Re-examining the stereotype of the Nigerian Man By Nelson Paul-Akhabue

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Have you ever been present when someone (women especially) makes a definitive, matter-of-fact statement like ‘Nigerian men would not do that’ or ‘that’s an oyinbo thing. A Nigerian man cannot do it’ or ‘Nigerian men are this…or that’?
I’m guessing you have because we hear it all the time.
I once participated in a film training where the dear facilitator was certain that no Nigerian man would die for his partner the way Jack did for Rose in Titanic and I remember disagreeing with her. Of course I didn’t say that all Nigerian men are eagerly waiting for a chance to be romantic heroes who die to prove their undying love, I’ll tell you what I said to her in a little bit but for now may I get into just a few stereotypes of the Nigerian man and ascertain how true or false they are in reality.

I’ve heard Nigerian men are not sacrificial; in other words, that Nigerian men are self-centered. They say this selfishness plays out everywhere; from the living room at disbursement-of funds-for-house-keeping time to the bedroom at that-time-to-ignore-the-time time.
Is this true? Yes it is. Is it false? You bet it is. And you know why it is both, don’t you? Just as there are self-centered men in general and there are also sacrificial loving men, so also are there self-centered Nigerian men and very sacrificial altruistic Nigerians. Somebody may argue that the selfish ones are more and hence the stereotype. I’m not sure about that. But even if that’s in fact the case, I daresay that amongst humans in general bad traits are more commonplace than noble traits just as charcoal is more commonplace than gold. It is what it is.
Let’s see a few more specific stereotypes.
1. Nigerian men are not romantic. I used to think so too. I thought that my father’s generation of Nigerian men didn’t treat their women well and were particularly guilty of the lack-of-romance charge but as I grew up and observed and listened I understood that most of them whose romance appeared to be zilch were not always that way. Time, circumstances and age had contrived to extinguish the flame. When many of these now elderly Nigerian men were in their twenties, thirties and forties they were steamily romantic and often downright naughty and mischievous (as some of us now are). I’ve seen pictures and heard stories and I’m convinced of this.
Now who’s to say if any young man, Nigerian or not, that now considers himself romantic will still be a passionate and creative Romeo in his sixties, seventies, eighties…?
So what’s my judgement on this stereotype? There may be a basis for it but it is still a false generalization from where I stand.

2. Nigerian men don’t go down on their wives (partners). Excuse me…Sorry, I had to take a second to laugh out loud! Now, honestly I really can’t say if this is true or false because most of the Nigerian males I’ve talked to about this either claim to have never done it or find it distasteful and unmanly. So maybe women have a case here. Maybe. However, because of the few I know (most of them from the younger generation) who see it as a critical item of the love-making agenda; I’m unwilling to say this stereotype is true. So can I just abstain from voting on this? Thank you.

3. No Nigerian man would die for his woman like Jack did for Rose in Titanic! First of all I do not think that Jack set out to die for Rose. He did what he had to do to keep his girl comfortable even if it caused him great discomfort. I choose to believe that somewhere at the back of his mind he hoped against hope that help would come and they would all be saved. He just died before help came. I’ve seen men, yes Nigerian men, rise for ladies (young and old) in BRT buses. I’ve seen Nigerian husbands give their wives regular use of the car while they take cabs and buses. So I know that when push comes to shove such men will do the needful for the safety and security of their women. If death is the consequence, so be it.

So you see…that’s just false. And that’s exactly what I told my facilitator at the training I mentioned earlier.

I’m sure there are many more stereotypes of the Nigerian man but hearing them I can already tell that most of them are false. Am I biased? Maybe.

Nelson Paul-Akhabue is a trained philosopher and Nollywood screenwriter with deep interests in spirituality, romance and entertainment. You can read more of his articles at Follow him on twitter @Nel_PAkhabue

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