“Whatever a man can do a woman can also do…even better” (Nigerian Feminist Jargon).
If you have not read Mr. Michael Ewetuga’s Gender Equality, please do! His take and interpretation of gender equality is funny, insightful, and instructive. I especially like its simplicity. Gender equality, or inequality, is a very serious stuff; it is the kind of stuff sociologists, anthropologist, policy wonks and feminist scholars spend eternity writing and preaching about. Michael makes light of it in ways that cracks the bones and induce tear-droplets without being dismissive or condescending. His observation of events at home and abroad is to the point. Adding to his power of observation is his use of fine language, which makes for easy read and smooth ingestion.
Let me warn you here and now and say that this is not an attempt to offer a full disclosure of my views on gender equality. No. This is simply a related topic that concerns Africans in the Diaspora. That said, I sometimes wonder if we truly can speak of gender equality; and even if we can, I wonder if equality is always healthy and always desirable. Like most people, I believe that humans evolve in their worldview, reasoning and intellect; however, there is something about the African interpretation and practice of equality within the western setting that galls me. Most of us in the West are simply parodying the West instead of being “true to ourselves.”
And I also submit that an ample number of Africans living in the West “act more catholic than the pope” when it comes to relationship. Some are not even sure of whom they are anymore. They are lost in the stormy sea of modernity and westernization without anchor or a lifejacket in sight. From Houston to Seattle, and from Miami to Washington DC and Oklahoma, I have seen and interacted with Africans who have lost their sense of self and sense of purpose. I speak not just of women, but also of men; however, the negativities are more common with women who fail to realize that the way “things were” is what have kept Africans for this long.
We must not discriminate against women. We must not confine them to position of servitude. We must not inferiorize or terrorize them. We must not set limits on their dreams and aspirations. We must not inhibit their progress and happiness or hinder their access to constitutional entitlements. Nonetheless, men and women can never be equal. Men are not better or superior. That’s not the point. The point is that because we are different in every sense of the word, we can never be equal in our private lives — more so on matters pertaining to relationships. A ship or a home can never have two captains.
If you have played the field long enough, lived long enough, and have traveled and interacted far and wide, you will come to realize that “a wife is a wife is a wife,” and “a husband is a husband is a husband.” But some of our African sisters and girlfriends and wives in the Diaspora seem to think that the role and place of both sexes are transposable.
Oh no; you do that and you invite commotion and marital upheavals. An African needs a wife, not a roommate!
There are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) all over African preaching and advocating “women’s right.” They are there telling women how to be this and that and how not to “take shit from men.” They are telling women to leave their husbands if and when their husbands misbehave. They are there encouraging women to drag their husbands through the judicial system instead of relying on the family system to settle marital disputes. What the NGOs fall short of in achieving, the movies and music and internet accomplishes. And so our society is fast becoming a mess.
And once some of these women get to the United States or to any part of the western world, they go haywire. They go nuts. They become erratic and irrational.In the not too distant future, the number of single mothers within the African community (in the US) would outnumber those of the African-American community. In the not too distant future, divorce within the African community — especially within the Nigerian community — would outnumber both the White and the wider Black community. In Houston, in New York in Los Angeles, and in the DC/MD/VA area there are countless number of Nigerian women who are either divorced or are unable to find a man. In the interim, some have become the receiving hole of marauding copulatory organs.
I have known African women with sex-schedule. I have known some with housekeeping organizers for both partners. I have heard of African women who are adept at quoting laws governing the rights of women, and who knows offhand the sayings according to Soap Operas and Oprah Winfrey. Wherever you find Africans, in big and small cities, you will find such women. Sadly, I have met Nigerian men who are afraid, REALLY AFRAID, to proposition Nigerian women. And so, they either return to Nigeria to marry neophytes or marry non-Nigerians just so they could “live in peace and harmony.”
To be an African wife is not a call to be a housemaid. To be an African wife is not a call to be a doormat. To be an African wife is not a call to be a second-class citizen. To be an African wife is not a call to cook, clean, provide sex on demand and churn out babies at designated intervals. No, that’s not what it means to be an African wife. But to hear some African women tell it, you’d think that that’s what African women are: slaves, fools and doormats. And so they rebel for no just cause. They go into relationships with a mindset that is uncalled for. They drape themselves in a strange, unhealthy and expensive attitude.
But here is the good news: there are many more African relationships that survive and thrive, than those that fail. Some men and their partners have been able to reach an understanding of how things should be, of how to conduct their matrimonial affairs; and of which American and African culture to accept or discard. They have found a balance between traditional culture and modernity. That is good…and commendable.