“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“In the face of patriarchy, it is a brave act indeed for both men and women to embrace, rather than shame or attempt to eradicate, the feminine” – Alanis Morissette
“Women are the victims of this patriarchal culture, but they are also its carriers. Let us keep in mind that every oppressive man was raised in the confines of his mother’s home” – Shirin Ebadi
The air was still. The silence between us was tranquil. I stared piercingly into his eyes as he returned the stare; a gaze that spoke a thousand words, albeit silently. Wrinkles adorned his face and clung tightly to the loose skin around his cheeks. There was a tribal mark that extended from the edge of his lips on the right to the tragus. Whoever gave this man this horrible mark should be crucified upside down, I thought to myself. I’ve never seen him before. I wondered why Aunty Nwuyediya sat beside him. I knew he wasn’t her husband.
A couple of minutes later, Ichie Ezeugo walked into the living room. We all stood up and gave humble obeisance to him as he raised his mpi efi into the air and then motioned for us to sit down. After we were seated and kola had been served, he then proceeded to welcome our guests and spoke at length of how it shall be well with our visitors. He infused proverbs into his words; new proverbs I’ve never heard before. I promptly brought out my jotter and wrote some down. I planned to use them when next I had an argument with my girlfriend or her mum.
After Ichie Ezeugo’s speech, he sat down comfortably into his chair and took a bite from the kola nut he was holding. The man with a tribal mark then stood up. He smelled of cheap aboki perfume. He thanked us for welcoming them into our clan and attending the impromptu meeting after such a quick notice. He spoke of how it shall be well with us. He told tales of Ele – the antelope, and Mbe – the tortoise. He garnished his words with fresher proverbs and once again, I jotted down frantically. I hoped to use this set of new proverbs when next I had an argument with my pastor or his wife.
As I was scribbling the letters on my jotter, I overheard the man with a tribal mark say something rather outlandish. He said they were returning Nwuyediya to us. We are no longer interested in marrying her, he said. I looked up to be sure it was a scene from one of those movies showing on AfricanMagic. But it wasn’t. The man was still vomiting claptrap from his lips as Aunty Nwuyediya sat with her arms folded and cried silently; her head bowed down so as not to betray the tears that trickled down her cheeks.
He cited some spurious claims and twisted reasons for wanting to annul the marriage in a traditional way. He claimed she no longer cooked for her husband. She no longer respected him and was becoming more ambitious than he was. Recently, she was offered a promotion at her office which she accepted. And as such, she no longer comes home on time and doesn’t have time to cook for the husband and perform other duties required of a wife. He said this new development threatened the basic foundation of marriage in which the man was the head of a family. He also had some scriptural verses to back up his claims. And all the while, Nwuyediya’s husband sat silently, nodding in agreement.
At that point, I had enough. The rush of blood to my big head increased rapidly. I felt like lunging at the man like a raging bull attacking a matador. I raised my hand to speak but I was beckoned to hold my peace by the elders of our clan.
A member of my clan asked Nwuyediya whether all those accusations were true. She didn’t even wait to answer the questions. She hurriedly knelt down before her husband and the man with a tribal mark and wept bitterly. She said she was ready to change and do their bidding. I am sorry, I don’t want to lose my marriage, she wailed. She begged them to take her back.
As she was engaged in this rather embarrassing act, I surveyed the room silently with my eyes. Our patriarchal kinsmen nodded in agreement. One said she just behaved like a daughter of the soil. I saw the smile of cheap victory play across the lips of the man with a tribal mark. He basked in his new conquest and subjugation of a wounded and confused woman.
As the times change and moons pass, patriarchy has taken on new forms and varied appearances. Men continually mask their insecurities under the guise of ‘laid down traditions’ that folks should abide by. Who made these misogynistic laws? Was the foundation of our existence built on patriarchal templates? Should we, as reasonable people, persist in a culture that continually threatens a certain gender while stroking the ego of the other? May Amadioha and Orunmila not allow this to be so.
In a hypocritical, patriarchal and patrilineal society as ours, it is so easy for a man to appeal to the conscience of folks by crying out about how his wife has sacrificed her ‘wifey’ duties on the altar of her career and professional growth. Obviously, most Nigerians will take sides with a man that cries like a baby about not been fed by a woman who rather stays focused on her job and accompanying requirements. And as he groans and wails, a new cloak is put on this lamentation – Depression. Oh, my wife pushed me into depression because she neglected her ‘wifey’ responsibilities toward me, he wails.
In all honesty, I commiserate with depressed folks. Believe me, I do. Personally, I struggled with depression at a certain stage in my life. I didn’t tell anyone about it because I was worried about the stigmatization that would follow. So I plunged into further depression and made weed and alcohol my best friends. This eventually pushed me to the edge. I almost took my life but I was scared shitless to do so. So I definitely respect depressed folks that speak up. But going on social media to rant has never proven to be a potent therapy for depression. One should rather seek good medical care instead of staying up all night and pouring heart, soul and gibberish on social media.
A lot of male folks argue in support of patriarchy. Their arguments are veiled and shielded by a poor understanding of our culture as Africans. The mistake we keep making as Africans is that we have failed to differentiate between pre-colonial Africa and post-colonial African societies. For the record, I will use Ndi Igbo as a case study. In many parts of Ala Igbo, before the white man – Onye Ocha – came, Nwanyi Igbo was an industrious woman that contributed to the welfare of the family by cooking, holding the family together, and attending to the needs of the husband, the kids and other members of the clan. Nwanyi Igbo also owed lands that she tilled. Women formed strong unions such as Umuada where they were encouraged to sell their farm produce and save for the rainy day. A lot of them started thrift savings or Isusu. Men that manhandled their wives were made to account for their crimes by these strong and independent feminine unions. Their opinions were respected in the society whenever they were called upon to air their views.
Then all of a sudden, the ‘all-knowing’ white guy came along with his religion and infused St. Paul’s teachings into our society, about total submission to the husband by the wife and took away the little power Nwanyi Igbo had. Amadioha was angry but he cried silently. The fabric of our society was shattered. Chauvinistic men gloried in the white man’s teachings. Nwanyi Igbo was transformed overnight from an industrious and hardworking woman to a wussy that had to sacrifice her career and ingenuity for staying at home and not becoming ‘over-ambitious’, so as to be in line with the new teachings and way of life.
The times are changing. Our cultures are evolving as the days go by. If your wife doesn’t cook for you on a daily, by all means enter the kitchen and cook. We’ve had enough of these inglorious antics; men masking their insecurities by slut-shaming women and calling them callous hoes. If your wife earns more than you do, hustle hard and earn more money. But never let your insecurity take over your reasoning and ultimately lead her to murder her career just to fan the embers of your ego. And spare us these slut-shaming antics online because it is so easy for a man to garner pity once he cries out that his wife doesn’t cook for him. Or wash his boxers. Or sucks his pecker. Or that she now sucks the peckers of other men.
So every time a woman is due for a promotion or a raise, should she first tell the folks at the company to hold on so she could get the husband’s approval before they proceed? Or should she compare her new raise and her husband’s current salary and if her new salary is more than what the husband earns, should she proceed to turn down the offer of a promotion just to abide by society’s definition of a happy marriage? May Amadioha and Orunmila not allow this to be so.
TeeBee ma nigga blamed his wife, his mother in-law, his dead daddy and all the unseen spirits pursing him. Very well, I feel sorry for him. But in all this, he failed to ask a simple yet pertinent question: What have I got to do with all this drama? What role did I play in allowing this drama drag to this level and blow out of proportion? We African men could do with a little bit of soul-search in total honesty and humility in such trying times, instead of absolving ourselves of all the blames and apportioning them to others, especially the females.
Every relationship has its peculiar problems. If you got a problem, then by all means settle it with your partner in the precincts of your abode. Putting one’s business on social media is not only un-phuckworthy; it only signifies a deep desperation to accrue pity from people – people that don’t even give a hoot or raccoon’s ass about how you guys solve your problem(s). These folks simply wanna chill and enjoy the drama in the confines of their homes while sipping La Casera and chopping Kilishi.
And if your marriage isn’t working any more even after both of you have tried so hard to weather the storm, by all means end the union silently. Save our breed the whole social media diatribe and internet gangsterism. We don’t need them. In all honesty, the tirade doesn’t do you or your partner (or even us, the watching species) any good.
There is need for every couple to strike a balance between family responsibilities and the pursuit of a fulfilling career. One person should not suffer for the other to thrive. The woman shouldn’t be FORCED to stay at home and take care of the family while the man goes out to hustle. And it shouldn’t be the other way either. The decision should be based on mutual understanding between the partners and not based on unseen patriarchal laws written by ‘God-knows-who’.
Eventually, we finished the meeting. Nwunyediya was encouraged to go back to her husband and do his bidding. According to one elder, ‘Nwoke di uko’ – husbands are scarce. I was furious and wanted to lunge at the fucktard of an elder. But Amadioha told me not to do so. ‘Keep calm and hold your peace, my son’, Amadioha said to me silently. I had to hearken to his voice.
Nwunyediya stood up and hugged her husband, who was beaming with joy like a warrior coming home from battle with his spoils of war.
Presently, Nwunyediya no longer works. She is now a full time housewife. She chose her marriage over her career.
The sadness will never end.
#Say NO to Patriarchy. Say NO to Misogyny. Say NO to Political Correctness. And ultimately, Say NO to Social Media/Internet Gangsterism.
Now Playing: Colonial Mentality by Fela Kuti
Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!