In a recent interview on domestic violence by screen goddess, Joke Silver, she made a very important assertion and I quote ” I think it’s important for people to the know what their thresh hold of pain is, what their thresh hold of acceptability is, I think sometimes in this society we tend to say “Oh, you must stay in the marriage no matter what he does to you”, to the individuals who have stayed in the marriage.
You will hear of some women who have stayed with their husband right throughout the difficulty and when the husband dies, you hear them, they’re so bitter because it seems as if they wasted their life and this is something that the younger generation doesn’t want to go through”.
A tale of three neighbors is the reality young people face in marriages in Nigeria, it tells the true story of three couples, from the eyes of another female, depicting how marriage works for women and men when married from within and across borders.
A few assertions have been added, to basically reflect the life of these everyday people.
Mr. Boss & Mrs. No Voice
She could pass for another version of Bianca Ojukwu, except that her facial features are round, I imagine the trouble Mr. Boss must have passed through to woo-and-wife her, in my mind, it would have taken a lot of enticement, persuasion and or impression plus guts for an average Joe in looks, like Mr. Boss to have enticed such a beauty, but I could be wrong, it may just have been as easy as saying those words, the one that confuses many young women of this generation; ‘I want to marry you’.
She is often seen washing pile of clothes, perhaps she has no washing machine, as this is a regular occurrence. Looking at her as she stood outside the locked door with her young one who couldn’t have been more than 11 months old, sleeping peacefully on her back. She had once again been locked out of her home, the two younger children could be seen talking to her from the kitchen window, saying mummy come inside. Her children have become used to the pattern, it is beginning to register in their young minds that daddy hits mummy and she cries a lot, their innocent sympathy lies with her.
You see, Mrs. No Voice had been receiving some serious slaps and beatings inside, even with a baby strapped to her back, she ran out shouting, neighbors come and help me. Sadly it was impossible for anyone to help; Mrs. No-voice was stuck. Her only means of escape was the burglary door/gate leading out of the five-story building, where she occupied the last floor. The key was inside with Mr. Boss. Her options were limited to two; sit outside in the cold with her baby, or return to the house to receive more beatings. Mr. Boss came out a few hours later ranting some more and giving ultimatums to Mrs. No-voice, come inside or else I will lock this door till tomorrow.
There was no mention of the baby, his child. There was a little exchange of words between Mr. Boss and Mrs. No-voice, they spoke the same language, sometimes their voices were loud, other times it was low, a few words were spoken in English, what stood out were some of the phrases; ‘let me take my children and leave’, ‘You begged me to marry you, look at my life, I had a job’, I am tired of the beatings’. Mr. Boss can be heard saying; ‘I paid your bride price’, and lots of obscenities in his local dialect. It was a very sad night, there was silence all night, sadly, the beatings started again in the morning, neighbors woke up to her screams; neighbors help me!!!
Presumptions about Mr. & Mrs. Boss-No-Voice:
- Mr. Boss is an average income earner
- Mr. Boss seems to be the sole provider
- Mr. Boss often times buys the groceries, food items in the home
- Mr. Boss has several male relatives living with him
- Mrs. No-voice speaks well, chances have she attended a tertiary institution.
- Mr. Boss also speaks well, chances are he also had a tertiary degree.
Mr. Lover-man & Mrs. Overseas
She isn’t an eye stunner, but Mrs. Overseas looks pretty okay, slim, long hair, perhaps a European or an America, it doesn’t really matter, she is an ‘oyinbo’, and she is married to Mr. Lover-man.
They often walk hand in hand with their young one, they take turns carrying the little one, they also sit regularly to take a smoke, perhaps after a long day tending to the baby, and they laughed, chatted, and ate-out without a single care in the world around them. The balcony is filled with clutter, from their chats several weeks before. The floor was in the exact state it was left; dirty and dusty, but still they sat and held hands, talking into the night until it was time to sleep.
Mrs. Overseas is barley left alone, she had a baby only a few months ago, Mr. Lover-man recognizes that she needs help, perchance, the unavailability of a nanny made it imperative that Mr. Lover-man stick around often, luckily enough Mr. Lover-boy seems to be self-employed and isn’t doing badly for himself at all. It’s hard to tell if sponsorship was received from Mrs. Overseas, but Mr. Lover-man seems to have a lot of people working for him, it takes a very smart and hard-working Nigerian male to have up to 6 or more employees. Mrs. Overseas isn’t much of a cook, the assumption is that she probably is on a short visit and couldn’t be bothered. After all, she is living the ‘baby-girl life’, the kind most women dream of.
Presumptions about Mr. & Mrs. Lover-man & Mrs. Overseas
- It’s hard to say if Mr. Lover-boys is exploiting Mrs. Overseas.
- A legal marriage is likely involved
- Mr. Lover-boy isn’t broke; he lives in a comfortable apartment and drives a relevant SUV.
- Bottom line, they look happy together more often than not.
Mr. Proud & Mrs. Humble
Often times Mrs. Humble is found walking with a smile on her face for everyone, she attends church regularly and is a mother to four or five good-looking children all of the same gender. Quite young in her mid-thirties but now adorns the demeanor of a tired old woman with lost dreams, perhaps due to childbearing and abuse. Her’s is the kind of abuse that takes place in the dead of the night, when other souls are deeply asleep. She certainly is educated, friendly and carries a humble appearance.
Since the children are still quite young, money-earning-work may have been put on hold, sadly, Mr. Proud is mostly fantastically -unemployed, as a result of his seasonal or occasional kind of job. Mr. Proud has the demeanor of a bully, even though he tries to hide it. His pride won’t allow him find a menial job and he won’t let Mrs. Humble work with her degree certificate to feed the many hungry mouths.
One night, Mrs. Humble had enough and fought back, she was dealt with severely, but she left her mark on him. The evidence was seen the next day, for her, a battered face, for him, a limp and a sore.
Sadly, Mrs. Humble didn’t leave him that day, but she was seen heading to work the next week. These days, she has a different kind of happy-smile on her face. She may not have broken free from his clutch, as he once proudly said to his landlord for all to hear that, “Mrs Humble deserves to be beaten into submission”.
At least the whimpering at night has come to an end, for her sake, it is hoped that this is so.
Presumptions about Mr. & Mrs. Proud & Humble
- Mr. Pride’s ego still gets in his way, there are a number of things he could do.
- Mr. Pride has a large appetite, and can mostly be found in a few local bars
- Mrs. Humble may never leave Mr. Pride, she seems to have taken it as her cross, besides there are too many children to manage.
Why do Nigerian men find it easy to abuse their women/wives, yet worship the Over-seas wife, the answer isn’t far-fetched. Domestic Violence has always been about ‘power’.
The one who wields it will always have the upper hand against the weaker victim. It therefore makes sense that power should and must be taken away from the oppressor /abuser.
Irrespective of the repressive cultures that holds women back in Nigeria and Africa, when the right laws are put in place and fully implemented, the frequency of domestic violence will begin to wane, (on both genders), then add a dash of compulsory education for girls, financial empowerment for women (and men), as well as putting an end to harmful cultural practices against women.
There are many dimensions to abuse, no one should ever be used on any human or child. Love shouldn’t hurt.