Na man you be!

Whenever I see the billboards bearing Ebuka’s smiling face in Igbo attire (it’s conspicuously placed on the Niger Bridge at the Asaba end, before you get into Onitsha- home of Hero beer) or the dreadlocked TV host whose name escapes me currently, I remember one of the burning ambitions of my childhood. I wanted to become a man when I grew up.

Manhood to Adaeze at four/five years old meant being able to put Seaman’s aromatic schnapps in my mouth, squish it around my mouth and spit it out before pouring libation to the ancestors like I’d seen my hero Okonkwo (the series was on air then) and like my grandfather and beloved De David do (may their souls continue to enjoy eternal rest). I loved listening to stories of my ancestors, especially of the founder of my village who fought so many battles that the name of my village literally means children who take pleasure in a fight.
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Two or so years later, St Moritz cigarettes had a brilliant advert with “High” by Lighthouse Family as soundtrack. It featured a man living an absolutely fabulous life, doing fabulous things and he’d spend his evenings with a stick of St Moritz- a perfect way to end a perfect day. To this day listening to that song fills me with a longing to light up, it doesn’t matter that I’m allergic to cigarette smoke or that my grandfathers were both heavy smokers and didn’t enjoy optimum health in old age, or that I know it’s just a manipulative advert. When I talked about it with an aunt back then, she said women didn’t smoke and I felt that familiar longing to become a man, to live my life as I wanted.

Being a man seems to come with plenty liberties, you could be absolutely terrible and be forgiven easily with the excuse “Na man he be”. You could be lazy, disorganised, dirty and crude and you’d still get a “premium” woman because “Na man you be”. You can batter your wife and children and nobody would whisper a word of censure to you, instead your wife will get blamed for daring to breathe near you, for not shrinking deep enough to keep from upsetting you. You can rape a woman and she’d get blamed for tempting you with her seductive clothing, it doesn’t matter that “mad” women stroll past you in their naked glory and they didn’t “tempt” you, or that the woman in question might be covered up like a nun… its STILL her bloody fault.

You can do the same job outside the home as your wife, leave home and come back at the same time with her but when you both enter the house, you make a beeline to the TV and the remote while she wearily heads to the kitchen. Yet you are the stronger sex? If I hear! She could even bring in more money than you or perhaps all the money but if she tries to make decisions with you on how the money is spent, she becomes a controlling shrew. If you are a director in your office, your wife would not refer to you by your given name (is she insane?), or by the pet names of your young love… Director X becomes your moniker. But Madam, yes the slip of a girl you married remains stunted like a palm in the desert, even if she is Hillary… She leaves her position at the gate- if you are a kind man, most men wouldn’t even let her leave the office with it. You see; ego in a woman is a dangerous thing, it was responsible for the fall of man, the battle of Troy, the two world wars, the fall in the Naira to the dollar… For everything.

I want to write about your other privileges, from your being able to get a passport without needing your wife’s permission to being able to rent a house without snide comments from the landlord about your bringing in women at odd hours, he’d even forgive you if you did that… After all, “na man you be”. You can aspire to be anything and never get to hear “you can’t do this because you’re a man”, neither are you automatically chosen to write the minutes of a meeting if you are the only male present. But I’m really tired and I’m typing on my phone, so I will not talk about those things.

I do not blame you though, you did not set the rules… Unfortunately, neither did I.

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22 Comments

  1. That cigarette ad flashed before my eyes alongside some of the memories from that time, and the “High” song is still playing in my head. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Heheheheh…this post is so witty. “Na man you be” I hate seeing that AD and I’ve tried rephrasing it countless times in my head. They sure wrote it to give men ego and make them feel like men. I keep thinking, why isn’t it ‘You’re a man’ or ‘You be man!’ Why is it, ‘na man you be!” I never wanted to be a man, not for a day and I still don’t want to be, because I feel that it’s boring to be so. I drank some shots of schnapps as a child when my dad wasn’t looking, and I still felt that I could do things that men did as a woman. And yes, I am a woman and I’m doing things men do.
    Nice post as always dear.

    Reply

    1. Still interested in taking some shots of Seaman’s Schnapps to swish around in your mouth? I can make that a reality 😉

      I wanted to be a man for one thing; liberty to wear pants and tie. I do that now. I wore ties a couple of times. I still rock my pants. There’s strength in every human; mental and physical.

      Reply

  3. Epic. Epic. Epic. Repeated many times for emphasis. Talking about husband’s permission for a wife to get a passport, I wanted to find out why that was so and an Oga immigration I met on duty told me and I agree with him that they were just following instructions and that as soon as the law on the matter changes, they will adhere. So I wonder what our lawmakers are doing especially the women?

    Reply

  4. And by the way, please listen to Fela Kuti’s ‘Lady’. Its a track that I love…..” She go cook for you, she go do everything for you…. but lady nor be slave, lady na master. I must admit that I envy men sometimes but not to the point of wanting to be one. They have got their responsibilities too, a friend of mine has become a recluse just because it’s his wife that is his landlady and breadwinner despite the fact that the wife is trying her best to be humble about the situation.

    Reply

    1. Baba 70 always had the right words!
      I wonder why society endows men with fragile egos, circumstances do not dictate who you are, it is what you do inspite of them that makes you who you are.

      Reply

  5. He can get married at 40 and no one will complain “Na man him be”
    He can bail someone out of Jail “Na man him be” (Apparently, women can’t bail people out of Jail in Nigeria – MUST BE A MAN.

    I LOVE THIS PIECE.

    Reply

  6. I love this piece you got to me at “it doesn’t matter that “mad” women stroll past you in their naked glory and and they didn’t “tempt” you, or that the woman in question might be covered up like a nun… its STILL her bloody fault. This is an apt response to Senator Dino Melaye’s careless comments. Had a good laugh also.

    Reply

  7. Recently my colleague told me that she was asked for her written permission when she went to a barber to cut her hair. That i was shocked is an understatement . Then i asked what if the female in question was single and they said she will bring fRom her father. I had a good laugh. I just no fit vex. Who do the men require permission to cut their hair 3times a week from.?
    Na man you be indeed.

    Reply

      1. For real babe, and this was recently around the period i cut my hair. It came up cos she was asking if i showed a permission letter to cut it. I stood their wondering what the heck is that?

      2. 😨😠
        Now that I’m calmer, I don’t blame the guy. Some angry husband must have done something terrible to him for cutting his wife’s hair

      1. It’s so misleading.

        I’m a lady so I positively never grimace but every time I see that ad on the highways, I just plain wear a grimace. Lol!

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