FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
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DEAR IMPORTED BEAU, I AM AN AMERICAN NIGERIAN

I am an American Nigerian.

o not confuse this with a Nigerian American who is first a Nigerian then an American. After 25 years in the United States, I have spent over half of my life in this country and it has shaped my thinking and behavior tremendously. As such, I am first an American before I am a Nigerian. Hence, we need to talk about our cultural differences.

On time: I'm that person who starts tapping her feet in church when the service runs past the end time stated on the bulletin. When invited to a party, I ask for time given Americans because I value punctuality.

On unannounced visitors: I am friendly, but I don't like people to come into my space or my home unannounced. When people crash in on my time, I may not be as friendly as desired. All I require is a heads up that you're on your way since I have my day planned and unless you inform me, I'll not be available for chit chat. And no visitor stays in my home, interminably.

On dress: I hope to please you, but I will dress in my own taste. Fortunately, I cover enough of my body not to be risqué but I'm very sensitive to critiques of my looks and style. You know that joke, "When I wife asks how I look in this dress?" Always say, "You look great." Pay me compliments and I will blossom. Remember, you'll get more with honey than with vinegar.

On submission: I understand submission only because I was told it is a part of Yoruba culture; a culture I have not lived for a quarter century! I've pretty much lived my own life here. I've attended and graduated college; got a job, lost a job, built a business, bought a house, and set up my life. All without submitting to anybody. This is not to say, the husband is not the head of the household, but…

On household chores: You're coming into a 50-50 partnership - two people who have lived full, independent lives, coming together to build something greater. Though I hold the title, the house will be our home and we will both have to contribute to its upkeep. You'll take out the trash, mow the lawn, shovel snow, and other manly tasks. Or if you prefer, cook, do laundry, and clean the house. Choose any chore but be prepared to chip in.

On yelling: My Nigerian American parents yell; I don't. When I argue, I make my points clearly without raising my voice. I'll expect the same courtesy.

On rights: Titles on house, business premises, car, and stocks are all in my name. But, so are the bills. The names on my certificates would not change. Indeed, much would not change legally until you start making enough money to pay taxes and bills and we begin to buy properties together.

On America: Things work differently here. There are laws governing marriage and how you treat your spouse. And I know more about how things work here than you do on landing; as such, prudence dictates you allow me to show you the ropes. After all, when things work out for you, it will be beneficial for us both.

I may not be white or even born in America, but I am an American and you'll do well to assume you're marrying an Oyinbo woman who can cook Amala and Gbegiri.


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