Thursday, June 28, 2007

NIGERIAN MEN

I mentioned earlier that I've been trying hard to come up with a v.good short story that'll launch me to Chimamanda-type stardom (I certainly wish!) I therefore asked a friend for some help. I needed to find out the problems fellow Nigerians (males, in particular) face. Alas! I'm no closer to having a story idea, but his expose is really something...


Nigerian men would rather not be seen as ordinary men, maybe the next best clan in ego that we can compare with that of the Nigerians would be the Jews…this would be how I'd prefer to open this expose on the intrigues (which is a better title when compared to the problems faced by Nigerian men).

Have you ever wondered why, that of all countries in the world, Nigerians were said to be the happiest people on earth? What makes us so apt in ourselves that to a large degree, we offer more than we get? How come our film industry pumps out more movies than the whole European market put together? Or why every car manufacturer in the world has a major dealership contract within this country? Or why every conceivable expensive car that exists on this planet can be found in Nigeria?...

It's only in this country that the inspector-general of police would swear to “protect and serve” amidst a crew of highly corrupt police officers and a day after retirement would be caught with 21million looted funds for his very own police officers…Or why in Nigeria, there are fewer registry weddings than in any part of the world because it is a standard national tradition to celebrate your marriage? Big people wont you say?

Isn’t it amusing that while other countries battle with war and other natural disasters, including a number of society-influenced disasters, here in Nigeria, a lot still acts as normal? (The extremes we've experienced in a large while would be precisely religious clashes and bomb or pipeline blasts).
Even if that on the surface isn’t all true, we as Nigerians do have a habit of appearing above our problems when being viewed on the international scene…so I’m poised to ask, firstly:

Are you sure Israel is God's chosen people or us?

And then, what kind of people are we? (Remember that horrendous CNN reporter that marred the country black some time back? I heard he’s been sacked over trying to do the same thing with south Africa, seems the guy forgot that so many decades of apartheid hasn’t changed much to the way the black south view white people).

Breaking the populace by the guidelines of census conduct, we would have males, females and children, but to a large extent, the majority would lie on the count of men, being the larger active workforce and mostly, the legislative dictators, with this in mind, I'd focus this strictly on men Nigerian men (as I had been told to)


(Nice preamble)
Firstly, where are Nigerian men found? You’d be surprised that there’s hardly any part of this world they can’t be found, reason? They find it hard to stay put in one place…there’s a lot that can be found outside the shores of home and its in the spirit of every Nigerian male to spread and search out those areas most men haven’t found…no matter how far that would take them.
To put a finger on what exactly makes them that way would be to asses the character that constitutes the Nigerian male…the majority of the lot that is. How much mind intrusion have you experienced lately? How often have you been asked in the same conversation by the same person how you feel? To a large extent, there's a great deal of concern that can be found in Nigerian men about there immediate environment, this would be attested for by the style and type of questions they ask…for one, its of more importance to a Nigerian man if the power bill has been paid than if a canary has freckled or spiked feathers. (Makes sense, tho)

This trait, though said to be possessed by a lot of critical thinkers, is also said to be sparing among the happier of the lot (sanguine) but in the case of Nigerian men, there's a joy in worry that cant be explained but is ever present, I guess that’s why its not too hard for them to conceal their troubles.
But then, would it be right to say that their temptations and challenges are far too little to be thought over as critical as George Bushes policy on the war in Iraq? Lets take a footstool and lay them down…starting with the married folk.

The average working Nigerian family man earns on the average about 50-90 thousand a month, lives in a three room apartment and has on the average three kids and a wife. This too some people are inadequate to be called an average because it sidelines the traditionalist Nigerians who incorporate polygamy as a standard practice. So we are left with about five kids to two wives and a husband as the typical Nigerian family…right? So now my point…Split the income by the dependents on that income, on the average, one of the wives wouldn’t be working class, so you have 50,000 to three pair of school fees, transportation and feeding, the house rent and other utility bills and of recent, the cell phone bill. The economics is very clear and simple, it just can’t go round, and yet, that’s the average scenario that most families face.

So how do they cope? In most Nigerian homes, the idea of a single job earner seems rather archaic because of the enormous responsibilities that are ever present. if it wasn’t enough to add, most families have a few relatives more often than not permanently stationed and living with them to add an extra mouth to the already insufficient income. of recent, it is rare to hear of a civil servant, which in most cases would be referred to as the average job, depending solely on his salary for survival. This had led most Nigerian men to think double and work twice as much to meet their responsibilities…would you say physical strain to a certain degree might be inflicted? I'd disagree, when putting this piece together and trying to asses the Nigerian mans pride, it adds up that this strain is ever rewarding in the family it inflicts, this I would explain.

Have you ever wondered how it feels like to hold a new born baby of your own blood within your arms? Or to take him to the school graduation ceremony and watch him dedicate his one and only award to you? Or finish school with a first class degree and be offered work at a reputable firm, or about how gorgeous your wife looks cladded in that material you bought her that makes all the men at the party turn as she passes, or how beautiful she appears thanks to your pampering her with comfort and expensive make-up, (needless I mention the hairdo?), or how the most eloquent of fashion and society magazines dot your snapshots all over their pages to the admiration of the numerous readers? Or how at the Sunday golf club, your other male friends revel at the sight of your posh whip? Or talk about how good the engine on your new Mercedes is? Or why you seem to have the foresight to predict stock rises and benefit from them? Or hoe together your family looks? I could go on forever, but then that would kill the essence of the reasoning right?

So then, as much as the Christian folk would dwell on a lot of these (which they apparently indulge in) as vanity, they still make the larger call of success for a Nigerian man.
It’s not always about the success trek in the case of the married men. Trying hard not to put a notch on the fact that sexual temptation may be one of the other factors, I'd say to a large extent exposure could play a distinct role in the intrigues faced by Nigerian men.

Most men here are good at the plot-making art. Every naira spent is a calculated move to procure two more,(this rule doesn’t apply for the alcohol consuming sector of these men though). Imagine what it would be like if there was no wife at your neck tagging you off for feeding money, or no child crying because he’s hungry or no electric man trying to cut-off someones power supply…I guess a lot Nigerians would be dead by then (Really??).

A lady I spoke to a while ago said openly among the rest fo us listening to her that Nigerian men are a stingy bunch, I kinda wondered if she was referring to Nigerian men that are married or Nigerian single men, riding on the back of my uncle, I'd put it that the single Nigerian men aren’t as stingy as the married ones. Why don’t we blame the women a little huh? They ask too much…even if they don’t say, as crafty as the serpent was, they would find a way to express it…and believe me, you would definitely get the message.
But are Nigerian men plagued with greed so much that they find it hard to give? Should I say yes?

A recent fund-raising at an ECWA branch I went to had this deputy governor that was also sole owner of a chain of pharmaceutical stores in attendance. The target sum was about 20 million I think, (I'm not too sure about the exact amount), everyone had this eager ear to hear how much he was going to offer since it was with pride that the master of ceremony churned out the numbers for all to hear of the amounts that people were making. Let me put you in perspective, there were on-the-spot cash donations, some cheques and a lot of pledges. After about four hours of donation, ,(I must say, the way the service went, I was of the opinion that they weren’t going to close until they made their target so I was ready to be there another four hours on top, I really can't say what made me go there). Oh yeah, the dep. Gov. didn’t drop a dime till four hours later, and when he did, it was a raticious 50 grand to the call in pledge!

The uproar that followed wasn’t at all anything to put in words, you could hear the hisses like they were over and into the PA system, and everyone went sordid. Besides, was this not the church that boasted that all its members that voted at the election that saw him into office voted for him? ("Ya-wa!" my Aunt would have said: Good for you!) Wow! It was at that point that I and my accomplice left the scene, there was nothing more to witness besides the gradual stir of anger by the youth wing of the church. I ask myself why?

That would bring me to the next major problem I'm smugged over with concerning Nigerian men; they think too much about the voice of without to trust the voice within. Later on, the dep. Gov did add to his donation in private and his reason for not giving his elaborate sum in church was that his political opponents would nail him on the point that he was donating state money to the church…but couldn’t that be true? So here we are, with men conscious about what is being spoken of them, scared to put their women in control, scared of loosing control over situations, stingy to a degree because of being stringent, harrased by their richer pairs and their wives, living above their means, trying hard to keep up appearances, harrased visually and mentally by the opposite sex, further harassed by their income, even more harrased by other men, and yet form part of the people the world calls the happiest!?! But don’t these problems apply to women also? (I guess...).So I'd plod down family lane:

Jay's mum wants four grand kids, Jay can only AFFORD two?
Sharma's dad says Sharma can't get married to a Bachama lady but Sharma is madly in love with one?
Being the only male child, Tammi wants to be an engineer but his dad wants him to take over the mini-mega companies he’s built over the years. Tammi hates business?
Chris hates flying but his wife demands he come to see her in Ukraine?
Bulus loves being allowed to explain himself, but people think he talks too much?
Josh cant stand having sex every night but his wife seems to be “ever-ready”?
Musa worries over his wifes’ numerous male friends but is scared confronting her would mean their split?
Abel loves Tani but Tani has this high end attitude that would never allow Abel get close?
Solo wishes his parents would’ve let him read maths instead of the crappy geography he’s studying at present?
Barka loves the movements but his wife hates politics. So, I guess from that, there's always an ever inflicting difference in interest between men, their parents, fianc├ęs, wives, children…..blah blah blah…more male problem right? Little wonder these days they love staying single without any limp of getting married, oh yeah, forgot to add, this is just for a fraction of all the men.I’m tired of typing.
(Well... that was refreshing! How do people manage to be so smart, eh? Kai!)