When I was developing the first part of this post, I wasn’t intending on going on a “man bashing” spree as a certain annoying friend put it. I wanted to highlight something else, however when I sat in front of my laptop… That post came almost fully formed, it was like someone had recorded it in my brain and all I needed to do was transcribe and upload on my blog. I have learnt the hard way not to interrupt such flow, to allow the words come as they are because if I don’t, whatever else I write instead will not make sense and its final destiny is to be deleted.
The guys who chose that phrase “Na man you be” knew exactly what they were doing, the exact sentiments and emotions they wanted to evoke with that phrase, the primal wellspring of masculinity they wanted to tap from. That phrase is not unfamiliar to almost every Nigerian, we hear it almost daily; my grandmother ran a bar so I know it intimately.
A man is with his friends and they’re all drinking alcohol, smoking and clutching nubile young women and he nurses his glass of Malta Guinness, or if he even refuses to follow them at all. He’d be told “Na man you be!” “No dey do like woman for here”, like being a woman is a weakness, a blot or stain, or just less of a person.
A young man cries or just shows a little sensitivity and even his mother would tell him “Na man you be!”, “No dey do smeh smeh like woman”. Isn’t it sad how we allow men be stunted emotionally, do we still wonder why many men respond to the upheavals and vicissitudes of life by becoming recluses or wife batterers or plain old bitter men. Why do we not allow men show their pain or open the floodgates of their grief? Why do we tell a man to be a man when he loses a loved one? What kind of crap is that? Have you noticed that a lot of times if the wife dies first, the man might not live very long (It’s not just about Stephen Keshi) if the bond between them is strong especially if the kids are grown and he doesn’t remarry. Yet women live for fifty, sixty years after the death of their husbands, they thrive even. I think it’s because we do not allow men the luxury of expressing grief and also because we pamper them from birth and do not allow them know how to take care of themselves.
Why do we ascribe vices as the core of manhood? A man smokes and he is seen as cool but a smoking woman is subjected to the scorn of society, why do we embrace one and shun the other? The man who can drink six bottles of Gulder and not fall on his face is seen as a “real man” while the man who spends the night taking care of his sick child so his wife can get a break is not seen as quite as manly.
When will we change these things, modify these things even a little? Hopefully in my lifetime, hopefully in yours.
PS: Changing Postcodes- she’s a beautiful lawyer based in Abuja, mentioned something in her comment on my previous post that annoys the living everything out of me each time I remember it. How come a woman cannot bail a person out of police custody? If I was in police custody, my mother who’s in her fifties cannot bail me but my twenty two year old brother can! How do we continue to live with such archaic nonsense?!