Nigeria’s first female major general, Major General Aderonke Kale (RTD)
Major Aderonke Kale shared how she found psychiatry, “I didn’t have psychiatry in my mind originally, but after I met Professor Lambo, who was the only psychiatrist we had in Nigeria for a long time. I think he was also anxious to have more people to join. He approached so many men who eventually agreed and he was able to get them trained abroad because he was unable to cope with the volume of work at Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro. After I qualified in University College Hospital, I went to work in Professor Lambo’s unit. It was when I was there that I got attracted to it, when I saw how the patients were being cared for. Professor Lambo also assisted and encouraged me. He was the one who found the Institution I studied Psychiatry in England. I didn’t plan it at all. I was looking for a specialty where I won’t be rushing or be on my toes. I wanted something that was not too strenuous for me, because I would have a family, so that was why I said I would try it. After I finished psychiatry and I worked in the United Kingdom for some years, I got married and I had two children who were very young. My husband got a job in UCH, and he was asked to come and start. At that time, I had not even started applying for jobs because of my children. Eventually we had to return to Nigeria. I just wanted to sort myself out, get a part time job, so that I can have more time to take care of the kids”. She shared how she found the job while looking for a part time role, and how it was based on a recommendation she got from her husband’s friend.
After she joined the army to become a substantive major, she shared how her career in the army didn’t progress as it should have. “It was later I found that they just forgot about me. I was just doing my work and going away, and I didn’t know how long it would take them to promote me. It was until a colleague of mine joined the army after me, with the same qualification I had, and I heard that he was promoted. It was then I wrote a petition to tell them all they should know, and the next thing, I was promoted.”
On the discrimination she faced in the army because she was a woman, she shared, “I didn’t feel anything at first, because I was used to it. I was used to being the only female in many places. It didn’t resonate in my mind that this is man, I just see them all as my colleagues. The gender issue never came up in my relationship with them. It came up later I left the place, and I came back to the unit. I noticed that the females were not given their proper dues. Maybe because they weren’t high ups, and it has been happening for years, so it was nothing new.”
On her personal life, she shared, “My marriage has been fairly successful. I used to advise people that maybe it is not advisable to stay with your husband all the time. I might be wrong, but I think you need some breathing space. I think you need a breathing space than constantly getting on each other’s nerves. But if you are not there all the time, it is good.”
Watch the excerpt here: