Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Hero Series: ‘How to please my Igbo mother-in-law’.

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I don’t have an Igbo mother-in-law. I do have an Igbo mother though. And Igbo aunts, cousins and grandmothers, so hopefully I know what I am talking about.

See, pleasing your Igbo mother -in-law is simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing to do. To survive, to even get through your marriage and come out the other side ready and waiting for death to ‘do you part’, you first have to accept one simple fact: You do not own your husband. She does.

You must also accept that the Igbo mother-in-law does not hate you – unless you genuinely catch her trying to do away with you and I mean without a doubt, everything she is doing is for the good of her son. And you love her son right? You both want the same things. Stop fighting her on everything and just get on with it.

The Igbo mother-in-law is merely trying to show you how your life will be. In a few years, you would have morphed completely into her that you will have difficulty knowing where she stops and you start. Learn from her. The reason she is the way she is comes from the fact that her own mother-in-law had the ideal marriage with her son, as she had with your husband before you came along and spoilt everything. Every sensible woman knows, the only perfect husband out there is the one you give birth to yourself. Why do you think you’re having such a hard time, going on search engines, trying to find out a way to please her? You’re the other woman. Deal with it. You can have your own marriage once you bear a son.

Which brings me to my next point: BEAR SONS. I cannot stress this enough. Try to only have one more son than your mother-in-law has or there will be hell to pay. Are you trying to show her up? You only need enough sons to convince her that her name will not be forgotten. You need to also show her that you are not barren and what other way is there, than to beget individuals that will later on beget others? It’s like a living spring, flowing and flowing.

After you have borne the boys, bear her some daughters because your mother-in-law has found out the truth a painful way: you may smother them with affection but the sons always leave them and take up with someone like you with your French manicure and lace front wigs. The daughters on the other hand, stay. Besides, when the girls grow, she will have a relationship with them that she never managed with you, your husband will be released into your care and you can start the ‘happily ever after’. If you have only boys, you’re screwed. It doesn’t matter if she has a daughter of her own, your mum-in-law. A daughter is not a son, neither is she a granddaughter.  Apples and oranges and ube are not the same fruit.

Then of course there is the normal stuff; agreeing with whatever she says, not spending too much of her son’s money beautifying yourself (yes, even if you earn a salary, it is her son’s money), sleeping in her room/hut/wing whenever you’re back in the village NEVER MIND that as a woman who has borne children, you have by Igbo law, earned the right to your own room/hut/wing. This is an assumption of course. If you have not yet borne children, you’re to sleep where she tells you and shut up. Relinquish the rights to your kitchen. Whenever she comes around, seek her permission/counsel on all matters including what her son should eat. It’s not as if what he’s been eating from you could technically be called ‘food’. Put yourself down at every opportunity and do not ever have a different opinion to hers. You want her to like you right?

Of course you could always see this for what it is and stop trying so damn hard. She’s not God. She can’t create or turn you to dust (again, physically harming you is the exception). She’s a woman who’s been number one for the past 30-odd years and has recently had to contend with her son thinking the sun shines of another woman’s bum. That look he used to give her –  the look that told her that he trusted her with his whole life –  he bestows on your frequently and in non-life-saving conditions. You could see things from her point of view as well as establish yourself in your home/marriage/family. You are the mother/wife  and she is the mother-in-law. You could let her know by your actions that it is a privilege to get to her position, to be somebody’s mother-in-law. It is your time now. You should not have to apologise for loving her son. Some women liken the wifely role to that of the neck. It’s your duty, now CARRY THAT HEAD.

The best way to please your mother-in-law is just to be yourself.  No woman wants a lickarse for a daughter -in-law. What sort of sons are you going to raise then? Them of the feline variety probably.

But most importantly live for your time. Live in your time. You don’t want to be that woman whose daughter-in-law stays up at 2:34am asking Google for ways to please her mother-in-law.

Blog Giveaway: Chewy, chocolatey chunks of fun.


Yes friends, it’s another grey Friday in London. It’s grey with an even greater chance of grey as the grey rises in the grey. Instead of going on a shin/crotch kicking spree like any other entitled Londoner, I have decided instead to go to my happy place.

It’s true. I am in my happy place. Right now I am about eight-years old and I have just received my first Choco Milo. My mouth is watering. I know it will taste divine, after all nobody lies in adverts. I unwrap the little green cube, noting its silvery insides and the bits of brown powder stuck in the sharpened corners of the wrapper. I wet one finger and and dip it in the powder. Some of it comes off in my hand, the rest stays behind to form a brown spot that looks so chewy, I want to cry. Such a tease, this Choco Milo.

I tip my head back and raise my hand. It’s as if I am in slow motion. I watch the cube tumble. I am not afraid that the corners will cut my throat as there is a pool of saliva waiting to receive it. It falls into my mouth and I close my eyes…

Suddenly the Choco Milo is flying out of my mouth, taking with it a lot of sweet brown saliva.

“WHO GAVE YOU THAT CHOCO MILO?!” It’s my mother. I know I am going to die.

OK, so it’s not my happy place after all. Maybe you can do better? I’d love to get your descriptions of your own happy place; it could be a geographical location, a memory or a fantasy. It could even be a person, if you want. 100 cubes for 100 words. The best one wins these tasty little babies. I’ll name the winner next Friday and I will send this packet ANYWHERE in the world.

Good luck.

Why you should NEVER let Igbo parents know you are writing a novel.

They go crazy.

I don’t mean your normal parental give-you-a-used-broom-to-take-to-school-for-MOSAI crazy. I mean full-on LOCO PARENTIS – yes, I know this is not what it means, but it’s a pun so it stays.

First, my father. He calls me up day before yesterday on some random thing and just when I begin to wonder what the conversation is really about, he clears his throat.

Ahem! So…how is that book you’re writing?”

“Fine, fine.”

“Yes, yes. Good. You know you have to hurry up and finish it and then you can do your PhD and when you finish that you will start chasing your professorship. You know the path you have chosen…it is not…it is not…errrr…like medicine or law. So, you have to go into academia…”


“Well,” he continued “Ah ha ha ha. Maybe you and your husband will decide something else. This is just a father’s wish.”

Then today my mother arrives en-route to somewhere else. After I serve her lunch…

So,” she said in Igbo “Have you finished that book you are writing?”

“It’s there in that big envelope by the chair if you want to take a look at it.”

“Ah,” she reached down. “What is ‘Rekke’?” I explained, even as I watched her eyes glaze over. “Onye kwanu kalu ya red red n’ile a?” she asked when she opened the first page.

“I did. I use the red pen for corrections before I type them up.”

“Mbu so akwukwo. It’s a lot.”

“That’s not the whole thing, that is just the bit I have edited.”

“Ah.” She looked in the envelope. Slowly she started pushing the sheaf in her hands back in. “God will help you o.”

Yes, I do believe God will help me.

The last time I checked, my father was planning a book launch.