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.
Society thinks she has to endure, even unto death.
I did not want to start this year whinning about Violence Against Women (VAW) but I’m so annoyed right now.
Between yesterday and today, I’ve read two stories from wives who were almost battered to death by their husbands respectively. My heart bleeds. My heart bleeds that a human being would want to hurt another who is obviously not as strong as he is and for what reason?
Both women have been enduring these violence for many years, both have kids with these so called husbands. Which is probably why they stayed on, hoping that they would change, but instead they get worse. Worse to the point that one locked his wife up in a room for two days after beating her to stupor, so that she cannot get outside help. He confiscated her phone too. I’m so spitting mad, Kai!
Now, when both issues came up for discussion, women, WOMEN for goodness sakes, were encouraging these ladies to pray and endure! Duhh. One suggested we hear from both sides before we can judge. What is there to judge abeg? Who is even talking of judging right now? What could a man who intentionally set out to murder his wife tell us? He did not stop at hitting her with matchetes and sticks but had to isolate her to await her death. What could possibly justify that behaviour?
These women have been married for like ten years each, four and three kids respectively. The battering did not start last week or last month. It has been going on for as long as they were in that marriage. Why stay? For the sake of your kids? For fear that society will see you as a failure or a wayward woman? Or because you have no family to run to? One of these ladies said that the first time she ran to her father’s house with her kids, that her dad sent her back on the grounds that he has received bride price and drank wine on her head. Therefore he cannot harbour them. What is that?
Maybe I’m feeling this way because I am single. Maybe I have no right to advice anyone on this issue, but I’m gonna say my mind anyway.
- PLEASE ladies, this is your life, it has no duplicate and you have the power, in fact, you are mandated by God to protect it. I do not think God will shake your hands if you die at the hands of a husband. Protect your life!
- Seek outside help from reputable Non Governmental Organisations, from the judiciary and from the law enforcement agencies if you are a victim, before it is too late .
- It is best to get yourself empowered no matter how little so that if push gets to shove, you can pick up your life and sojourn on your own.
- There is no worthwhile reason to stay on in an abusive relationship because if you die, people will find some other topic to gossip about. They will pity you at death and what use is that? Besides, if you die or become vegetable, what do you think will happen to your children?
- As for those on lookers that believe the victims should stay on in the marriage just because it is supposed to be for better for worse contract, I salute una! While you encourage her to endure and pray, be a little more realistic. That man is not going to change. He will make promises, he will beg and plead, he is still same inside.
Sisters please take control of your lives and your children. If we do not take care of ourselves, who will? NOBODY!
STAND UP AGAINST
For more on one of the cases, visit
She hurt me real bad, in a way I did not think a friend would, but I guess she was not really a friend, more like an enemy. I cannot even bring myself to share it here because it hurts still (maybe someday I’d be able to do that). It has been months, but it feels like only yesterday. I think it hurts more because I still do not understand why I deserved such treatment or because it came like a bolt out of the blue.
I have come to realize that I need to forgive her if I want to be totally happy and unencumbered but I do not know HOW. I have tried, honestly, I have. At a point, I began to think that I have succeeded in the forgiveness process. However, when an issue close to that was being discussed elsewhere, I found my heart sinking into bitter, dark waters, a place I no longer wanted to go, I became angry and that was when I realized that I was yet to win this war.
Forgiving her is not her right, ordinarily, she does not deserve forgiveness of any kind, but I need it. I need to have that inner peace and joy, I need to be able to scroll on when I see her name on my phonebook without my heart feeling like it is being squeezed, I want to be able to smile whenever I see her post or name on facebook instead of that huge urge to unfriend her, I need to be able to wish her well sincerely whenever I think of her and imagine what she is doing. But I cannot do any of these sincerely, I try but my heart just refuses to let me. I found out that it was easier for me to pray that she rot in hell, that she meets some kind of misfortune, that someone pays her back in her own coin, but that is definitely not what I want, it is not the kind of person I want to be.
So, please, someone tell me how to forgive this pain and hurt completely. I am sure there is someone out there who can point me in the right direction on how to overcome this. I do not want to be bitter and vindictive, it is not my nature and it is depressing. I am good at forgiving and sometimes, even forgetting, but not this time. What is the practical way out? How do I free myself of this entanglement? If you know it, then please show me the way.
The first abnormality we noticed on her face as she walked towards us was the swollen right eye, but when she made to sit down, my friend and I could not help but notice the painful way she sat down even though she tried to hide it. So Clara my garrulous friend asked suspiciously,
“Babe, what happened to you, did you fight?” Chy looked from Clara to me as we both stared at her. Feigning innocence, she asked,
“What do you mean? Me ke, get involved in a fight?”
“So what’s with the swollen eye?” I asked in confusion.
“Oh, this?” Chy asked, gingerly touching the swelling. “Was it not this power holding people, they took the light and as I wanted to go get the torchlight, I bumped into the door frame.”
A couple of weeks after that, Chy visited Clara and I in the apartment we shared. This time, the bruises were more pronounced, her story was that she lost her footing while climbing down the stair case and fell down.
“I hope that guy you started seeing that you do not want to introduce to us is not hitting you Chy?” Clara probed.
Of course she denied it, but this time, we knew better than to believe the cock and bull story. However, matters came to a head when one weekend, about a month later, Chy rushed into our apartment with an overnight bag. She looked like she was run over by a truck. It was then that she narrated her story to us. She started dating this guy who seemed matured and responsible, different from the usual students her friends dated. They fell in love with each other and before you can say ‘jack Robinson’, she had moved out of the hostel and moved in with him.
Within months however, the guy became too jealous and over protective, monitoring her every move. Any form of communication with another male results in abuse. He started with verbal and financial abuse till he graduated to sexual and physical abuse.
This guy somehow traced Chy to our house, threatening all of us if we do not let her come back to him. It took the intervention of neighbours to get him to leave. The baffling part is that a few days after this incident, we came back from lectures and Chy was nowhere to be found. Fearing that the guy might have done something bad to her after calling her on the phone several times without any response, we began to run helter-skelter. We didn’t even know the guy’s house. It was later in the night when we had tried all avenues to no avail that she answered her call, informing us that she had gone back to the guy’s house, she had been missing him, blah, blah, blah.
Clare warned her not to come near our house again if he should beat her up again, but she did come few weeks later, more battered and broken than the previous occasions. We mended her as much as we could and the guy came again but this time, we were ready for him. We had informed his course mates and they dealt with him but he continued stalking and harassing her to the point that we had to get Chy’s Dad and the school authorities involved.
My question now is: Why did she keep going back to him despite the threats to her life and everything? Is it really love? The battered woman syndrome? Fear? Or just for peace to reign?
Another friend of mine told me that she has become so used to dating guys that abuse her to the point that if one did not abuse her, it seemed to her that they were not man enough and I was like really?
Is it possible that some women are wired to like abusive men and abusive relationships? I know scientists and psychologists say it is fear and battered woman syndrome, but to wish it upon oneself? Going through it over and over again, condoning it? Makes little sense to me.
Besides, why would a guy abuse someone he claims to love to the point of beating her up?
Maybe it is another shade of love…?