The movie “Sista” dives deep into the intricacies of “single parenthood”, where the experiences and struggles of a single mom was brought into perspective. We see what makes her happy and how undoubtedly, it revolves around her two children.
Sista (acted by Kehinde Bankole) became a mom at the age of 17 and had her second child at age 19 (both within teenage years). Having to carry that burden at such a “young age” all by herself, is a feat that shouldn’t go unmentioned – a draining feat. From cooking for university students in the hostel, to acquiring a shop, to losing the shop at the moment she was abandoned by the father of her children to fend for herself and the kids.
Now, let’s look at some lessons from this intriguing drama and its characters.
The Importance Of Contraceptives
Imagine how different the story would have been, if she (Sista) had proper knowledge and accessibility to contraceptives. Unfortunately, our society still believes the conversation around contraceptives should only be for family planning in marriage. The level of “shock” parents and even healthcare workers display, when or if a 17-year-old asks for more information on contraceptives, one wonders if a pregnant child/teenager is preferred to a child/teenager with reproductive life planning.
The Place of Psychological and Psychosocial Support
Growing up and going through that phase as a young struggling single mother of 2, who listened when she (Sista) cried at night? Who offered assistance or any form of support to her and her kids? Who comforted her and gave reassuring words? Who told her she didn’t have to go through all that alone? How does it feel to have no idea where the next meal will come from?
Albeit, Sista didn’t let her situation define her future and that of her children. She took charge, she cleaned, dusted, swept, and made her children her future. She worked for them, for 19 years. She received insults, was humiliated in front of her children, she took it as part of the job.
In all of these, one begins to ask, where was her parents, siblings, close or any extended family? Her community, church members, group or…? Because if just one person was available to be empathic, supportive or provide guidance to her, maybe the course of her life wouldn’t have been so chaotic, or not.
The Need for Empowerment Schemes
Looking at Sista’s kind of situation (which women still find themselves in today), availability of functional empowerment schemes would have been really helpful and made a positive impact. Not everyone has the opportunity to get a formal education, hence the need for loans, free classes – where they can acquire skills that are on demand in the society – and more importantly, job opportunities – to make use of these acquired skills.
The Law and the Abandonment Offence
Then, he (the father of Sista’s children, Fola, acted by Deyemi Okanlawon) came back – with requests, wanting to win “his” kids’ heart. Outrageous! Sista, however, dared him to try.
At this point, the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 (VAPP Act) section 16 comes to mind, it states: “a person who abandons a wife or husband, children or other dependants without any means of sustenance commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or to a fine not exceeding N500,000.00 or both”. He can be and should have been sued for abandoning his children.
The Role of Emotional Intelligence
“Mom, you’re younger than him but you look older”, one of her kids said. Sista kept quiet, she was deeply hurt. This was her reward after not 1, not 2, but 19 whole years of her sacrifice, this is all she gets – body shaming from her own child. She kept mute, she was tired… No one cared about her mental health then, why should any care now?
But again, he (Fola) came back, as they all mostly would do. This time however, with a sincere apology – she (Sista) deserved that much. After she had confronted him and expressed herself about him trying to win her children over. Although she did keep to herself for a while, but it was probably to process things as they were and figure out what to do. She was then given the choice of getting relief from her draining work and taking a rest from the struggle. Finally, she can now relax, as well as her children. She agreed, she needed it.
She knew when to fight, when to keep quiet, when to speak, when to accept an apology and when to give up the sword. Despite her kettle of fish, she was an emotionally intelligent woman.
Food for Thought
Reflecting on her journey, would it have been easier if someone listened to her at the very least? How about every other girl child that had to go through this, how did they cope? how did they survive? how did they and their kids turn out? Do these outcomes affect our society today? Putting into perspective that some of these women or girls had to be forcefully married with their pregnancies denying them of opportunities, what structures do we have in place for the social, mental, and financial wellbeing of these women and girls? Even now, in our own circle of influence and beyond – what are we doing about this?
Sista deserved a better journey. Every female child or woman does.
Elegbede Olajumoke is a 4th year medical student at Lagos State University, with keen interest in research and public speaking. She enjoys reading, volunteering, getting involved in community service and spending quality time with friends. Currently, she works as a content writer/social media manager for small businesses. She can be connected via Instagram and Twitter.