ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
We, women have the tendency to do imprudent things. We know our man is treating us like last months Chinese food,
but instead of facing our problems head-on, we make excuses for our mans absurd behavior(s). As women, we want
to be cared for; we want to be treated like queens, we want to be held, and we most definitely want to be loved.
Contemporary African Women Struggling with Love
Articles by Uche Nworah & by Vera Ezimora
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When Chinwe Met Obinna
By Uche Nworah
She sounded hoarse and tense on the phone, like someone consumed by anguish and pain which threaten to choke the life out of her. Its our landlord, she begins. He has increased the rent again and has given us one month notice to pay three years rent upfront or he will throw our things out
Chinwe (not her real name) is like a sister and always impressed me with her rugged drive and determination. Hers it appears was always a life of struggle long before we crossed each others paths in the university; she self-sponsored herself while at the same time taking care of her aged parents and younger siblings. On graduation she moved to Lagos and fortune smiled on her.
She got a job, bought a car and moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in Festac town, she became a first among equals and still maintained her stylish fashion sense, in reminiscence of the days when she was severally voted the best dressed chic on campus.
Though age was now gradually taking its toll but she still glowed and managed to maintain her looks and beauty. While in Lagos she picked up a masters degree and a law degree from the University of Lagos, but by then her biological clock had started ticking, she was already in her thirties and she needed a husband, fast.
Along came Obinna (not his real name), a fine-boy-no-pimple type. A suave urbanite in the classic sense of the word. Obinna is your typical Igbo brother turned Lagosian, a fortune hunter, loafer and dreamer who chose to live on hope (of a mugu falling prey to his many scams), and on handouts from women and his many well-to-do friends, rather than haul his sorry backside to a 9 to 5.
He was blessed with good looks and a bag full of humour and lies, but his luck never shone in the 419 business. He failed to make it even at a time when it seemed that every Igbo brother living in Festac town was hitting it big in the advance fee fraud scam, and relied on his charm and good looks to survive. He never lacked women (single desperate ladies and sugar mummies scattered all over Lagos) who are willing to take care of him.
When he met Chinwe, he told her that he was a business man, car importer, exporter and general contractor. He always managed to convince a friend to lend him one of their state-of-the-art cars which he used to take Chinwe for a spin around the block, and ferry her across town to Victoria Island where her office was located. What he didnt tell her was that he was also a merchant in a special type of commodity women like her.
Chinwe fell for his charm, looks, lies and false promises.
Lagos is a big city and it is not uncommon for its dwellers to have lost touch and contacts with their roots, Obinna was not any different. He must have likened himself to the late Ernest Okonkwo, Nigerias ace sports commentator who lived, played, worked and died in Lagos.
At this time, Chinwe was probably in self denial mode, she may have known some things about Obinna but didnt care or mind; he had after all said the magic M word and she was already pregnant with their first son.
Chinwe quickly paid for their low-key wedding. She later told me that the day after the wedding, rather than spend quality time with his new bride, Obinna was already on his way to Kaduna to meet up with a female acquaintance (Lady X), who was also in the dark as to the goings on in Obinnas life. How did Chinwe find out?
Well, Lady X had mistakenly called their home number on the evening of the wedding day to confirm that Obinna was still flying out to Kaduna as planned. Chinwe answered the call and pretended to be Obinnas cousin and took Lady Xs message for him, but she didnt pass it on. She says she was too exhausted emotionally, financially and physically to start a war of the Roses on her wedding night.
Obinna later left town to keep his date in far away Kaduna. Chinwe says that the humiliation that her hubby didnt feel bad sleeping with another woman only a day after their wedding in a city hundreds of kilometers away almost killed her. She was to suffer many more embarrassments and humiliations at Obinnas hands.
Against all the odds, Chinwe still kept up appearances and stayed in the marriage, she continued to hope for the best like many women in her shoes. By the time the second child (another boy) came, she had already been downsized at her job.
Without a job and regular income, stuck with two kids and an uncaring absentee husband, Chinwe began to suffer from the heavy burden of all the emotional roller-coaster. She is now a shadow of her former self, and gone with love are her beauty and fashion sense.
Obinna is still hovering around in Chinwes life somewhere, still angry and bitter with himself that Chinwe didnt turn out to be the hoped – for financial saviour. Age and time is also telling on him, he is gradually loosing his touch and with all his baggage (a wife and kids), he is no longer a bankable and marketable gigolo. Also, younger Adonis-like boys are now playing the field, these Taye Diggs look-alikes are first choice picks over him.
Divorce has never been considered she tells me, she doesnt want her boys to be called bastards at school and at the playground, also she hates to have to live through the divorcee stigma, and then be scorned and shunned by family, friends and the society as if she is the cause of everything, thus making her out to be the most evil person on earth.
I was moved by Chinwes story and started writing this piece months ago before other things got in the way and I abandoned it. since then a lot (good and bad) has happened in Chinwes life.
Chinwe has since gotten a job with one of the federal ministries in Abuja and will soon be relocating to Abuja.
Obinna is still the same loser and bum that he is and hasnt changed I understand.
Sadly, Chinwe recently lost her younger sister (Meme) who used to live with her. Meme had recently gotten married and had been one of Chinwes sources of joy as she held out hope and promise for herself and their family. Memes death really devastated Chinwe. The last time I saw Meme she had looked full of life. May her soul rest in peace.
Like they say, life can sometimes be a b%*h. But God does provide us with the strength to carry on. The Nick Vujicic story is another good example of triumph in adversity.
Uche Nworah is freelance writer, lecturer and brand strategist. He studied communications arts at the University of Uyo, Nigeria and graduated with a second class honours degree (upper division). He also holds an M.Sc degree in marketing from the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus and obtained his PGCE (post-graduate certificate in education) from the University of Greenwich where he is currently enrolled as a doctoral candidate. His articles have been published by several websites and leading Nigerian newspapers. He received the ChickenBones Journalist of the Year award in 2006. Uche can be contacted through www.uchenworah.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Love And Be Loved
Dedicated to anyone who fits the bill.
By Vera Ezimora
Love is the most complex emotion I have ever experienced. It has so many sides and shades that sometimes I wonder if it is still love. How can you love a person one minute and want to kill them the next? How can you love a person and yet hurt the person so much? You know it will kill him when he finds out, but you do it anyway. You know he is hurting inside, but it does not stop you from lying in the other mans bed. Love. Is it really that complex, or do we just make it that way?
I am particularly concerned about women who do not know how to love themselves. If a woman does not know how to love herself inside and out, then how can she love another? If a woman cannot treat herself like the queen that she is, then how can she make a man treat her like one? How can you convince people that the building is on fire if you are calmly lying under your blanket? The world we live in is a monkey-see-monkey-do world; it is a world where leaders lead by showing examples. No one can love you better than you can love yourself, so if your love for yourself is fifty percent, then how can you expect a man to love you one hundred percent?
I get very sad (more like enraged) when I see a woman in a relationship where she is giving her all to a man and getting almost nothing back in return. I mean, seriously, let us get real here; ask yourself these questions: why cant he call? Why cant he say Im sorry? Why cant he explain his actions? Why cant he do it for me? Why cant he accept my apology? Why cant he understand where I am coming from? Why cant he do it my way for once? Why cant he be sweet to me? Why cant he stop being malicious to me? Why cant he remember my birthday? Why cant he get me a birthday gift? Why cant he spoil me? Why cant he treat me the way I treat him? Why cant he stop hurting me? Why cant he love me back? Why??? My guess is that you cannot answer any of these questions rationally. Now ask yourself again why cant I stop loving him? Ladies, love with your heart and think with your head.
We, women have the tendency to do imprudent things. We know our man is treating us like last months Chinese food, but instead of facing our problems head-on, we make excuses for our mans absurd behavior(s). As women, we want to be cared for; we want to be treated like queens, we want to be held, and we most definitely want to be loved. If a man is causing you to cry on occasions that any sane person would not be crying, then you should know something is wrong. If you have to call your mans phone on his birthday and cry your eyes out on his voicemail because he is too angry at you to pick up, then something is wrong. If you have to beg your man to pick up your calls and talk to you, then something is wrong. If you cry more than you laugh, then something is wrong, and if you are ready to be with your man regardless of what he may do to you, then something is definitely wrong with you. I do not know what is wrong with you; is it low self esteem or just unadulterated lack of common sense?
Believe me, love is not that complicated. Relationships are not easy, but they are really not that hard either. When two people have understanding, patience, trust, and a big dose of maturity, love cannot only be born, but can also be nurtured (by both partners, and for both partners) to reach its fullest potential. Forget about love at first sight; it does not exist. Your mind is only playing tricks on you. Yes, you may have dreamt about him last night, and the love you made felt so real (in fact, you are still dripping), but that was only because you thought about him before you went to bed. Wake up and smell the coffee (or tea which ever one you prefer).
Seriously, why are you still in this relationship? Is it the sex (if sex is involved)? Is it the companionship? Is it the feeling of knowing that someone somewhere has you as number two on their speed dial (thats if he cares enough to put you on his speed dial)? Is it the fear of being lonely? Is it the convenience? Money? Or do you just think you will never find someone else to want you enough to commit to you? What is it? Better yet, why is he still in this relationship? Could it be because of the convenience and all the privileges that come with said convenience? I mean, if you break up with him, who will cook for him? Who will do his laundry? Who will warm up his bed? Who will run his little errands? Who will buy him gifts on his birthday? Who will cry on his voicemail? Who will beg for his attention? Who?
If you think this through with your head, and your head tells you that you are in a good relationship, then your head must not be properly hydrated. Some of you are living in denial (yes, Im talking to you; stop pointing at your chest in confusion and looking around); you tell yourself that the only reason why you are putting up with his bullshit is because you are not married yet, but as soon as you get married, things will change. Yeah, right! As a poor man (unmarried), you should not take anything right now that you will not take when you become rich (married). Your desire for meat should not lead you to call a cow your brother. Be honest with yourself; put yourself first, and love yourself because you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
What are you surprised I quoted the Bible? Dont be ooooo. I happen to be Gods favorite; you better ask about me!
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Vera Ezimora was born in Leningrad, Russia on the 14th of January at some point in history. She was born to parents from Anambra, Nigeria and currently resides in Maryland, USA, presently writing a novel, which she hopes to finish and publish soon.
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By Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our countrys economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political partiesand many leading economistshave missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalizations long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. Americas single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not Americas abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”Lisa Adkins, University of London
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 7 October 2006 / updated 11 June 2008