Within the next four minutes, Mo and the entire crew were ready to go live on television. The stage was set. The lightings illumined and beautified the stage as each light displayed different colors. Mo stood tall and slender on the raised platform, her body a study in grace, she stood straight and proud with a hint of cheerfulness. Her brows swept in a graceful arch, her mouth was less sensitive and full of smiles. She was beautifully dressed in a red, fitted, knee-level gown. Her dark-brown hair dropped over her shoulders. Red shoes with high, pointed heels graced her feet. Her jewelry was a simple necklace with a small pendant and earrings to match.
Mr. Adebayo and Ify sat among the audience that had come to watch the show, live. Most of them were pregnant, teenage girls while the others were single mothers in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. Only a few men were present to support their sisters or daughters.
"On the count of three, we start." The camera man said to Mo, cutting into the thoughts of everyone in the room. "So I count.1...2... and 3.....Go!"
"Hello everyone here and at home. A very good morning to you and welcome to another exciting edition of your favorite talk show, 'Moments with Mo.' I remain your one and only host, Mosunmola Abudu. I'm sure you are expecting something great, educative and inspiring from today's show and as earlier promised, I shall not disappoint you.
Before we go into the topic of discussion for today, I want to share a story I heard sometime last week. It’s a story that really made me emotional. It was about a young girl who lived few houses away from mine. She was a girl with a bright future. This girl, 16 years old, got involved in an intimate relationship. Well, one thing led to the other and she soon got pregnant. As the case always is, the boy denied her and the pregnancy. Her mother was mad with anger, so was her father. They insisted that she terminated the pregnancy because there was no way they were going to be ridiculed in the neighborhood. Having no other choice, the daughter agreed. The sad news is this, both the young girl and the unborn baby, died during the abortion process. Her parents cried their hearts out but I didn't sympathize with them. I believe that if their daughter was allowed to keep the baby, no matter what, especially since the child is innocent of his father's crimes, she would have been alive. So today, we will be looking into some challenges teenage girls face in the society. One of such challenge is teenage pregnancy. We are well aware how rampant it has become among our young girls to get pregnant. The media and unguided utterances and behaviors from adults have led a lot of youths astray. Unfortunately when pregnancy comes up, most of our teenage girls are misguided on how to handle the issue. Parents and siblings, including friends and other family members make things even more difficult. Ridicule becomes the order of the day and to save face, they go for abortions. Unfortunately, abortion has led to the death of so many young ladies. Ladies who had bright futures ahead of them. As for those who decided against abortion and kept the child, they are today, enjoying the fruit of their hard work. They are proud of that child. A child who has lived and grown to love them and support them in every possible way. This happiness makes you forget the early sufferings and humiliations. So today, I have brought a guest. One that has first hand experience of what so many teenage girls are going through today. A lot of young girls look up to her as a role model. She is going to share with us her personal experience and I hope young, pregnant ladies out there learn a thing or two from our guest. Please join me to welcome on the show this morning, one of Nigeria's most famous and outstanding celebrity, Nkechi Okoji!"
A roar of applaud greeted the mention of her name. The guests gave Nkechi a standing ovation as she emerged from behind stage. Her soft hair was pulled back from a serene forehead and caught in a neat coil at the back of her neck. Her white outfit reflected beautifully in the spot light, as it guided her to the raised platform where Mo was cheerfully clapping. Both ladies hugged each other in greeting before gracefully taking their seat. The audience stopped clapping and also took their seats. Almost immediately, the once lively room became very quiet, so quiet one could hear a pin fall. Everyone wanted nothing more than to hear what their best, celebrity role model had to say.
"So," Mo chuckled. "I have you here at last."
"Yes." Nkechi agreed. "You do."
"Welcome to the show my dear. You look stunning."
"Thank you, thank you very much."
"Is there any secret behind your good looks today?"
"Yes. God is my secret and so is my baby girl. She gave me this outfit as a gift."
Mo turned to the audience, delighted at what she just heard. "You see what I'm talking about? A child once cared for will soon grow. And when he or she does, they never forget to care for the man or woman who made them." Please give a round of applause to that." The audience stood up to clap and then took their seat again. "It feels great, right? Having a grown up daughter who you equally take as a friend?" Mo asked, smiling.
"Yes it feels great." Nkechi replied.
Talking about your baby girl, where is she?" Mo asked.
Nkechi chuckled. "With the way we've both called her baby, I'm sure she's burning with anger."
"Oh! It's not intentional." Mo laughed. "Besides we mean it in a good way, its endearing."
"Yes she knows. But she is here, somewhere in the audience."
"Fantastic. Ify! Or should I say Ifeanyuwa?" She asked Nkechi.
"Either one is ok." Nkechi shrugged.
"Oh, I prefer Ify, its shorter." She laughed. Nkechi laughed too. "Ok Ify, mummy has confirmed your presence. Please wave to us from where ever you are. We want to see you." Mo admonished.
Ify stood up from where she sat and waved at her mother and Mo. Both women waved back and the audience clapped before she took her seat again.
"She is a beautiful woman already. You must be mighty proud of her." Mo said, smiling at the light she saw in Nkechi's eyes.
"Yes I am. I am very proud of her. She's the whole world to me."
"Were you always this proud of her?"
"No. Not always. At the beginning I was embarrassed." But soon after I was delivered of her, I saw the blessing she was and still is to me."
"Wow! That is nice. You know the joy of having a little baby can't be compared to anything else in the world. A lot of young ladies, pregnant teenagers especially, are out there looking for someone to look up to, Nkechi. You have been in their shoes before you know where it hurts the most. These young girls look up to you and being a public figure, I believe your story will give them a lot of courage to make right decisions. I'm very sure it will revive their lost hope."
"Ok." Nkechi responded but her heart skipped. The interview questions she prepared for and what she was getting were two different things. If she knew she was going to be asked about her teenage days and her pregnancy, she would have declined the interview request. The events of her teenage days and the birth of her daughter were two of her most guarded secrets that she didn't want out in the public. The media was just not the place for such information. Within the radiance of the spot light, she sat absent mindedly as her thoughts travelled back to a week ago. She had just returned from travel when Ify welcomed her with an interview invitation letter from Mo Abudu. She accepted the invitation because the topic of discussion written on it was about the Nigerian entertainment industry and the way forward. Ify had also encouraged her by giving her the outfit she was now wearing and telling her the interview was going to be an interesting one. Snapping out from her thoughts, she sighed. Although she felt cornered, she tried to focus on her host.
"...So you see." Mo was saying. "Our topic today is about teenage pregnancies and how parents can make right choices for their daughters. So tell us; What was it like? Being pregnant as a teenager?"
Nkechi hesitated for a while, but then she spoke. "For me, been pregnant or been a mother at such a young age was hard and embarrassing. It wasn't easy. The society, our society, frowns at it except the girl in question is married."
"Ok. But for those who are not married?"
"Its a tough life. One that pushes you to make tough decisions and whatever actions come from your decision, you will have to live with them for the rest of your life."
"Very true." Mo nodded. "I agree with you, one hundred percent. So right here, in this room today, there are a lot of teenage girls. Some are pregnant while others are not. But they are here today because they want to draw strength from you and your experience. There are a lot of people watching this program at home too and they watch for the same reason. So please, I am requesting, the audience is requesting and so are the viewers. We are all requesting that you share your experience with us."
"My experience? Ahhhhh! Oh no!" Nkechi smiled wearily. "My experience is a hard one. I would rather leave the past in the past. I don't think I wan..."
"Oh, we know. We know you have never talked about it to the media for obvious reasons. But please reconsider. What you share here today will help these youngsters." Mo encouraged. "They want your voice to direct them and no one has your voice but you. Whatever you share here today will determine if most of these unborn babies will live to see the light of day. "
Nkechi sighed. She looked away from her host and placed her eyes on the audience where her daughter was sitting. Telling everyone her experience also meant telling Ify how she felt about her when she was only an embryo. She didn't know if it was a good move or a bad one. Her daughter could end up hating her after the interview. Then what happens next? "Oh God." She thought. "This is a disaster." Taking her eyes back to her host, she smiled wearily again. "This is not easy. But what I can say is..."
She was interrupted by loud murmurings in the audience. Both ladies looked up and saw Ify approaching the raised platform. Nkechi frowned as she looked moved closer. Ignoring her mother's disapproving frown, Ify bent low and whispered into her ear. Whatever she said worked. Nkechi's resolve was suddenly soft and she looked more relaxed. Both women nodded approvingly to each other before Ify left the stage as abruptly as she had come..
"I love what I just witnessed." Mo said to the camera, smiling. "For those of you who are pregnant, if you let the child live, you are sure to have not just a child, but a friend for life."
"Yes!" The audience said randomly, in support, as they clapped
"So my dear, over to you." Mo said to Nkechi while waving the audience to silence.
"Its actually a tough decision, Mo. But I will tell my story the best way I can."
"Yeeaaa!!!!" The audience jubilated as they stood up to applaud her courage and willingness to help. Nkechi looked again in Ify's direction and smiled warmly when she saw her daughter clapping too.
"It's ok mummy." She said from where she stood. Her voice was drowned by the sound of clapping hands.. "You have things under control."
"Ok everyone, please sit." Mo motioned to the audience after she had overcome the excitement. After they had all sat down and the room was quiet, she turned to her guest. "Nkechi, over to you. We are eager to know already, what your experience was like."
"Well," she sighed. "I will start by saying being pregnant wasn't easy but, it was a result of my adventurous nature as a teenager. Back then my parents advised my sisters and I to stay away from men and their outrageous offers of love; at least, until we were old enough to pass good judgement on people and make good decisions for ourselves."
To be continued
Karo Oforofuo. November 2015 © All Rights Reserved