Until recent times, eminently marriageable women were not difficult to come by. And one could suppose that it was also the case in terms of finding eminently marriageable men. It was a time when marriage was considered a union between two self-respecting families. Today, more so in the last two decades, things have changed. But of course, things have been changing since the dawn of time. The Nigerian society, as with societies elsewhere, is not socially and culturally stagnant. We see the effects of westernisation and globalisation and other internal and external factors that pull and push at the larger African society. And nowhere else in sub-Saharan Africa are these factors more pronounced than in Nigeria.
In the next couple of weeks, one may make submissions on such cause-effects; but for now, the focus is on the idea, and the futility, of coming to Nigeria to find a wife. Finding a wife, not just a lover, a mistress, a concubine or a booty call €“ can be a difficult task. This has been so, especially with the deepening poverty, pervasive hopelessness, scarce political goods and services, cultural and social desperation and the widening gulf between the rich and the poor. And all this, in so many ways, has contributed to the desperate need, on the part of some women, to find a mate who lives abroad.
One must admit that, in spite of the current putrid and abysmal conditions, Nigeria is still home to some of the most disciplined, well-behaved, well-schooled and well-brought-up women even if finding, meeting or being introduced to such women can be challenging. In other words, how to find them or be found is not as easy as it used to be, at least not in any of the big cities or medium-sized towns and villages. Therefore, in places like Lagos, Ibadan, Jos, Abuja, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Zaria, Warri, Enugu and Aba, we find that more men are postponing marriage.
Some men are postponing marriage because, amongst other reasons, they do not have the financial wherewithal. Although financial stability is not the sole reason for marriage, it is a major factor most men and women consider before they agree to a marital union. In today€˜s Nigeria (1999-2010), five groups of men have all the money they need, or at least enough money to spoil a woman five times over: the politicians, traders, 419ners and the dream merchants, the bankers and investment managers and the continental hustlers.
A typical Nigerian senator, governor, banker, 419er or hustler may not hesitate throwing the equivalent of 5, 10 or 20 thousand dollars at the feet of his lover. As part of the package, she may also be entitled to a car, a house or apartment, two or three foreign trips a year, clothing allowance and whatever else that needs to be done to keep her happy and wishful. She may or may not be in college, she may or may not have a job, and she may or may not be older than 30. This sort of pact has gone beyond sugardaddism: it is now a way of life.
It is to this pool of women Nigerians living overseas are likely to come home to when searching for a wife: women who have a sense of entitlement; women who are used to being showered with hundreds and thousands of dollars at an instant; women who control men with the allure of mild-altering sex; women who wears some of the finest clothes the best boutiques in Dubai, London, Paris, New York or Berlin can offer; and women who drive some of the finest cars.
These are women who are used to a life of freedom, risks and opulence. What does a typical Nigerian living anywhere in the West have to offer such women? Mind you, the typical Nigerian living overseas (like me and some of my friends) is struggling to make ends meet: living from paycheck-to- paycheck. Some of us work 40-80 hours a week; we work on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and on holidays and even the graveyard shifts. We have nothing to offer these Sisi Eko (Lagos girl); yet, it is these Sisi Eko that some will marry and import to the US, UK and elsewhere.
Depending on where you live in the United States, if you make less than $80,000 per annum, do not waste your time chasing after Sisi Eko. You are not man enough to man these women. And when it comes to sex, you will have nothing to teach them. Most no longer have a sense of wonder in and outside of the bedroom.
There are no reliable data that point to the frequency of divorce within the Nigerian enclaves in the US, Canada, UK and elsewhere in the west. What is however clear, is that, the numbers are significant. For instance, casual conversations with friends and friends of friends in the United States show that 4 out of every10 marriages folds within 3 years, 6 in 5 years, and 9 in 7 years. The wahala starts within 9 months of arriving in the US; and it reaches its boiling point once the Alien Registration (Green) Card is received. You ought to know that a significant number of women who come to the US to reside with their husbands abandon their matrimonial homes.
Not minding what I have submitted, some men are able to find true love with these Sisi Eko. Nonetheless, I would rather you find a wife wherever you may be living in the west. If you are currently dating a Nigerian, an African, African-American, Indian, German or Korean, please marry her. If you would rather marry someone from same or similar background, then, by all means stay away from the Sisi Eko. Something else: don€˜t go to Church looking for a Church-girl; the odds favor you in the Las Vegas strip joint.
And now the men. My female friends have also allowed that finding a man, a real Nigerian man for a husband is a problem the womenfolk have also been dealing with for ages. Vera Ezimora, that fine and free-spirited writerm, it was who summarised it this way: "Marrying a Nigerian man is like buying a car from an auction. What you see is NOT what you get. What you see is a fine man who promises to give you the world and beyond; what you see is an honest and mature man who is secure in you and what you both share. What you get is a man who cannot control his sexual urges and wants sex on demand; what you get is an insecure man who panics at the mere mention of another man€˜s name. What you want is for him to change, and what you do not get is change€¦.Investing in marriage is like buying a computer out of the auction; it is not guaranteed to work, there is no warranty, a return policy is nonexistent."
As for me, well, there will be no Sisi Eko. Oh no€¦just the neighborhood girl.
* Abidde is with the Department of Humanities at Alabama State University, USA.Sabidde@yahoo.com