DAY 48: Finding your Voice
By Ifeyinwa Egwaoje, Lagos, Nigeria, 14 October 2017
Stories go beyond generations, they engage people through emotions, and connect us to others, they are about alliance and connection. Through stories we share problems, passion, pains and joys, meaning and purpose. Stories provide the platform for people to communicate, overcoming defences and differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find solidarity with others.
‘’Finding Your Voice’’ provided a platform where women used stories as a means to address issues of communal and cultural narratives that demean their abilities. These women through the power of sharing their personal stories are beginning to shift the ownership of their narratives, letting the world know that there is more to women than the boxes they have been forced to fit into.
The event had in attendance 12 women from all around Lagos, representing the legal, business, public sector and educational fields. These women came from different fields but had faced in their different fields similar experiences simply because they are women. In sharing their stories, they were able to relate and connect with each other, learning from women who had gone ahead of them as well as sharing stories that united them in so many ways, the women were able to recognise themselves in each other.
The event which took place at Nike Art Gallery, Lekki Phase 1 in Lagos Nigeria started with Ifeyinwa Egwaoje the teacher for the 100 days of learning explaining the essence of 100 days of learning and why she chose Finding Your voice as a theme for the event, afterwards participants had an icebreaker activity before introducing themselves. The question ‘’Who are you’’ was asked to get participants thinking of who they truly are and whether they are living their lives for themselves or living according to the precepts of others.
Ifeyinwa helped participants to realize how women have outsourced their story telling to television, the media and society, letting the news media and experts make sense of the unpredictable world around them, rather than making sense of it for themselves and then taking responsibility to change it. Women have let advertising and the society answer the questions of what car and hair products to buy ; taking way their power to decide. Participants shared stories about how they made life changing decisions based on what the society constructed and not based on what they truly wanted.
She went ahead and introduced an exercise that will help the participants make sense of their past, present and future. The Tree of Life exercise which is a visual metaphor in which a tree represents your life and the various elements that make it up–past, present, and future. Participants were told to draw a tree and label the parts, this exercise helped them discover aspects of themselves shaped by the past, their present reality and how they can begin to actively cultivate their trees to reflect the kind of person they want to be moving forward. It helped them discover and highlight alternate paths through which they can create new horizons for their future. After the exercise the women shared their personal stories of pain, vulnerability, power, resilience and breaking away from the norm. This helped participants realize the damage of patriarchy and how societal constructs pitched women against themselves rather than at the core of the problem which is patriarchy. The story telling exercise enabled the women see themselves in each others’ stories and at the end of the day the women resolved to support each other. The event came to a close with the women resolving to start a facebook group for themselves to support each other moving forward and continue to conversation.
About 100 Days of Learning
Age of Wonderland 2017 presents 100 DAYS OF LEARNING, a global learning event to exchange valuable life experiences with peers. Doers and thinkers from around the world — innovators, scientists, engineers, artists, designers, social entrepreneurs — are invited to share their personal stories, ideas, and practice, not to be found in textbooks. Aim is to rediscover knowledge, challenge beliefs, and exchange life lessons with others. To make the world a better place, we need to embrace change on an individual level, and inspire others to do the same.