Trouble and drama and untold grief loom large within the Nigerian community in the Diaspora. Finding their role and place within a society most consider strange; how to raise a family that is at once western and African; how to maintain a decent standard of living and at the same time provide for relatives back home in addition to maintaining a successful marital home are at the fore of the squabbles.
And then there is the usual complain from women about men, and vice versa. The grouse from women mostly center on the inadequacy of men: they don’t send flowers; they don’t know how to partner with women in times of strategic decision making; and that men have low self-esteem and would not readily accept a woman who is smarter and or who earn more. Complain about sex is generally kept under rap. Even so, a typical Nigerian woman has a fiery tongue — lashing out at men for being two-minute bang-bang lovers.
Women complain men have not evolved or that they evolve at a slow pace. Somehow, the men don’t see it that way. Wayward, ungrateful, selfish, two-faced, greedy and uncooperative and lost is how some men describe some women. Women, some men would say, are in one breath asking to be treated like “African women,” and in another breath, demanding to be treated like a “lady.” That is to say that when it suits women, they act like gladiators; otherwise, they act supercilious — needing to be treated like crowned heads.
In a simpler time and place, there was little or no friction. Here and now, the friction and attrition is almost unbearable for some. Because of the attrition and conflicts, both men and women look elsewhere for more amenable companions. However, men are more inclined, and quick to shift their gaze and concentration. Some would cross the race or nationality line (which explains why an increasing number of Nigerian men are married to White women).
However, some would rather go home in search of women who are less educated, less exposed to the vagaries of cosmopolitan life, and easy to manage and manipulate. In addition to the aforementioned, such men would go for women whose worldview and psyche has been ingrained with cultural and religious markers: the subservient, obedient, motherly types who believe in the superiority of men (as ordained by God and the African culture).
Their needs for control partly explains why we have a large number of professionals — medical doctors, research scientists, lawyers, pharmacists, professors, corporate bigwigs and so on and so forth — who are married to women with mere high school education. Of course some would go on to earn college diploma and become professionals alright (after 2-5 babies), but most would go on being certified housewives with may be 1-2 years of formal education (mostly) trained in the nursing or nursing related fields. Others would engage in small-scale trade. Whether they go on to become professionals or not, the vast majority of the women in this group would stay married for a very long time because their world revolves around their children, their husbands, and the family kinship back home. But whether they are happy or not is hard to tell as they generally do not reveal their innermost thought. They don’t launder their wares in pubic for all to see.
On the contrary, rare is the Nigerian woman who would go home to marry a man with inferior education, or marry a man of lower economic and social standing. It is rare. Nigerian women in the Diaspora like to “marry up,” hence the difficulty with some of them finding a suitable and proper man. Sadly, when it comes to education — as far as relationship and matrimony goes — it becomes a double-edged sword for most of them: if they are too educated and too successful, their male counterparts are likely to reject them. If they are not well-educated, they may become dependent on men. Either way one look at it, the prevailing social order has not been too kind to the Nigerian women in the Diaspora.
Women as Sex Toy…
Amy Bloom it was who said “Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner.” Unfortunately, it is this sense of self; this sense of balance and this sense of what the partners should be have eluded and continue to elude most Nigerians. They marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time. Most have no concept of what marriage is. Most are oblivious to the fact that they have to marry the right person for the right reason. Most don’t know that they have to work at it most of the times, sacrifice their time and give up some conveniences.
And so the evidence of these mistakes is every where for everyone to see. And it is not pretty. High-stake divorces involving the court systems and other extralegal means like juju, voodoo and other spiritual acts are common. A friend of a friend of a friend spent a considerable amount of money for the services of Juju-doctors and white garment Church pastors just to affect the outcome of the court case.
If there are no deep investment portfolios, and if there are no children involved, things may turn out well for both parties: walking away to start a new life. However, the women are usually at a disadvantage if the union produced children. You see, a forty year old divorced man, with 1-3 kids is still able to find and marry a single woman with no kids and who is 5-20 years his junior. Not so for the women within the African community — a community that is generally harsh and unforgiving toward divorced women with kids.
Without sounding judgmental and or condescending, you should know that the African communities in the US and the UK are full of single mothers who are actively seeking husbands. Sadly most will never be lucky in that regard. African men are notorious for shunning women with kids. These women, in their opinion, may be good for recreational or weekend sex; but not for first marriage. As a mistress? Yes! As a “baby’s mother”? Yes! As a first wife? Rare! To observe these observable facts, visit London, Houston and Dallas, New York, Chicago and other big American cities. You see, an African may be westernized or modernized in so many ways, but in matters of this nature, he is every bit African. Given the choice, he’d rather only a virgin. An obedient virgin!
Africans, and indeed, Nigerians should rethink marriage. They should spend more time courting, before proposing. Marriage should never be the means through which people get out of poverty; or used as a way to augment their own social and financial standing. And of course no one should blindly rush into marriage. Marriage is a big deal, a huge responsibility. And when a marriage fails, both partners should take it slow: take a deep breathe before making painful and irreversible decisions.