Sunday, May 20, 2007


by laspapi

as published in the Sunday Guardian of May 20


For many women (and men), the greatest trial they will ever face is getting involved with or marrying someone under the rule of a mother or other strong women in the family. Is this possible in the modern world, you ask? Can there be people who cannot escape the rule of their mothers, or some great-aunt or god-mother no matter how old they are? It does happen more often than we realise.

Africa, as well as other places worldwide, had some societies which were, until a few hundred years ago, largely matriarchal. Women ruled, were bread winners and even fought in armies. The women-soldiers of Dahomey who continuously raided the kingdoms now known as Western Nigeria in search of bounty and slaves are good examples of these.

Cases abound of potential partners who are first scrutinized by the women in the receiving family before acceptance. And when the incoming partner manages to scrape through this examination, he or she must learn to live with “guidance” through the life-span of the relationship. For those who take the “till death do us part” vow seriously, it might be a good thing to weigh the pros and cons of living in bondage for the rest of one’s natural life. In such families, these amazons never take a back seat and the partner in issue will have many masters.

How can one tell where these closet Amazons make their habitat? There are some characteristics, one of which is that very often, the “Alpha-female” in the Amazonian set-up is usually wealthy. We all have antenna that informs us of scrutiny from the families of those we mean to join, scrutiny which any well-meaning family should do to avoid adding Jack the Ripper as a nuclear-family member. However, when the scrutiny is hostile even if there are no words spoken, care has to be taken.

The In-laws from hell will tell your partner to inform you when you may bear children, what kind of work you should do and if you should take holidays. Your home will no longer be your home but theirs. Watch out for the partner that leaves you alone in the company of his or her family members at the first meeting and disappears on some fool’s errand allowing them to slash and claw at you to their heart’s content. A partner who does not strive to make you comfortable at that most-important first encounter is probably ruled by an Amazon and it is an omen for what the rest of your lives will be like. When they ask you, “So what does your father do?”, be ready for anything. Often, these people weigh success and achievement through accidents of birth and other such meaningless barometers.

There is no redemption or return to normalcy for an off-spring of the Amazonians. The only type you may decide to stay with is the one that has warned you before-hand the way his or her family is, and has promised to shield you from onslaughts by these people.

Some will say, “I don’t care what type of set-up the family is. I’ll go in there and scatter them”. Maybe. It is more likely you will be emasculated, your opinion disregarded, made to feel incompetent on account of not coming from a background as affluent or as closely-knit. It will be a life-sentence and you might regret the day you chose to ignore obvious warning signs. They will seek to break your spirit, permanently, the way some men break those of horses so they may ride them without being thrown. You will no longer count as a person and have as much importance as an expensive piece of furniture or some other household fitting. When you meet the In-laws from hell, don’t mistake the mist for special effects. Those that stand before you are fire-breathing dragons and the smoke is sulphur.


Noni Moss said...

Ahhh every woman's nightmare - loll and for some guys too I would guess. Nicely done!

Waffarian said...

Yes women are tough, protective of their homes, families, ready to pounce and tear apart.....sometimes. As I read this ariticle, I could not help but smile, my family is made up of women, amazons at that. It is a closely knit family, however, our bonds are just for us and we hardly care about each others choice of partners. Our conversations are selfish, based on us, the occasional "how is your man?" is asked, but apart from that........we could care less.

laspapi said...

t'ank you, noni, it falls both ways, I think.

@ waffy- hmm, if you have some "upstart" who tries to marry a younger bro, you might see your more vicious side come to the fore.

Naija Vixen said...

I used to say (and still do that my future hubby will not have sisters,family back in the village,an opinionated mum,be an only child,be the first boy,be the last boy....list is endless!!! But then again,i am or will be one or more of the above and i know how easy it is to say i'll never do this or that in theory...but in practice,our evil side prevails. ;-) Good job 'Papi!

Anonymous said...

In my own mother is the alpha female you speak of. A very industrious woman who single handedly raised 5 successful children. She is as strong as nails. My inlaws are the sweetest thing to walk the earth and have absolutely NO stress.I take it as my sole responsibility to protect my husband from my mother because I know her wiles and her ways. She is often displeased with me and tries to use guilt trips and manipulation (which is her greatest weapon). She accuses me of putting my husband before her. Before nko? Nice post jare!

If you are the child of such a woman.Make it your duty to protect your husband or wife if you want a good marriage. Draw boundaries VERY early.

laspapi said...

Your list had me laughing, Vixen. If only it were that easy, we'd all have perfect relationships. Yet, one should be wary of set-ups that have domineering families or there'll be a lifetime of regrets. It's amazing how easy it is to fall into those roles too once positions are reversed.

@ anon- you're a very wise woman. Many people open their partners to flak and set the trend for the imposition of the will of others on these partners.
I have a mother exactly like yours. Nature's natural check on her was giving her war-lords masquerading as children.

Anonymous said...

as noni moss said in-laws are every womans nightmare o..breathing fire on u

Chude! said...

Oga wole no vex, but this is a matter of life and death!!!!

"I wasnt a fan of WA Idol until last week when I was able to attend the live recording at Planet One - and then I discovered a new life ambition! It was a fantastic show and all ... but that wasnt what hooked me ... it was Omawunmi. Only seen her Ekwe performance before this ... but last show, she was SIMPLY magical ...

That girl has real talent - she has carried off every genre from RnB to World to Reggae ... everything! So my new Life Ambition is to BEEEEEGGGGG people to vote for that TALENT!!!! Yeah Timi is a cool guy and you gals seem to think he's cute but Omawunmi has the talent!! Let's make the first WA Idol be about the most talented biko nu.

Vote for Omawumi, else we declare a State of Emergency!!!!"

laspapi said...

Pink Satin, I agree with noni and you. We hear of dragons posing as mothers-in-law. They say behind every successful man is a surprised mother-in-law.

@ chude- na you know. For me, it's Timi for the W.A. Idol title. Why use us to propagate the career of your latest crush. Take time, Chude!

Anonymous said...

I am an American man married to a Naija woman. This is a story I hear often from Nigerian women (and sometimes men). Several marriages I know of have broken up thanks to domineering MILs (and wimpy mama's boys who can't cut the apron strings).

My wife was extremely appreciative of my late mother, who took her to her bosom like the daughter she never had.

Ladies, if you are seeing a man who lets his mother rule his life, run away fast!

laspapi said...

Anon- you hit it spot-on. There's something strange about adults who allow mothers to rule them

Anonymous said...

definitely a nightmare... but i know just the way to send them all packing... but if i know beforehand... i won't tie myself to a mamasboy for the rest of my life.. a man who can't make decisions for himself after he grows pubic hair has too many problems for me to deal with(excuse my french)