I was nearly married off to a palace guard at 16—Ladi Bala
By Blessing Tunoh
Comrade Ladi Bala, the former president of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), has been talking about her younger days in Demsa and how she almost became one of the wives of an older man, a palace guard in Hama Batta’s palace.
Hama Batta is the traditional head of the Batta chiefdom worldwide, with the headquarters of the stool situated in Demsa local government of Adamawa State. Bala, a native of Batta with a Mbula mother, lived her early life in Demsa.
The former number one female journalist in Nigeria recently received nomination by the Hama Batta, Humon Alhamdu Gladstone Teneke, to serve as the first-ever Nzubyalata, the official spokesperson of the chiefdom. Bala is a princess of the Batta chiefdom being from the Nganbale royal clan—the ruling clan.
On Friday she was accompanied by journalists, friends, and associates on a thank-you visit to the Chiefdom.
During the visit, she paid tribute to Humon Batta for running an inclusive cabinet ensuring that women hold key positions. Ladi believes that the recognition and inclusion of women will inspire girls to focus on education and self-growth while aspiring to achieve big goals.
This kind of inspiration that Ladi desires to exude was lacking when Ladi was a young girl who had just completed her secondary education. Teenage pregnancy and pregnancy-induced marriages, domestic abuse and poverty, were the order of the day—a phenomenon that also led to her family considering marrying her off to a middle-aged palace guard.
“At that time, everyone was getting pregnant, and to save the family from that kind of embarrassment, some family members felt it was a good idea to marry me off when the guard proposed marriage to me. But I declined because I didn’t want to end up in the village. I wanted a better life for myself. Today, I have been conferred a title in the same chiefdom where my supposed suitor had worked as a guard,” Ladi revealed to her colleagues.
Ladi’s story highlights the importance of equal access to education for all children, especially women, who have continued to distinguish themselves in various fields of endeavor.
Comrade Ladi Bala, who began her career as a volunteer at the Adamawa state-owned Television, is currently a managerial staff of Nigeria’s largest TV network, NTA. She belongs to various professional bodies and has occupied various positions under the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the most recent of which was the Presidency of NAWOJ—an office she vacated in November 2023.
Ladi and other appointees will have their title officially conferred on her on Saturday, 30th December, in a grand royal ceremony in Demsa local government of Adamawa State.