An African Wife/Husband Without African Values (1)

by Paul I. Adujie

No Nigerian woman or man deserves an argumentative and cantankerous relationship or marriage! Nobody, Nigerian or not, deserves such.

If recent debate patterns is anything to go by, it suggests that matters have now reached a point for Nigerian women and men in the Diaspora to avoid each other like a plague, in intimate personal relationships and marriage. Will Diaspora Nigerian women and men be better off marrying Chinese, Japanese, Jews, German, Americans and Europeans instead of fellow Nigerians?

I am not sure that I am the best man to be discussing African wives in America; I am divorced from an American wife! Where then lays my credentialed expertise on African wives in the American Diaspora? Well, I am a Nigerian-African man. And, I am a keen observer of social morays.

What is more? In recent times, several Nigerians have written very controversial essays or articles, on these affairs of the heart matters. Ms. Folasayo Ogunrinde (Nigeria’s Valerie Solanas?) wrote a series of essays in which she excoriated Nigerian-African men. She literally presented African men as clueless 17th century male chauvinist-misogynistic Neanderthals!

I was among those of her readers, who thought she generalized, in her attempts to make forceful unforgettable points. Her essays are affecting, even without generalizations. Why then did she generalize? Why would an effective writer, such as she is, feel the need to generalize? To inflame!

In due time, Ms. Ogunrinde graduated from her generalizations! She now ostentatiously uses the word, “some” this, upon having been upbraided in the past by some Nigerian-African men, who had labeled her as happily generalizing about matters male, when it is about men, Nigerian/African.

Both liberal and or conservative readings of Ms. Ogunrinde’s essays/opinions of Nigerian, nay African men, have led most, to seem to conclude that Ms. Ogunrinde finds African men grossly deficient in too many respects. She has commented publicly and in the most robustly, vigorous essays about gender roles in African relationships. She has also confessed her sordid personal and peculiarly unsavory experiences in the hands of African men who she dated. She adamantly paints the picture of African men as being inordinately worse off, in men-women relationships worldwide.

Are African men inadequate in matters of progressive gender issues?

Are African men lacking and deficient, in so many departments as is, being alleged? Is it really true as is being portrayed, that African men visit African women maliciously and unrepentantly, with oppressions and indignities?

A reading of Ms. Ogunrinde’s essays by most African males, will convince the most admiringly generous African male, that she has concluded that African males possesses no redeeming qualities of any sorts! African men appear in her articles as clueless. African men that she has portrayed or depicted always arrived with money-back guarantee, for being arrogant prudes. African men lack every social skill? African men are not attuned to progressive thinking, women liberation and gender equality?

Several, if many, uncouth African men seemed to have always sought out the poor Ms. Ogunrinde. These African men without refinements or scintilla of etiquette, manner or politeness, dumped their ill-mannered and unpolished selves at her doorsteps! Poor thing! Ms. Ogunrinde!

Well, in elementary science lessons, you will recall, actions generates reactions in natural course of chemical events. And so, my friend Mr. Sabella Abidde, wrote his reactions, rebuttals and rejoinders to Ms. Ogunrinde’s unflattering, and yet, socially relevant discuss of Nigerian and African men.

Ms. Ogunrinde, as if to establish her credentials as the undaunted and undeterred twenty-first century feminist genre, the Gloria Steinem and Patricia Ireland of Nigeria rolled into one Ms. Ogunrinde as the crusader; Audaciously and unapologetically, continues to demonstrate this, She has in fact written more recent essays, in which she became more didactic and emphatically adamant. Ms. Ogunrinde is vociferously strident. She screeches her vehemence mop in hand, with ammonia, acid and other astringents mix, together, as she awaits the next Nigerian-Africa man who would earn a death sentence, for mentioning her name in the same sentence with cooking! She will cook, only and only, out of love, never out of duty, expectation or as any man’s domestic chore-horse! She screams it!

Cooking! Yes, cooking as in, domestic chores somehow became the all encompassing, all encapsulating and all embracing harsh metaphor for all the oppressions and indignities visited on African women by African men! It got to a point in these debates, when Mr. Ebi Bozimo and Ms. Soul Sista were embroiled in intense exchanges. Ebi Boimo rightly stated that a personal, such as the unsavory dating experiences of Ms. Ogunrinde, which she recounted, should not have been extrapolated, projected and transposed on majority of African men, with a one-size-fits-all attitude. The “I won’t cook for him”, asides, that Ms. Ogunrinde made, unwittingly, also became a benchmark reference point. Even though Ms. Ogunrinde’s essays, obviously dealt with various contentious issues, apart from African males culinary expectations as one of her pet peeves.

And as human intercourse and interactions are wont to be in outcomes, Mr. Michael Oluwagbemi joined the fray, challenging Ms. Ogunrinde, joining quite a few issues with her perception of Nigerian, African men and whoa! You will be forgiven if you started to sing, Baha Men’s anthem hit track “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

These issues as have been initiated or raised by Ms. Ogunrinde, are assuredly socially relevant issues. The challenge, certainly, is to find a middle-ground meeting point or some sorts of compromise in this age-old gender wars or war of the sexes.

I am completely aghast at how far apart, the proponent and opponents are, regarding Ms. Ogunrinde’s articles and the rejoinders by Mr. Abidde and Mr. Oluwagbemi! I will not be engaging in any exaggerations as I inform you here, that the debaters have been entrenched and ensconced in the most extreme opposite sides of spectrum!

It has become headache-inducing debates that make even a good head spin. Most of the female contributors seem to be in search of men who would be the women’s wives. And these women remind me of a song by country music singer Don Williams about Margie. Margie sought a husband to be her wife!

And woof! Woof! Woof! Some of the men reacted with equal ferocity. Some of our men actually retorted that they would not say, “a hello, how are you” to a lady, if she does not know how to cook meals for her man! And through all these, I thought of my mother frequently. My mother made sure that my brother and I learned to cook. This, even though the Nigeria of my childhood was a traditional society, where men were not expected to do much of domestic chores. Men did not have to have culinary skills. The truth is Nigerian men cook, men in Nigeria always won the Maggi Cube/Nestle sponsored cooking competitions repeatedly, in Nigeria, and it was televised and the judges were mostly women, and year-in, year-out, men won!

But my father was good cook, as well, and that was part of what she liked in my father during their courtship. He cooked-up a storm and neighbors in Lagos would ask him about all the aroma and salivation inducing food scented vapors that caused their mouths watering feelings. I got lucky, doubly lucky, as I was raised by a husband and wife who were good cooks. I strongly believe that cooking is an art. Cooking is a skill that you acquire. Everyone ought to learn to cook! And as my mother lectured us boys, if you know how to eat, it is probably a smart thing to know how to cook!

A man or woman bereft of cooking skills ought not to brag about such inadequacy or lack! It is a very useful skill. It requires talent, creativity and pizzazz. When I have the time to cook, I find that it

is safer, healthier and even cheaper! Cooking puts me in control of what I ingest, as the saying goes, “you are what you eat”!

Cooking has taken barrages of mauling in these gender debates between Diaspora Nigerian women and men.., cooking/domestic chores have become euphemistic and metaphorical ways to lump gender oppressions/inequalities into one dangerous missile.

My brother and I were not happy learners of culinary arts. We thought it was unfair. We had two sisters and the going social order at the times was that, you guessed it! The females in the house took care of such. But, it was not so in my household. Boys cooked, washed and ironed clothes, and fetched water as well. Looking back now? I am glad that our parents made us do those things. I happen to believe that I make the best steak in New York, East of Houston Texas! I make Nigerian, continental and intercontinental cuisines!

To these extents, if all I needed was a woman/wife to cook, clean and do these “usual” domestic chores? I would have had the least reason to have married at all! Because as it, as it has been, I can take care of these businesses myself. I actually iron my shirts better than my drycleaners. My ex-wife could not cook anything without her mother guiding her minutely by telephone across state-lines from across the country! We are divorced, not over cooking or other sundry domestic chores, but instead, for retaining a man she dated for six years before, I met and married her! In essence, she had a parallel husband! And my arrogance and old world morals could not accept that sorts of sharing arrangements!

There should be no litmus test for marriage, be it procreation, culinary arts or any of these pesky issues. This is particularly so, if you consider the fact that gender inequality is universal, it is not peculiarly African. The war of the sexes or gender wars are being fought worldwide. There are local variations and variables, of course. But macho men still dominate world affairs, even outside of Africa, as we see in America, Europe and Asia etc.

It used to be that marriages are a total package. We know that times have changed from the times of our grandmothers, and even our mothers. But, with congruence and confluence of agreements that Ms. Ogunrinde’s article elicited from the Nigerian-African women readers at Such convergence in attitudes, suggests a steeply new crescendo of gender war or war of the sexes among Diaspora Nigerians, and it further suggests deepened animosities of inequality that has been festering. The avalanche and quantum of umbrage within our female folks, and displayed without semblances of restraints, is most alarming!

If these many women of Nigerian origin, are so embittered as was demonstratively indicated in their responses at NVS, then, several questions arise. Nigerians in Diaspora are busy with work and the hectic lifestyle of Diaspora life. This is peculiarly so, in America. In light of the frenzied pace of everyday life in America, and further, in light of what we now know as the ticking timed-bomb of the gender war-war of the sexes between Diaspora Nigerians. What can we do to avoid crises?

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Toyin July 13, 2006 - 12:51 am

Very Well written!

You make some very good points. Although I dont quite agree with everything you said, I think that you have a very interesting point of view on the "gender inequality" issue.

MKA June 30, 2006 - 2:20 pm

You have written it like it really is. If a man has to marry an American, then he should marry a real one not an imitation of one.

Reply June 30, 2006 - 10:49 am

Dear Paul,

You forgot to define "African Values." Your essay, though well-written, is quite contradictory in itself. You claim to be a feminist, yet you slam the very issues women are fighting for. Nigerian women deserve the right to choose how they want to live their lives with their husbands without being pigeon-holed into a "role". In defense of Ms. Ogunrinde, she has not written a single inaccurate information. Men may not like her article because she is holding up a mirror so the men who perpetrate these actions can see who they really are…and the sight aint pretty.


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