Open Letter to the Nigerian Man

Open Letter to the Nigerian Man

As a Nigerian woman, I am constantly being reminded of my place in relation to marriage (even though I am presently single). I am forever being told of the limits of my existence and the boundaries I must work within.

It has been stressed that when I want to begin having a child and when I want to stop, is a decision that is out of my hands. I’ve been warned that if I cannot cook and keep home, I won’t be able to keep a man. I have been harangued about my appearance and cautioned about my independence. But each time I wonder, whilst it seems that getting married will be the equivalent of an exchange of the keys to my cell between father and husband, will my man also give up his freedom when he takes his vows?

Nigerian men love to remind you that they are the head of the home. But surely you know that with great power comes great responsibility. You are not made leaders so you can lord authority over those you shepherd, nor is it given to you to further elevate yourself. Rather, as a leader, you are expected to assist those who follow you to achieve their full potential. It is a position of sacrifice, not of advantage.

To submit to someone means to yield to the will or authority of another, in the way one would a president, an employer or a teacher. It does not mean that the individual choosing to yield suddenly loses their brain and their ability to think for themselves. When my employer makes a suggestion, if I don’t agree, I state my argument and I expect that he/she will lend an objective ear, whether or not the final decision reflects my points. The problem is, you have interpreted your authority as meaning you don’t have to listen at all, as meaning whatever you say goes. But even God listened to the pleas and arguments of man, and if He could, who are you to think nothing can be added to your point of view?

The other day, on Smooth Fm, the OAPs discussed how men helping out in the home was foreign to our culture as Nigerians. And they lamented how, these days, women demanded assistance with the cooking and so on. What surprised me, was the loudest of the lamenters was a woman. So perhaps it is no surprise that change is happening slowly, when even the women do not seek their liberty.

We are women, not slaves. Women, not hired helps. Women, not mats. We are educated, we are strong, we are intelligent, we are beautiful. And if you marry us, you marry a three dimensional being with views, hopes and desires that are not there for you to squash, nor there for you to bury with chore upon chore upon chore. If your wife does not blossom under your care, you are doing something wrong.

You think we got the short end of the stick, when we were asked to submit. But don’t you realize that when you were called to love, you were given the greater task? A whole chapter in the bible was dedicated to what encompasses love – long sufferance, forgiveness, kindness and so on. So before you remind us of our role, ask yourself, are you fulfilling yours?

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo and has been freelancing as a writer and editor since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self published work. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam.


  1. Loved this!

    We complain about our country’s poor leadership all the time, that our officials are serving their interests first and not the people’s. But look at what’s going on in some of our homes?

  2. This is loaded! I pray the Nigerian man reads this and hears us. It is still very much a man’s world unfortunately.

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