Good week tout le monde (everyone) and hoping it was a worthy one seeing as it was my birthday week – I’m blessed you know. ;) Mine was low keyed, right down to the celebration day itself. I went to hang out with my friends who insisted I had to buy the round of drinks. They guzzled, especially JB the slippery one, and I couldn’t because unlike them I had an hour’s drive back home. Idiots! I’m going to get them next time! I got so many birthday wishes last week it was unbelievable – thank you all. There was one in particular that caught me, from a friend (I’d like to thank), that got me thinking.
Her birthday was in the same week as mine and like most birthdays, came with the attendant reflective mood. A well meaning male friend of hers had advised her, she’s in her thirties, to get hitched up as soon as possible before time passed her by. According to him, women outnumbered men by a far margin and therefore were the more aggressive in their pursuit of a partner. According to him, she said, the days when women turned their noses up at prospective suitors were faded from recent memory. Then he stated,” personally I wouldn’t get serious with anyone without ‘test driving’ her first.” She then asked me if the same was the case for most successful men; university education, well paid jobs and businesses. At this point I blushed and sheepishly trailed a pattern in the sand with my foot as I… anyway I digress. I sort of found it very amusing that this school of thought, myopic as it is, should gain such a foothold in the psyche of a good portion of our society; male and female. While it is a fact that women are definitely under more pressure to get hitched up than men owing to more pressure from family, their biological make up, society at large and their own natural need for intimacy and companionship, I think it is much more important to keep things in perspective.
Yes, as a man, I tend to feel 'elated' that I have the luxury of 'picking' and 'choosing'. But when I look closely at the matter I find that this is a mere mirage. It's okay if one just wants fleeting associations with a view to just having sexual relations with the opposite sex but then how would this affect ones decision in ultimately finding a real spousal partner? I learnt earlier on in life that chasing after women, womanizing that is, is like chasing after the wind – one ultimately ends up with nothing. It's easy for me to get distracted by the different attributes in the women I play about with and this may stop me from finding my bone of my bone. What I'm saying is that it is boys who brag about such things because what they should ask themselves is; ultimately, “What kind of woman am i bringing to my home should I want to settle down?” My mother always told me that the day one gets married is the day ones life changes drastically - for the better or for the worse! I've never forgotten that. I look back at two relationships I had in the past and shudder to think of what my life would have turned into had either one resulted in marriage. In one of them I understood how a man would be the last to leave work, head straight for the bar and sneak into bed only to leave for work before dawn of the next day. It was hell on earth. Like my esteemed philosopher and musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, says, “I do not want anything that would ‘bring out the beast’ in me.”
Enter the one God given tool to every human being on earth; the gift of self evaluation, introspection. We base our judgment of self, especially in our beloved Africa, Nigeria in particular, on the way we are viewed by all around us. I guess this attests to the cohesiveness of our community but then again, at what point does the individual have the opportunity to show forth his/her uniqueness to help move civilization forward? I cannot emphasize enough the importance of knowing ones self, what one likes and what one dislikes. Last week I wove a thread of seriousness through a fun poking fabric inviting us know ourselves better. This week I’m elaborating on it. One of the wonderful indicators of a need for change is the much feared depression. Its function is phenomenal; it always comes when there’s a need for change in the way we do our things. Things no longer work the way they are supposed to and the discomfort brings with it pain. The pain helps us sit down to assess ourselves and find out what it is we’re doing wrong and as long as we try to ignore it the depression deepens until we decide to make a change. Joy always comes from pain, solitude and courage. The funniest stories are always born of misadventures, misfortune and suffering and yet when told in retrospect bring about the liveliest of mirth so let’s be courageous enough to delve in the recesses of our minds that we fear the most.
Secondly, why is it that we insist on sticking with ‘our own’ even when we are in Diaspora?
We refuse to venture outside our cultural boundaries when we live in a multi cultural society perhaps because we are suspicious of the other person, afraid that they may not understand us or maybe that we might lose our culture to them. I had numerous fights with my father, of blessed memory, because we differed greatly on this issue. He insisted that I marry from my own hometown and my argument was, if that was what he wanted then he should have kept me within the geographical confines of my hometown so that would be the only world I knew. Does common sense not tell us that the fact that we are in a larger field, say a city like Lagos, Abuja or New York not mean that we have a larger playing field to cater for all our needs; material and social? We are willing to ‘go out there’ and work with other communities to earn a living but when it comes to social interaction and friendship we shy away huddle together and probably miss out on great opportunities that could come our way. My brothers and sisters, let us use our tongues to count our teeth and find out what point the rain began pelting us. There are lots of good men and women out there, black, white, Asian, Ijaw, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fon willing to love us for who we are; our culture in tow. Let us not wash our faces with spittle while standing beside a river.
In summary I opine that self evaluation is one of the greatest luxuries we have. Like Thoreau said, “To thyself be true”. Singlehood is a reflective period where joy and fulfillment should emanate from so let’s learn from it. I’m tired, I want to go and sleep so have a great week everyone!