Romance is one of those things you hardly learn formally or informally; at home or even in the formal education system no one puts you through the nitty-gritty of love, romance and relationship. Yet, in the modern world we live in, it is a reality. A man lacking in this department especially on our side of the world (West) will be treated like an alien and might as well end up in the convent as soon as old age comes knocking. Of course, no text book will teach a man how to buy flowers when the love of his life is a little irked (oh that is a new one) at him, or buy a card or candy to appeal to her discriminating appetites. From which textbook will a man read that not diamonds but the person that buys them is the girl’s best friend? Or which hardcover will teach a man that there is no easier way to “paradise” than a little Victoria Secrets lingerie purchase (preferably over the internet) for a new lover whose hold out time happens to draw out until Valentines Day? Get your mind off “shining congo” my friend.
The list can go on and on. What of opening the car door pretending to be courteous while indeed you were just putting an air of dirty looks to access the goods before conquest? I see you pretenders already smirking. I know is a taboo; that is why I speak of it in this manner. Oh and yes, foreplay. No one teaches a young man that stuff. The best you can gather about sex and foreplay are usually written in those “ungodly” magazines and books that landed you severe punishment if you were caught with them as if you are high level drug smuggler caught by the DEA. Anyway, I am sure the lady readers are still trying to figure out the junction between romance and sex; but that is understandable. As for the male readers who suddenly find himself lost at this point I must recommend a journey of self rediscovery. For if the American or British Visa/Passport you obtained have not softened your brain you will have figured out that for a warm blooded African man with healthy libido, sex is the ultimate romance and is the goal of such romantic actions no matter how pretentious the “Mills and Boon” love behind it might be.
There is no doubt that the African society particularly the Nigerian one frowns upon public romance- often referred to as Public Display of Affection (PDA). This puts those of us that crossed the pond in particularly disadvantaged position. But there is also no doubt that we are fast learners. While the Caribbean boy or the Tokunboh is already well versed in the art of kissing, holding hands, and caressing the babes; no sooner do we land that we elevate the game. Our women being what they are have schooled us in the art of toasting and persistence (the limits of Nigerian romance) and we soon deploy these skills among others to our advantage playing the field conveniently while letting our innate abilities to adjust to do the rest of the mathematics for us. Before you know it, naija boy is already hailing “I love you” and all other sweet nonsense on the phone; and you will catch them across college campuses in the arms of the most beautiful Indian, Hispanic, and Aryan girls. They are all dotting, and as some of my non-black friends attest that they are actually teachable.
But o ti o, I hear your cries oh ye women of Nigeria! These naija boys are a fraud. No sooner have they played the field and their momma start pestering them for Iyawo, do they land the correct naija babe. Then they start acting all unromantic. They carry their ye-ye naija sense and start making unnecessary unromantic demands that will drive any modern African women wey don see correct enjoyment for obodo Oyinbo near crazy. No more surprise cooking or dinner for two; what you get is a sundry of demands ranging from having his food cooked, clothes laundered and something done. Like a garrison commander, my naija brothers overnight turn to their fathers back home. See, that is what they call the miracle of socialization. But is it their fault?
Growing up as men, we were taught above all things that your role in the African home was first as a provider, and a protector. Your mother minced no words in saying no woman will settle for a failure such that the fear of failure drives 90% of us to do what we do and try to hit the jackpot hook or crook. This upbringing can easily be linked to a number of ills in our society including show off and corruption among many other things. For, what greater motivation is there for a Nigerian public officer to steal than to match his colleague dollar for naira, and impress his woman that will not settle for anything less among her peers? She has to have the latest lace and use the most up to date title, abi? This behavior inevitably translates to matters of love and relationship. It is a public secret that love without finance is non-starter with a vast majority of our girls whether in Nigeria or abroad. The exploits of Aristos in my Alma Mata –the University of Lagos is legendary simply due to this phenomenon. Naija women will settle any day for a corrupt 419er with no drop of romance than a hard working night soil man with his eyes full of love and voice full of sweet nothings. Is it not true that the latest craze among our American based Naija girls is to rush home after landing their Ivy league masters degree to get hooked up into the family of one of the sons of our big men- men who for the most part have no regards for how you feel except of course that they satisfy their primordial desire and their parents want of a sophisticated American trained daughter in law?
For this reason among many others, I have remained unapologetic; you can simply not eat your cake and have it. You were our mother that gave us the first crash course in woman satisfaction vis-à-vis her purse. You were our sisters that landed us the gist of the useless nice guy with no class or money sending you love letters while you spent the better times of the day with the rich kid that lived around the corner. We know you; you were our best girlfriend that we never had that gave us the classic rejection line “which part of NO don’t you understand, is it the N or the O?” and then we saw you days later in the V-Boot with the old ugly big man that could be your father. We know there is no romance without finance and that more often than us you are romancing our bank accounts. We saw it all; we know what you think, we understand your thought process, we are aware of your belief system, and you know what? May be it is a generalization after all: Nigerian men are hopeless romantic and their women don’t marry for money.