In 2016, a few days to my birthday, I conceptualised Araba. It started out as a platform for women entrepreneurs who are looking for business advice and mentors to help them along the way.
A year before, I had embarked on my first business endeavor that failed because I didn’t have enough access to practical business knowledge that was specific to my line of business.
Araba was supposed to be a platform to help young female entrepreneurs like me get access to information and find mentors from a diverse business background. Basically, a restaurant owner advising a restaurant owner and access to information on running restaurants.
I choose the name “Araba” because at that time my father nicknamed my niece, “Araba” which means a very big tree that dominates the forest.
Araba means strength because every woman is a tree with many fruits. Our roots are solid and our heart is pure. When you empower one woman, she will empower an entire generation.
You see, the concept of being an African woman means a lot to me. I come from a line of women who defiled norms to stand out and be triumphant in the face of so many obstacles.
My paternal grandmother, Comfort was not a woman of her generation, she was extraordinary. She was not perfect but she fought for whatever she believed in. My grandmother never took no for an answer. She was tenacious. Whatever memories you hold, vicious or virtuous, you cannot deny her strength.
My maternal grandmother, Beatrice was ice. She was faithful in every aspect of her life and she accepted her lot in life without question. I remember the first time I saw her, I looked into her eyes and I saw a warmth that showed how much she understood life. Sometimes I think people like my grandmother had lived over and over again to the extent that they have come to understand the essence of life itself.
You know that bible verse that says, I have seen everything under the sun and it is all vanity upon vanity. That is exactly how she took life.
My mother is my best friend. We have a complicated relationship like all mothers and daughters. We disagree to agree and we argue. Sometimes I am brash and most times I am not the perfect daughter but in everything, my mother has always been supportive. She listens, she cheers me up and when I told her I was going to create a blog, she didn’t say no or how will you do it.
My mother gave up her career to take care of her five children and although she is grateful for us, she regrets it sometimes. On days like that, she will lament and warn me not to give up anything for anyone or anthing. Her decision is what helped us to have a sane life but as I got older I realised that African woman are often boxed into making decisions like this because of inherent cultural beliefs.
A woman’s place is in the home, a woman should not interact with men in her office, a woman should not be too ambitious, a woman should not give all to her career, a woman should not abandon her children, a woman should not be too successful, a woman should not be too beautiful, a woman should not be financially independent.
There are men who would rather have a woman not be anything at all because he wants to continually stroke an ego that is almost non-existent. We are ingrained with these false assumptions and beliefs that anyone who dares to thread outside the line is labelled extreme feminist. You hear people saying things like “don’t join bad feminism gang.”
The truth is a woman can be everything she wants to be and still be a good mother and a good wife. A woman can be financially independent and still have a good marriage.
The lies that draw us back are not realistic. Who says you were not created to be the best version of you. Who says you shouldn’t go for another degree because you are married.
As I get older, one thing I have realised is that there is a work-life balance and it absolutely amazing. Growing in your career should not stop you from having a successful marriage because society has ingrained the idea that you cannot have it all.
Who says submitting to your spouse involves not fighting for a promotion or not entering a partnership that will expand your business. Who says being a good mother has to involve resigning from work to set up a store across the street.
As women, the narrative is exactly what we make it.
One blog post at a time, I want to help young African women shape a better narrative that empowers us to be the best version of ourselves across board.
The Araba journey is evolving, yes I am still figuring out a whole lot of things and I am still juggling different aspects of my life.
The amazing thing about all this is that Araba is a legacy, when I am old and grey-headed and I breathe my last breath, I want to be thankful to God for all the women whose lives were full because of Araba.
To you, the reader who has read a few blog posts over the years, the reader who follows Araba on social media and the reader who calls me to say how excited they are about Araba.
Adejumoke Alarape Adekanye