Every un-married Nigerian female has fantasized since birth about meeting and getting married to “the one”. Okay, truth be told, not every female may refer to him as “the one.” To some girls of easy virtue, or ‘runs’ girls, he may be merely “Number One” or the “Main One” ( a bit like that under-g cable which connects Nigeria to mainland Europe for increased internet bandwith). Alright, let me stay on course.
Dudes would probably relate to this article better. Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, the UK and US are filled with Nigerian fellas who are educated, not too broke to get married and have decided to take the full plunge into marriage but cannot find a life partner of their dreams. There are scores of Naija chaps looking for “the One-ness.” Weighted by the shackles of shackles of masculinity, societal expectations, and the fairytale storylines of many Hollywood chick-flicks or Nollywood traditional “action” movies, no chap would readily admit that he is finding it difficult to find a marriageable girl. It is not in our DNA to moan about it.
Most people, especially other women, believe that a dating in Nigeria is a man’s market, and all a single lad has to do is pick from a ready and steady pool. Fiction not fact. Ready not steady.
The truth is that there are girls everywhere, but as a bachelor may find, much to many girls’ chagrin, is that not every girlfriend can make a great life-mate. Even a supergirlfriend may make a terrible wife, and all that wonderful make-up and dinner dates go right out the window when subjected to the scrutinies of Naija life. Marriage is not all flowers and wine; well, only in rare cases. I hear Jennifer Lopez’s first husband said that she was so beautiful that he could drink her bath water. To each his own – good luck with trying to drink Jenifa’s bath-water.
One of Liz Taylor’s many husband once said that being married to her was like having a one-night stand everyday. Well, even as good as she supposedly was, she had 7 different husbands and was married eight times. So, we in Nigeria may have to do with our Liz Bensons (no disrespect).
Getting married to the right person is paramount. It is one of the few human relationships you have a choice over. You cannot chose who your parents or siblings are. Well, except in Nigeria where every older woman is your ‘aunty’ or every stranger calls you ‘broda’ when they need a favour. So you have to make it count with wifey.
I have further heard it said that a good wife is better than a good mother. Orphans or kids brought up in abusive home or absent mother-figure home situations may recover to become upstanding and successful members of society; a man with a terrible wife is soon parted with half of his fortune in alimony payments. In Yankee, he may sleep on the couch/guest bedroom most nights or spend more time at the office; in Nigeria, a man with a bad wife quickly learns how to prepare Indomie noodles with a boiling ring to stave off hunger, and befriends the pepper-soup joint matron.
Finding a suitable wife has never been easy; check history. Jacob had to toil and wait for 14 years to be able to marry Rachael. In between this period, he was even offered and married someone he did not really fancy. And why do you think that the prince in the Cindarella fairytale had to throw a ball so to inspect the local talent in “Far-far-away-Land” only to have his love interest “Ms Cindarella” run away thereby abandoning her bata in the process. That Cindarella was a ‘runs’ girl.
Even in modern times, series like “The Bachelor” have shown how difficult it can be selecting from a bevy of girls. Koko mansion too, although D’banj was never looking to get hitched to any of the contestants. You get the gist of the message, though.
This article is not of those many articles circulating the web, berating many 21st century Nigerian women for being fake, weave-sporting, fake nails clawing, ‘undometisticated’ beings incapable of being marriage material. Besides yesterday was International Women’s Day; what would I look like putting down own women.
Why is it difficult finding a girl to marry despite the apparent stream of ready females. I dunno; I and a couple of friends have spoken about it a couple of times and I find that there may be a couple of underlying factors
- Indecision. Sometimes many guys may have a couple of girls they are considering who as someone once told me “are not as good individually as the sum of their parts”; whatever that means. Each girl may not have all key attributes the chap wants ( and who does really?). Monica may like money and expensive dates too much cook a fantastic ofe nsala; Tokunboh may have great legs but be a terrible cheapskate, Alero may be laidback and easygoing but have “Jenifa” traits especially with her spoken English. Chioma may be a smart and hardworking professional but have her head in the clouds. Back in the day, our grandfathers fixed this problem by marrying 2 or 3 wives and combining their strengths and praying their weaknesses did not send him to an early grave. I can just imagine that polygamous arrangement working now, Monica cooking all the meals for the household, Chioma working to bring in income, Alero running the house while Tokunbo ‘serviced’ the hubby. Not bad.
- Many Nigerian girls are more materialistic and less likely to start their life with an upcoming youngster. Yes, this rings true, though many girls would swear with a cutlass to argue otherwise. I know chaps (voluntarily and involuntarily) who had to eliminate potential partners due to materialism. Sad but true – some Naija girl’s weekly maintenance spends could finance a small wedding. Wax on, wack off. Eddie Griffin the comedian once wondered, how come girls no longer fall in love with a brother with a bus pass. A BRT bus-pass not a Air Bus boarding pass.
- Societal restrictions – the usual suspects like race (Yoruba or Igbo are races not tribes), family background, ageism, social class etc. By the time a fella considers all these, and I hope not together, he may be left with zero, zilch. The age one is really a factor in Nigeria, because people expect the man to be older or the same age at least so this eliminates potential cougars. Besides most dudes are scared of a woman looking like their gran after a few kids. It does not help that when we look at some women in the generation before ours, some have not aged well , adding excess ‘alatika’ weight and using ‘wrapper’ to conceal. It is changing now though but still early doors. Basically, Stella would never have gotten her groove back in Naija.
- Girls, girls, girls. In cities like Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja, single girls boku. And that is not even adding Owerri (Nigeria’s own version of Las Vegas). There are bevies of ladies everywhere – in traffic, weddings and events, malls, cinema, offices, Zenith Bank Customer services, Bank PHB Head-quarters, church..Go to TPH on a Sunday, and you would be like a cow in the field (ok, sorry wrong analogy). Ok you would be like a possum caught in the headlights at night. There are so many young women everywhere that you may end up doing nothing. And nothing comes from nothing. According to a 2009 American Community Survey, there are 131,548 more single women than men in New York City. Big deal?
Disregard our Nigerian Census Board, there are more than 200 million people in Nigeria. Everyone has a relative in Lagos, so there must be at least 10-15 million people in Lagos. Let’s just estimate conservatively that half are women and one-eight are singles of marriageable age. Dude, that is about 250,000 single women. And that is not even counting those in the UK, US and Canada. Woah Nigeria!I mean all our grandfather had to do was choose between the hunter’s daughter, palm-wine tapper’s youngest sister or the headmaster’s niece. It was not like his village was brimming with talent or alternatives.
- Nne, can I meet you? Back in our parent’s day in the rural areas, you simply “blocked” your love interest on the path to the village stream and offered to carry her bucket of water if she agreed to meet you behind the butcher’s hut for a midnight dalliance. Not so back in the day, you stopped by the original Megaplaza, chatted up a chick and offered to buy her that cheap popcorn they sold on the ground floor. Now there are millions of spots around Lagos and Abuja. If you have a 9-5 and work on the Island, how do you meet other singletons?
Abroad, they have online and speed-dating schemes. I’m not sure how speed-dating can work here in Nigeria; we cannot even get Lekki traffic right. Ok, bad joke.
Maybe someone should start a BB dating service. Another smart idea is to start a service like one I heard of once in America which organises trips, tours and outings for single members. Please send my royalty check via post.
- Unrealistic expectations – Yes this prevents some chaps from making a choice or meeting the right girl. Every chap in Nigeria wants a girl who looks like Munachi Abi.
Back in the day, our grandfathers were married off to women with athlete’s muscles and chest/facial hairs and may not have to had ‘wooed’ her by chatting to her at the town yam festival. Many marriages were arranged prior to birth, so all the groom’s parents had to do so was have the bride price/dowry ready. However this could be why women ended being subjugated to the background, with no career or romance. Having paid a hefty bride price, grand-dad tried to get as much bang for his buck (pardon my use of irony). No doubt music videos, the internet and exposure have affected what guys believe should be a standard for beauty – sometimes a tad bit unrealistically.
Some chaps have suggested different ways of testing whether a girl was “the one-ness” and suitable wife material with varying degrees of success. In the 2001 African-American movie “The Brother” starring Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union, it was suggested that someone who loved you very much would offer you the last morsel of any food she was eating. A chap tried this by waiting to see if a girl he fancied would do the same with some take-away they had brought back from a date. The girl wolfed down the foot-long sharwama in 2 takes, and belched, as she rubbed her tummy. She didn’t even ask for water. He was weak – her frame was smaller than Christiana Milan’s; where did all that food go? Home-boy beat a retreat; he feared for what she would do with a pestle in her hands, a 5 tubers of yam in the mortar.
Some Nigerians in the diaspora (hate that word, by the way) used to come down to Nigeria to look for wives; but they soon found that charity did not always start at home. In fact Charity, in this case, never stayed at home, but painted herself and the town red every night looking for rich clientage. He soon found out once she was safely married and back abroad with him.
And some guys have resorted to seeking out and marrying their ex-girlfriends or college/university sweethearts. Not a bad idea if the spark still remains, and if they are still single. The devil you know…is a devil in a blue dress.
To be my queen you must,/
point out my enemies, a girl who is into me/
but not a hype-chick, someone with proper energy/
Someone who is into me, who wont do all my enemies/
And you can be the one cos I’m feeling your energy/
Nas (Hey Nas, 2002)