What is it about Nigerian men and their unknown sons? Or better put, the sons they have outside marriage. I have heard numerous stories and my ears are full: left and right, sons of Nigerian men at home and abroad just pop off the screen. Most times, this revelation does not take place until after the dramatis persona has passed on to the world beyond; other times it is a family crisis that conjures up this sons from far distances, beyond the Atlantic ocean it seems and some others just in the next street where the family home is built. Some of these sons (children) are product of indiscretion, others of love relationship gone sour or love children that were born while the actual married life was carried out in utter secrecy. Large percentages are born in foreign land to foreign mothers, “paper plus some” marriages and others to gold digging old girlfriend in the city or village who would have nothing of the marriage their old lovers are into after his return from abroad and did everything to have his baby anyway: yes it happens.
My friends and I had a conversation along this line recently. There were five of us on the table in a restaurant; four of us have had very close experiences to these very similar stories. In all these cases, they seem to always be boys: sons born to foreign mothers, or to old girlfriends done well. It is not as if these men don’t have daughters outside wedlock too, but the stories that always get to me just happen to always seem to be about their sons. The fifth was unsure, he was unsure if he has a brother somewhere in the dark parts of our planet or if his brother had one- may be even if he had one across the Atlantic by his long lost girlfriend he hooked up with on his visit back home during Christmas time. How can you blame him? This seems to be the way of Nigerian men especially the older folks above forty. Father came visiting to the states recently and recounted the tale of a friend who just passed away of cancer. His friend died and today his immediate family is suffering. They are suffering because of his indiscretion. The company he worked for have refused to pay up his gratuity simply because a son just came from the blues with a mother carrying a marriage certificate essentially putting his legitimate family and entitlement in limbo. Such has been the horror stories.
The newspapers are always filled with these stories when big men pass away. The other day it was the wives of the telecom entrepreneur allegedly murdered by the police and creditors. His estate is a matter of contention until date. The other day it was the INEC chief and pastor who died; the fight over his property by his disparate children led head on by wives that hardly knew of each others existence led EFCC to uncover a filthy estate brimming with wealth acquired by bilking the people of Nigeria. You just need to go to the cities and even the Village to view decayed properties long under the litigation of warring factions of the same family: some of them known others largely unknown and only surfacing when t he man at the center of the drama was about to be committed to mother earth.
This story has become all but common; of course bulk of these children was born when our fathers were on foreign studies. Some of them left fiancées at home; others even married and sired kids but could not hold out on the cold of the distant land. They sired kids away from the preying eyes of their fiancées, wives, and girlfriends. Some of them returned home after the long sojourn without bringing back the news of their escapades. Others let their brothers and sisters know while sinisterly keeping it away from their spouses. This spurns a deadly retribution especially if the wife is not that much liked anyway or worse still could not have a son until the man’s death. You can expect the son of Mr. Man born to African American or Caribbean or even some Nigerian woman overseas would be held out as the ace by the man’s family against the “witch” that killed their son when the die is cast.
The latest trend of course in the national newspapers especially in the weekend are the stories of half caste kids; lost in distant lands and born of Nigerian fathers. Seeking a reconnection back to the world they know nothing about. In some cases, these men have kept them an absolute secret. Some are unwittingly fugitive from child support laws; others simply left Britain or USA in angst of the white woman that will not have anything with going back home with them. They surrender themselves to the inevitable, and hold out the secret long enough to go into the grave with them. The kids seeking a reconnection are sometimes fortunate to meet the man that forsook them, whose only contribution was the Y chromosome that made them men: it always stunned me how forgiving these children turn out to be when they are interviewed. Some of them never seem to mind they never had these men in their lives yet to they use precious dollars and pounds sterling to conduct a search for a fugitive father. What a pity!
Of course the victims in these cases are always twin: the woman and family these men have created back home in Nigeria or abroad (if they are the few ones that were stuck) as well as the children whom they left uncared for without a father in their life. How does it feel meeting a father that has never been there for you? How does it feel knowing that you have a brother or sister you have never met? How does it feel realizing that after decades of marriage you do not know everything about a man you call husband? I doubt I can tell you.
But we can hardly place the blame solely at the feet of these men; to the extent we can’t acquit them of dishonesty, each of them have a different story. But the common thread of course is a battle of one journey man, a victim of his conspiracy and fear, desperate to appear Mr. Clean to the woman that have trusted him with so much but ready to the brave the disappointment of a family left with the pants hanging dry when he passes on to the world beyond. Such is the story of naija men and their first sons. Let it be known to the young women seeking Mr. Right out there: buyers beware (caveat emptor); the man with good education, good job, and perfect look might just have been one of these men. You do not know them until you marry one – everything that glitter is not gold.