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As Nigerians pass through the UK, the UK is also passing through Nigerians. Dogmatic people are gradually becoming liberals either consciously or unconsciously. People’s perceptions on religion, homosexuality, sex, marriage and other issues are gradually changing. As a social scientist, who is vested in human behaviours, I have observed the changing patterns of the perspectives of Nigerians in the United Kingdom concerning marriage. Recall that the number of married people in England and Wales as at 2021 was 46.9%, dropping from 49.4% in 2011 according to the Office of National Statistics, ONS. Despite the economic hardship in Nigeria, it’s 66.2% in 2023 according to the But in the UK, the anticipated weekends of social gatherings which includes wedding ceremonies as we have in Nigeria, are being replaced with constant ‘work shifts.’ It appears nothing is happening on weekends abroad unlike in the home-country, Nigeria.

Can we say the idea of marriage is becoming obsolete? The answer is neither here nor there. The African perspective of marriage is cultural, procedural and religious. There is a popular belief that a man’s success is not complete if he is unmarried or without kids. He is likened to a snake that crawls on the rock and makes no mark. As for the single woman, she is likened to a queen without a crown. She is like a beautiful asset without an owner. These are highly sexist views anyway and not necessarily true. Then again, religion frowns at premarital sex and promiscuity amongst women could be vehemently condemned in Nigeria. Many would say the purity of a female has a link with the number of men she lays with in bed. ‘Body Count’ is a deal breaker in Nigeria. One of the major religions in Nigeria – Christianity abhors premarital sex. Marriage is also seen as a blessing. ‘The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and receives favour from the Lord’ the Bible says in Proverbs 18 vs 22.

Several women also venture into marriage for economic survival. The man is like the warm jacket that shields the woman from the harsh atmospheric conditions. I am also not oblivious of the fact that some Nigerians genuinely fall in love. In my opinion, the percentage of this category of people is low. So basically, most parties have no deep conviction of the membership of the institution of marriage. It is seen as a box to tick. It appears as that regular next phase in life. The resultant effect is why the men mostly go about cheating a few days after their wedding party. And the women also dread paternity tests more than the marauding bandits.

The UK Problem

The social construct about marriage in Nigeria is not valid in the UK. Sex is not mostly seen as immoral as long as you are 16, doing it safely and getting it by consent. The society is deeply irreligious, so nobody frowns at premarital sex. Instead of marriage, people do ‘partnerships’ in which they enjoy all the dividends of marriage. This might last for 5 years or almost a decade before they ever think of walking down the aisle with their partners. Unlike Nigeria, nobody stigmatises you because you are a single mother. In most cases, the single mother status attracts societal sympathy and support from the government.

When a party is too keen on marriage like we have in Nigeria, it might be erroneously assumed that the person might be seeking travel documents to remain in the country. Romantic intents are hardly seen as genuine. Just like China, marriage in the UK and other western countries come at a significant financial cost. It requires strategic planning. Some men are just comfortable in their studio apartments with their Mercedes Benz vehicles. They feel they are in full control of their lives, managing their living costs within the barest minimum. They are not ready to incur any more financial burden by renting bigger houses, paying extra power & water bills and also the cost of childcare. Childcare is also time-consuming and time in the West is money.

Childcare is widely seen as an unpaid work that only those with futuristic views will enjoy and endure.
Importantly, feminism is very strong in the UK. Men have argued that the laws protect the women to the detriment of the men. This issue has a historical undertone which I will not address due to the present length of this article. The women are seen as the recalcitrant customers in the banking system who are always right because they are the sole of the business.

There seems to be an epidemic of lack of submissiveness amongst Nigerian women married in the UK. It is worse amongst married couples who met themselves in the UK. It is as catastrophic as having two expert drivers on the same vehicle steering. The drama could be intense with every man living in fear of being divorced with allegations of physical, emotional and psychological abuse against the estranged wife. Controversial influencer, Andrew Tate in a podcast believes the idea of your ex wife taking over your assets after divorce is a red zone for men. He added that child support as backed by law has also been abused by women.
Men are so complicit in this case. Some Nigerian men are not real men, they are more of ‘boys’. The want to use the device between their legs graciously without any sense of responsibility. They are just obsessed with sleeping with numerous women, and the UK has got an abundance of them in different shapes or form. It appears their ego is attached to promiscuity.

African men have a patriarchal idea of marriage. The man is painted as the head of the family and the woman is seen as the supporting backbone. If they are going to lose their say in their houses where they shoulder most of the bills, then what is the essence of marriage? For the record, I have nothing against feminism. I am only uncomfortable with the fact that it is one of the most misunderstood and misused concepts on social media. It is interesting how the activists on social media nit-pick when the tenets of their idea of feminism are being defined. A feminist who believes in equality would have her humongous bride-price paid by a man. She might also abandon her feminist stance when it comes to who pays the largest bill within the household. But when it comes to wielding power and taking strategic decisions in the home, feminism stands.

Coming back to the UK, marriage is not attractive to Nigerians anymore. People only keep multiple women for the purpose of exercising their waists when the pressure is intense, and when abject loneliness kicks in.

The UK is blessed with several beautiful, naturally endowed, intellectually endowed, and successful career women from Nigeria who are single, but no man is ready to offer them a ‘permanent contract’. Most men just want to play the role of ‘mechanical engineers’ tasked with the responsibility of servicing the machine to prevent collapse damage in the foreseeable future.

Osahon George Osayimwen writes from England


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