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9 Nigerian Women Talk About Their Relationship With Their Sisters

What is life like as a woman with sisters? These nine Nigerian women talk about their relationship with their sisters.

Mary, 56

My sister and I are both old women, but she still treats me like we are little children. Whenever she calls and my voice does not sound the way she wants it to, she will come over to my house with hot cooked food. It could be beans, porridge, vegetable soup, or even spaghetti. She will tell me that the reason I sound sick is because I have not eaten enough food, so she came to feed me. I love her, and I know life would have been harder without my older sister.

Jadesola, 20

I have two younger sisters aged 17 and 11. The 11-year-old is the baby of the house and literally one of my best friends. She’s smart with a smart mouth and my world revolves around her. Now for my 17-year-old sister, we’ve always had a rocky relationship. I think one reason is that she’s the same as I am; even almost down to having the same hobbies and interests as I do and it’s something I’ve never quite known how to adjust to. Right now she’ll soon be entering university and she’s going to study the same major as I did. I hate it because all I want is for her to just live her life and not copy mine. I know it seems horrible and I’m trying to navigate these feelings.

Titi, 20

I have two sisters, and all three of us could not be more different from each other. I live in a city where everyone knows everyone, but nobody knows my oldest sister or of her. It’s crazy. I am actually painfully shy, but people think I’m cool and want to talk to me. I don’t mind it sometimes, but I could do without it. My younger sister is a people magnet, very funny and is just generally likeable. I do not think we could ever be friends if we were not sisters, but I know they will always be there for me if I need them. We have a fierce kind of love for each other, it just usually needs something to bring it out.

Florence, 19

I have four sisters, and there has always been a weird dynamic between us. I always saw girls say they had the closest friendships with their older sisters, and I wanted that so bad. Actively, I tried to create a deep bond with my older sister, but it never really clicked for both of us. I remember when I was 18 and in the search for financial independence from my parents. I travelled to Lagos during the holidays to work as an usher for a beer company. My sister, however, thought I was in Lagos to sleep around. She went ahead to tell everyone the narrative she had formed in her head and I was forced to leave.

The situation made my parents look at me a certain way and my sister and I didn’t talk for months. Then one day, she sent me a text asking me to help her with her relationship problems. That helped me come to the conclusion that we don’t have to be really close, just be there for each other. I think our relationship has been alright since then.

Ehi, 20

Having sisters is the one perfect thing about my life and I think it is beautiful. My sisters made me a better person because I was a shitty child. The love I feel for them is unsurpassable, and it’s like having standard best friends. They’ll treat your fuck up but will also hold you and kiss you.

Somto, 20

I think because my elder sisters are twins I’ve somehow always felt left out. I’ve learned to form the best sisterhood from friendships, and I really wouldn’t know what my life would have been like without them. Now that I’m older, my sisters and I get along but overall the women in my life make living in a heavily patriarchal society a lot less difficult. I hate that we can’t go anywhere late at night alone, but love that we go everywhere together. I can say they’d do anything to ensure my safety and comfort as would I. With women as friends and sisters, it’s been a gift. Not a lot of people get to experience that.

Mimi, 22

I have a stepsister. She’s more than 20 years older than me so we haven’t had much of a relationship. She’s in a totally different country but as the eldest older, she is still the final authority when it comes to decisions my parents need advice to make. She really doesn’t get how things are here in Nigeria, but she makes her decisions based on what she remembers from when she was here, almost three decades ago. I’ve accepted that she will almost never make decisions that are in my best interest and I’m slowly but surely reducing how dependent I am on my family so in time I can afford to make my own choices and be in spaces that are healthy for me.

Yinka, 22

I am two years older than my sister, and it is more annoying than anything. I like being in my own space and having time to myself, but she follows me everywhere. If I breathe, she is right there inhaling my carbon dioxide. Some people find that kind of thing cute, but I really like space. We both live in different states now and that prevents me from strangling her. I know I love her because the day she called me crying, I took the next bus to her school. I have followed her to get an abortion and I got suspended from school because I beat up a boy that touched her inappropriately. I just wish she gave me more space, and stopped stealing all of my clothes.

Fola, 21

I have the best sister ever and I have no idea what I’ll do without her. I think she’s the first friend I ever had in my life. She can be annoying, but I’m pretty sure I annoy her more than she annoys me. There was a time my mother used to call us “Mary and her little lamb”. With me being the little lamb. Sometimes, I feel stupid though. Not that she makes me feel stupid, but I just see how smart she is and all the things she’s doing and I’m like “why can’t I be like that?”

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