Home Away from Home with Abi Adeboyejo
Email: email@example.com Twitter: @abihafh
I have been happily married for over 12 years so you will be forgiven for thinking I won’t have much to say about being a single Nigerian female in the United Kingdom. On the contrary, what my ears have heard and eyes have seen would make several home videos (if I ever get the chance!). There is a lot of love in the Nigerian communities in London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester, to mention a few. My problem is all the pretence and deceit that goes on between men and women.
Where do I start? I met Ify during my stint at British Gas, trying to entice previous customers through telephone cold calling. Needless to say I didn’t last in the job. After a few weeks of speaking to several unusually aggressive people wanting to know how I got their numbers and being called all sorts of names, I quit. Actually, I quit after I called a poor old lady asking to ask her (dead) husband why he changed from British Gas to another gas supplier. The poor lady freaked out, I freaked out and my employers never saw me there again. It was rather a waste of seven weeks of my life but I left with Ify’s friendship.
Lovely in every sense of the word, Ify’s parents sold their landed property in some part of Lagos to fund her undergraduate studies in the UK. That was nine years ago. She started off doing well in her studies but it wasn’t long before she fell under the influence of the party culture at her University. She was quite popular because of her looks and she really loved being adored by everyone. Boyfriends came and went but she wasn’t interested in long term relationships. By the time she graduated from University, she started to mellow. After four years in Leeds however, she felt she had grown-up and she started to hunt for Mr Right. Arranged meetings, blind dates and chance meetings planned by friends and family all led to nothing. Her parents started dropping hints about cousins getting married and asking if she was thinking about her future.
After years of searching, Ify was introduced to John. John too had lived in London for 10 years and dated a number of girls. Now a devout Christian, he was looking for his ‘Miss Right’ and he became friends with me and my friends. My friends and I, being the shameless busybodies that we were, arranged for John and Ify to meet. Their first date went fine, or so we thought. Ify later rang me up to talk about John and wasted no time in telling me what she thought about him.
“He must be very brave to go about with a nose like that,” she started.
“You must be very ready to die a spinster,” I thought. You really shouldn’t say such things about people, especially when you are looking for a husband. I couldn’t voice my anger at such a comment for the sake of friendship and the free braids she made for me every other month or so.
To put it mildly, she found John a bit too crude for her taste and couldn’t bear the sight of his nose. For someone who had lived abroad for year, you would have though she would be used to all sorts of beaks, horns and honkers that passed as noses on the faces of white people over here!
My friends and I put the incident behind us and promised to help Ify find this perfect man. In the months after, we went on girls’ night outs to the cinema as often as my other half and kids would spare me. We always distanced ourselves from her anytime we thought a guy was checking her out so he could have a proper view. They saw, I am not sure they tasted, but they left. It all came to nothing.
Then one Saturday morning as I fought with a polythene bag of frozen meat in my freezer, Ify called to say she had had a dream. She arrived at my door within 20 minutes and I listened in amazement as she told me that she would like to see John again just to find out if he really liked her. My people, what kind of thing was this? I was perplexed. I explained that his nose was still the same and he still had really large feet the last time I checked. Alas, Ify declared herself smitten. She was now willing to give John a chance.
The matchmaking brigade (by that I mean my friends and I) flew into action and tried to get in touch with John. After leaving several messages on his mobile, a girl rang me and said she was using John’s phone now as hers had been stolen a few days before. She sounded suspiciously ‘wifely’. She gave me another number and I called John, who enthusiastically informed me that Joy was his ‘babe’ and that he was so crazy about her, they were going to get married soon. Ify took the news badly.
Ify missed out on dating John because she felt she was too good for him. Too pretty, too rich, too posh. By the time she realised that she was interested in him, it was too late. Many times the most wonderful things come in the weirdest of packages. Maybe John and Ify could have had a relationship, but now we will never know.
Many Nigerian girls in the UK put themselves on pedestals, wanting to be worshipped by their men. Men who struggle to earn a living, sometimes having to retrain to work in different professions. Men looking to get on the property ladder by getting a mortgage for a 2 bedroom flat which is smaller than their father’s sitting room in Enugu. I suppose most Nigerian girls abroad miss the firm, matter-of-fact and sometimes domineering influence of their mothers and aunties. Sometimes girls need honest people to give them firm and honest advice.
Ify is still looking for Mr Right. Now she doesn’t judge men by the size of their noses or their shoe size, just like she wouldn’t like to be judged by her lack of any distinguishable backside/booty. Let’s hope she finds her perfect man soon.