Category Archives: Nigerian men

A few words about my talk at this year’s SOAS Igbo Conference.

I often have to force myself to go to bed at night because it is at this time that my brain seems to want to be awake. This time, it is preoccupied with clarifications.

At the end of my talk titled ‘Different but Equal’ yesterday evening, a very nice professor from UNILAG approached me with her concerns. For one, she thought I was being general when I said that our culture is preoccupied with marriage, especially that of females and that women were often complicit in the mild coercion of other women in this vein.

“I never pushed any of my daughters to get married,” she said.

Later during a panel discussing Adichie’s ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ speech, she took the opportunity to reiterate her point, adding that she was ‘shocked at some of the things which people are saying here today’.

I take her point. I did say during my talk that it was a certain kind  of Igbo person, woman or man that I was referring to. Being in that lecture hall, at that conference, many of us already declared our interest in equality of the sexes. I was among my people. Perhaps, that did not come across clearly.

My own mother is very much like this professor. I was in my twenties when I married, armed with two degrees and a post-graduate diploma and my mother when I told her I was engaged said “But why do you need to marry now? What about your PhD?” or words to that effect.

However, this is my mother. This is the kind of person she is; a woman who believes that all women should aim to achieve their full potential before marriage – if they desire to get married, of course. And she is this way because her parents were the same. But this is not everyone’s reality, not in this generation or in our mothers’. This has certainly not been my reality with our Nigerian society in general and to assume that everyone is like my mother or like the aforementioned professor, would be very narrow-minded indeed.

Just because the truth makes us uncomfortable, does not make it any less true.

Secondly, I mentioned I had not – prior to my recent Nigeria trip – been home in six years. A friend, in jest, told me I should be ashamed of myself. Ha ha. I had my reasons, including a cancelled trip in 2012 due to ‘extenuating circumstances’ (ha ha again. There’s a show on telly right now). I would not have thought more of it if the lovely, worried, professor did not pick that up during her comment at panel as proof that I was out of touch with the times. “You need to ask us what we at home are doing,” she said.

Again, agreed. I hate to think that I implied that there was nothing being done by women at home with regards to feminism, womanism or whatever other ‘ism’ out there is being used to describe the movement for equality among the sexes.

But this is not the 1970s or 80s. Being away from home these days, no longer entails waiting weeks or months for a letter or sitting by the phone at an appointed time for a 3-minute phone call down a crackly line. no. Now, when we are not at home, we take home with us; a look on social media will reveal to you the general thought processes of people regarding anything you want to know. Social media is good like that. It cuts across all groups; gender, age and literacy. My entire family – bar one sister and I – still live and work in Nigeria. One is never more than a Whatsapp message away from what is happening. Anyone still in doubt of the power and effectiveness of social media in and amongst Nigerians, need only consider its impact on this year’s presidential elections.

Then of course, there are friends and family who travel to and from Nigeria frequently, of which my husband is one. This year alone, he’s been to Nigeria three times. It is pretty difficult to be as far removed as once was, from simply not being ‘on the ground’ in Nigeria. Not unless one is plagued by technophobia or is some sort of Luddite.

The number one topic at any gathering of the diaspora here? Nigeria.

Finally, I would hate if my talk came across as an attack on men and manhood. That was not my intention. I will reiterate: there are certain men who would give their right arm to uphold the status quo. You know them. They are the ‘This is not the done thing’ men or the ‘It is against our culture’ men or the men who try to use religion to justify their perceived superiority. Then, there are the ignorant ones, who have never really thought about it. They’ve never had to put themselves in the shoes of women because it just has not occurred to them at all. Out of this group you might eventually get resistance, understanding and change or just plain indifference.

Then there are the men, who are already getting it right. Those men were all at Igbo Conference yesterday and will be today. To those men, I say ‘Deeme’, you are on the right track.

I hope I have resolved any misunderstandings. Now my good people, you have the knife and the yam; you may cut it into whatever size is easy for you to digest.



Baby Oku de Man-power!


My sister just sent me this photo of something she found in Oja market in Lagos. I think it’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac but every other thing is delightfully vague. Does it work on women too? Is it a liquid or powder? You you drink it straight or mix it with other stuff?  (Sister Hashtag says mix it with their drinks in beer parlours. Update, she’s just told me it’s a liquid, duh, it says 200ml)

Why is there a volume for alcohol by the side? Does alcohol not inhibit i.e. kill libido aka manpower? And for my final question, why on earth does it say ‘Hundred watts’? That seems like such a faff to take a little ‘helper’ only to light up like a Christmas tree so the whole world knows you’ve taken it.

Also…where  do you light up? (Do women like that sort of thing now? Damn I’m old.)

‘Fire baby oku’. Chai. Lagos life is not easy at all. First you have your wife. Then you probably have your mistress (who’s had children for another man/may be divorced etc) then you have your girlfriend (who is a small university girl like this). No wonder men need all the help they can get. E no easy.

If you’ve taken this, send me an email. I won’t tell anyone. It’s strictly for journalistic purposes, you understand.

The Hero Series: ‘Why do Igbo men want you to get pregnant first before marriage’?

Number of times searched – 1

Related queries (last 7 days):

Does Igbo men have feelings love? – 2 times

What does it mean when your Igbo boyfriend wants to take you to Nigeria to meet his family? – 1 time

What is it about Igbo men? – 1 time

I’m sorry, but as my grandmother would say, this question di nkilinka. Why should a man not want his future wife to be pregnant before marriage biko nu?

Bia, let me tell you sontin. You are mistaken in comparing  your Igbo man, that prince among men, to any others. He is unlike no man you’ve ever known (yes, I see it too). An Igbo man is special as are his circumstances and should be treated as such.

First of all, congratulations! An Igbo man who wants to give you the gift of his seed has only the highest esteem for you. Do you think it is every woman who is entrusted with the task of bearing strong Igbo sons? This is the way that an Igbo men shows you he loves you. All those flowers-and-perfume things, he did them just for you, to get your friends to envy you and agree for him (that way, if you are foolish enough to have another boyfriend they will tell him). He demands the bouquet of  your womb in return because and if you truly love and trust him, you will comply.

Igbo men does have feelings love. They just have a different way of showing them.  I’m not sure why anyone would doubt enough to type this query twice.

An Igbo man is ever pragmatic. Is he to continue in love nwantinti that childlessness shall abound?

God forbid.

What is he supposed to do with a woman who cannot bear children? The main purpose of Igbo relationships is to bear progeny. Not to do loving. Your man has just told you the most romantic thing any Igbo man can ever tell a woman. And you still want to know why? I don’t understand some women.

Okay, imagine your favourite proposal scenario: he is down on one knee, there are candles everywhere. And a white horse. A few white horses. A huge ring. You’re in a tight, flattering dress because you knew this was coming because you always look your best anyway. Ditto all your friends and family and their cameras and phones and tablets. And maybe one of those wedding bloggers to report on the whole thing. Your man says the magic words: “Will you marry me?”

Do you tell him, “Wait. Let me consult Nwunye to ask her why you want to marry me”? Because that is exactly what you’re doing right now. Don’t be ridiculous. Hopefully, you haven’t ruined it all. Go over to wherever he is, kneel down and beg him. Then lie back and pray that his seed finds you worthy enough to take root. Remember, I said lie down. If you stand up at this point, any child you have nine months later will be crazy. Ask anybody.

And before you buy your ticket for Nigeria with your Igbo boyfriend, I suggest you learn how to cook and enjoy onugbu soup. 

‘What is it about Igbo men’? Girl, I can’t answer that one. I still have no clue. Let me know when you figure it out.

(Found in draft folder. First written March 13, 2013)

So I am into Phyno now.

I am always the last to know anything, living in my own head for a majority of the time and all. But last year, I discovered Phyno with ‘Man of the Year’ and I have been asking myself how I did not feel the earthquake that must have happened when he came on the scene.

Phyno: Image from


Anyway, I know now and I am about to give him the same obsessive treatment as I give anything I like. Expect a few weeks of this. I am not sorry!

First of all, I have absolutely no desire to see Phyno without his shirt – and not because I suspect he might look a bit reptilian (he reminds me a bit of all those crested lizards. I wouldn’t want to mess with him). But because I heard him before I saw what he looked like and I do not wish to objectify him, at all at all. You all know I am a bit irreverent but this boy has TALENT in spades. You can tell he is extra serious about his art. Respect.

I have never heard anyone make such mincemeat of Igbo in rap before. He shreds it. He just plays with the language; tossing it out, deftly applying puns, flipping the language on its head like a pancake before he devours it.

Nwanne look into my eyes/ Ego di m n’obu/ Money on my mind/All you need is owe me/Egbutego m the money/Now your chic wish she knew me/A dighi m agbo ncha/But my nigger I do me/ …If you go against me/Ntuo gi down ka alusi. (‘Man of the Year’.)

Brother look into my eyes/There’s money on my mind/All you need is owe me/I’ve eked out the money/Now your chic wish she knew me/I don’t lather soap/But my nigger I do me/…If you go against me/I’ll throw you down like an idol.

Looks simple enough, right? Wrong. Igbo can be difficult to rap in and rhyme which probably explains why not a lot of people are doing it. Those bits in bold are one of the ways you can tell someone who learnt Igbo from speakers because you won’t really find those in books – at least not the first one, which is a reference to male masturbation (frothing, ejaculating). The second is a nod to the Igbo way of showing displeasure in personal gods. In the old days, personal gods who disappointed or did not perform as expected could be disposed of or burnt aka ‘thrown down’.

There’s a lot of English in this verse and in the whole track in general and I for one wish Phyno would never speak English again, but it serves as a modifier for the Igbo, in a way a lot of us would speak it casually. He even calls it by its popular name: Engili-Igbo.

I am not a music critic by any stretch of the imagination. I can’t tell you anything about the beat or the arrangement or anything like that. But I know what I like: poets in any language, people who make language fresh to the ears. In this, Phyno gets my vote.

Ngwo-Ngwo vs Nkwobi

A friend asked me  ‘What’s the difference between Ngwo-Ngwo and Nkwobi?’ and I didn’t know what to tell her having never tasted Nkwobi before.

When I moved to London a few years ago it was all ‘Nkwobi-this’ and ‘Nkwobi-that’ and I approached it in the same way I do all faddy things – which is not at all. I have never tasted Nkwobi.

It didn’t help that men were just going mad over it like it was the new onugbu soup. You’d have barely said hello on a date before the guy would ask with ill-disguised desperation:

“You can make Nkwobi right?” Trying to contain the drool pouring out of his mouth. And failing.

Needless to say, when I lived in Enfield, women – and they were always women-  who could make Nkwobi were almost always elevated to superstar status. And even then I did not taste it. Even though it looked the same as Ngwo-ngwo. I could not understand the frenzy. Na jazz?

You can imagine how flabbergasted I was to realise that my suspicions were correct. The two are more or less the same. Hiss.

For those who do not know, this is a spicy dish made from goat or cow foot and/or tail, palm oil and in some cases goat brain. Mmmmmmmm….nice creamy brain. My mother never used the brain though and she would often scoop it out when she was making Isi Ewu – another delicacy involving a goat’s head.

*Just FYI, few things in life are as satisfying as scooping out a goat's mushy brain through a gash in the temple after it has been roasted. It looks like a cross between porridge and cottage cheese but it smells so divine! 
*Another FYI, maybe TMI. Goat's teeth are nasty if the cook is careless enough to get them in the dish. (Not my mother though.)

This is something my mother would knock out from boredom which is probably why I am so blasé about it.  I guess she was a superstar too. My father’s friends would eat it and drink palm-wine, laughing into the night while we forced our child-eyes to stay open so as not to miss any gossip.

Some people would say Ngwo-Ngwo differs from Nkwobi in that the former can and does contain other parts of meat/offal as well as the aforementioned limbs and I suppose that could be correct. But I think this is splitting hairs a bit because ultimately  they are both based around the same bits of animal and the technique is the same.

Anyway, I just finished a serious discussion on the subject (yes, this is a serious matter. Take note if you are married to or friends with an Igbo person because this is the stuff wars are made of!) and got sent a video.

Can I just be the first to say that this girl’s accent is making me all warm and fuzzy? I just want to marry her. Is she not the friendliest person you have ever not-met?