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.
He married her, paid her bride price, probably with his own money or not. That makes her his personal property, that gives him all the right, to use her as he pleases, whenever he pleases.
Believe it or not, that is the mindset of some Nigerian male folk, even in this present day and age. It is a very simple logic that requires no argument. I have come across many of them with that point of view. He went to the human market, searched for this particular woman who interested him on some level, then he ‘purchased’ her with a bride price and legalised it with the wedding ceremonies. Then from the market he brought the ‘lucky’ woman to his home. He considers her lucky because there are too many women looking for a man to save them. I am sure you know what happens when supply exceeds demand. He saved her from that horrible situation.
In his home, a little above a purchased slave, she is to provide all his needs whenever they come up and this includes giving her body to him whenever the urge to plough her arises in him. She CANNOT say no, she dare not deny him of his conjugal rights, even when she is not able to perform that duty. If she is stupid or stubborn enough to refuse her dear husband, then she must be forced to submit to her husband’s needs. Why else did he marry her if not to satisfy his needs at all times?
The Nigerian constitution, unlike that of most developed nations, does not regard marital rape as an offence on its own. Section 357 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, CAP 77, LFN 1990 definition of rape:
“Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of false threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false or fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or in case of a married woman, by personating her husband is guilty of an offence called rape”.
The Nigerian Penal Code defines rapes thus:
“A man can be held guilty of rape if he has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent, or with her consent, if consent was unlawfully obtained”.
The criminal code further describes ‘unlawful carnal knowledge’ as
“carnal connection which takes place otherwise than between husband and wife.”
This lends a different twist to the whole definition. It gives the husband the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife, with or without her consent. The Penal Code on the it’s part further states that
Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape, if she has attained to puberty.
In essence, both Laws inadvertently give the husband the right to rape or love his wife as he pleases so far as he is recognised as the husband.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) however describes rape as
“Physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration – even if slight – of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object.”
Due to the fact that the Nigerian Law does not yet recognise marital rape nor consider it a crime, most people, male and female alike, see nothing wrong in the act.
My submission is that RAPE IS RAPE irrespective of who is involved or how it is carried out so far as there is a form of coercion.
Sometimes the woman will not be in the mood, sometimes, she is too tired or ill. I believe that instead of forcibly taking what you consider yours, a little love and care might soften her up. A little understanding and patience would not be such a terrible idea.
It is also possible that the sexual life of the couple is not healthy. These are things that communication can address easily rather than forcibly claiming ownership. In my book, raping your spouse is not just sheer evil, it is cowardice. It can erode trust and love faster than infidelity, if you ask me. I doubt if there can be much pleasure in forcing your wife into sex.
It would do us a world of good if theNigerian Law will criminalise marital rape.
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
The black gold, alias crude oil, the savior of the Nigerian economy has over the years, enriched the multinational oil companies and the government while further impoverishing the land owners. Oil is being drilled in large quantities from the region, money is made in quantum from the petroleum products, companies and government smile to the banks, the host communities get poorer even as their environment is polluted and degraded.
A trip round the Niger Delta region which is the oil producing area in Nigeria shows a part of the country richest in natural resources yet poorest in every other way. The marginalization is so acute that one is shocked into anger and disappointment. The confounding thing is that these multinational companies are rich enough to improve the lives of their hosts effortlessly, considering the amount of profit they make from the oil in the land. So why is it such an uphill task to give these people jobs, healthier environment, potable water, electricity, good roads, hospitals and other forms of amenities and compensation for their land being degraded?
Writing from my first experience in the region as a Youth corps member in 2009 in Bayelsa state, to my recent 2016 experience in Ogboinbiri community of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of same Bayelsa state, it was shocking to note that the situation, rather than improve seems to have worsened in this seven year interval.
Oil exploration has been going on in Ogboinbiri since 1986 with Agip being the dominant oil company operating in the community.
Taking a trip through this community, there are many striking factors that left me wondering what is wrong with the whole system. The poverty level is appalling to say the least. Farming and fishing used to be the major source of livelihood for these indigenes. But with the advent of oil exploration came the problem of pollution and degradation of the rivers and farmlands. They are forced to seek alternative means of survival. The aquatic life is non-existent, the soil infertility is at stake as a result of the oil spillages, gas flaring and other forms of pollution.
In the face of this prevailing situation, the oil companies hardly employ members of the host community. My chat with the Chairman of the Ogboinbiri Community Development Committee (CDC), Mr. Eseimokumo Ben-Okosughe, revealed that Nigerian Agip Oil Company has only three permanent staff of Ogboinbiri origin in their employ. While they have less than ten working as contract staff in Agip. They (Agip) recently agreed to employ four more contract staff from the community. These four have undergone the necessary tests and have been offered the employment. Yet, even as I write this, they are yet to resume duties at the Company, with the Company giving one excuse after another. The companies initially based their not employing natives on illiteracy, so the youths started going to school and began acquiring certificates. But are they getting the promised jobs? NO! Again, this baffles me. Could it be that none of these graduates are eligible? None is intelligent enough?
This takes us to the issue of education. Ogboinbiri community has one secondary school built years ago by Agip which is now dilapidated and no longer fit to function as a 21st Century secondary school. It has no library or laboratory whatsoever. How can it boast of those when it has no doors and windows? On the other hand, the scholarship scheme from Agip this year took care of twenty one secondary school students for the year, the highest figure so far as against the usual four or five students per anum.
In the whole of Ogboinbiri community, there is only one dilapidated and abandoned health center.
Since the inception of this present regime of the Community Development Committee, according to the Chairman, the Committee has been soliciting with the Nigerian Agip Oil Company to rehabilitate this health center. This effort is yet to bear any tangible fruit, it has been promises and promises and promises. After several futile attempts at getting the Company to renovate the health center, the Community resorted to locking up the Agip wellhead, but so far, the renovation of the health facility remains a mirage. I was informed that it is the traditional birth attendants that deliver babies and carry out other health related duties in the community when there is an a;ready existing health center waiting just to be renovated and refurbished.
In the case of a health emergency, the only option is to get to the state capital which takes about two hours using a speed boat. And I began to wonder if these people are living in the Stone Age or the jet age. I shudder to imagine what the pregnant women pass through during delivery.
The impacts of oil exploration on the environment seem to be the most disturbing problem facing the Niger Delta region. I remember the first time I came in contact with water body polluted by oil spill in 2009. It was at our NYSC orientation camp in Kaiama. We were shocked to discover films of oil atop the water we fetched in the buckets and upon enquiry; we were informed that the water was polluted by oil spill. The rivers in the Niger Delta are polluted by oil spills, and these rivers serve as the main source of water for the communities. They drink, cook, wash and bathe from same river which often times double as incinerators and toilets. These oil spills occur as often as four to five times yearly. The last one that occurred in Ogboinbiri in June 2016 is yet to be cleaned up by the oil company. The result is that flood washes the spills via the creeks and canals into the same river that the people consume.
The picture below depicts the typical Ogboinbiri community during rainy season. The inhabitants and visitors alike must paddle canoes to get from the road to their destinations, sometimes using makeshift wooden bridges to get inside their homes.
The floods are this bad due to the activities of the oil companies.
The gas flare, despite all the hullabaloo against it still goes on, in fact in Ogboinbiri, it occurs just across the community, about 120 meters away from the people.
As a result of the gas flaring, there is the problem of acidic rains, death, diseases and many other hazards. Recently, there have been increased cases of cancer, constant respiratory problems, high fever, convulsion, anemia (especially among children of 1-10 years), and etcetera. Yet the government and the multinational companies do not yet see the need to act. What will be the fate of these communities in the next ten to twenty years if nothing is done to salvage the environment?
There was an MOU signed by both the Community and the oil Company but it expired in 2012 and since then, according to Mr.Ben-Okosughe, there has been no new one. All efforts to get the Company to sign new one has been abortive. Thus, there has been no new project undertaken by Agip in Ogboinbiri since 2012. Yet oil exploration has been going. Too many promises and pledges all still in the pipeline, I just hope they will not all be pipe dreams.
I further questioned the C.D.C Chairman on the efforts of the Government to alleviate the Community’s suffering or to get the oil companies to do their own bit of Corporate Social Responsibility to the community. I was informed that the Government is well aware of their plight but chose to ignore it. The recent peace talk between the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Leaders would be a welcome development if only it would be backed by positive actions.
There has been too many avoidable agitations and crisis in the Niger Delta region for as long as we can remember. I have no doubt in my mind that this scenario will continue to play out unless the multinational oil companies and the Government do what is right by these people. It feels like robbing Peter to pay Paul if you ask me and no Peter will be happy to be marginalized so. The oil revenue accruing from the abundant natural resources in this region is being used to enrich and develop other regions and peoples. It feels just very unfair and inhuman. I mean, how difficult can it be to just give these oil producing communities basic amenities, employment, safer environment and better opportunities in compensation for lifting their oil and destroying their ecosystem? I AM BAFFLED!