In the typical African tradition, there are certain roles assigned to men which are different from the ones assigned to the women. In the past, both men and women were expected to stick to their own roles. These gender roles define the structure and mode of operation of the societies though they differ from society to society, depending on their cultures.
Back home in the South Eastern part of Nigeria, these gender roles were taken rather seriously. The man is the head of the family, that headship covers every aspect of the family and social life. He is the bread winner, provider, ‘protector’, and the major, if not the sole decision maker, in fact his wife(s) address (es) him as ‘our lord/Master (Nna anyi)’ because he has the final say in all things and the wife is not supposed to question him. Which is why, when the husband dies, another man in his family inherits the woman.
The woman on the other hand, is the home maker, child bearer, helpmeet and Obiageli (one who came to enjoy). They take care of the home and the children, see to the day to day smooth running of the homes and generally help the man in any way he demands her assistance, be it on the farm, in the shop, home, anywhere. She must always be available to carry out her conjugal duties to her husband as it pleases him.
And so they lived, happily or unhappily for so many decades until recently when the lines began to disappear and the roles began to merge till we got to this era of role reversal.
In our modern day living, the distinction between the gender roles began to gradually erode till it began to blend. It started with both husband and wife providing for each other and the children. Each takes a responsibility towards providing for the whole family. It ceased to be the sole responsibility of the husband; the woman also contributed her own quota.
However, the role reversal is still metamorphosing, it did not end with both spouses contributing to the family coffers. Now, we are tilting towards a new era, the era of complete role reversal, minus the child bearing aspect. These days, you might have noticed that it is not unusual to find the man lounging in front of the television morning, afternoon and night while the wife is off to work or business. It is now trending and this trend is in fact becoming the order of the day. Everywhere you turn, you find that wife struggling, not just as a home keeper but also as the primary or even the sole bread winner.
We are moving full cycle. Maybe in time the cycle will be complete when the husband will even take on the duties of child bearing, child rearing and home keeping. For now, the men are content to relinquish the sole provider role, to have the wife hustle for money, in addition to her other roles.
There is a local politician who loved to be addressed as a party chieftain. He will lounge in the sitting room all day long except when he wants to visit his barber, which is every three days or days that he has political meetings. The wife, who is my priest’s sister, sells roasted yam and plantain with cooked beans in the market. She is the sole bread winner; she pays the rent and other bills, she is training their children in school with one successfully graduated and working. Early in the morning before she leaves for the market, she makes sure there is enough food in the house for the husband and the children. Then the husband will demand for money to credit his phone so he can call his fellow politicians, demand money to go to the barber’s, or fare to one political program or the other. He contributes zilch to the wellbeing of the family, rather he burdens the wife so much so that he even borrows money that he knows he cannot pay trusting the wife to bail him out when his creditors come calling. Is that one role reversal?
Do you know any family with such an unbalanced ‘role reversal’? I bet you do for it is fast becoming the norm. Maybe there are some husband and wives that prefer living this way, maybe it works for them, who knows?
In my opinion however, if we want gender role reversal, then it should not be partial. If the man wants to be the Obiageli of the house, then he should carry out every duty of the wife. He should cook, scrub, wash, feed, work and maybe try child bearing too then of course give her good sex whenever the mood strikes her. Then the wife as the sole or primary bread winner must see to the general upkeep of the entire family.
Why is this scenario increasingly playing out in Nigerian families? Do you know? Do you understand why some men are becoming feeble and lazy? Did the women do wrong to want to assist their men? I’d like to know what you think because I do not understand it.