Archive for the ‘TRAVEL. LIFESTYLE. FASHION’ Category

Gays, Lesbians and Legislative zealotry

by Wole Soyinka

LET us go back a little, nearly a year ago, to that earlier attempt to interfere in, and legislate on sexual conduct between consenting adults. Profiting from that experience, I would like to caution – yet again – that it is high time we learnt to ignore what we conveniently designate and react to as ‘foreign interference’.  By now, we should be able to restrict ourselves to the a priori  position that, as rational beings, we make pronouncements on choices of ethical directions from our own collective and/or majority will, independent of what is described as ‘external dictation’. The noisome emissions that surged from a handful of foreign governments last year should not be permitted to obscure the fundamental issue of the right to private choices of the free, adult citizen in any land – Asian, African, European etc. Those external responses were of such a nature – hysterical, hypocritical and disproportionate – that, speaking for myself at least, I could only wonder if they had not been generated by a desperate need for distraction away from the economic crisis that confronted, at that very time, those parts of the world.

Hopefully, the majority of Nigerians have also learnt to sniff out ploys of legislative distraction within the nation.  At that initial attempt to cloak prurience in legislative watchfulness, the timing of the removal of the oil subsidy was coincident with a sudden obsession with homosexual and lesbian conduct. Was this truly an accident of timing?  And now? Attempting to mobilize public sentiment against what many, admittedly, do consider deviant sexual conduct certainly takes attention away from the crumbling of society and the failures of governance in multiple directions. These range from minimal infrastructural expectations to mind-boggling escalation of corrupt practices in high places, and the basic issue of security in day-to-day existence of the populace as it affects high and low, affluent or impoverished, old and young, regardless of profession or records of service to Nigerian humanity.

But, to begin with, I implore all those who boast the capacity for reason: let us separate two distinct, albeit related issues within that one bill tabled before our legislatures. One issue is: homosexual practice; the other, same-sex marriage. I first became aware of, and alarmed by, the conflation of the two – quite deliberate in most cases – when, after a lecture at the University of Technology, Calabar,  a year ago, I advised the legislators to mind the numerous, and urgent businesses for which they were elected, and take their noses out of sexual practices between consenting adults.  Either deliberately – as I have already indicated – or thanks to the now familiar deficiency in listening that sadly characterizes Nigerian responses to public pronouncements, the main reactions were unleashed against something I had not even commented upon, which was:  same-sex marriage. With the now confirmed outing of this bill however, the law-makers have served notice that their monitoring zeal is intended at nothing less than the right of state interference in private lives, especially in personal relations of the most intimate kind. This is the warning shot of legislative fascism. It has no place in a democracy.

Basically, such legislations constitute improper encroachment on personal lives, leaving the door wide open for all forms of social persecution, intimidation and even – as we know very well in this society – incitement to violence against targeted individuals, including lynching.  Next, as several nations all over the world have come to acknowledge after centuries of blindness and hideous injustice, such state interventions glorify ignorance of the science of the human body, and contribute to the elevation of limited or zero knowledge on any subject to the altar of the morally sacrosanct.

The biological truth is this: some are born with imprecise gender definition, even when they have sexual organs that appear to define them male or female. Years, indeed decades, of scientific research have gone into this, so what is needed is understanding and acceptance, not emotionalism and the championing of ‘moral’ or ‘traditional’ claims.  Let us take the first. For those who base their position on moralities extracted from received scriptures, permit me to state bluntly that articles of faith are no substitute for scientific verities, no matter how passionately such faiths are embraced or espoused, or for how long. In any case, faith is also a very private matter, so what we have here is simply one private plaintiff, a ‘conscientious objector’, attempting to lord it over the rights of another private entity, this time one that yields to sexual impulses in obedience to Biological Scriptures. Now, which one should lay claim to precedence?

We must make up our minds where we belong.  We must choose either to create a society that is based on secular principles, or else surrender ourselves to the authority of – no matter whose – theocratic claims. What this implicates is that the next time a woman is sentenced to be buried live in the ground and stoned to death on the authority of one set of scriptures, other scripture adherents must learn to hold their peace and allow such ‘laws’ to run their course. The full implications of either position leave no room for fence-sitting. The national train must run either on secular rails or derail at multiple theocratic switches. No theology can be privileged over another in the running of society.  This means, theology and its derivates cannot be privileged over material reality and its derivatives.

The science of the body is not limited to issues of consenting adults alone. It is what guides the making of laws in rational societies, what makes the law frown decisively on sexual relations with the under-aged, and spells out just what the law means by ‘underage’ in specific years of existence. Adult males earn several years in prison for sexual relations with the under aged because scientific knowledge has identified – beyond argument – the often irreparable damage that is done to a pre-pubescent body through sexual penetration by males. Society therefore protects the potential victim. Has an adult homosexual run to the law for protection in any society we know of? Only where they have been, or are in danger of becoming victims of rape – and there, the law is firmly on their side. Otherwise, the law should have no interest whatsoever in any form of consensual sexual conduct between adults.

So far, we have only addressed the issue of the homosexual act itself as it should concern – or should not – a nation’s legislatures.  Let us now turn to the related problem of same-sex marriages. My interest is not – as a hysterical prelate, among others, tried to over-simplify in his reaction to my observation in Calabar – it is not whether or not homosexual marriages should be permitted or banned. Let us take it step by step.  The issue, to start with, is – ‘criminalisation’!  Perhaps such marriages exist in Nigeria – I am not aware of them. But we do know that homosexual liaisons exist. Are they granted the status of marriage? Not that I am aware of. Was there a threat somewhere that this might soon happen? Are they a menace to society? Again, all this is shrouded under legislative mystery. No case, to the best of my knowledge, has been brought to public notice where a court registry has been compelled to register same-sex marriages. No priest has been hauled up so far for sanctifying such a marriage. Always open to debate is the right of institutions (civil or state) to be part of the formal mechanisms for pledges that adults undertake in their relations with one another. Priests – of any religious adherence – remain free to refuse to become involved in the ceremonies of such associations. Individuals cannot be compelled to endorse such conduct. It remains their right to privately ostracize or embrace such liaisons – formal or informal. The state however overreaches itself where it moves to criminalize them. Biology takes precedence over ‘moral’ sentiment. Physiological compositions are increasingly held responsible for a number of mental and/or physical predispositions. Only in the past few decades was schizophrenia successfully tracked backwards to – among other causes – the contraction by mothers of some forms of ailment during pregnancy, as well as to genetic transmission. We should learn to listen wherever the voice of the empirical can be called upon to testify in human conduct.

On the ‘moralists‘, we urge a sense of proportion, and a turn towards objectivity. Yes, a society without moral signposts is only a glorified arena of brute instincts. Nonetheless, morality is far too often mired in subjectivity, sometimes touted as ‘revelation’, erected on untested foundations, increasingly subject to mass hysteria and manipulation. Morality therefore – we must re-emphasize – when applied to the private realm of the human body,  must take second place to biology – morality either as derived from cultural usage or religious givens. We are speaking of – plain biological human composition, over which no individual has any control whatsoever. No individual was responsible for his or her birth, for emerging as a precocious being, a budding genius, or handicapped – either mentally or physiologically.  Those who evoke ‘morality’ so loosely should take care that they do not keep company with theocratic warlords like al-Shabaab of Somalia, who instituted amputation at the wrist for anyone found guilty of the ‘immoral’ act of shaking hands with a fellow human being of the opposite sex!

Permit me to address some of the anxieties – publicly addressed or not – that I happen to have encountered. No one denies the perverse agency of ‘peer pressure’ in certain societies – or institutions – where homosexuality is considered ‘fashionable’, or even becomes a membership card for advancement in some professions.  It is also the admissible right of the individual to experience and express disgust at the mere thought of homosexual conduct: the complement, incidentally, also obtains among some homosexuals with regard to heterosexual practice. I have encountered some who declare that the very thought of heterosexual act makes them sick.  Also, there exist the bi-sexual individuals who live and die at ease – or with resignation – with their complex anatomy. None of these tendencies justifies criminalization. The heterosexual – or ‘straight’, to use that tendentious expression – minds his or her business like the rest. Laws, if any are promulgated in these cases, should be towards the protection of the vulnerable in society, vulnerable from whatever cause, including deviations from the sexuality of the majority genders. Non-consensual conduct is a different matter, or coercion, such as rape or other forms of sexual abuse, and these apply both to the homosexual and the heterosexual. I have had occasion to intervene in boarding schools to demand protection for some young pupils whose lives were bedeviled by sexual harassment from their senior colleagues. Their teachers turned a deaf ear to the victims’ complaints to an extent that virtually amounted to connivance. Now that is one area against which legislators might usefully want to turn their legislative ire – such teachers deserve to be brutally purged from their positions and made to face prosecution.

I shall be remiss if I do not also to address the appalling evidence of hypocrisy among the law makers. New laws are being proposed for private conduct that has never constituted a danger to the fabric of society. By contrast, the notorious violation of existing laws by a member of the law-making fraternity was rendered a non-event by a conspiratorial silence, amounting to connivance and enthronement of impunity.  A former governor and present Senator violated the laws of two lands – Egypt and Nigeria – through his sexual behaviour. Serial paedophilia and cross-border sex trafficking are criminalized near universally. Laws for the protection of minors are rigorously enforced in civilized societies. On that, and allied issues, the law-making conclaves of wise men and women remained mute or conciliatory. An opportunity to enforce the existing laws in high places as a high profile deterrent to others was simply discarded. No new laws have been proposed, not even as a sop to outraged public conscience, to re-criminalize such acts, yet the legislatures take time off to make laws that criminalize private conduct that have not constituted a threat to the well-being of the vulnerable in society.

Is it too much to ask that our legislators cool their moral ardour for a study period during which they seek to understand a phenomenon that many hold abhorrent? (Please note: this is not intended as yet another incentive to undertake expensive study tours around the world – the relevant publications are available everywhere.)  If there are scientific explanations for homosexual conduct —  and these have been expounded in profusion — then a process of education is called for, enabling a more empathetic response to what appears an aberration to the majority. That it appears an aberration to some does not however make it immoral or socially subversive.  And foreign interventionists should – let me repeat – at least exercise a sense of proportion, recalling that even within their own societies, such issues are still up for debate, with see-saw decisions between state and federal courts – examples include the United States – right up to the present. The high moral grounds that those nations attempt to occupy by hurling threats of sanctions etc etc. merely strike one as extreme cases of hypocrisy, unmindful of their own scriptural injunctions that urge: ‘Physician, heal thyself ”

This article was previously posted here http://www.ynaija.com/wole-soyinka-gays-lesbians-and-legislative-zealotry/

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A few months ago, I received a forwarded email from a friend, transcribing his pastor’s preaching from that Sunday morning. This preaching included intricate details and accusations that summarily described Islam as a violent religion, a religion that is designed to bring down Christianity & all mankind, and a religion that is dedicated to tearing Nigeria apart.

After three or four reads of this email, I was at the brink of a full-blown panic attack. Not panic because I believed or even cared about the content of this preaching, but panic that a number of people would believe every single aspect of this preaching, in their blind followership of yet, another religious leader and his interpretations of the holy book.

Today, I have decided to quietly reflect on what all of this means to me, and to put things in context, on religion, and on a number of other issues.

I am a young Christian-Catholic, who has been privileged to travel all around the world, break bread with people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, be shown hospitality and love by all kinds of people, despite our differences in language, race, culture, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. I have tried ceaselessly to gain insight into some of the workings of other religions and ethnic backgrounds, as well as the perspectives of people of different sexual orientations. In simple terms, I may have become so open-minded, that my brain is finally ready to fall out ☺

Through all of these, I have come to develop certain perspectives on life and life’s issues and I would like to share a few musings, and hopefully get other people thinking.

Pluralism
According to the New Oxford American dictionary –
Pluralism |ˈplo͝orəˌlizəm| (noun)
A condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles, sources of authority, etc., coexist.
a. A form of society in which the members of minority groups maintain their independent cultural traditions
b. In Philosophy, a theory or system that recognizes more than one ultimate principle.

In a previously shared article, by Isaiah Berlin on Pluralisms (http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~vl/notes/berlin.html), he points out that “If pluralism is a valid view, and respect between systems of values which are not necessarily hostile to each other is possible, then toleration and liberal consequences follow, as they do not either from monism (only one set of values is true, all the others are false) or from relativism (my values are mine, yours are yours, and if we clash, too bad, neither of us can claim to be right).

I have over the years, embraced pluralism in many aspects of life and life issues, and it may account for my open-mindedness, respect and appreciation of different ways of life and all kinds of differences between people. It may also account for some of the views expressed here.

Muslims are Terrorists? 
On December 25th, 2011, there were a series of church bombings in Nigeria, and I listened to many young Christian Nigerians bash Islam and make all forms of reckless accusations about how Islam is a religion of violence and how all suicide bombers are Muslim and how Christianity is such a perfect religion and all else is wrong. I also received a lot of social media backlash, from some people who thought I was Muslim or Atheist, because of my utterances.

It is verifiable fact, that through the history of mankind, Christianity as a religion has shed as much innocent blood, as any other religion. And also a fact that every religion has extremists. It is also known that the Holy book of every religion is subject to manipulation and different interpretations.

My knowledge of Islam, though limited, shows that Islam is as much a religion of love and peace as Christianity itself. The holy Qur’an teaches about your individual war against your flesh and your humanity, in your aspiration to be as Allah has made you to be. This war, the holy Jihad, has quite often been interestingly (and in my opinion, wrongly) described as an individual war against Christians and infidels. Islam teaches kindness, understanding, love and strive for perfection. Christianity teaches the very same things. However, local and global media would always like to maintain a stereotype and paint a picture of Islam as violent, a production line of terrorists and a people with primitive practices. All the news and half the movies emphasize this. Almost no one is taking time out to point out the basic fundamentals and foundations of Islam and Christianity, and how they share more similarities than differences. The few people who do are branded atheists, confused or ignorant.

On what basis do people say that Muslims are terrorists? Is it possible that a misguided Christian can be used to shed innocent life? Will such a Christian be branded a terrorist? Is it possible that terrorists and suicide bombers are just people, whose faiths and beliefs are manipulated to the benefit of others?

The holy Bible teaches us Christians, that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can go to the father, except through Christ. Some will argue that “the way, the truth and the life” is guaranteed by believing in Jesus Christ (ultimately declaring Christianity the only viable religion). The real question however is “Was Jesus teaching us that the way, the truth and the life, is simply living a Christ-like life of kindness, understanding, love and perfection?” This interpretation of “the way, the truth and the life” complements every other teaching of Jesus and the bible, and is definitely my personal standpoint!

We Christians are regularly taught that we are nothing without the grace of God, that none of us knows the extent of God’s grace, that none of us can know exactly what God plans for us and that we are not allowed to judge. Half the world might be made of Christians, but the implication of these teachings is that none of us knows exactly how God will judge us, in regards to his teachings or our fellowship of his will.

Is it not then presumptuous to think and say that we do know how God will judge, especially when our understanding of the holy book is limited? Is castigating another religion, not abuse of the teachings of the Bible?

I do not claim to understand any religion completely, not even my own. I however know enough to know that Religions are perfect, but man is not. I know that time and time again, man’s fallibility has resulted in a manipulation of religion and faith, to political and economic benefits. I know that this will not stop after you and I are dead!

My simple reply to the aforementioned friend, whose email kicked off these thought process? “Be careful not to spread messages that will incite people to violence, based on a shallow or misguided understanding of another’s beliefs!

My religion has taught me to love, to understand, to be kind, to strive for perfection. This means that I must openly welcome and respect religious pluralism. I must openly welcome an opportunity to teach my religion, and yet, understand if the other person believes differently. Most importantly, I must teach the misguided and also cooperate with the next person in our strive to fish out men who do evil and manipulate people’s beliefs in order to secure political and economic points. My Muslim friends want the same. My Muslim friends want you to see their religion for what it really is.

I believe that Christianity and Islam both mandate that we understand and love each other, despite our differences!

Homosexuality is evil?
I am a law-abiding citizen. However, obeying the law can never be interpreted as agreeing with the law. Men, for men, make laws. This means that we are all allowed to disagree with a law in theory, and we are allowed to protest a law, within the confines of existing laws. This means that I can be outspoken about my disagreement for any law, so long as I am not disrupting law and order or constituting a nuisance.

I completely disagree with anti-gay laws. I believe that anti-gay laws infringe on the rights of individuals, on arguments of usually a cultural and religious nature. I believe that laws must not promote or advocate discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious or sexual orientations. I believe that laws must protect the individual, every individual. Laws can never be designed to only protect the majority, at the expense of the individual. If an individual or a group of individuals are among the minority, they too must have laws that protect them.

The laws of a number of countries are anti-gay, and it is only right that people, who live in these countries, obey the law. It does not however make the laws fair, just or equitable. Laws are meant to make the world a better, more peaceful place. A law that fuels hate and discrimination is definitely not fulfilling this requirement.

Sexual orientation is complex in many ways, whether from environmental, social, psychological or medical perspectives. It is too simple minded to describe it as a choice that people make, and therefore one that can be unmade. Having been privileged to live with and work with many people of different sexual orientations, I am quite confident that we, who are heterosexual, can never fully understand homosexuality. In our fear of something that we do not clearly understand, we apply a label and quickly resort to discrimination and simplifications. We are quick to pull the religious cards and apply the socio-cultural stamps.

As a young, tech-savvy, Nigerian, Christian, I fail to understand how we can go against something purely on the basis of it being “foreign” to our culture or it being branded “evil” by our religion. We have embraced non-traditional religions, technology and entrepreneurial skills that are foreign to our culture. Very little of what makes up our every day lives, reflect the traditional African culture of yesteryears. Additionally, Christianity and Islam both mandate that we understand and love each other, despite our differences. They also mandate that we show kindness and strive for perfection in our lives as individuals. I am not really sure how well we are practicing the teachings of our holy books, if at the slightest show of a difference, we seek to take up arms and brand and ostracize. Is this what our religions really teach us?

If Homosexuality is “wrong” by virtue of religion, and hating, abusing & discriminating homosexuals is wrong by virtue of religion, how then can we, so-called religious people, make it right? Ever wondered about that?

How would you feel to be branded and ostracized because you are Nigerian or black? How would you feel about being branded and ostracized because you are Christian or Muslim? How are these brandings different from the ones we apply to homosexuals? Aren’t we all already branded and ostracized enough, for one thing or another?

Ethnic divides within Nigeria
A lot has been said about ethnicity in Nigeria and power shifting and geo-political zones, that it is redundant doing a recap. A lot has also been said about how there are too many Hausas, Igbos, Yorubas, Northerners and Southerners, and not enough Nigerians. I will only share a small narrative, and some questions that keep me up at night.

I recently wrote a friend, about how I have failed to understand the need for Geo-political zones in Nigeria and how I do not understand people casting a vote for a weaker politician or leader, on the basis of an ethnic bias and how it makes no sense to hire a less qualified individual for a job, simply because we share a similar ethnic root.

He replied thus:

You know that you have to be careful with the Northerners, they have been holding unto power for a long time and do not want to relinquish it. It is not fair or right. We need to rule small. The zoning is good because now, power can shift and everyone can do something small for his or her people, when they are in power. Development will be going around, through the zones and everyone gets their shot eventually. It does not matter who the better politician is, we must utilize the zones and make the best of our time to rule, as southerners.

As for the Yorubas, wait till you marry or work with one of them. They dislike you just because you are Igbo. They say you are disrespectful, greedy and not well exposed. They always want to have discussions in their language and they only plot to favor their own people, while leaving you out in the cold.

This response came from my 25-year-old Nigerian lawyer friend, who is obviously Igbo.

I cannot even begin to highlight how flawed this argument is. None of the added arguments, that other people have thrown out make any sense either or can stand up to scrutiny.

The questions I ask myself are a lot.

Do you even know what people from other tribes think of you, on the basis of your tribe? When you allow each tribe or ethnic group, to tell you their opinions of the other tribal groups, will there be anything left to like about any of the groups? What does it matter who is ruling or where he is from, if we have a democracy that fights corruption, improves health and education, creates jobs, improves transportation system, invests in industry and infrastructure, revitalizes our judiciary and purges the oil and gas sector of misdemeanors? What does it matter who is ruling or where he is from, if every state and corner of the country gets adequate support, defined by a transparent need assessment? How come my Yoruba or Hausa friends, colleagues and housemates never liked me less or cared that I was Igbo? How come I lived with people from different tribes, through Uni and we never cared about who was from where? Was this all because we were living outside Nigeria? If we see ourselves firstly as Nigerians, when we are outside the country, why do we not see ourselves firstly as Nigerians, when we are in the country? 

These questions keep me up at night!

One of the problems with ethnic divides and wars, is that neutrality does not always keep you away from the crossfire. In a country, with intricate dynamics, it is even worse, because so many people are either neutral, biased or are just not sure of what the war really is about, and they all get caught in the crossfire.

When you ask for a division along ethnic or religious lines, do you even understand what it means? When you make sentimental choices, based on ill-defined subjectivity, do you really understand the implications?

The Hypocrisy of it all
I will end this, by insisting that my views are mine. I will insist that my views are not meant to convince you or to demand that you discard your beliefs and take up mine.

I am only putting out my musings. I am only pointing out the hypocrisy of selectively utilizing religion to fuel our hate for people of different religious or sexual orientations. I am only pointing out the hypocrisy of putting ethnic allegiance before national allegiance (even though it is at the detriment of the whole country), while we are daily advocating for a better country and for better governance.

You probably disagree with at least one point made here. You probably find a flaw with at least one argument. Share your perspectives in the comments’ section. And please remember, we do not have to agree. A difference in ideology or opinion is in itself the basis of diversity, democracy and a free spirit.

One love….

It’s officially my first new blog, since actively moving over to wordpress, and so I figured, the “Lifestyle” category would be a good place to start!

On many occasions over the past few years, I have constantly had the bible passage Exodus 20:12 thrown at me. For non-Christian readers, this passage is regarded as God’s only commandment to his people, which comes with a promise. “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee”.

My parents, and many other parents I know, have found a way to manipulate this commandment to get their every whim, and make many a decision for their children.

Love, however, seems to be one of those spots where this commandment hits the brick wall.

I was on the phone on one afternoon with my dad, when he goes, “Ade, why don’t I go and get you one of Uncle Musa’s daughters as a wife? We have known Uncle Musa since my University days, and he must have trained his daughters well, plus they are all University graduates already!” Does this sound familiar? Of course, it does! My reply was sharp and succinct and it promptly ended that conversation. What followed next? An SMS from my father. It contained a quotation from Exodus 😉

As an ardent proponent of “the right to choice”, in today’s world and environment, I really think the choice of life partners should be left entirely to the individual. Putting this aside for a few moments however, let us then examine the classic case of “Honor thy parents” vs “Love”.

What issues do we want to evaluate here?

  1. Are arranged marriages really simple-minded?
  2. Does defying our parents’ offers to arrange marriages qualify as “dishonouring”?
  3. Do this generation choose Love and Personal choice over Arranged marriages?

I’ll try to play Devil’s advocate and argue both sides, or just tell two different sides of a story and then you’ll weigh in with your comments.

Ready? Set? Go!

Are arranged marriages really simple-minded?

Our parents have been around for much longer than we have, and they know the ways of this world. They know what is important and possess the all-important wisdom associated with age. They look beyond our fickle ideals about love and the individual. They put family, background, tribe and “how well we know them” into context, in ways beyond our reach. In addition, they have discussed this issue countlessly with their friends and shared experiences and heard stories, and within the committee of Parents, they have realized that arranging a marriage is the best thing any parent can do for their child. And don’t forget that our parents have been married for more than 25 years, and even their own marriage was mostly arranged.

How can you fix me up with someone I don’t know? How can I marry someone, who I have barely spoken to and know nothing about his habits, ideals or goals? What if he beats his girlfriends? What if he leaves the toilet seat up? What if he wants 5 kids, when I only want 2? Does he even go to church? What if I don’t like him at all, let alone love him? If it is a bad choice, will I now end up with a broken home? This doesn’t make any sense joor! This is a new age, aviz one that maintains certain strong socio-cultural stances. We are very educated and exposed, and this means that we need partners that share or at least value our religious, academic, professional and social wants or aspirations. And seeing as we are not so westernized as to discount the institution of marriage, we can’t make random choices, since divorce is not an option open to us. 

Does defying our parents’ offers to arrange marriages qualify as “dishonouring”?

Efe’s mother had decided to “hook him up” with Chinenye, based on some of the arguments above. In her words, “Love is a choice and Efe will eventually grow to love Chinenye, once they are married. I have already decided on this, and I will be making the necessary arrangements with Chinenye’s parents. It is important for Efe to always obey me, as his mother, as mandated by God, and this way, Efe will always be blessed for doing the “right” thing.”

Efe, on the other hand disagreed. He is known to have protested vehemently. “She has to respect me as an individual and appreciate my choices. I am very well educated and I have experiences from around the world, all possible courtesy of my mother’s effort to make sure I had the best,” he explained. “Of what use is it, that I am this educated, and still not allowed to make a choice of a life partner, based on my likes and wants? Why can’t I be allowed to marry someone I know and who I love?”

Efe blatantly disagreed with his mother and has since gone on to marry Omonigho, who he met during his tertiary education. Efe’s relationship with his mother is strained, and there is no love lost between Efe’s mother and Omonigho. Efe feels lost sometimes, and continues to wonder if he has really dishonoured his parents by refusing to pursue the offer of an arranged marriage with Chinenye.

Do this generation choose Love and Personal choice over Arranged marriages?

Reading the many comments and perspectives among Nigerian youths, made possible by twitter and many blogging sites, I am still not sure what choices people of this generation will make.

I have read or listened to people talking about how their parents don’t want them to marry someone from a certain ethnic group. I have listened to people saying that they can only marry people from certain ethnic groups, because of one absurd generalization or the other. The Yorubas like to go to school. The Igbos like to hustle. The Hausas are the ones running this country. The list continues. Does this kind of ethnic bias have any impact on fostering arranged marriages?

A number of others talk about how they can only marry a man who is focused, who is rich or on the road to wealth, a woman who treats them right, a woman who has ambitions and aspirations that match or surpass their own and so on. Does this then mean that these people will detest arranged marriages?

A conundrum, this definitely is. My vote says, young people of today would lean towards arranged marriages, considering that many of us cannot stand up to our parents and are driven by certain fickle desires that our parents will spot and capitalize on, when they choose us partners. I mean, my mother knows all her friends whose daughters are pretty, are respectful and can cook. If na those things dey do me, how she no go find me person?

As usual, the comments’ section is yours. Throw out your perspectives on all three areas and help me, help myself! 🙂

ps. All names and ethnic references in this piece are fictional and do not allude to any real place or person.