By Anote Ajeluorou
IT is not just because she is also a woman. It isn’t also because she is a medical doctor, an ophthalmologist. It is simply because the conditions of women Dr. Mbadugha address in her first collection of short stories are rampant, entrenched in society and continue to cause headache to many women. It is also because much as these issues or practices harm women, positive attitude towards eradicating them seems elusive and women continue to suffer conditions not of their own making. These are the concerns she exposes in Beyond the Trial.
Widowhood, teenage pregnancy and wife-beating are some of the issues still militating against the ability of some women to develop to their full capacities and contribute meaningfully to society. Many women continue to reel under the yoke of painful widowhood rites combined with lack of written wills made by husbands to provide for their loved ones. This renders many wives penniless in the hands of greedy in-laws. And then how do young girls escape the trap of teenage pregnancy so they could aspire to their highest levels of personal achievements?
These issues came to the fore recently at the presentation of Mbadugha’s debut collection at Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos. Mbadugha is insistent that society continues to ignore the cries of women who suffer the failure of their men to provide for the future through making a will that curtails the incursion of extended family members to deny them their entitlement when the man is no longer there to provide and defend his family. She called on men to stop the age-old practice of swooping on the wealth of the deceased and denying bereaved women of their husband’s property, which hinders the wellbeing of such women as well as the education of their children.
In a form of advocacy, Mbadugha has taken to writing about these nagging issues to further raise awareness about them in society. The issues are as psychological as they are medical and Mbadugha said society’s health is at stake when a section of it is continuously put under stress that has implication for the entire society.
“I wrote Beyond the Trial with young adults and parents in mind. It’s about how relationships, friendships can affect young people negatively, especially when they cannot confide in the adults in their lives. It’s a book of inspiration for young ones to be able to open up to their parents on things bordering them. It’s hopeful and reflective about our situations. It’s also for parents to be close to their children and how through such closeness they can help young people steer the right path”.
She also composed a theme song for the book which she sang with gusto at the event to the admiration of guests. She sang it to the accompaniment of music from a keyboard and saxophone.
Chairman of the event and former Lagos State Commissioner for Health Dr. Leke Pitan commended the medical practitioner for finding time to write. According to him, “We have seen another facet of Mbadugha. You’re a multifaceted, talented, disciplinary person. Given our profession, that is a rarity. We doctors just face it. The training requires that you don’t veer off from medicine. Many don’t believe medicine should be mixed with mundane things as the arts. They feel something must give.
“I’m highly impressed. But not surprised. Mentally, Mbadugha is way beyond average. You are a pride to the medical profession. There’s a lot to learn from you and your book. I hope many more of us can borrow a leaf from her and show the many facets of us in the medical profession. We look forward to a CD from you”.
Other medical professionals in attendance also praised Mbadugha for her efforts in writing a book well outside the medical profession that deals with real time societal issues that plague many, young and old. Those present included Profs. Onakoya, Adefule, Ositelu Akinsola, Ibidapo, Dr. Ogechi Nwokedi, who read an excerpt from the book, author’s husband, Prof. Joseph Mbadugha, gospel singer Olufunmi Olajoyegbe and her husband, John Osakwe, Dr. Hope Iloka.