At almost 50 years of age, I am free, I am single and enjoying life.
I have my freedom, I can do what I like, my kids are grown up
I cook when I wish to, I go to bed and wake up whenever is convenient for me and basically come and go as I please.
I have a career I love. I am doing what I enjoy doing and unlike many of my married mates, I don’t have to answer to anyone
In short, life is good……
But is it really….?
In London today, there are thousands of marriage-age but unwed Naija ladies.
Many have a story to tell – a reason for their unwed state.
Some are extremely painful. Others, brought upon themselves through recklessness and carelessness.
Others, simply made a conscious choice to be that way.
Many single Naija babes of my age in London have actually been in marriage before. Mostly got wed in the early 90s, had kids and looked forward to a life of wedded bliss with the man of their dreams and everything seemed rosey and blissful – that is before life happened.
Life happened to many in the form of the realisation that their marriage wasn’t out of love – but a marriage of convenience and of love for the land…and its red paali.
A huge number of young Nigerians like myself, left the hallowed shores of Nigeria in droves in the 80s and 90s. Many had finished University or just managed to finish National Service before jumping on the plane to Jand (as London was more popularly known in those days).
Many of us were second generation immigrants or returnees. That is those whose parents came to the UK in the 50s and 60s and had kids here before returning to Nigeria in the 70s. Many of those kids as soon as we were able to lay our hands on our passports or birth certificates, bullied or blackmailed our mum for cash, got our one way tickets and got on the plane out of Lagos fast fast. In many cases, dad was the last to know – when it was already too late to stop us.
My father, God rest his soul, was vehemently against me coming back to the UK.
He didn’t relish the idea of his University Graduate daughter coming to lay beds or wash toilets for any oyinboman. He just could not see that you only get jobs you apply for – or that it was possible for a black person to get a good job here.
My dad lived in the 60s UK and he must have seen a lot – hence his apathy. I must hasten to say that with the exception of 1 day as a dinner lady at a primary school (they fired me cos I spent too much time washing the dishes -properly and not the oyinbo way!) and a very lucrative stint at the post office, from which I made quite a lot of money, I made sure I did not go near any “dirty jobs” in all the years I have been in the UK. In fact, I consider that I have been fairly blessed in that area. Many like me worked cushy office jobs with the Job Centre, Local Council offices, NHS, or the Civil Service Departments in Victoria, Holborn, Westminster etc.
The area where many were not so lucky however, was in marriage.
Because there was also a huge number of folks that came in to the country with 6 months visitors’ visa on their Nigerian passports but had no intention of returning home. The cheapest, easiest and most straight forward way to ensure you got that paali was to marry “omo onilu” (citizen)
Many Britico chicks were sniffed out, toasted, courted and wed by many guys who had their true loves back in Nigeria or had no love at all. Because many of us were at that age where marriage was the next natural step, people got married willy-nilly. Unlike today where people get married, with the proper traditional engagement ceremonies and a great deal of parental involvement, many got married in those days without the parents ever meeting the prospective daughter or son in law. Many neither had the formal traditional introduction or engagement ceremonies.
There were no mobile phones in those days and many homes back in Nigeria didn’t have NITEL phones so communication was very thin and difficult, and many parents didn’t get a lot of chance to speak with or get to know the boy their daughter was dating or courting. Many marriages, hastily put together and held in some registry office, with the reception in the living room, did not have the blessings of the parents.
Alas, many went into marriage blindly, without really knowing the person they were getting married to.
Of course, against all odds, many of the marriages entered into in the 80s have managed to survive. But you will be horrified by some of the stories you hear of the marriages that went sour.
Some of the tales will make you cry. Others will shock you beyond belief. But for some reason, many have still managed to find a way of sticking it out and staying together even though you ask yourself in certain cases “what’s the point?
For there are stories of many that are married and living under the same roof but have hardly spoken a word to each other in months! And it is not strange to hear of a married man having other kids or another family in this same City. In a certain case, on the same council estate!
Many marriages did very well indeed until after 2 years – after the bobo became official UK resident and got his “indefinite”. In those days, everything was easy in the UK. After marrying a UK citizen, you applied straight away for your papers and you got your leave to stay in 2 short years.That was the time many of these marriages started to unravel. The temporary love disappeared to be replaced with indifference or hostility. The bobo is now “legal” so he is now free to go and come as he pleased.
With no more need to keep up the pretence of being a happily married man, bobos often reverted back to living single. Staying out for days, which became weeks and in many cases, stretched into years. And those that didn’t stay out, resorted to physical violence or mental assualt in order to frustrate and terrorise the poor wife into leaving the matrimonial home or just routinely picked fights to make life unbearable for the poor girl.
Many marriages existed like this until one either got tired of living in a war zone, gave up and left.
Others, simply lived with things until eventually, divine intervention and maturity came in when they were both close to their 50s and both settled down to the semblance of a happy home.
With the exception of those that lost their homes through their own recklessness or carelessness – being caught “cutting shows” or allowing their mother to come in and call the shots in their matrimonial home, or other daft things that some women bring upon themselves, a lot of older single women, find themselves in their situation due to no fault of theirs or after having been pushed to the point or position that leaving their husband is the only life and sanity saving option left to them. Others, are just forced, pushed or kicked out.
Many such singletons, would have mostly brought up their kids single handedly even while still being married. Nowadays, I go out an I see young men proudly pushing their babies in pushchairs. That never happened in our time. In fact if any of my ex in-laws had seen anything like that, my exit would have been even swifter! And that would be after I would have been accused of “jazzing” their son.
UK boasts of the greatest number of married single parent households, possibly in the world.
At various points, you would encounter many mothers but you would never see a man with them even though they are legally married. I went through my 30s and 40s with many of my friends and colleagues never really knowing I had ever been married or any idea whom my husband was. He simply didn’t feature much.
But back to the real spirit of this article.
After what must seem like a lifetime of aloneness, single handedly raising kids and bearing the burden of 2 people all alone, many of these women put their lives back together and manage to make something of themselves.
Unfortunately, these are also easy prey for a new type of predator. Just as many unscrupulous boys sniffed out female British citizens for marriage in those days, many guys sniff out single and seemingly vulnerable divorcees and single parents for nothing other than exploitation and deception. And if you happen to drive what seems like an expensive car that you have to scrape and scrimp to be able to afford the fuel alone, many see you as a “Big Chick” and pounce – expecting or assuming that you drive around with a Ghana bag filled with pounds sterling sitting carelessly on your back seat!
Many guys see single big chicks as their ATM. Always losing their oyster card or accidentally deliberately leaving their wallet at home when they take a woman out. Others will hit on you for all kinds of loans payable the next day – that never arrives.
Many Single Big Chicks who find themselves in their enforced singleton situation, quickly wise up and learn not to be fooled or taken in by these predators. In my case, after a couple of massive dating disasters following my enforced divorce 10 years ago, I decided – from now on, its singleness for me. I threw myself into my career and the rest is history.
Many of us enjoy the complimentary and flattering attention of predatory guys – cos believe me, to be a successful schemer and predator, you need to obtain a post graduate degree in charm and flattery. And some of these guys are so good that they will sugar talk a plane out of the skies! But after a while, you will learn to recognize them from afar, and simply use them to your advantage. You let them pay you attention, compliment you and toast you – to boost your ego and rreassure you that you’ve still got it – and then run very fast and don’t stop till you get home.
Remarriage opportunities for Single Big Chicks are very thin on the ground. And unless you are really favored enough to find another bloke in a similar situation, or one approaching 50 like you, but who is so bad that no woman has ever considered marrying him, or one who unfortunately has lost his wife through the cold hands of death – the pot of eligible suitors for women in this group is almost empty. Hence, many turn to small boys young enough to be their 3rd baby brother.
There is a story of a lady in her 50s who shacked up with a 20something young bobo. His mum had to travel down all the way from Ilesha to rescue her poor baby boy from Auntie!
Others find “borrowing” a married bobo for part time marriage to be their own answer but these never end well, and many of them end in shows of shame usually in public between the full time missus and the part time wifey.
Life for a big single chick can be very lonely indeed. You will find that many of the women in your group or network who are still married, with the exception of a few secure and confident ones, will keep you at arms length for fear that you might take an interest in their husbands.
And the church for all the good it does, and all the good it’s supposed to do, can even be the most lonely place for this group of women. Many churches hold seminars for couples, the youth, married woman married men and even the elders. But blatantly ignore the divorcees or single parents in their midst. Every year end, many churches hold couple’s dinner – posh lavish red black tie events but the divorced are banned from these hallowed gathering. In fact, divorcees in many churches are akin to tolerated pariahs and second class christians.
Single or divorced women are encouraged to be church workers but are rarely made ministers. As a matter of fact, dating and remarriage by the divorced are frowned upon and even disallowed by many churches. Rarely will you hear Pastors mention single parents or divorces when praying for those desiring to marry.
Sex for this group of women, is a minefield. Unless one is dead from the neck down, the most basic of all human urges and needs – never goes away. I am constantly being asked by friends “how can you possibly live without sex?” Most days, I ask my self the same question and I often wonder if I was going to die without ever having sex again!!! At least a man – as one of my male pals told me recently, can personally sort himself out. But for a woman, even the expensive to maintain DIY tools aren’t good enough replacements for the warmth and touch of another human being. So you simply just sit and endure. And if you are a highly sensual or physical woman – God help you.
Unfortunately, many women get into so much trouble from being led by their high natural appetites.
The inability for so many to control their raging hormones or find ways to cope with the waves or arousal when they come upon them is what pushes them into the arms and the beds or back seats of the cars of many inappropriate men or boys since there aren’t many places in London you can go to for a quickie. And this unfortunately is how many end up with several babies with different daddies.
Ironically, married folks take their Sex life for granted and cannot see how this can be a hardship for single or divorced women. Many pour judgement and condemnation upon single women caught “fornicating” failing to realise that when you are married, you are guaranteed a sex partner whenever the desire takes you and no matter how infrequently you have sex as a couple, you know you definitely have somewhere you can get if from. But as a single woman, you are truly on your own or you sometimes take your satisfaction wherever you can get it.
Sometimes I find myself panicking when I think of the fact that my youngest is almost 16. In a few years she’ll be off to Uni – and then its me all alone by myself in a huge house.
Nowadays, I still have all my three at home. My first has graduated and is now b ach home working – and marriage beckons soon. Number two starts Uni in September and wants to move as far away from home as possible – for the fist time. And even though they are all still at home, I hardly see them as each person remains firmly in their own “quarters” in the house and only come out when hunger visits; and any unwarranted visit by yours truly is mostly frowned upon as invasion of privacy. But at least, I have the consolation that I have 3 other people with me in the house – well, kind of.
Which means that all the prayers I have been sending upwards for the past 10 years for a second chance – I have to start doing double shift on them!
But after all has been said and done, there is a lot that can be said for a life of singleness. A life of self discovery, of self development and of self contentment and independence If one knows how to go about it, it’s not so bad after all. And if one can’t learn to be happy as a single person, there’s no way one can be happy with another person around. And sometimes, a period of singleness can actually be put to good use serving in the community, in the House of God and in getting used to whom one really is as a woman and as a person. So that when that second chance person finally arrives, they meet not just a chick, but a totally, well developed and all rounded woman.
I firmly believe in the tenderness and loving kindness of God. A God of second chances. Moses out of anger smashed the tablets of the 10 commandments and broke them into pieces. But God gave him another fresh set of tablets with the same commandments. He didn’t write Moses off – neither did He stay angry with him or refuse to replace the tablets.
But to folks out there, please if you are one with the habit of preying on Single Big Chicks or single parents kindly reconsider your ways. These women have things bad enough as it is, without predators adding to their problems and troubles.
The condition, however, is no respecter of person.
And it can happen to anyone – your sister, daughter or cousin. So please I urge you to treat these women, the same way you would want others to treat your own family members.
What goes around, often comes around.
But to my fellow single ladies out there, don’t dwell too much on your current status but embrace it and make the best use of it. Believe me, there are a lot of married women that envy you your freedom.
Also, do not allow yourself to be picked by a man. Rather, take your time to shop around and make sure you end up with exactly what you want. Don’t be desperate or too much in a hurry to settle down cos this is why many find themselves settling for second best – Mr Wrong but available.
And if you must enter into any relationship, make sure you vet, scrutinize, test and retest that bobo. Make sure you are both reading from the same book and want the same things before you go committing your heart – and body. You can have fun with a man without having sex. Learn to say NO and only give what you are happy and ready to give.
Do not feel that you are under any obligation to “keep” a man. If he is serious about you, he will respect you and respect himself around you. In fact, a serious bloke will want you to see him in the best possible light. Once a guy starts hitting you for cash, know for certain that he sees you as a cash cow and that pattern will continue till a richer babe comes along.
Loneliness has been the reason many single ladies have fallen into the trap of unhealthy and toxic relationships. But in this day and age, loneliness can be overrated. Between Facebook, instagram, Twitter, church programs, clubs, movie premieres, comedy events, business networking events – there is more than enough to keep any single person very busy. Learn to go out and attend events by yourself or find a tight network of girlfriends to roll with.
Most of all, stop seeing yourself as a victim and beware of making yourself one. Focus more on developing yourself, making money and enjoying your life.
Statistics show that true love does come. And it mostly comes when you are not looking. Only make sure you’re not fooling around with Mr Wrong when true love does arrive.
And most importantly, let him find you in a “good place” and in the right state of mind.
Copyright Jummy Ariyo
22 June 2015