I was a class 4 pupil in secondary school when I first read Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God. I can’t remember ever reading the book again but the almost three decades in-between have not erased my memories of the book (I can still recite the last two paragraphs of the last page).
One of such was the spectacular sight of Nwaka’s (the richest man in the community) wives coming out during a festival adorned with expensive wrappers and layers of ivory anklets, a testimony to their husband’s wealth. Theirs was a proud husband whose wealth was assessed by his wives’ expensive attire and looks.
These days, even with a lamp under Abuja’s scorching sun, I look for those men and, alas, their number is not enough to count off my ten fingers.
Rather, I see men who are happy and proud to prey on women.
I see men with a skewed sense of entitlement.
I see men who are willing to look on while their wives toil and toil and toil.
I see men who seem to be pathologically allergic to the concept of responsibility.
Yes, I also see men who pimp their wives for contracts, appointments and employment. For as long as they are able to have their way, they are happy with her. But once she awakens, as though from a drug-induced slumber, and demands some sort of consideration and balance, all hell is let loose.
She is shamed with everything, real or imagined, including the sight of her cellulite.
There has to be something terribly and fundamentally wrong with the way our boys are indulged in the name of nurturing, to breed the level of unreliability they display, especially in marriage. We send them to the best schools in the world but forget to school them in life’s realities.
We say they are boys and, therefore, let them spend their formative years in front of gadgets and other expensive toys, while we insist the girls are adequately prepared for the life beyond the nest.
They graduate with the best grades from Ivy League schools but with a blank scorecard on life’s survival kit components. Often, we hand over to them empires won on sweat and toil and, sometimes, watch helplessly as they mindlessly destroy every building block.
Are we still surprised about a recent report by Williams Group wealth consultancy in www.time.com/money that ‘70 per cent of wealthy families lose their wealth by the second generation, and a stunning 90 per cent by the third?’ After all, more often than not, the family wealth is usually passed on to the oldest male child in the family.
Sometime ago I went to pick my son from school for a mid-term break. Right there in the courtyard leading to the hostel, there were heaps of dirty clothes, and even books with many parents bent over and rummaging through, like scavengers.
Apparently most of the boys, including my son, were not interested in washing and generally keeping their stuffs well. The heap was what the school staff had picked up around the school, waiting for the parents to sort them out.
As we, mostly mothers, started the drill, we were quick to condone it as “a boys thing.”
Yet, it struck me was that there were no girls among the lot. I asked the hostel administrator and he confirmed what I already guessed: the girls had no reason to be there because they had kept their personal items well. This they did without comprising their grades.
Isn’t it time we looked again at our boys’ rearing skills? Unfortunately, the offspring of our collective negligence in this regard usually comes back to exact its bitter revenge on us all.
From where I am, the matter can’t be any clearer. When we gleefully unleash these boys-men hybrid on some hapless young women, what breed do we think are coming for our precious daughters?
Certainly they won’t be visitors from Mars.
As for the young women, I suggest that mothers should just let them be.
We all know that there is hardly any of these ‘had I known’ marital stories not usually accompanied with the woman confessing that she had known that the marriage would surely be a turbulent sail but because of the pressure, she would still go ahead, hoping against hope for a different outcome.
Today, many of our young women knowingly go into toxic relationships because they can no longer bear Mama’s endless chant of ‘when-are-you-bringing-a-husband-home’.
It is simple: if your daughter says she is not ready to get married, please just let her be.
If she says she hasn’t found the right man yet, be selfless enough to press the pause button on those fantasies of asoebi and bride’s mother dance steps you have practising in front of your mirror. Believe me, these may still happen on her terms.
But if you love grandchildren that much, your daughter can still adopt and the last time someone checked for me, artificial insemination still works.