Picture this: a woman who runs a restaurant and has been cooking for over ten years suddenly has a problem. She noticed that the afang soup she made a couple of days ago was slightly salty and when she tried to make some draw soup instead, the problem this time around, was oil.
So, she goes to her neighbour’s door and knocks.
This neighbor, is a forty two year old, never married, bachelor; whose claim to kitchen fame is his ability to make instant noodles as directed on the packaging, and boil egg. He says he is able to make afang soup, but only because he has spent years observing his mother making the soup for his father. Ditto ogbono.
He begins to dish out advice and she adheres strictly to it, rationalising by saying to herself “well, his father has been cooking for his mother for years and they are still together so there must be some method to his madness”.
Soup done, she serves it to her customers and now, her problem is not just that the soup is too salty. It is now also peppery, the vegetables are still clinging tightly to the sand they came with; there is a preponderance of seasoning cubes in the soup and you need a canoe to paddle across all the water and find the (sandy) vegetables.
As expected, there is an uproar and all she can muster in her defence is: but our neighbor’s mother is a good afang cook who has cooked it for his father for years, and he always watched his mother while she cooked. How can you ask me not to listen to his afang advice? Must he be able to cook it before he can dispense that advice? Is observation not enough to sharpen his skills?
No, what are you getting angry about, why are you diminishing his experience simply because his hands-on knowledge of cookery is limited to instant noodles and egg? Why discount his mother’s years of cooking for his father?
Wouldn’t you think that it’d have been better for this aunty if she had asked the young man for his mother’s phone number and then taken advice directly from someone who has dirtied her hands cooking afang and therefore knows how many times the vegetables should be washed to get them clear of sand, and exactly how many cubes of maggi is just enough?
In the wake of the fall of an appreciable number of our social media “road modems” from their states of (dis)grace as their followers discovered they were just preaching at the altar, their lives beyond what they were preaching was parallel to the advice they so freely dispensed, Facebook Naija devolved into another drama – A Chimamanda Adichie based drama this time around.
In the midst of the noise one thing stood out for me however. When asked by Trevor Noah to speak on the inspiration behind her “Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions”; Chimamanda reveals that she wrote the book as an expansion of an email she wrote in response to a friend who had asked for her suggestions on how to raise her daughter as a feminist. Soon after Dear Ijeawele, Chimamanda herself had a baby girl and as she said to Trevor, her perspective on everything she had written in that book suddenly changed. She saw how it was easier to give prescriptions on how to raise a child, when you do not have one of your own and are actually raising one. When you do, it becomes an entirely different ball game altogether.
Please note that she didn’t say she no longer believed what she wrote in that book, just that her perspectives on raising a child as a feminist now that she actually had to do so, had shown her that it was much much easier to talk, than it is to do.
I’d be interested in reading any book that she writes now that she actually has to raise a feminist child, in today’s world.
But you see the takeaway from that snippet of information? It is easier to talk than it is to do.
All over the internet, you will find Nigerians who know how to run a country fueled by the steam coming out of both ends of their body – the mouth and the other part that shall not be named herein. You listen to them talk, and they have the blue print for the solution of all of Nigeria’s problems.
Look at Omoyele Sowore for instance, campaign never start and he already knows who and who he is going to jail as soon as he becomes President. He should go and ask his erstwhile best pal Buhari, how far he has gone with all that running of mouth he was doing before the elections.
Talk is cheap! “Talk na do”, is the arena for separating the boys from the men.
Would you send your child to an extra mural class run by your neighbor’s gateman whose only experience in teaching is listening to the teachers in the school next door as they take their daily classes?
Would you sit down and allow the boy who mops the neighborhood barbing salon to “carve” your hair? After all he is in the barbing salon all day and must have picked up bits and pieces from watching his oga “barb” others in his spare time, so is eminently qualified.
Will you take your expensive piece of cloth that has a name and a country of origin and give it to the small girl playing under the table in her mother’s tailoring shop to sew for you? After all she is her mother’s daughter and from observing her mother sew clothes, she must have picked up some skills.
Well, you all handed over a country to someone who bamboozled you with plenty plenty talk without evidence of any experience whatsoever; so anything is possible.
My point? 80% of a marriage happens behind closed doors (and no, I am not talking of whatever it is you are thinking about). 90% of child raising also happens behind closed doors and not on social media status updates.
And for anyone who has been involved in either – marriage or child raising – they will not hesitate to tell you that it is not an easy somtin. A couple who has thirty years of marriage under their belt still find themselves in the divorce court and you hear one saying, “I didn’t know (s)he was like that”.
Good luck to those of you with itchy ears who are always on social media seeking marriage/relationship advice from people without a proven track record of keeping a stable relationship; or who have never had a marriage experience to speak of.
The day you learn that “observing my parents’ marriage” is not the same thing as being in a marriage situation and knowing how to navigate the pitfalls, is the day you will finally receive sense.
Until then, keep the entertainment ball rolling. We are having fun reading your sob stories as they unfold.