twin sister and me to participate in it since the topic was something that we could relate to.
Were you surprised that of all the entries, you emerged the overall winner?
I am still in shock as to how I won the competition as I feel that there were better writers than me who submitted their essays too. However, defeating over 200 others is out of the ordinary, as I took my time in writing and looking over my copy. I also had a few people proofread for me as well before submission.
Did you get help while writing the essay?
The only form of help I got while writing the essay, was when my parents and a friend of mine helped to proofread it. Although my parents helped to look over the completed version, my friend, Amara Nwuneli, also helped in guiding me through writing the essay and pointing out where I could improve.
She cheered me on constantly and I feel that without her, I wouldn’t have won the competition. She too is an aspiring child entrepreneur who focuses on acting and public speaking. Also, the Internet was a major help to me, as it was my greatest source of information regarding the given topic.
After submitting your essay, was there a point where you had doubt?
There was no point in time where I had any doubts after submitting, as I knew I had done everything that I could. I had brainstormed to gather all my points and expressed them accordingly and I had looked over them multiple times. So, I was pretty confident about it when I submitted it. Still, I definitely didn’t expect to emerge as the winner.
How do you feel about emerging the winner of the writing competition?
To know that I am the sole winner of a writing competition that had over 200 entries, out of which those who are much older than me most likely participated, gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Due to this, my confidence in my writing skills has increased immensely, and I plan on partaking in other writing competitions soon.
Having received the N100, 000 monetary prize, what do you intend to do with the money?
Actually, I have not given this a thought, as I never really anticipated winning. Now that it has happened, the first thing I want to do with the money is to pay my tithes, because none of this would have been possible without God. After doing that, I feel that the best course of action would be to share some of the money with charity and then save the rest for future use.
What is your advice for young girls and boys who would like to excel brilliantly as you have done with the essay writing competition?
My advice to those who would like to excel is that you should never settle for anything less than brilliant. In everything you do, ensure that your work leaves an impact, and if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t stop trying.
What is your career plan?
I would like to become a civil rights lawyer, because I find it to be an interesting career path. When I imagine the thrill I would get from being in front of a judge and jury, it gives me a feeling of fulfillment.
I am currently looking for a law firm to apply for an internship, so I can get a taste of what awaits me. However, if my dream to become a lawyer does not scale through, I would like to become a talk show host. This job has its perks as well, as I get to talk to my heart’s delight.
I hosted a radio show previously with my twin sister on Cool FM, but we had to end it prematurely because of the outbreak. We have done some monologues, which we posted on our Instagram page, and we hope to start a talk show on Youtube in the near future.
Where do you see yourself in ten years time from now?
In ten years, I see myself as an up-and-coming lawyer. I would find a job at a law firm and work my way up from the bottom. But while I work, I could manage to get a part-time job as a host for a show, either TV or radio, something that would help me stay on my feet and make some more money.
Do you have any role model?
As the years have gone by, I’ve come to learn about various female leaders who have forged a path for themselves, but the story that stuck to me the most was that of Oprah Winfrey, the famous talk show host.
As a girl, she was born into poverty. Although she went through many hardships, she managed to make her way to the top. I have admired her for quite some time now, her powerful demeanor and the way she carries herself is very inspiring and so I aspire to be more like her in the future.
What is your perception of the girl-child in Nigeria? Would you say the girl-child is duly accorded equal opportunities and rights to thrive as the boy-child?
My perception of the girl child in Nigeria is one of a struggling plant trying to take root. There are not many opportunities for the girl child to make herself known in Nigeria, given the belief that we are not supposed to be accorded with the rights to education, or freedom of speech.
Some people still maintain the mentality that the girl child is only meant to stay at home, catering to the household chores and waiting to get married. Even though we are now in 2021, this belief is yet to be aborted, so it is not really easy for the girl child in Nigeria to freely show the world her abilities. Some employers have this mindset as well, believing that the boy child is superior to the girl child, and these mindsets have a heavy impact on the careers and lives of the girl child.
Along with your twin sister, you have written three books, what are the titles of each of these books, and why are they not published yet?
The titles are A Doppelganger’s Life, I’m part of the 0.2% and Did I Get Away With It? Moradeke and I wrote these three books when we were younger, and as we grew up, we made constant changes to them. We have begun to edit the books again as some childish errors have been spotted. Due to the constant editing and the fact that we are yet to find a publisher, the books have been left unpublished. Once we feel that the books are up to standard and manage to find a publisher to help publish our books, they will be out in the market in no time.
Tell us about the online business with your twin sister Moradeke, what kind of goods do you sell, and what prompted the initiative?
Well, the online business my twin sister Moradeke and I ran crashed, as the patronage was not forthcoming. We had the products ready and we constantly advertised them on our page, but not many people bought from us. Eventually, the will to continue with it fizzled out.
However, while it lasted, it was a charity-based business that was created to help those who we felt needed help. We partnered with various vendors and sold their products at discounted prices, and the proceeds were then given to charity. The goods we sold were mostly clothes, pencil cases, stationery, kitchen utensils, etc. Our primary school teacher, who inspired and encouraged us a great deal, prompted the initiative.
Why did you choose to use the proceeds from your online business to buy educational items for the school in Itedo Community?
Before the business fizzled out, we chose to use our proceeds to buy educational items for those who needed it, because we realised that not everyone is privileged to afford basic education items, so we decided to help those who needed help within our capacity and reach.
We chose Itedo Primary School, Lekki – Lagos State because it is close to where we live. Also, we initially had a diaper drive at the Massey Children Hospital, but we couldn’t continue with it because of the pandemic, but we hope to make it a yearly event.