After a long period of hot weather, a mild shower that blessed the Saturday morning was very soothing. With everybody still in lockdown, there was just no need to get out of bed. I simply luxuriated in the beauty of the morning, reminiscing and sorting out various things in my mind, until I began to hear a loud argument that was coming from a bungalow adjacent to the block of flats where I live. As my flat was higher than the bungalow, I could quite clearly hear what was being said that cool, quiet morning devoid of the sound of the ubiquitous generators in many compounds. As the argument progressed and voices of the couple rose to a crescendo, the next thing I heard was a vicious slap, followed by punches and the loud wailing of the woman. Though she screamed out so loud, one could still hear the sound of the bolt of their next door neighbour rushing out to find out what was amiss.
It turned out that the husband of the woman, Mr. Jerry, a driver that works with an inter-state transport company had given his wife N25, 000 to stock foodstuff in preparation for the COVID-19 lockdown announced by the government.
Madam went to market and bought half bag of rice and spent the rest of the money on the complete set of Mary-Kay powder (foundation, translucent, etc). She came back with raw rice, no ingredients and the decent pink sizeable Mary-Kay cellophane pack. Husband asked to see what she bought, her response was, “I have been asking you to buy me my favourite powder, but you refused. So, when you gave me money to buy foodstuff, I bought rice and my cosmetics, hoping you would bring more money for further stock.” Jerry could not hold it as he felt his wife was very inconsiderate and insensitive. The argument that ensued between them dragged on till morning when his anger was driven to the point that he descended on her, beating her mercilessly and asking rhetorically, between cosmetics and foodstuff, which one is a necessity and priority now? Is this the right time to buy cosmetics when you have four children, a help and we, their parents? Our business is inter-state transportation which is on lock down, and no one knows when we would bounce back.”
Interestingly, with the compulsory panic buying that hit parents across board, the children are also not helping matter as they are only sitting down in the house eating, to the extent that most homes have locked down on every other project with full attention now focused on feeding the family alone. Parents with three to four teenage children can best tell their ‘testimony’ on this. In this precarious time, some women who should show real feminism are failing in their roles as wives and mothers. A woman told her husband, “It is my 40th birthday and since I do not want to commit the same offence like Funke Akindele and her husband, who threw a birthday bash in violation of the government’s order to observe social distance. Please convert the cost of the party into a Toyota Camry (Cobra Eye) 2020 model.”
Her husband considered her request as very overbearing: “You are thinking of a brand new car in this season of hunger? When humanity is the order of the day now?” Her husband reminded her of a popular quote of Mother Theresa: “If you can’t feed a 100 people then feed just one.” He felt she should have considered the possible outcome of the present economic situation. Have you as a wife considered where the pendulum would swing with the number of people testing positive to Coronavirus every day in Nigeria? The global economy is now in recession and this will definitely affect Africa and Nigeria in particular. What if both of them tested positive to the virus? He, therefore, considered her request for a brand new luxury car to be absolutely out of order when hunger is ravaging homes.
Due to the lockdown, daily income earners have been stranded. Take the case of Churchill, who was a tricycle driver before the ban on Keke and he diverted to repairing of mobile phones, to earn daily income to survive. He had not even established well on his new found business before the lockdown happened. He complained bitterly that his wife has been very unfair since this period. “My wife knows it has been challenging feeding the family, yet she makes unnecessary demands for money. If you raise a token and ask her to use it in the best way for the family, she would spend it on beverages and bread which finish in no time and the children would get hungry almost immediately. I have asked her several times about what happened to staple foods in the market.
In the same vein, Mama Ebuka has brought a long list of housewares to be repaired in their home. The DSTV subscription has expired; one air-conditioner unit is no longer cooling, and the need to touch up the children’s room. Her husband cancelled out the entire list and said, “I will only recharge news channels on DSTv only within this period of lockdown. We will only spend money on the most necessary things like food and toiletries. All other requests are cancelled until the situation improves.”
A woman is a feminist not by being a pain in the neck, but by standing with her family when the need arises. Competition and unnecessary demand will not make one a super woman, but the ability to overcome the challenge is what makes you super. The question is, are you in marriage to punish your beloved husband or to stand with him to achieve success? A great woman knows when to strike; when to make a demand and knows the right buttons to press to achieve success. When a woman puts herself together without cheap and emotional blackmail, she is at the top of the world, but unnecessary demands would drive the man away further.
In this era of COVID-19, women are supposed to show that special creativity that makes them female. All unnecessary demands make a woman cheap and overbearing because real women have gone past the level of waiting on a man to provide their needs. To some women who see it as a time to grab whatever they can from their locked-down men, I want to promptly tell you that the COVID-19 era is rather a time to take responsibility and bond as a family. It is a time to stand with one another and truly be brother’s and sister’s keeper, with overall support across all ages, races, tribes, political and religious affiliations. Women are blessed with quality attributes to serve as game changers, multi-task and earn their respect. It is rather a time women should create awareness, take the Coronavirus safety measures seriously and win the battle.
Dear Nigerian women, let me give you this quote by the former Group Managing Director, ASCON Oil, Mrs. Grace Olowofoyeku, who said this about women in an interview: “Though the husband is the head of the family, it is ordained that men shall be the breadwinners for the family, I still strongly believe that women should go out to work, women should build their careers and pursue their dreams and be able to complement the efforts of their husbands. What is wrong in a woman being financially independent? My money is different from our money. When you work and earn money, you learn the value of money and learn how to be prudent. But if you don’t work and earn money, you will spend it carelessly.”