Sunday, September 5, 2010

On the Issue of Nigerian Wife Killers

I recently read an article “Nigerian Men Wife-Killers In America!” on Icheokwu facade Being a fan of crime series, I couldn’t help but wonder why this was happening? The article chronicles a long list of Nigerian – American men who had decided to end their wives lives in such a gruesome manner. In the same vein, Idowu Olorunshogo’s take on the issue was skewed towards religion - typical of our myopic self-righteous Nigerian minds. But they represent both ends of the spectrum this ugly trend.
I honestly tucked this away somewhere, as an issue that could be discoursed over a few pints at any local pub until I read about a Professor Chukwudubem Okafor of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania who recently took his own life after killing his Nigerian wife.

From all accounts, most seem to blame the men. The comments on each of these articles seems to suggest this men must be mad to go to such lengths to take action against something they can so easily walk away from. As true as that may be, and as easily as one can dismiss this as something that should be avoided, I don’t blame them at all.

Okay! Before I get eaten whole, let me explain why I think the above 3 sources miss the point – begging the question why is not just enough to solve this riddle. For me, I think our society is to blame, Yes the Nigerian society. Not only the one in Diaspora, but also at home. I will summaries my points 4 broad “Pressure Points”.

1. Social Pressure: The “Quest” for husbands.
I think our society places too much emphasis on marriage so much that young girls who know little or nothing about keeping a relationship all want to be wives as soon as they get a diploma or university degree. The stress is so much that, they don’t care who he is, what he looks like, how he earns a living, as long as he has a last name they can attach to theirs and is willing to walk down the aisle. Mothers start putting on this pressure on their daughters from as young as 19. It is crazy. It is so bad, that they make these girls hurry into marriage without adequate preparation. If you want to see all the hot chicks in your town, you only need to announce that a friend of yours who lives in the United States is home to hunt for a wife.

Though I consider myself a detribalized Nigerian, the Igbo girl typifies this madness for finding a husband. If you read the articles I sighted above, one thing jumps out at you – 99% of the cases are Igbo men. While one will be right to say, “Hey, its not Igbo girls killing their husbands, its the men”, What remains to be seen is why the Igbos? Why not Hausa, why not Edo?

2. Cultural Pressure – The Old Groom
Its a known fact that Igbo men don’t get married early. Not just out of convenience, but traditionally, a youth is expected to come of age before embarking on such an endeavor. I imagine (and I am sure some more mature people will agree) that a man is supposed to build his own hut, have his own farm land, before he can be called a man, before he can take a wife. It is unheard of in Igbo circles for a man to marry and still live with parents. This is in total contrast to the Yurobas, where the family help the couple to stand on their feet. The choice of which one is right or wrong is a matter of debate, but clearly, one can see that our ancient traditions still reflect in the way we live today. Instead of changing our tradition to suit today’s realities, we have chosen to remain locked on to ancient practices that have little if any significance in today’s world. Culture must be dynamic – it is time to throw those things that don’t work away. The time and energy needed to build a hut in 300 BC is not commensurate with that of building a bungalow today. So when a man toils all his life to make a “killing” just to qualify for marriage, he will go to any length to protect it by keeping anyone from literally taking away his life. When young 22 year old Nigerian girl is shipped off to a 45 year old man in USA as a bride, the only thing that should be expected is disaster. Forget that he may not even afford her an exciting lifestyle, how much more perform his marital obligation? That brings me to the next pressure point.

3. Sensual Pressure: eSex
Sex! Love!! Romamce!!! Don’t let anyone deceive you – it is very very important to both bride and groom. Even God bade Adam with that 1st command, “multiply and dominate the land” Sex is the yardstick by which many things are measured, like an old man once told me, “When you get to the bottom of most quarrels, you would find sex”.

Whether you agree or not, sex has moved on... missionary style has gone out of vogue. In the electronic age, everything should adopt that magical “e”, we have eMail, eGovernment, we also have eSex. The young couples today have experimented with all sorts of aphrodisiacs’, party drugs, sex toys, etc. Yes, you average 25 year old has explored more shapes of the Kama sutra, while her 45 year old counterpart thinks “69” is still the number before “70”. I wondered what this Prof thought when he picked such a young wife? As a veteran, I know how important sex is to marriage, anyone should know that if she isn’t getting it from you, then she is getting it somewhere else. Some men think they can buy a woman’s love – even most young girls think they will be satisfied as long as the dough is flowing. No it may work for a while, but when the dust settles, our primordial urges takes charge. Still doesn’t stop people from trying.

4. Financial Pressure – ATM machine
The love of money is the root of all evil. Picture a couple in an abusive relationship. Imagine both parties trying their best to get the upper hand. Picture that the law of the land is on your side, and there are many qualified lawyers willing to help you claim what is rightfully yours - That is the atmosphere couples face in the west. That is why many men kill spouses. Alimony, Possession of the family home, full custody of the kids, etc are all implements of warfare in the hands of American women. Nigerian women learn fast. At the heart of all these killings is a wife who wants to punish her husband by taking away all he has worked for. The question goes to both parties - Are they right? Will my wife be right to put me out in the street just because she no longer finds pleasure in me? As a friend of mine would say “Not feeling her pee”? But what about the Naija babes that are the bread winners of their homes?

“Nigerian nurses are their husbands ATM machines...” I laughed when I learnt that one. and I didn’t believe it until I got in touch with my long time friend who was shipped off to the USA to marry someone she scarcely knew. She already had a master’s degree by the time she left Nigeria – so I was alarmed to learn she was studying to be a nurse at the request of her husband. The issue is further exuberated when you consider that most of these men feel they literally made these girls who they are – brought them out of suffering, trained them in university, etc, only to see her running away after a few years. I don’t think I will be happy to know that I was just a ticket out of Nigeria.

No doubt this kind of behaviour has lead to an increase in failed marriages both at home and abroad. Until we as a people challenge these things as a people, chances are that this is just the beginning. And no amount of prayers can stop this.


  1. Holy Ghost Fire! Good read that made me go hmmmmmm! Valid points, my brother...

  2. Awesome read Eme. Very important reality check. Unfortunately, the folks who should read this and check their conscience are the parents and older relatives of these men and women. People, you and I know, either don't know what facebook is ...or don't have access to the internet.

    This situation is going to get worse before it gets better. God help us

  3. Really interesting read and so many important facts...people need to indeed learn that not all that glitters is gold
    we really need a change of orientation in Naija!

  4. Wesure need tochange it...It is a sad state of affairs. what leads to this??Very tragic indeed.

  5. Thanks guys! lol... Nnenna I doubt that Holy Ghost fire will quench this one. as long as the demand for young brides by Older men is met, the problem will persist. Especially when the girl is more sophisticated, educated, and daring. has to give.

    @ Hilary (You don reach Naija?) well if our elders cant read FB, it is left for us to ensure that we discourage our female friends, sisters, relatives from falling prey. In today's complex world, hectic lifestyle off and on work, the best thing you can do for yourself is to marry your friend - someone who knows you, someone with similar interests. When a girl who leads a bohemian life, marries a pastor, there will have to be a lot of binding and loosing! - Ticking Time Bomb, its either the demon explodes and be burnt by Holy Ghost Fire! or the Ol' Man will have to walk away from his sweat - his life.

    @ Dami - I know you will like the gist - I should actually do a part two to this and probably look at the dangers of marrying too young like the Yurobas do... lol - I will tuck that away, that a story for another day.

    @ Ebise, very sad indeed. very soon, if the trend continues, the US may start denying Nigerian women who are traveling to the states for the 1st time to meet their husbands - esp. if her name is Nkechi, Uloma, Ada, etc. Did you notice how almost all the deceased women were Nurses? Looks like Nursing career is a "Dead-end" job for Naija women.

  6. LOL! I totally love the "binding and loosing" part!

  7. You will do well to stick to your Ikwerre identity-crisis driven quagmire than dabble into Igbo issues. It is none of your business what Igbos do with their culture, their lives and the way they choose to live.
    Igbos will ask you when they need your advice. For now, go your own way and leave Igbos alone. Wetin concern vulture and the barber?