An African Wife-An African Husband; Without African Values
Wednesday, 28 June 2006
No Nigerian woman or man deserves an argumentative and cantankerous relationship or marriage! Nobody, Nigerian or not, deserves such.
If recent debate patterns are anything to go by, it suggests that matters have now reached a point for Nigerian women and men in the Diaspora, to avoid each other like a plague, in intimate personal relationships and marriage. Will Diaspora Nigerian women and men, be better to just marry Chinese, Japanese, Jews, German, Americans and Europeans instead of fellow Nigerians?
I am not sure that I am the best man to be discussing African wives in America; I am divorced from an American wife! Where then, lays my credentialed expertise on African wives in the American Diaspora? Well, I am a Nigerian-African man. And, I am a keen observer of social morass.
What is more? In recent times, several Nigerians have written very controversial essays or articles, on these affairs of the heart matters. Ms. Folasayo Ogunrinde (Nigeria’s Valerie Solanas?) wrote a series of essays in which she excoriated Nigerian-African men. She literally presented African men as clueless 17th century male chauvinist-misogynistic neanderthals!
I was among those of her readers, who thought she generalized, in her attempts to make forceful unforgettable points. Her essays are affecting, even without generalizations. Why then did she generalize? Why would an effective writer, such as she is, feel the need to generalize? To inflame!
In due time, Ms. Ogunrinde graduated from her generalizations! She now ostentatiously uses the word, “some” this, upon having been upbraided in the past by some Nigerian-African men, who had labeled her as happily generalizing about matters male, when it is about men, Nigerian/African.
Both liberal and or conservative readings of Ms. Ogunrinde’s essays/opinions of Nigerian, nay African men, have led most, to seem to conclude that Ms. Ogunrinde finds African men grossly deficient in too many respects. She has commented publicly and in the most robustly, vigorous essays about gender roles in African relationships. She has also confessed her sordid personal and peculiarly unsavory experiences in the hands of African men who she dated. She adamantly paints the picture of African men as being inordinately worse off, in men-women relationships worldwide.
Are African men inadequate in matters of progressive gender issues?
Are African men lacking and deficient, in so many departments as is, being alleged? Is it really true as is being portrayed, that African men visit African women maliciously and unrepentantly, with oppressions and indignities?
A reading of Ms. Ogunrinde’s essays by most African males, will convince the most admiringly generous African male, that she has concluded that African males possesses no redeeming qualities of any sorts! African men appear in her articles as clueless. African men that she has portrayed or depicted always arrived with money-back guarantee, for being arrogant prudes. African men lack every social skill? African men are not attuned to progressive thinking, women liberation and gender equality?
Several, if many, uncouth African men seemed to have always sought out the poor Ms. Ogunrinde. These African men without refinements or scintilla of etiquette, manner or politeness, dumped their ill-mannered and unpolished selves at her doorsteps! Poor thing! Ms. Ogunrinde!
Well, in elementary science lessons, you will recall, actions generates reactions in natural course of chemical events. And so, my friend Mr. Sabella Abidde, wrote his reactions, rebuttals and rejoinders to Ms. Ogunrinde’s unflattering, and yet, socially relevant discuss of Nigerian and African men.
Ms. Ogunrinde, as if to establish her credentials as the undaunted and undeterred twenty-first century feminist genre, the Gloria Steinem and Patricia Ireland of Nigeria rolled into one Ms. Ogunrinde as the crusader; Audaciously and unapologetically, continues to demonstrate this, She has in fact written more recent essays, in which she became more didactic and emphatically adamant. Ms. Ogunrinde is vociferously strident. She screeches her vehemence mop in hand, with ammonia, acid and other astringents mix, together, as she awaits the next Nigerian-Africa man who would earn a death sentence, for mentioning her name in the same sentence with cooking! She will cook, only and only, out of love, never out of duty, expectation or as any man’s domestic chore-horse! She screams it!
Cooking! Yes, cooking as in, domestic chores somehow became the all encompassing, all encapsulating and all embracing harsh metaphor for all the oppressions and indignities visited on African women by African men! It got to a point in these debates, when Mr. Ebi Bozimo and Ms. Soul Sista were embroiled in intense exchanges. Ebi Boimo rightly stated that a personal, such as the unsavory dating experiences of Ms. Ogunrinde, which she recounted, should not have been extrapolated, projected and transposed on majority of African men, with a one-size-fits-all attitude. The “I won’t cook for him”, asides, that Ms. Ogunrinde made, unwittingly, also became a benchmark reference point. Even though Ms. Ogunrinde's essays, obviously dealt with various contentious issues, apart from African males culinary expectations as one of her pet peeves.
And as human intercourse and interactions are wont to be in outcomes, Mr. Michael Oluwagbemi joined the fray, challenging Ms. Ogunrinde, joining quite a few issues with her perception of Nigerian, African men and whoa! You will be forgiven if you started to sing, Baha Men’s anthem hit track “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
These issues as have been initiated or raised by Ms. Ogunrinde, are assuredly socially relevant issues. The challenge, certainly, is to find a middle-ground meeting point or some sorts of compromise in this age-old gender wars or war of the sexes.
I am completely aghast at how far apart, the proponent and opponents are, regarding Ms. Ogunrinde’s articles and the rejoinders by Mr. Abidde and Mr. Oluwagbemi! I will not be engaging in any exaggerations as I inform you here, that the debaters have been entrenched and ensconced in the most extreme opposite sides of spectrum!
It has become headache-inducing debates that make even a good head spin. Most of the female contributors seem to be in search of men who would be the women’s wives. And these women remind me of a song by country music singer Don Williams about Margie. Margie sought a husband to be her wife!
And woof! Woof! Woof! Some of the men reacted with equal ferocity. Some of our men actually retorted that they would not say, “a hello, how are you” to a lady, if she does not know how to cook meals for her man! And through all these, I thought of my mother frequently. My mother made sure that my brother and I learned to cook. This, even though the Nigeria of my childhood was a traditional society, where men were not expected to do much of domestic chores. Men did not have to have culinary skills. The truth is Nigerian men cook, men in Nigeria always won the Maggi Cube/Nestle sponsored cooking competitions repeatedly, in Nigeria, and it was televised and the judges were mostly women, and year-in, year-out, men won!
But my father was good cook, as well, and that was part of what she liked in my father during their courtship. He cooked-up a storm and neighbors in Lagos would ask him about all the aroma and salivation inducing food scented vapors that caused their mouths watering feelings. I got lucky, doubly lucky, as I was raised by a husband and wife who were good cooks. I strongly believe that cooking is an art. Cooking is a skill that you acquire. Everyone ought to learn to cook! And as my mother lectured us boys, if you know how to eat, it is probably a smart thing to know how to cook!
A man or woman bereft of cooking skills ought not to brag about such inadequacy or lack! It is a very useful skill. It requires talent, creativity and pizzazz. When I have the time to cook, I find that it is safer, healthier and even cheaper! Cooking puts me in control of what I ingest, as the saying goes, “you are what you eat”!
Cooking has taken barrages of mauling in these gender debates between Diaspora Nigerian women and men.., cooking/domestic chores have become euphemistic and metaphorical ways to lump gender oppressions/inequalities into one dangerous missile.
My brother and I were not happy learners of culinary arts. We thought it was unfair. We had two sisters and the going social order at the times was that, you guessed it! The females in the house took care of such. But, it was not so in my household. Boys cooked, washed and ironed clothes, and fetched water as well. Looking back now? I am glad that our parents made us do those things. I happen to believe that I make the best steak in New York, East of Houston Texas! I make Nigerian, continental and intercontinental cuisines!
To these extents, if all I needed was a woman/wife to cook, clean and do these “usual” domestic chores? I would have had the least reason to have married at all! Because as it, as it has been, I can take care of these businesses myself. I actually iron my shirts better than my drycleaners. My ex-wife could not cook anything without her mother guiding her minutely by telephone across state-lines from across the country! We are divorced, not over cooking or other sundry domestic chores, but instead, for retaining a man she dated for six years before, I met and married her! In essence, she had a parallel husband! And my arrogance and old world morals could not accept that sorts of sharing arrangements!
There should be no litmus test for marriage, be it procreation, culinary arts or any of these pesky issues. This is particularly so, if you consider the fact that gender inequality is universal, it is not peculiarly African. The war of the sexes or gender wars are being fought worldwide. There are local variations and variables, of course. But macho men still dominate world affairs, even outside of Africa, as we see in America, Europe and Asia etc.
It used to be that marriages are a total package. We know that times have changed from the times of our grandmothers, and even our mothers. But, with congruence and confluence of agreements that Ms. Ogunrinde’s article elicited from the Nigerian-African women readers at www.nigeriavillagesquare.com Such convergence in attitudes, suggests a steeply new crescendo of gender war or war of the sexes among Diaspora Nigerians, and it further suggests deepened animosities of inequality that has been festering. The avalanche and quantum of umbrage within our female folks, and displayed without semblances of restraints, is most alarming!
If these many women of Nigerian origin, are so embittered as was demonstratively indicated in their responses at NVS, then, several questions arise. Nigerians in Diaspora are busy with work and the hectic lifestyle of Diaspora life. This is peculiarly so, in America. In light of the frenzied pace of everyday life in America, and further, in light of what we now know as the ticking timed-bomb of the gender war-war of the sexes between Diaspora Nigerians. What can we do to avoid crises?
My readings of these gender roles and relationship articles, has led me to conclude that there is a total disconnect between Nigerian-African males and females in the Diaspora. There are indeed impending volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis combined; And that a simple thing as, a Nigerian male asking for a date, and proceeding to say an innocuous thing in the wrong way, could become a catalyst that leads to cataclysms, as a Nigeria female goes postal on a Nigerian male. Africa will be in prime time news again, and again, in the negative territory?
I am tiptoeing now, after reading the magnitude of anger as exuded and exhibited by a great number of Diaspora Nigerian women. As they vehemently resent the inequalities that they have witnessed or personally experienced. Clearly, very strong resentment exists among or within our female folks? And no amicable debates and discussions to resolve these issues appear likely. The essays that I have referred to above are written by protagonists and antagonists who are without doubt, light years apart! Might Nigerian men and women be happier, marrying outside our culture? Why would a Nigerian man marry a Nigerian woman who is so in name and blood only? Why would a Nigerian woman marry a Nigerian man who is so in name only (if that even!) Recently I wrote that I used to believe that marrying a Nigerian woman will save me the hassle of having to explain the most mundane to the most complex about things Nigerian-African, including whether there are radio and television stations in Africa or whether Africa is a country or continent or whether the sun also rises in Africa.
But with my new awakening, regarding gender inequalities and oppressions that Diaspora Nigerian women are angered about, what is there to gain in the artifice of an African man or woman who no longer possesses core African values? African values and morals that would have made an African man or woman uniquely spectacular and different from other possible spousal offerings as America presents? Perhaps Nigerians in the Diaspora will be better off, if we marry American women and men, if we marry other immigrants of Chinese, Jewish and German origins? Why should an African in the Diaspora marry another African without the imbued benefits of African values? African values that ideally ought to lead to advantages in understanding, spousal harmony, strength and peace. Should an African person now be expected to marry another African person and then be deprived of the expected benefits of marrying a fellow African? Isn’t that like getting all water without liquid?
Despite these futile attempts by some to localize gender inequalities, it is not local! Marilyn, my colleague sent an e-mail to me that included this quote “That's a good one to use when folks believe gender strife is localized...as you can imagine. You might want to check out the movie "I Shot Andy Warhol” upon becoming aware that I was writing these commentaries about gender inequalities relating to Africans.
I fervently support the rights of women, gender equalities because they are important. It is frustratingly irritating, when some feminist generalize about men, all men!
If I were the one to be cynical, I would have been saying to African men, just sit back and relax, do all they can to live long enough to witness African women as they become prevalent in all-female fire-fighters, all-female pall-bearers, women are in the majority in every country, so, there should be majority of women in the armies!
African men will live long enough to be witness to the blurring of male/female roles, it is already happening. (More women are already graduating from college, than men) African men should wait for the time when unisex locker rooms become the rule, in sports clubs and gymnasiums! Even as some men actually await a world, without gender roles distinctions as is being advocated by some feminists. Nevertheless, I will continue to support gender equality issues in Nigeria, Africa and worldwide.
They are human equality issues and important.
Here are some excerpts of thoughts, by flame-throwing crusaders of old.
“Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.” - by Valerie Solanas http://www.womynkind.org/scum.htm (Typical Nigerian in Diaspora woman?)
“It is now technically feasible to reproduce without the aid of males (or, for that matter, females) and to produce only females. We must begin immediately to do so. Retaining the male has not even the dubious purpose of reproduction. The male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.”
“The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself, incapable of empathizing or identifying with others, or love, friendship, affection of tenderness. He is a completely isolated unit, incapable of rapport with anyone. His responses are entirely visceral, not cerebral; his intelligence is a mere tool in the services of his drives and needs; he is incapable of mental passion, mental interaction; he can't relate to anything other than his own physical sensations. He is a half-dead, unresponsive lump, incapable of giving or receiving pleasure or happiness; consequently, he is at best an utter bore, an inoffensive blob, since only those capable of absorption in others can be charming. He is trapped in a twilight zone halfway between humans and apes, and is far worse off than the apes because, unlike the apes, he is capable of a large array of negative feelings -- hate, jealousy, contempt, disgust, guilt, shame, doubt -- and moreover, he is aware of what he is and what he isn't.”
“Although completely physical, the male is unfit even for stud service. Even assuming mechanical proficiency, which few men have, he is, first of all, incapable of zestfully, lustfully, tearing off a piece, but instead is eaten up with guilt, shame, fear and insecurity, feelings rooted in male nature, which the most enlightened training can only minimize; second, the physical feeling he attains is next to nothing; and third, he is not empathizing with his partner, but is obsessed with how he's doing, turning in an A performance, doing a good plumbing job. To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he's a machine, a walking dildo. It's often said that men use women. Use them for what? Surely not pleasure.”
“Eaten up with guilt, shame, fears and insecurities and obtaining, if he's lucky, a barely perceptible physical feeling, the male is, nonetheless, obsessed with screwing; he'll swim through a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there'll be a friendly pussy awaiting him. He'll screw a woman he despises, any snaggle-toothed hag, and furthermore, pay for the opportunity. Why? Relieving physical tension isn't the answer, as masturbation suffices for that. It's not ego satisfaction; that doesn't explain screwing corpses and babies”
Below is an article featured a few days ago, and could this be the sorts of long term road and direction, to which Diaspora Nigerians are headed?
“Americans' circle of close friends shrinking By Amanda Beck
Americans are more socially isolated than they were 20 years ago, separated by work, commuting and the single life, researchers reported on Friday.
Nearly a quarter of people surveyed said they had "zero" close friends with whom to discuss personal matters. More than 50 percent named two or fewer confidants, most often immediate family members, the researchers said.
"This is a big social change, and it indicates something that's not good for our society," said Duke University Professor Lynn Smith-Lovin, lead author on the study to be published in the American Sociological Review” http://naijanet.com/news/source/2006/jun/27/1003.html Nigerians in Diaspora are getting there with the Americans! Especially in view of this gender wars!
Many American men practice Mail Order Brides, as some American males seek, “traditional wives” and so, these American men import wives from the Philippines, from Mexico, Russian, Japan and the newly free former East European countries. Because my knowledge of these gender wars in America, I continue to see the war of the sexes, as global or universal phenomenon. It is not in any way unique or peculiar to Nigeria or Africa! There are more women in the world, than men, hence you always see more women waiting to use the toilets at airports and other public places, than men (even discounting the multiple variables of women’s special health needs, in toilets, crevices and all) there need to be more toilet, two-to-one toilet rule, in favor of women, advantage women, because they are more in number in every population in the world!
I therefore see gender inequalities, in part, in terms of the inadequacies of airport toilets for women worldwide (airport toilets are neither two-to-one in Nigeria nor in America)! It also therefore encompasses the universality of gender inequalities! It is a global issue!
I see gender inequalities, a violation of female rights, in the inadequacy of airport toilet every where in the world that I have been. Toilet availability is a gender issue, alright?
Are Diaspora Nigerian twomen and men, now headed towards beating the Americans at individualism? Are some Diaspora Nigerians becoming so self-absorbed, with gender wars and other issues that make it unattractive and unwise, for Diaspora Nigerians to copulate? These are increasingly becoming intense. These have become issues gnawing at our social fabric. We ought all, to be addressing these issues that are creating wedges and even oceans, between Nigerians in the Diaspora.
Mrs. Hilda Adefarasin, former president of Nigerian Organization for Women (NOW) was wife of Justice Adefarasin in Lagos; She, it was, that, in her very genial and amicable way, got Nigerian men awake and engaged, in gender inequality issues. Because of her, I actually thought of joining NOW, while I lived in Lagos, Nigeria. Mrs. Adefarasin was not a flame-throwing crusader!
I am a Nigerian, an African male, and I have always described myself as a male feminist! This is because, I am an aware human, just like the next woman, and I was born by a woman and I have a sister and extended family members, who are females! But flame-throwing crusaders do great disservice to crucial issues of gender inequalities.
No nation should keep women in bondage. To do so, is foolish. If nothing else, neglecting women issues is unwise; particularly, because, it is akin to neglecting the bulk of your resources! Why operate with one-third power?
All human beings are aware that there are more women on earth than men; that clearly, illustrates or demonstrates the crucial importance of women, women issues are of such magnitude in importance, to economic, political and social development.