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Interview with Amina Lawal
Hafsat Abiola
NigeriaGALLERYCONVERSATION
Talking with Amina was difficult. We spoke different Nigerian languages, and she didn’t speak English.
However, from our first meeting, I was struck by the air of peace and calm that surrounded Amina. She seemed gentle, self-effacing, and docile. During the interview, she spoke briefly and sometimes would not speak at all, preferring to let her lawyer, who had become like a second mother to her, speak for her. Below is the interview, followed by my reflections on the experience.
[Amina’s lawyer answers for her.] Amina is from a village called Kurami, in Katsina state. Her father, a farmer, died when she was young, and she grew up with her mother and stepfather. She has no formal education but went to Koranic School. She got married when she was thirteen or fourteen years old. She has three kids with her husband and was divorced a couple of days ago. Her oldest child is twelve years old.
There is no space for me anywhere. At my age, I am not meant to be in my father’s house but in my husband’s house. When I stay with my parents, after a few days, they become fed up with me. It is not their fault, as their house is small. [Her lawyer uses her hands to show how small.
Yes. There was a man who showed interest. My mother said he had to meet with my senior mother [the term by which her lawyer is known]. She [the lawyer] interviewed him and quickly found that the man thought I was receiving money from people outside. He was interested in the money.
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