Behind the Heels and Suitcases

I was woken up on the morning of the 10th of February, 2014 by resonating sounds of heels and suitcases. It took me a while before I decided to lift my duvet up and go see what was happening in the hall. When I opened the door, an unusual mix of fancy perfumes of Gucci, Dior and Victoria Secret suddenly invaded my nostrils. In front of me, wonderful goddesses of Athena were fitting in their official clothes (dresses and skirts) and rising up on their very special heels. I was wondering if I was a somnambulant before I realized it was the “heels and suitcases ceremony”.  I immediately sighed: “Oh God, heels!”

Indeed, heels are part of my major teenage nightmares; I have always feared that people would stare at me in a very bizarre way if I wore heels because I would look like a camel. But I found that sometimes our family is worth challenging our biggest fear. Athena has become my first family, my first nest and I do anything to show my gratitude to my sisters. So I decided to flow in the mass and get my formal attire and wear heels. One of the other reasons why I decided to follow the tradition is the strong story that lies behind the “heels and suitcases”. This tradition was created by the first generation of Athena; our “ancestors” (considering they are only graduating this year) found it necessary to give tribute to the women all over the world. Women who despite the luggage they carry such as rape, domestic violence, segregation and discrimination – represented by the suitcases- remain brave and still look respectful and respectable by dressing up.

Today, my reflection on this Athena tradition is still going though I cannot know if the most embarrassing part of that ceremony was wearing heels, the countless questions from teachers and students or dragging our suitcases in the dining hall while chanting Athena chants to the whole community. But at least, every time that I sit and think of it again I feel very proud of myself for having stood up for such a noble cause that is woman dignity. And in this way, I will be more than honoured to be part of those who will share this enriching experience with the next Goddesses of Athena.

By Adjaratou Mame Kaffa Sakho

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