In this country, a boss should always be bald and have a big belly.
At 8 years old, that was what I believed. My uncle- the one that raised me isn’t bald. He hasn’t got a big belly either, so you don’t realize, the first time you see him, that he’s the actual boss of a big office in the center of town. When my parents died, Uncle Bassey took me in. I watched him run to work, just so he could be the first one at the office in the mornings. I watched him give people orders, and they obeyed. So as I grew up, I wanted to be like my Uncle Bassey — a boss. But in my country, when you’re born female, dreams like that are a bit far-fetched. I saw no bosses that looked like him, but I saw no bosses that looked like me either, and so I believed that one day I could.
That year, I turned 12, but my dreams didn’t change. On my 12th birthday, I told my uncle my inner most desire was to be like him; to be a boss, so I can give orders. I told him I wanted people to listen and obey, but to my surprise, he chastised me, and instead told me to prepare to travel to Kokoma in the morning with him to fetch water. The drought was the worst we’d seen in years, and begun to affect the growth of cotton. The business was struggling as a result, so by morning, we drove 105 kilometers to Kokoma village. We didn’t make it before dawn like we wanted, and as it grew dark we began to worry for our safety. When we got to the well, Uncle Bassey held the bucket, and told me to watch out for snakes. At the site of a snake wrapped around the well, I ran. I had run only a few yards before I realized I no longer heard my uncle’s footsteps behind me. I soon found him on the floor with a deep cut in his leg from the snake bite.
That year, we celebrated Uncle Bassey’s life. The rains came, and the cotton crops flourished again, but Uncle Bassey made it through only a few more birthdays, before he passed away.
Tomorrow, I’ll be twenty but my dreams have not changed much. I now lead Uncle Bassey’s office of 10 employees; 4 of them are female, and 3 manage their own departments. I am not only a female leader, but I am creating other female leaders. I am the first one in the office because I want others to come in on time. It drives productivity. I speak not because I want to be heard, but because others listen; they value what I have to say. I work harder than everyone else not because I am their boss, but because I am their leader. Tomorrow, I’ll be twenty. My dreams haven’t changed much.