It Happened To Me

A Day In The Life Of A House Girl


house help

In a piece written for Aljazeera, Nigerian novelist and 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize winner for Best First Book (Africa), Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, details the story of Titi, a 12 year old girl from the Republic of Benin who was brought to a city in Nigeria to be a house girl.

SEE ALSO: Dear Husbands, Why Help Your Whole Village When You Haven’t Paid Your Own Rent?

Below is an excerpt from her article;

Twelve-year-old Titi does not know her surname. She also does not know that she is from the Republic of Benin and not Nigeria, where she currently works as domestic help – cleaning, cooking, and washing laundry for a family of six.

But she does remember her mother’s first name, and a long journey from her village almost two years ago when she was just 10.

The night before that journey, Titi was at home having dinner with her family when she noticed her aunt packing her clothes into a plastic bag she had bought a few days before.

Her family broke the news: In a few hours she would be leaving to go and work in a town in southwest Nigeria. Her mother and aunt wished her well and then handed her over to the man who would drive her there.

The open truck he drove was crammed full of people; there were so many that some had to sit on the roof of the driver’s cab.

Titi was scared – less about where she was going than the fact that the driver would regularly pull over to hide the vehicle in dense bushes for long stretches of time. It was especially frightening at night.

“The car didn’t have any cover,” she says. “Some of us were children, but not all.”

Eventually they arrived at their destinations – each of them getting out at a different drop-off point.

Titi was delivered to an old woman in a small town. She knew her only as ‘Mama’ and stayed with her for four days, until the woman’s son and daughter-in-law came to collect her.

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