Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Where are all the men?

I remember an evening, so many years ago. It was around 6, and everybody else was inside my grandmother’s little house. Behind my grandmother's house, was an old hut, with an old lady in it. I used to be so afraid of her because she allowed her goats sleep in her hut with her. All her goats had names, and the black goat shared mine with me. That evening, I stood outside watching her herd her goats into her living room. She smiled a toothy smile at me, and said "My husband built this hut, with his bare hands". She pointed out the few huts left in the compound, she knew when they were all built, whose son or father or husband had built it. She slapped her hands on the walls, "good, strong walls, cool in the heat and warm when cold".

Strong walls, built by strong men. Men that provided for their families with their bare hands, working on farms, fishing or hunting. They provided for their families and when the huts leaked at night, they climbed on roofs and fixed the holes. When things needed to be lifted, they bent their backs and carried loads of unthinkable weights. Many a time, you would see them lifting a woman, an old relative or sick child on their backs. They were men of honour, men of their words. They stood tall beside their families and God save you, you come near their loved ones, they would fight to the last and protect their women and children.

Now, here we are in 2009. The rules have not changed, for us, the women. Do you still cook, clean and wash his clothes? The answer is probably yes. The rules for you will never change; you are the care taker of the home. You will bear his children, feed them and take care of them when sick. You will feed him too, and take care of him and his family too, when sick. You will slave away at the kitchen for his favourite meals and fulfil the one duty he begged of you on your wedding night, that you will never refuse him when he comes to you at nights. You will scratch his back when it itches and rub his feet when it aches, you will do all this with a smile on your face, because, your role, you will play to perfection. That is what he expects, that is what society expects.

Here we are, in 2009 and how the rules have changed for you men! Oh, I do not expect you to build anything with your bare hands, but perhaps, is it possible that you could roll over some paint on just a little section of the wall where your mechanic left his dirty hand prints? Oh my, I don't expect you to climb rooftops and look for leaks, but could you just fix a blocked sink? It is not so hard you know, you just turn that white pipe anticlockwise and remove all the dirt and viola! the water will flow easily again. Some light bulbs need to be changed, is it too much to ask of you? But most of all please protect me. I do not expect you to go about brandishing machetes or cutlasses but when the nights are dark and I need a strong shoulder to lean on, please do not shake like a jelly fish, let me know I can count on you and you are my man.

2009. Nothing has changed for women but a lot has changed for men. Forget about those men of your grandmother's stories that fought with bravery at battles. They no longer exist, what we have now, are pencil pushing men, more likely to run before you even shout for help. Their hands are softer than yours or your babies, their backs straighter than any model’s, their fears, greater than ever before.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

10th wife will not be my portion!

Women don suffer finish for this country oh. Chei! Imagine, if a whole president’s daughter, a young woman, born into a family of wealth, imagine if she self, agree to be fourth wife of old papa, then wetin the rest of us suppose do? No hope for us. Na to begin marry man wey dey over eighty na! We go come be 10th wife. God forbid bad thing! It is not my portion!

The amusing part is that the two principal characters involved in this debacle are men of great power. A president and a governor. A father and a husband. One, thought it fit to marry away his young daughter and the other, happily accepted a young wife. What is my problem, you may ask? After all, in their religion it is totally acceptable.

My problem is that as a woman in this country, I no longer feel safe. If they can treat their “own” in such a manner, then what about the rest of us? If they see their own daughter as “property”, then how do they see you and I? We must be under the category of “recyclable garbage”. I am not even sure we might make it to “recyclable”, we might just be rubbish.

What our leaders fail to realise is that they are the examples we have. They are the people that we look up to, to lead us. The kind of choices they make in their lives affects a whole nation. What kind of message are both men giving other men in the country? Next thing you know, all these old papas will be happily chasing school girls all over the place. After all, if their president thinks it is okay then why not?
No, I do not feel safe anymore. If anybody should ever ask me to visit Aso rock, I shall decline. I advise all young women to keep away from Abuja. That place does not seem to follow the norms of other societies. I am afraid our civilisation may be at risk. We seem to be going backwards and with great speed as well! Before you know it, we shall become “hunters and gatherers” again.

It seems our leaders are bent on convincing us that they live in another world, too far away from ours. We want leaders that live in the present century. We want leaders that understand the important role women have in the society. As long as we have leaders who do not understand this, I am afraid we shall never be able to rise in this country. As long as we have a leader who thinks that marrying a fourth wife is a priority in these hard times, then I am afraid this country is doomed.

P.S:Meanwhile all these governors self, dem dey take woman matter pass government work oh! Na wah.


The Petty Man

Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.
- Elbert Hubbard

Wonders shall never end. I am never surprised anymore by the way people embarrass themselves on the pages of newspapers. Last time, it was the son of Obasanjo who aired his dirty laundry in public, now it is Alec Godwin, ex-husband of the singer, Kefee who has decided that the public deserves to know all the little inconsequential details of his marriage. Na who tell una say we dey interested?

In an interview published by “The Punch”, dated 31st Jan 2009, this man thought he was doing himself and his family a favour by telling us intimate details of his failed marriage. How petty can you get to give such details? Lest I forget, this man is supposed to be a serious Christian; the son of a Pastor, in fact, he met his ex wife in church. What do you have to gain by revealing details of your personal life? The intention must be to try to tarnish the image of his ex-wife. Surely, a true Christian is not supposed to be that vindictive?

Pettiness is so unbecoming and Nigerian men seem to be the masters of losing dignity the moment something does not go the way they plan. However, it is not only Alec that is guilty of this crime. Many a gentleman have become agberos overnight. I remember even back then in secondary school, I was always baffled by the fact about how easy a young boy would confidently call an ex girlfriend “ashawo".

Many times, I listened with annoyance as the so called ex boyfriend would tell his guys intimate details of his relationship and of course reveal secrets the once "love of his life" told him in confidence. I have watched that scenario unfold many times as a teenager and I have always thought it was because they were young and did not know any better.

However, I now have reasons to believe that a lot of GROWN Nigerian men act like immature fools in situations such as these. Somebody should tell Alec Godwin to keep his skeletons in his closet because we are not interested in seeing them dance!