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THE PERKS OF BEING A NIGERIAN (Episode 4)

THE PERKS OF BEING A NIGERIAN (Episode 4)

I sat down at Iya Kanyi’s bar with the rest of the boys as we usually did on most Saturday evenings. Our object of discussion however was not the regular weekend Premier league games. It was something more disturbing – a Nineteen-year-old boy had attempted to use his girlfriend for a money ritual. According to him, he had resorted to the act after being met with misfortune from internet fraud and life had become unbearable for him.

Being the only son and first child of four children, his poor widowed mother must have endlessly reminded him that as the man of the house, the family is looking up to him for salvation. His friends must have reminded him of the need to hit it big as he has a lot of responsibilities. Maybe his siblings would have indulged him by excusing him from chores.

The quest for money by young male adults in recent months has left the media in disarray and the country in so much distrust and insecurity. Young male adults have shifted from fraud and theft to blood money. What is even more worrisome is that it isn’t a secret. Most male youths are so eager to chill with the big boys at a tender age that they now do literally anything for fast wealth.

With my drink in hand, I soon delved into a cesspool of what-ifs as my mind rummaged through endless scenarios of possible ways we could have raised our sons differently. You wonder who it was that raised these lots or if they were ever instilled with morals while growing up. You wonder what went wrong. Society has over time found a way to shoulder men with a false responsibility that Masculinity is tied to a Man’s ability to be as strong as steel at all times and that any form of softness is counted as weakness. We are expected to know, to have the solutions, to dole out instructions, and never show emotions unless it’s anger and brute force. Never accept defeat even when it is brave to do so and never be wrong, at all times! One of the core acts of being a man is to never be seen as needy – basically in need of help, especially when it’s from a lady, worse is when it’s from his lady. This is seen as soft and being soft for men is weakness!

What if we raised our sons to understand that it is okay to not know all the answers, to not be as strong as steel on all days. That being soft is a necessary quality of being human. That society would love and respect them even on days when they fall short of certain expectations and do not have all the answers to life’s unending questions. That in fact, we don’t expect them to have all the answers at once. Maybe our girls would be safer, maybe the crime rate would decrease, and maybe if we raised our sons to be humans and not an unattainable Superman the world would be a better place.

I sipped my drink and chuckled as I resonated with Buju’s line of ama śhàná e go bright o. Maybe the green bottle was really brightening my thoughts or maybe the reality that youths no longer want to śhàná first, they just want it to be bright. This soon turned to sadness when I looked at my friends and for the first time in a long while it hit me that while growing up many of us didn’t have our fathers around to teach us how to be a man. Our mothers did their best but the pressure from either society or its hardships reminded us to be Men even as boys. We were expected to always figure it out by ourselves. 

What if we didn’t raise our sons like this? What if we didn’t focus only on our girls when it came to moral expectations? because upholding moral principles is expected of all genders. Heaven would fall if ever my mom sees my older sister put a drop of alcohol in her mouth, but I’m being told in the most casual way not to get drunk. What if we raised our sons to respect women more and understand that it is sexual assault and harassment to keep applying pressure in wooing a lady after she has turned you down? That cat-calling a lady is a horrible thing to do? And teach our sons to keep their emotions in check and not touch a lady’s body without her permission? That you can’t touch a lady because she was tempting enough or as a means to punish her for lewdness. That there is nothing unmanly when a lady turns down your offer to be in a romantic relationship with you. That they should never feel threatened by the success of a woman or any person because the sky is wide enough for all the birds.

What if we raised our sons with a humane outlook on life? That the end does not justify the means because there is still dignity in labour. We should teach them to understand that masculinity is not tied to their ability to possess material wealth and that there is more to being a man than his social status or how adventurous his sexual prowess is. What if we raised our sons to understand the need to be better at doing chores and know how to cater to themselves domestically? because it actually is a survival skill needed in every human’s life.

My myriad of What Ifs thoughts were disrupted by Shalewa, the girl that sold drinks when she accused one of the customers that he wasn’t man enough because he would not give her an urgent 2k to make her hair. We all laughed over it and while at that, Jide hinted that he needed to take some herbs just so he’ll prove to Jessica tonight that he’s man enough for her.

I shook my head as a mix of emotions hovered over it. Are we ever going to raise our boys to see themselves beyond their financial worthiness and their sexual prowess? Are we ever going to raise our sons or the boy child would figure things out as always?

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9 Responses

  1. Sadly, our generation are nonchalant towards these things. They have become so familiar with these wrongs and tend not to say anything about them. Some are normalizing these wrongs.

    I weep for our children, we might fail them with good parenting.

  2. Literally I’ll read this article a little over a million times a day. I feel the youth needs to read this and maybe we can create a better society for us all.

  3. In as much as the society comprises of people from different race, culture, background. I still feel this change is possible. How? It’s been said charity begins at home. Society is made up of families. The question is are we ready to make this change? It will take a while, longer than we expected but trust me it would be worth it. Generations to come will be grateful that we did, they will sing our praises even in the graves. We will forever be remembered just like Mary Slessor and others. Who took bold steps and fought the fine fight to freedom.

  4. This is exactly what the African youths especially the males need to hear and read, also the females should know that a man’s financial status does not define him. And they shouldn’t look up to young boys who have no job to provide what their own fathers cannot. Keep it up.

  5. This is well articulated.. What If our men were raised as boys into manhood and the other way???

    Thank you

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