“Being divorced is like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and to the left” ~Jean Kerr
Every so often a couple of my friends in Nigeria, in the UK and the US would call to tell me that they’ve found a marriageable material for me. Others would tell me that they have been praying for me to find a wife with whom to spend forever. And then there are those who are really flabbergasted or exasperated that I am taking this long to find a wife. What is keeping me from getting married again? I really don’t know; save to say that I really don’t know why I should get married again.
Some people marry for love. For economic reasons. For social status. For stability. For children. For cultural purposes. Or simply because it is the logical thing to do right after they’ve achieved some measure of success. And in fact there are those who get married because of societal expectation. And of course some get married for no apparent reasons; they just do it with the expectation that other aspects of life will fall into place. And for a few others, marriage was forced on them.
A colleague got married a couple of weeks ago because he was tired of “an empty house.” His cousin got wedded a few months earlier because he wanted a woman “to cook and take care of me when I come home.” A childhood friend who now lives in Utah got married because his graying parents wanted grandkids before they passed to the great beyond. Not too long ago an ex-girlfriend left me because “I am going to be 30 next year and I don’t want to be the community spinster…no kids and no future.” It was painful when she left. But I couldn’t help it.
I don’t know what it is. I really don’t know. Am I afraid of commitment? Or was the wound from my previous marriage so severe I have not healed?
Not too long ago, I placed a personal ad in one of those popular websites for singles. And I clearly stated I wasn’t looking for a wife, just friends. My requirements were very simple; and the responses were very telling: I wanted a lady, who was between 29-37 years old, above 5.7inches tall; race, color, political leaning was not important; but must have, at the very least, a Bachelors degree. Nurses, born-again Christians, along with dog and cat lovers were highly discouraged from responding.
A couple of days later Nurses wanted to know what I had against them. Cat and dog lovers wanted me to give them a chance. The born-again were pretty sure they could turn me into a God-loving-Jesus-preaching human being. And then those above thirty-seven accused me of age-based-discrimination; while the under twenty-nine counseled I was missing a lot, missing their fresh bodies and fresh minds. Or something to that effect. And then there were those who were curious, whether I was looking for booty-calls, platonic relationship or friends-with-benefit kind of arrangement.
With the spate of nasty-nasty divorces within the African community — is marriage in my best interest? I think about the Kenyan fellow in Seattle and what his wife put him through and I wonder if marriage is in my best interest. I think of my Cameroonian friend in New Orleans — before Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans — and I doubt if marriage is in my best interest. And then there are hundreds and hundred and hundreds of horror stories being told by other Africans of what became of their marriages, and I am gripped by fear. After all these sad, sad stories, is marriage still in my best interest?
I have always felt that divorce and all kinds of social ills within the African community in the US will rise five-fold within the next decade, that the number of divorces will rival those of the African-American or even the White community. Globalization and modernity is having unexpected consequences within the African community in the US. That is to say that there is a clash of traditional African culture and modernization: a clash between what was, what is and what ought to be.
Women who were mostly raised to wait on men for handouts are going out there to earn a living. Women who looked up to men now debate and take men to task. Gradually, men’s position and authority is being challenged. Block by block, inch-by-inch men’s place and role within the home and within the greater society is being called to question. Today’s men are not like their father; and today’s women are not their mothers. Both sexes live in a world that is vastly different from a world that once was. Whether the current situation is good or bad is not for me to say. All I can say is that the world is changing, the rules are changing; and modernization is knocking really hard on men’s heart and their balls.
America has a way of screwing with people’s consciousness. Has anyone noticed that little by little an increasing number of Africans are losing their mind? Depression and identity crisis are two of the ills that ill Africans the most. Most are wrapped up in trying to make a living and to meet other self-imposed or society-imposed expectations so much so that they don’t have the time for self-introspection. Africans live in two worlds; and most are strangers in both worlds.
So, why is marriage in my best interest? I don’t know. I really don’t know. When my friends in Lagos, London Port Harcourt and in cities across the US calls or email me to tell me about some beautiful…wonderful…educated…well brought up gal, I shall continue to tell say: “No…Why…is marriage in my best interest?” And until I know why, I shall continue with my present way of life. Nevertheless, like H.L Mencken, “If I ever marry, it will be on a sudden impulse — as a man shoots himself.”