Source: Google Images.
Original artwork by Kehinde Awofeso
I’ve been trying to write something on this for a very long time, but today I was just spurred into action by my grandmother (I love my grandmother very much). So please pardon the rant and the possible errors. It’s a fuel-ignited rage thing.
Okay, here’s the match stick that fired up this furnace. So I’ve been away from home for a long time and since my return, a day hasn’t passed when I haven’t heard remarks concerning my figure (or the lack thereof). I’ve always laughed it off respectfully. Usually on a normal day, I like to eat small portions of food. My stomach cannot take any more than my usual quantity of food at any one time. So the bone of this night’s contention, my dinner. My grandma and I were supposed to share some leftovers.
And my grandma goes off: “Everytime you’ll be taking food meant for fowl. My ancestors will say “na food wey dey stop at the throat only, e no go reach your belly”. Eat food let someone see some flesh on you…”
She really meant well. I understand perfectly her intention. You see back in her day before a woman gets married, she gets into a “fattening room”, to serve as an additional pillow for her husband. Getting fat was a sign that your fiancée or husband was taking good care of you.
Even if I was to have ice cream and fries for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I would never be curvy (trust me I’ve tried). I would just end up with a flabby excuse for a stomach. My curves have outrightly refused to increase.
My mum calls me saying, remove all the curtains and handwash them. If you’ve ever been to a typical African home, one room would have at least four extra large and extra thick curtains. Now if you see my size and the slenderness of my fingers, you would be very scared for me. And then I complain and murmur, she replies with “in your husband’s house who will be doing it?”
Please, where is it written that women should be the ones washing every single item of clothing in a house. Well mother, in my husband’s house, I would have a washing machine. If the washing machine gets bad at any point, I would send those curtains straight to a laundry. Infact, I would wash everything that wouldn’t get ruined with my washing machine. Not because I’m lazy or hate to handwash, no, because I hate stress. I would not deliberately cook with firewood just to prove I am a true African when cookers are in existence.
Another time will be; “Alia you’re going to be the one that will pound the yam and the fufu today. You don’t know where you are going to marry into. They may like to eat pounded yam everyday”. I am stupefied at this point. I’m well acquainted with a mortar and a pestle, but by God the man who wants me to pound yam for him everyday will rot in hell. Is he the Okonkwo of the 21st century? I was lucky to be born in a generation that has a massive improvement in technology. So why shouldn’t I just use yam flour? Or better still, why can’t a man learn to pound yam? It is a back-breaking work after all and women are the “weaker” vessels, aren’t we?
I think most African men are just full of BS. They say women need to do so, so and so. They just select what they think is easier for them. Please can we switch roles for a day. I be the “provider”, you be the house keeper. I don’t even understand why a man has to be the provider. I am going to be a wealthy, successful woman so I really don’t mind being the “provider”. Marriage is a 50/50 partnership. I don’t expect my man to be well accomplished and all before we get married. If there’s anything, I will like us to build together. Start small together, save together, and earn money together. I am not looking for a man who is great, I am looking for a man who has the potential to be great.
So I got a job. A well paying job and all. Then I realised my boss had ulterior motives. He was “happily” married with kids of both genders. At first, I was thinking maybe I’m too paranoid or I overthink things, I let it slide. I mean afterall sexual harassment cannot happen to Alia. Until he came out plainly to tell me what he wanted from me. I was deceived into thinking that maybe I was employed become I am smart and well-read.
No. I was just a good looking face for the company, irresistible sexual appeal, In his words; “Men by nature just want to taste other girls, not because they no longer like their girlfriend or wife. On the other hand, ladies are created to stick to one person, and are not expected to be adventurous like men”
Why? Why? In the year 2017. Why?
Do you ever have a chat with your old classmates and get stupefied at their ignorance. Excuse me for being rude but really it is true. A lot of Nigerians see being married as a huge achievement, more of an achievement than a university degree. I genuinely don’t blame them sometimes, because the level of respect when you are a married woman in Nigeria is triple that of an unmarried one. I mean one day while I was still in the university, I wanted to attend a friend’s wedding, and a member of my family said to me “why will you go and clap for someone who has achieved something more than you”. Let’s be clear I was ahead of the bride academically. She had barely started university when she was getting married.
Okay, back to the point, my classmate who is only halfway through university was asking about my plans for the future. You best believe I didn’t include marriage. And our conversation went something along the lines of;
Friend: “Have you started gathering some personal things that befits a married woman?”
Me: I don’t understand.
Friend: “You know the personal things a woman should gather before getting married.”
Me: Things like what?
Friend: There are some things, you know.
Me: (Pretends to be completely ignorant of what she’s talking about) Okay.
Friend: Well you may not think about it but for me I know I’m over ready for marriage. Babe, me I know that I am due for marriage. The handwriting is written all over.
Me: Okay. I’ll be your chief bridesmaid.
Friend: But I’m supposed to be yours first. You know if I was a man I would have snatched you off the market since.
At this point, I was starting to think she knew something I didn’t. Or maybe she wants to “arrange” someone for me. Or she knows a couple of people who had maybe met my parents for an “arrangement”. I laughed it off, and let it slide but it wasn’t funny. I had just spent a long time talking about my future and she didn’t ask me any questions about my potentially bright future and just went straight to getting married. Really?
Now, I would love to get married. I know it will happen eventually, maybe soon, maybe a couple of years but it’s not and can never be the defining moment of my life. I would never live life waiting for the moment my life will “change” forever. I would not wait to be a Mrs. to be socially recognised. I don’t understand why everything I try do as a woman in Africa always ends with “remember you’re eventually going to settle down”.
I have a long day, come back emotionally and physically drained, and all I want to do is curl up in bed, cry and rest, my mother comes in and says “come and do this, won’t you cook for your husband and kids when you come back from work tired.” I’m a big planner, so if I know I’m going to have a long day, maybe, just maybe I would have prepared a meal for my family the previous day. And seriously what ever happened to a family meal out once in a while?
I try to move to another country, good for my career and I have plans to remain there. And it comes again “what if after moving, you get married and your husband is in Nigeria?”
I am sick and tired of it. And by the way, what in the world are personal things? Why do I have to wait to marry to wear matching lingerie sets? Why do I have to wait to get married before looking really sexy in a night dress? I do that already anyway. Please what is new about that? Okay. Bye.
*Fowl – Chicken
*BS – bullshit
*Ancestors – Progenitors
*Yam – A Nigerian staple meal.