Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ugwu Nwanyi; The Pride of an African Woman.

Last Month I went to my Hometown in South Eastern Nigeria to visit my paternal Grandmother and other members of my Umunna as it's now a tradition for Igbos in Diaspora to come back Home almost every December(or once in every 2 or 5 years) . It was a lovely experience as I get to spend much time with my Octogenarian Grandmother. She has a very wonderful Routine; she wakes up in the Morning, pray the Rosary and take her bath. She would later sit down on a mat at our big Varenda and wait for younger women to come visit her and seek her advice on family issues. It was a wonderful prospect for the 19 years old me to watch her give advice in fluent Igbo Language.
On one of the Occasions, a young woman in her late 20's or early 30's (difficult to tell her age, she looked overworked for a young person) came crying to my Grandmother.  She came to complain to her about how her husband whipped her with his leather belt (she showed my granny her swollen back) and as if that was not enough, he forcefully took (stole) her #3000 which she use for her petty trade. From the discussion, it was easy for me to guess that this is not the first time She's reporting such issues to my Grandmother. I could tell. She constantly reminded her about the last time. The other time and the time before but what baffled me was that she was less concerned about the beatings, she was worried about the Money (#3000) for her petty trade if not she won't be able to Trade and her children will sleep on empty stomach.
My Grandmother asked her to endure everything and never to nurture any thoughts of leaving her husband. Its an Alu. Abomination. She told her to always look after her children and to always pray for God to 'touch' her husband and 'change' him for good. She ended by saying (in her own words) ' You must never leave your husband house. Ugwu Nwanyi bu be di ya'. I was moved out of pity for the poor woman so I went inside the house and returned with #5000 and a tuber of yam. She thank me in tears and left.
Ugwu Nwanyi bu be di ya. It's not the first time am hearing that phrase; I have heard it many times when my parents had Quarrels and my Aunty will always remind my mother that 'A Woman's Pride Is Her Husband's House'. Wow.
Now lets ignore the Ridiculousness of the phrase and focus on the grief injustice the phrase has forced women to Face. The phrase is weight down with injustice and sometimes I ask my self what then is the Pride of a Man?
Marriage as it functions today in Africa is a thing of Ownership rather than a thing of Partnership (to be discuss later on). The Man owns the Woman and the Woman owes the Man Respect and Loyalty. Marriage is not an Achievement. It's also not a do or die affair, its supposed to be a partnership between two adults, a thing of Love & Joy & Mutual Support . But it now a thing of ownership and unequal sacrifices. Years ago my Aunty got an Employment opportunity in Lagos but she lived with her husband and children in Port Harcourt, so she has to let go because 'Ugwu Nwanyi bu be di ya' & years later she got a divorce but the position was no longer vacant. What a loss?
In most marriages,  it is the duty of the Woman to 'endure'. If a Man Cheats, then probably the Woman pushed him to the hands of another Woman but  if the Wife Cheats; she's an Akwuna and not fit for the role of Motherhood. In Marriage, women sacrifice their Dream,  Job and Ambitions but the Man 'sacrifice' what shouldn't be at all like Late Nights, Smoking Habit or anything that shouldn't be. They should be a Change in the way Marriage is seen, it should be enjoyable and Women should be allowed Multiplicity of Roles. A wife can be a Mother, a Worker and not a Housewife.
My Poor Grandmother is a product of an African Society that believes the role of an African Woman is to endure Pains and Violence. That's what her generation believed but things have changed.  Twins were killed in her generation but not anymore.  Someone has to take the bold step. Finally,  Write Books that talk about ' How to Keep a Woman Happy ' because there are already too many Books that talk about ' How to Keep a Man Happy '. And to the Women, dare to Speak and Please never be socialise to Silence.
What a narrow definition for Women's Pride?

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