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I Need A Divorce

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Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

So it happens that each time I remember I have an invitation from Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi to write an article for Above Whispers I ask myself what do I want to write not because I do not know what to write but I guess I was only being careful not to offend the audience for this blog which is mainly women-while being aware that the blog is not exclusive to women alone. I have been taught to always keep the audience in mind when speaking and writing.

Why was I being careful? I ask. Each time I try to find an answer what I hear is that voice saying what do you know about women? Married for some 7 years now I must agree I am still learning. While I am at liberty to write on any topic of interest on this space I have chosen to launch my ‘’career’’ on Above Whispers with an unofficial announcement that I want a ‘’divorce’’.

Let me explain why I want a divorce, before my ‘’career is killed’’-borrowing the phrase of Nigerian comedians. Yes I have only been married for 7 years but its time I got a divorce. Let me quickly explain before my wife reads this and files a counter motion. Men my age have been fed with so many stereotypes about women by our fathers, uncles, mentors, pastors, imams and older friends such that we have come to believe them as true and are now feeding our sons the same stereotype. I remember an old man telling me that ‘’if a woman does anything the right way it’s a mistake and that no sensible man should celebrate that’’.

Note that many times fathers don’t talk but they use body language like the one our President used at the start of his administration. If and when fathers decide to talk, it is always ‘’revealing’’.  That is when you hear phrases like ‘’you are joking with a woman’’ ‘’do you think it has been easy living with your mother?’’. Now in the spirit of gender equality women also do the same. I remember phrases like ‘’all men are the same’’, ‘’men are wicked’’ and ‘’a man has no heaven’’.

I have always maintained that men in my generation are the ones paying for the sins of our fathers and fore-fathers in the way they treated women. Before you start guessing what my age is I am in my late 30’s going to 40 and I remember that while growing up women cooked good meals for their husbands- whether he left money for food or not, washed his clothes, took care of the house and also performed her wifely duties. We were told the place of a woman is in the kitchen. As men we were only taught how to wash and fix cars, put on the generator and not how to make money and also cook. To worsen the situation when you make a mistake as a boy all you hear is ‘’you are a man, and you will soon marry one day you better go and sit up’’. What it means to be a man you are hardly told!

Fast forward to today things have changed culturally, economically, emotionally and otherwise. You need a combination of ‘’mergers and acquisition’’ to make ends meet and to pick bills. Relegating a woman to the kitchen in our generation is a recipe for economic disaster- well for a man who knows this. Most families today are run by women as their ‘’kitchen experience’’ has helped them to be able to stand up to the task of providing for their families while many men have only succeeded in driving those cars they were taught to wash and fix to different corners of Nigeria hanging out with friends. For many women the narrative has changed from ‘my husband’ to ‘the father of my child’.

An average man is not prepared for the challenges of marriage by their fathers, however our mothers have succeeded in preparing our women either positively or negatively. Hardly is there a mother who hasn’t at one point or the other sat her girl down to talk to her about men. The same is not true of many of our fathers, maybe they are being careful of talking to us about women. Remember I was also being careful writing this article, could it be that something has wired an average man to be this careful when talking about women in a serious manner- what I refer to as talking about women from a state of whispering to ‘’above whispers and loud whispers’’ .

From experience many times mothers are the first to know about their daughters boyfriends, fathers don’t know anything, they don’t even know we are dating as boys or maybe they are in the know but acting in line with the Yoruba adage that says ‘’that issue you have said the father should not hear about, it is the same father that will settle it’’ In most cases, mothers are the first to know our girlfriends too and God help you if your mother does not like the face of your girlfriend- story for the gods!

So why do I need a divorce, could it be that I am not enjoying my marriage or that I now have a new found love? But why don’t I need a divorce? A divorce is what I need if I really want to train a man that values women, understands and respects them for who they are. A divorce is what I need if I really want to let my wife be what she wants to be giving her all the support she needs. A divorce is what I need if I truly want to work with other men in correcting the stereotypes we have been fed (verbally or through body language) about women and men; I truly need a divorce if I want to see my wife as a complement of me and not as a competitor.

I need a divorce from the past, from stereotypes I have been fed by society about women.

I need this divorce to be able to speak and write ‘’Above Whispers’’ on issues relating to gender and gender equality. I need this divorce to in order to make ‘’Loud Whispers’’ in support of women.

Don’t I truly deserve a divorce? I hope I won’t be sleeping on the couch tonight!


Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi is the Executive Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) and for many years been an internationally respected authority on the growth of civil society. He has over 10 years of experience as a senior policy analyst and strategist on addressing diverse development challenges of the African policy landscape.  He serves and has served on the Board of many companies and civil society organisations including Society for Family and Social Protection in Nigeria.


9 Responses

  1. Great and Timely piece! My government needs this Divorce I would say. The earlier the best for everyone of us.

  2. Let every woman in a relationship – mother,wife,girlfriend allow their men see this piece. Let them see it and learn rightly. The Divorce is cogent!

  3. There is need for every boy and even men in this country to see this article so as to change the mentality of the average Nigerian.

  4. the honest truth is, we all need a divorce!!! Either from our personal experiences or what the society has fed us with, we all need a divorce and be remarried to fresh ideas and opinions about men and women in our society.

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