Broadly, there are three types of Nigerian men- the Traditionalist, The Modern Man and the Wildcard. If you want to know what a Nigerian man wants, romantically that is, the first step is knowing who he is.
Category A- The Traditionalist
This old-school dude is all about retaining the traditional Man on Top/Woman on Bottom power structure- and I think it is fair to say that he is the typical Nigerian man. Generally, he’ll go for a lady who can be described as a hybrid of sorts. She’s confident yet submissive without much of a ‘talk-back’ attitude. She’s articulate yet soft-spoken. She’s educated, yet she doesn’t mind being a career housewife. She’s great at handling domestic finances but she’s not particularly ambitious. She speaks his native language but speaks to him in English. Most remarkably, she’s devoted to one religious sect or another but will, quite literally, bend over to please her boyfriend/partner.
This perfect lady – let’s call her “Oga’s Madam” – strangely exists in abundance in Nigeria and so men are often spoilt for choice. (Or at least they think they are. In my opinion, Oga’s Madam doesn’t exist. Oga’s Madam will inevitably ‘turn into something else’ pretty soon after the wedding, tumbling off her unrealistic pedestal and exposing her humanity.)
I worked with a Mr Abuja few years ago, who fits this definition of a typical Nigerian man perfectly. Mr Abuja had been married for about five years and had two children with his wife. He kept complaining to everyone who would listen that his wife had refused to quit her job to look after his children- an Oga’s Madam who was testing the limits of her submissiveness. Eventually Mr Abuja got his wife to quit her job and Mrs Abuja became a stay-at-home mother then had another child. A year later, Mr Abuja said he was “sending” his wife to do an MBA in the UK.
(Mia: Christ. “Sending?” Like she’s a parcel or…or…a postcard!!)
I assumed someone would ask how an MBA would help anyone become a better housewife. No one did, of course, because everyone knew that was not the point. Sure enough, Mrs Abuja got her MBA and came back to housewifery. She’s the quintessential Oga’s Madam, clearly intelligent but most certainly not an equal in her marriage.
Most Nigerian marriages look like this, A Traditionalist and an Oga’s Madam. But if I stopped here, I’d be painting a lopsided picture….which brings us to
Category B: The Modern Man
Today there is an emerging middle class across the entire continent, a new generation of men who understand that a woman has just as much potential and earning power as themselves. They see marriage as a not just a union, but also a partnership. They are bent on not marrying a ‘liability’. She must bring something to the table, something beyond her looks and/or domestic skills. She must be aware of her surroundings beyond her tv and be able to hold intelligent conversation without being boring. She must be willing to work and/or be prepared to support her husband’s ambitions.
(Mia: Yay for the Modern Man!)
However, she can’t be too perfect or too intimidating because that’ll scare this man away. However, even though they’ve compromised their more traditional leanings in several areas, these men ultimately still want a woman who’s conservative. A woman who doesn’t have a long string of exes. A woman who their mothers will approve of. A woman with a day job, of course, but one that doesn’t impede her ability to keep a house in order.
(Mia: Wait, what? This so-called Modern fellow is sounding scarily like Mr Moronpants Caveman above….)
If you’re female and reading this blog then most Nigerian men you meet probably fall in this second category. No shockers there, then. The real question is whether the attitude of these Category B men will change as they get older. Will they revert to more traditional, Category A, beliefs and change the partnership into a dictatorship? Will they eventually sideline their wives and make unilateral decisions because they’re the “head of the family”, the “man of the house”?
The bad news is, I think such a reversion is probably highly likely.
(Mia: I KNEW IT! Scammed.)
Here’s why- we can’t help but be influenced by our society which in Nigeria, is almost exclusively patriarchal. I would even argue that a lot of our parents were in Category B marriages at the beginning, but have slowly shifted to the more traditional Category A relationships over time.
Category C: The Wildcard
There is then the rare and bizarre kind of Nigerian man. I only mention him for completeness; I’m not really sure where in Nigeria one would find him. Anyway, here is how you’ll recognize him. He has warned his mother to brace herself for whoever he brings home. He does as he pleases. He doesn’t care too much who approves of his wife and who doesn’t – as long as he’s happy. He’s somewhat selfish in that respect but then he takes full responsibility for his choices. He thinks independently and objectively, which means that he’s educated – but not overly – and unprejudiced. He hardly ever follows popular trends. He’s probably not on facebook
I should probably point out the fact that when I say Nigerian men here, I’m referring to Nigerian males who are prepared to settle down or have at least given it some thought. Without this definition, the Nigerian male, like any other male, quite bluntly, simply wants sex from whoever is putting out.
(Mia: Hahahaha. It’s funny cuz it’s true.)
So what a Nigerian man wants depends on which of these three wide buckets the man in question falls into. One thing that I consider to be universally true though is that however rightist or leftist Nigerian men are to start with, they all migrate to the center as they get older in Nigeria. Unless Nigerian society changes and starts to tolerate more sexual equality and liberty, all modern Nigerian men are likely to end up wanting a relatively traditional woman- a slightly updated version of an Oga’s madam- and in this, they are just like their fathers.
This was written by J, a dear friend of mine and a Nigerian man/citizen of the world. He’s probably a Wildcard- he’s certainly not on Facebook.
I’ve got to admit that I found this all rather intriguing so you have my permission to go crazy in the comments section folks– Girls, assuming you want a Nigerian man, which category of Nigerian man would you like? Guys, assuming you’re a Nigerian man, what category of Nigerian man are you? All, do you agree/disagree with J categorisations?
Don’t forget: if you’d like something you’ve written to be considered for a Special Feature, please email it to me at miafarraday at gmail dot com.
Love you all booskis. xx