We were lapping up the last of warm sunshine before fall fully reins in while driving to the movies lately. The Fela’s tape that my husband was recently gifted was mildly blasting in the background. My hubby is a huge Fela fan and so was my dad. I grew up listening to Fela and all other different types of music. My recently bereaved father was a veritable music lover and had exposed us, his children to the different types of music; afro-beat, calypso, blues, traditional Igbo beats, and you name it.
Fela was a maestro.
“If you call am woman, African woman no go gree
She go say eh, she go say I be lady oh … … …
I haven’t listened to Fela’s music in a long while but still remembered the song off the top of my head and gleefully sang along. As I repeated the chorus, I was suddenly forced to mull the actual words. Did the maestro get it wrong just this once?
His African woman wasn’t the stereotypical African woman that I have come to believe. The real African woman is the woman of my mothers, grandmother’s and gone-by generational age African women who were more submissive brides and would sooner be caught dead than wanting to take a seat before everybody or piece of meat before everybody.
Or maybe Fela was describing the new age African women of my generation who are more liberated and would sooner be described as modern “un-African women” than “African”.
Whatever the case may be, an African woman who has found her voice and fights for equality especially in her matrimonial home is sooner deemed foreign than African which brings me to the topic that I really want to write about.
I have read it in the news and I guess you must have too; I have also had distressing calls from friends detailing yet another occurrence. It is a growing fad, except that this is no new fashion trend. It is the new and alarming trend of husbands killing their spouses. It is even more disquieting that most of these cases involve Nigerians. There is a regular pattern to it too, the husband is so aggrieved by his bride that he callously adopts the devil-may- care attitude and shoots her to death in cold blood. In his supposed acrimony, he forgets that there are multiple repercussions. Not so much that he would be spending the rest of his life in jail but most importantly, what will become of their kids?
Is it coincidental that ninety percent of these brides are nurses or in similar relatively high income earning profession?
An example is the story of the Nigerian man, who had allegedly brought over a ‘mail order’ wife from back home and put her through nursing school. He also expects her to be at his beck and call even after she starts earning more than him. This so called aggrieved fellow subsequently becomes incensed at the idea that his usually submissive wife suddenly wises up to his abusive ways in spite of his supposed sacrifices and becomes enraged to the extent of committing murder.
Those and similar stories are becoming rampant. Dare we keep calm and quiet while this monstrous trend festers?
I don’t have all the answers or the respective circumstances surrounding these occurrences but surely this is a precedence that must be addressed and nipped in the bud before it should continue to escalate.
We live in an evolving world and are an evolving generation. Unfortunately or fortunately too we, Africans or Nigerians like many others find ourselves in the Diaspora. They say, when in Rome, act like the Romans. Is it a small wonder then that women, Africans/ Nigerians in tow who find themselves in the western world, should demand for equality? Not to say that African women back home are not standing up for their personal rights.
While broaching this topic, I am also forced to wonder if African-ness in our women is reliant on submissiveness, subservience or what?
As an African lady (I no be woman!!!), who had spent more than half her life away from the shores of Africa, I must admit that I have been termed un-African or not humble enough because of my supposedly liberated ideas or even mannerisms. I might even come off as somewhat biased while discussing this matter but my ultimate aim is to initiate a civil evocative discussion that would help us all to understand each other better and quell this disturbing new trend.
Should a stereotypical African woman be deduced as the woman who would ask her husband, how high? i.e. if her husband were to ask her to jump. This is in no way aimed at disrespecting the African women of yester-years who were equally strong and productive in their own rights.
However the modern African woman is more likely to query decisions, fight for what she thinks is her right as well as refuse to be treated as a second class citizen and demand for equal rights in her own home, and no wonder the men feel threatened. Dare we opine then that the African woman has evolved with our changing times while the African men languish behind times and in his supposed male ego?
Yet again, I remember an adage that my mother had told me once, the man is the head of the family but the woman is the neck and whichever way she steers, the head will follow. This is a profound adage and as a married woman I am beginning to appreciate this adage more with each passing day.
Even if the men should try to deny it, women are a very strong force. A man’s ego is also a very strong force. Dare I suggest that the underlying factor behind this abominable trend is the obvious, “modern African woman’s liberation” versus the “inherent male ego”?
Since time immemorial, women have always been denoted as the weaker sex, the bible proves it, society and tradition uphold this same premise to a certain extent. Weak is as in weak goes though.
Men traditionally protect and fend for their women while the women tend to homes and children but times have changed. Women are no longer wholesomely reliant on the male folk, not for protection, food or for the sacred act of procreation. The possibilities are limitless. Men can also know that in a similar vein that women can be dispensable.
A hereto presumed parasitic relationship, whereby a man does all the work and the woman benefits has become identified rightly as more symbiotic.
While women relish this new found independence, most men especially the African man in this context has found it harder to deal with a woman on equal ground. I might be wrong or making a generalized categorization but this is the bottom line.
While the problem might be rooted in the above, men are not entirely culpable. Women must also take some part of the blame. It does take two to tango. There must be mutual respect on both sides. While the men should realize that they are no longer indispensable nor is their wife beholden to them, the women should also respect their men.
It is however inconceivable that similar problems should escalate to the point that one partner should feel that he could take the laws into his hands or snuff out the other’s life.
There is no plausible justification for murder as an option. If your differences are that irreconcilable then separate, divorce, part ways, count your losses and break up. Why should anyone jeopardize their own lives or freedom for a lifelong prison term? Why would anyone assume that another’s life is theirs to take? Why would any parent endanger the future of their own offspring by robbing them of a parent or both for while their mother is six foot under, the father is enclosed within a six foot wall or verse versa?
Those are facts to mull when those murderous thoughts arise. That instant macho fix is not worth sacrificing another’s life, your children’s future or your personal life for that matter.
I am no preacher but I call for timely intervention. Let us be each others keepers. Let there be more forums for open minded discussions where both African/Nigerian women and men can openly discuss their fears and aspirations.
Let us learn to respect each other and find more mature ways to deal with our differences. The mark of a man is not in oppressing his woman. The mark of a woman is not in belittling her spouse. Let’s find and strike the balance for peaceful coexistence.
Most of all let us stop this mayhem.