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Challenges facing African males in America

~The SUN Nigeria. Thursday, July 21, 2016

THE axiom, 'when death do us part,' is no longer obtainable in marriages of African immigrants, particularly Nigerians in America. Meanwhile, Nigerian marriages are collapsing at an alarming rate in major cities in the United States with a large con­centration of Nigerian. Thus, Dal­las seems to be the divorce capital for Nigerians in the United States. Some argue that Houston has re­cently overtaken Dallas in marriage breakups.

However, based on anecdotal in­formation, one in every five mar­riages among Nigerians in the Dallas metropolitan area is broken. Many more are cued in various courthous­es or are on the verge of exploding. Among Nigerian community, mar­riage is no longer sacred; it is unfor­tunately denigrated and defiled and we regrettably watch helplessly as many of them go over the cliff. As a result, some people, both males and females are now in their second or third marriages-no pun intended.

In the process, the African male tem­pered chauvinistic attitude has been diminished by the American culture and law, a favorable phenomenon to women when it comes to conjugal dis­solutions. This phenomenon seems to paralyze the African males, particularly the Nigerian men, to the degree of to­tal submission and hopelessness when it comes to asserting themselves as the head of the household in situations where the wives have taken complete control.

Unlike in Africa where a man could resolve a marital problem by simply marrying another woman without get­ting a divorce from the current one, the American law prohibits such prac­tice. In the US, bigamy is against the law-well, except in some parts of Utah where some members of religious sects roam with more than one wife.

The bigamy law seems to be a choke­hold on African men whose pride and arrogance have been checkmated by the American law and culture. These men feel frustrated and hopeless contending with the aspect of the American culture that deprives them of the opportunity to have more than one wife here.

Again, the two seminal variables, law and culture, are more profound when an African man is going through a mar­ital problem or divorce from a wife he brought from home, Africa. In most cas­es, majority of the spouses are trained in the US by their husbands only to as­sume the head of the household with a sudden rise in income. Bringing in­come to the family, sometimes more income than their respective husbands, seems to empower the women be­yond comprehension. Nevertheless, with the American culture and law, coupled with the rise in income, some ladies have exploited the situ­ation to tame their spouses to utter frustration. Facing child support, alimony, and 50% division of prop­erties and assets, including retire­ment money, some men have stayed in a marriage that have since been dissolved in spirit. Some men have defiled all the fears and moved on with their lives.

But armed with the law, some ladies have forced their spouses out of the home. Some of these ac­tions happened at the instigation or veiled encouragement of mothers-in-laws, who came to the United States for one reason or the other, but only to aid in the dissolution of their daughters' marriages.

It is pertinent to note that the majority of Nigerian marriages in the United States start having seri­ous cracks when mothers-in-laws arrive. Stories of broken marriag­es influenced by mothers-in-laws abound. Once they come in, the attitude of their daughter changes. Her concentration will now be on how to build a house for mom, as well as how to help her families in Nigeria to the detriment of her im­mediate family in the United States.

Totally focused on her family in Africa, a wife would not care if her marriage breaks as a result. She would rather choose her mother and family over her husband and the brewing tension could eventu­ally lead to separation or divorce.

Thus, divorce has become common among Africans, especially Nigerians in America. It has become a common means to end marital problems. Still, in some cases the problems never seem to go away long after the divorce. In most cases, some of these divorces in the Diaspora, are nothing, but messy and destructive to children. The recur­ring sad stories of African men going through a divorce from their native wives are replete with comments such as these: "If I were in Africa, I would have married another wife." "America gives these ladies too much freedom, too many rights." "She wants to get all the money she could." "She's only after child support."

In all these, I'm most struck with this comment by a woman who was having conjugal problems with her husband: "I'm no longer in love with him." No longer in love with him! That typifies many Nigerian marriages that in the face of buoyancy seem to harbor a violent temper simmering beneath the surface.

So many people have been able to cover their marital problems from the Nigerian community. Some of these people put on a show to temporarily cover up their internal rage from out­siders. Nevertheless, fear of eruption always lurks perfectly behind such pretense.

In the concluding part of this piece, I will narrate some of the actions peo­ple have taken to overcome the burden of American culture. Just like every action, there advantages and conse­quences trying to escape the firm grips of the marriage laws in the United States.

Challenges facing African males in America (2)
Thursday, July 28, 2016

IN this concluding piece of the two-part story, I will attempt to narrate some of the actions some Nigerians have taken to overcome the burden of American law and culture. Just like every action, there are advantages and consequences trying to escape the firm grips of the marriage laws in the United States.

In any case, unlike the recent immi­grants, those who came to America in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s came primar­ily for education and had planned to go back immediately after their education. However, the frustration of remaining abroad-self-exile-seems to compound the discernible disgusting psyche of most these guys. Thus, the present state of mind of some African immigrants, par­ticularly the Nigerian immigrants to the U.S. breeds rant and rave in their respec­tive relationships as their home culture contends with the American law.

The impact of cultural clash seems to be overwhelming on some immigrants than others. Some people tend to accom­modate the new culture better than others. Still, there are immigrants who have ad­opted the concept of cultural assimilation. These individuals seem to do well within the American culture. That said, it's discon­certing to see the alarming rate of divorce among Nigerians in US. It would rather be a flawed assertion to blame the epidemic on American law and culture. It's about person­al responsibility.

Talking about divorce, while the nomen­clature of relationships is not within the scope of this piece, in the Diaspora, how­ever, relationships, especially monogamous ones, are under immense pressure or stress either because of the environmental factors or other unique circumstances.

No matter what the circumstances are, it is often more convenient to abandon a stressful or tumultuous relationship than to painfully go through the agonizing years of resolving the inherent protracted problems. In some cases, some people are just hanging in there for the kids in a relationship that has long ended.

The foundation for male-female relation­ship was prefaced in Genesis, especial in Genesis 1:27-28 which said, "God ... created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number ..." Further insight on the foundation of male-female relation­ship could be found in Genesis 2:24-25. Also, it could be deduced that relationships are meant to be joyful, less stressful, and without acrimony.

However, the stress in some of these re­lationships is exacerbated by the absence of clear communication and understand­ing of each other, as well as the presence of the mother-in-law. These mothers-in-laws have directly or indirectly undermined the many marriages in the United States. Nev­ertheless, because of a perceived notion that the man does not understand, care, or respect his partner, the problems in these relationships inevitably grow strong wings and soar unrelentingly until the catastrophic midair collision. Sometimes, leaving the debris and walk­ing away may appear to be a viable op­tion. Perhaps, picking up the pieces from the ruins may seem more painful than the initial collision. The pain and simmering anger may be more excru­ciating with each reflective moment of the old. This is all about deciphering the emotional construct of a Nigerian woman in an American context.

Some people feel that the stress in male-female relationships could be re­duced if men have the knowledge of what the women want. The only caveat is, do women really know what they want from men? To quote a colleague in a casual conversation where he was talk­ing about inherent inconsistencies in human, he said "My ex-fiancĂ©e wanted me to be the leader of the household, but she never gave me the opportunity to lead; she did not allow me to lead." He continued by saying that she took the power to provide the desired leadership away from him.

Secularly speaking, no one has the elixir, including the women themselves, for unlocking the mystery behind the emotional state of women at any given period. There is even an old clichĂ© that says that if one wants to live happily with his wife, that individual has to em­ploy only one eye, instead of two eyes, to view things in the relationship.

Though I am neither a marriage coun­selor nor a monogamous relationship expert, yet based on experience, I have some knowledge of minutiae in a monoga­mous relationship.

It is understandable that a woman's emo­tional state is dynamic, particularly when it comes to expressing her needs. This phe­nomenon makes it difficult to sometimes accurately discern or ascertain her immedi­ate needs based on cues. A woman's needs keep changing continuously. Women are frustrated that men could not understand their needs in any given period. Men are even more frustrated with lack of under­standing or predictability of women's needs based on the known cues. The same cue may signal totally different needs.

On the other hand, men are not as in­tuitive as women. As result, men may not know what women want or need at a given time. Sadly, they may never tell us since it is expected that we should have known. Our psychological makeup, predisposition, and perspectives on things, especially on things men consider minor, are starkly different. These, among other variables, account for how differently men and women view, re­ceive, analyze, conceptualize, and internal­ize things.

Many African men have gone back to their respective countries to remarry, a trending phenomenon that is now wide­spread. Some of them have left their sec­ond wives in their respective home coun­tries. Those who have not concluded their divorce could not bring their wives here for fear of facing prison term for marrying more than one wife. For them, it is safe to leave them in Africa until they finalize their divorce in the United States. Unfortunately, stories of infidelity concerning the wives in Africa abound. Since their respective hus­bands visit Africa once or twice a year, they opted to meet their emotional and sexual needs elsewhere.

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