#Reflections

Alakija’s marriage ‘proposals’ and Nigerians’ thievery

By Busuyi Mekusi

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Nigeria, as a nucleus of human beings, has dramatically lost all indications of a modern society, with palpable socio-political and economic variables showing that the nation is not prepared for a stroll, not to talk of a leap, to development. To this end, political tokenism and hooliganism, measured poverty, unverifiable data, lack of electricity supply, parlous roads, empty silos, infected hospitals, devalued diet, etc, are clear testimonials of the fact that Olafioye is right that ‘tomorrow left us yesterday’. Rather than plan for the future, Nigeria’s past remains burdensome, for both the present that has been debilitated, and the future that stands unattainable. The memorialisation of Nigeria’s divided past by opportunists has reduced various efforts made at unification a mere ruse. Nationalists are no longer nationally-orientated, as their opinions on national matters get coloured by ethnic considerations. Regrettably, governance has been ethnicised, poverty privatised, insecurity legitimised, and lack of development singularised.

Marriage is one of the institutions that have been heavily challenged by postmodern relativism, thereby leaving thoughts, emotions and orientations to personal evaluation and justification. Given the shifting nature of the dynamics that govern the socio-political human space, individuals have won the battle of engagements, as opinion supremacy has been submerged by the notion of multiple possibilities. Despite the three forms of marriage models; traditional, Christian and Islamic, practiced in Nigeria, ladies still get ‘kidnapped’ by boys that get them impregnated, and without any contractual relationship that could elicit responsible living. For ladies made to mother children within the same old space that nurtured them, through their parents, the specifics that served as an advantage, could have been vitiated or complicated along the line. The conversion of the space that nurtured a female child from childhood to adulthood by her at a later time is always prone to disadvantageous motherhood.

Transgender relationships have disrupted the old popular notion of a man marrying a woman, with the new liberalised socialisation allowing even a relationship between human and animal(s). In a most generative manner, this new order afflicted humans, with sexually transmitted diseases further emasculating the propensity of this generation to rise above the challenges the country is confronted with. Amidst the many contradictions that people relate to globally, most especially in developing nations like Nigeria, the imperatives offered by alternative civilizations continue to shape the ways people respond to negative circumstances.

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Marital engagements are now principally reflective of the amalgamation of the three basic principles found in the tripod of two later arrivals – Islam and Christianity – which have either enriched or vitiated the congenial traditional practices that they interacted with. We cannot forget in a hurry the valuable discussions that have occurred in this regard, and the idea of Ali Mazrui’s ‘Triple Heritage’.

Accepting marital proposals in traditional Yoruba society was basically the initiative of parents, who often exchanged their children, particularly females, as articles or gifts with spouses they had family relationships with. Up till today, my own mother would tell me that the decision to marry my father was that of her mother. It was not also uncommon in the past for Ifa consultations to be made, as similarly done for a new child to futuristically determine his/her trajectory in life, to investigate the future that lies ahead of such marital exchange, and what to be done to eliminate any danger thereof. This spiritual dimension is not also strange to Christianity and Islam, as even the Biblical Jewish generation of Jesus Christ had inclination for signs. It would be redundant to argue that this model of spiritual peeping into the future is exquisite, but it substantially satisfied the massaging of emotions, and set the tune for booby-traps to be neutralised.

In contemporary life, spiritual investigations are still being made, with high rate of unreliability, given the degeneration in sacrificial spiritual bohemianism and outright quackery, but the science and technology that could help diagnose medical conditions that spirituality could not, ordinarily, remains also shaky and misleading in chaotic climes like Nigeria. Wrong diagnoses have been identified as responsible for most unfortunate deaths. It is still traumatising today that people go into marital relationship with partners with dangerous status; HIV/AIDs; blood grouping and genotype, etc. This is not to mention the reckless deliberate decision of some to ignore red lines. A case of disruptive parental influence that still unsettles me is that of a woman Deaconess who was said to be of Pentecostal stock that insisted that her daughter would not marry a Christian brother because of the disparity in their socio-economic status, even when it was believed that exchange had the approval of God. The poor lady needs to be gauged, to determine her psychological response to this dictatorial abrasion. Most marital relationships are going through psychological upheavals!

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The rumoured marital breakup between Nigeria’s richest woman, Folorunsho Alakija, and her husband of 30 years, would at best signpost the many marriages that caved-in to pressures that are; economical, emotional or psychological, socio-political or spiritual. Relationships experts, with their professed expertise, have not been able to arrest the negative drift, as marriages have been reduced to a supermarket, where people buy and stop patronage at will. The reasons of how we got here are numerous, and they include growing up within violated domestic and societal spaces, materialism, emphasis on socio-economic and political considerations. Notwithstanding the many religious orientations that are part of the conscious attempts to maintain equilibrium in a vexatious period, the commoditisation of sex, infusion of drugs to societal spaces, new form of liberation for women, devaluation of marriage as an enslaving instrument, approval of infidelity, etc., have harangued marriages in Nigeria, particularly as global conversations have been made fluid, and transgressional of old fixed traditional borders. This is not to mention the convulsive nature of newer sexual orientation.

The claim of Charles Oputa (Charly Boy) that Folorunsho Alakija got over 10, 000 marriage proposals after the news of her marriage breakup broke, and comments from social media, raised issues about some of enunciations above, particularly the moral depravity Nigerians have suffered by reason of proclivity for materialism. Apart from the fact that materialism dictates to people, and influences their decisions, it has continued to fuel corruption across the economic strata. People go into marital and extra marital relationships today because of the material things they stand to gain. This is not to mention loneliness in marriage, vulnerability by reason of divorce, medico-psychological necessity, and others. Even though both known sexes are open to violation in Nigeria, the female agency is more endangered, because of the age-long dominance of patriarchy. It is also true, though, that some women have continuously revolted against patriarchy, while others perpetrate and perpetuate the violations of other women. The case of a 17-year-old school girl that stabbed her aunty and benefactor to death in Akure recently complexly speaks to the multilayered vulnerability of the female agency.

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Nigerians would decry the failed economy of the nation but, like a rabbit, they have since perfected their act of thieving. They thieve: farm products of their struggling neighbours, wives of their challenged friends and co-worker, children of people too poor and busy to take care of their children, commonwealth they convert to welfare support, certificates to gain undesirable mileages, worship instruments to set up churches to worship ‘unknown gods’, pots of cooking soup to kill their hunger, while they expect the owners to die of starvation, monies kept in the bank in the name of charges, as one hopes they would not begin stealing coffins to bury people that die in penury soon.

The above 10, 000 would-be spouses of Alakija would have, in the past, gone out of their way to seek the resolution of the marital crisis, if not for the sense of our communalism that has since been replaced by individualism. They would have called for community meetings that would seek a resolution of the impasse, and castigate anyone that errs, rather than want to profit from the misfortune in a 30-year-old marriage on the social media, that should have served as an example to others. Tackling loneliness through widowhood is one of the reasons for sponsored mass marriages in northern Nigeria, even though purchase of beddings for newly-wedded couples as constituency projects is a joke of the century. The civilized knowledgeable southern Nigerians are eating their cake, and would not have it back at the same time.

It is time we returned to basic ideals of human relations; communication, empathy, stress management, and conflict resolution, in order to creatively recapture the humanity we lost to the condemned past. The present might be better than the past, in our estimation, but an aggregation of fair things of the past, with the good of contemporary existence, would give us the needed template to have a rewarding existence, rather than seek to profit from others’ misfortunes, and thieve the valuables of others. Must dogs eat one another’s intestine!

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Alakija’s marriage ‘proposals’ and Nigerians’ thievery

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