Growing up my family did not hire domestic help because we had a huge family and there were more than enough people with no job and ready to pitch in with the house work. I think that some members of my extended family would actually be really upset at my mother if she even suggested a domestic help. Trust me when I say that there were enough people ready, willing and able to do the work.
When my family first moved to Lagos though I had my first experience living with a domestic helper. Our “housegirl” was not from our hometown. It was difficult to communicate with her because she did not understand much English or Yoruba. I’m not sure where my mother hired her from but I’m sure it was probably out of sympathy. My mother probably met someone from her family who asked her to take the girl to live with us. I was very young so I cannot guess her age accurately but I would say anywhere from 15-20.
I am sure no one dreams to be a house girl but I will tell you though that she got lucky to have my mom as her boss. This girl burned food more times than necessary. She did not have much task she was given to do around the house. Even with her errors not once did I hear my mother raise her voice at her. Some domestic helps are not so lucky. They are often treated poorly. I’ll talk more about that in the next part of this series.