There was a time by Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

If they are educated, they can be and have anything they want. – Theresa Kachindamoto

There was a time when tradition
ruled and the old ways
were not open to question.
Fathers, mothers, sisters, aunts,
even the victims themselves,
all would have said:

What use is it to speak to us
of books and school and schooling?
This is how is with us:
young girls must ripen;
they must marry as their
ancestors married.
So do we live,
so do we survive.

And when the outsider said
that such cruelty was wrong
and an oppression no longer
to be tolerated,
they would have replied,
these same people,
with blank and stony eyes;
Likely, they would
not have understood.
Some of them might
have grown angry.
Seen from where we are,
it is hard not blame them;
but the Old Ways
have their power.

Our chiefs and our elders,
they tell us what must be.
By what authority shall we
over-speak them?
Let our young women ripen
as wives and mothers.
Let them please their
husbands first.
Let them afterwards
tend their fires.

But now there comes
a new way,
a breath of wind
that lifts the dust
of many years.

A voice is lifted up
against the old ways
and it rings. it rings
in younger ears.

Let there be schooling,
and books, and lessons.
And let there be
an unwritten future.
Let these married children
douse their fires.
Let them roll
out from under
their husbands.
Let them put down
their laundry
and refresh themselves
in the waters
of the river
of life.

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