Nigeria is still very much a conservative country in which marriage is seen as the completion of a man or a woman.
You may earn all the degrees in the world and grab all the money to boot, but once you are not married you are seen as being hollow.
It is even worse for the woman because the society somewhat compels her to be more of a sitting duck without the rights to propel her own life.
She has to wait for a man to propose to her; and if she deigns to do the chasing on her own she becomes an object of caricature.
Given the menace of the ever-ticking biological clock the single Nigerian woman lives on edge every day.
It is akin to suicide going past her sell-by date.
This untidy state of affairs recalls some words from Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah:
“Better to marry a rascal than grow a moustache in your father’s compound; better an unhappy marriage than an unhappy spinsterhood; better marry Mr. Wrong in this world than wait for Mr. Right in heaven; all marriage is how-for-do; all men are the same…”
There is this insightful little book, Tales of the Single Woman by Chioma Obiefuna, which bears the insightful subtitle “A humorous encounter with The Single Nigerian Woman”.
The encounters in the book happen to be many as the author uses real life tales – with fictionalised names of course – to depict the multiform experiences of the female singles in the midst.
The interesting aspect of the matter is that our author is by no way single, being married to the eminent structural engineer, Ralph Chudi Obiefuna, who is acknowledged in the book as “a very strong neutral – who contributed ideas to this project.”
It takes courage for a securely married woman to do work on single women in lieu of the fact that she may be seen as gloating.
The author adroitly uses the stories of the single women to paint a contemporary picture of the sundry stereotypes and ill-assorted perceptions towards the mature single women in the conservative society such as Nigeria is.
All she demands of her readers is the requisite open-mindedness to deal with the salient issues.
She starts out with the Biblical creation of Adam and the concomitant need to create a helpmate in Eve.
She ups the ante to contemporary times when in the film Shall We Dance the Susan Sarandon character says: “We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet, what does anyone life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything…”
From her findings through interactions with the mature singles, it’s obvious that there are few eligible bachelors available due to the decrease of economic power of the male population.
She supplies the interesting fact that only in five Nigerian states, namely, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ogun and Plateau, are there more females than males!
Her remarkable case studies includes Sandra’s story in which the gold-digging Obinna eventually dumps Sandra even after introducing her to his parents as his wife-to-be.
In the case of Nene, she ceded her position to her friend Eky as she was not satisfied with the sexual prowess of Mike who had a very small member.
Bene’s fate was that of forever hearing from her mother: “Go and marry!”
Etta’s woe is that her socialite mother wants her to marry so that she can don aso-ebi with her million friends.
There is the unrelieved comfort of fellow singles that see in others that they are not alone in the wahala.
The matter gets more complicated with married peers who view the mature singles with “mixed feelings of pity, relief and sometimes envy.”
The author who now lives with her husband and children in Canada depicts some characters as “Concerned Citizens” who are unsolicited matchmakers forever on the lookout for potential husbands for the mature single ladies.
A breed of men that the single ladies can do without gets labelled as “Lazies”, who must do no work but eat off the hands of successful women.
She delineates the types of single ladies thusly: “Sad Single (SS)”, “Nonchalance Feigners (NF)”, and “High Headed Singles HHS”.
She makes a case for living life as a new single by adopting principles such as self-acceptance, cultivating healthy personal relationships, building spiritual relationships, striking a good balance in work and career, being open-minded, and enjoying a good laugh.
She cheekily suggests a sexual revolution amongst married women such that they would conspire to give birth to more boys which would eventually lead to so many men competing for too few women!
Well, maybe Yul Edochie should come to the rescue by marrying off all the single ladies via polygamy!
- Uzor Maxim Uzoatu is a renowned poet, journalist and author