It’s Time to ‘Man Up’!

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With FEMI AKINTUNDE-JOHNSON

In the light of the calamitous happenings of the past week around Lagos, and many cities across the nation, it has become necessary to underscore the critical need to rebuild trust between our very active, combative, mostly creative, and therefore, most impatient generation; in direct, who-will-blink-first standoff with the long-lasting ageing generations whose grip on power dynamics of Nigeria have not really slipped since the 70’s and 80’s. The argy bargy between the two distinctly opposite generations culminated in a bloody conflagration that left the younger folks asking for more blood in a gale of expletives; and subsequently, withdrawing into deeper recesses of distrust, disgust and unpolished vituperation.

This unfortunate and slippery gully of generational friction is worsened by the suspected insensitivity, callous silences and complicit aloofness of the ruling echelon of the older folks. They simply have no regard, and scant respect, for the ruling class. It was thus predictable that when the #EndSARS peaceful protest collapsed under the foolishly irresponsible fusillade of Nigerian army firepower, unleashed on Nigerian youth with nothing more dangerous than the national flag and their trenchant voices of stubborn resistance – something broke in their psyche.

Of course, the space between the sapped, muffled agitation of genuine protesters, and the cowardly disappearance of the yet unknown killer squad, was a perfect platform for urchins, undesirables, hoodlums and whatever adjectives are sufficient to describe mindless looters who are also largely youthful. The fiends unleashed terror and wanton destruction on law-abiding citizens, sacking police stations, government and private buildings, lynching fellow Nigerians, bankrupting businesses, malls, and countless other enterprises…gutting expensive vehicles, banks, media houses… In a rage and frenzy that sent shivers down the spine of hapless onlookers.

Yet, our focus now is to nudge the aggrieved towards dialogue…encourage the proliferation of goodwill and openness… maintain an air of cordiality and appreciation of the great sacrifice and legitimate agitation of our youth. It’s not a moment for grandstanding, or platitudes of neo-nationalism.
It seems auspicious, to me, that these times deserve every effort to promote peace, understanding and rapprochement. It is, in my estimation, quite useful to share values and temperaments worthy of emulation, in building attributes and characteristics that can stand well in our young folks’ quest for a sincere, productive, equitable and responsive nation. So, let’s digress…from the current anger and anomie.

I have dug into my pouch of reliable homilies: nuggets of thoughts and practices, that can help build a complete Nigerian who is roundly equipped to function optimally from the smallest article of nation building – the family…the Nigerian home – onwards to the finished personality with eyes set on leadership and propriety.

“What Makes A Man Out of You: The headline should rather be “How to be a responsible father, or perhaps husband”. Of course, that title is a tad presumptuous, but a little conceit now and again makes us all the more human. We are billions on this earth, cartographers cannot stop telling us, and thus we cannot all act or anticipate in the same manner. Impossible. We also cannot all share the same mentality in the area of co-habiting, as couples, partners and associates. However, when we decide to scale down, if not totally drop, our individuality to make a wife or husband out of the object of our affection, then we must be mature enough to understand that the union, freely entered into, must be given all the chance it needs to survive and sustain productively.

In less colourful terms: Do not marry someone when you are not sure you can trust yourself to be faithful to that person. If your response is that we are all humans, and there is a wide gulf between hoping to do something and actually accomplishing that “hope”; I will like to remind you that you did not promise to “hope”, or “try”. You said, “I do” to the solemn promise, “to love, care, protect…” Even if you are not the “weaker vessel”, and all things appear to go well for you, in spite of living a life of complete betrayal and disdain concerning that solemn vow you made on your wedding day; and if the other party remains faithful to the matrimonial double-edged “covenant”… I am as confident as the fact that the sun will rise from the east tomorrow; your punishment is waiting for you at a junction in your life… it is only a matter of time.

However, from my experience, few things can make a real man out you. Before I go far, let me share with you my definition of a “real man”. The definition will come as series of statements. A real man ordinarily sees himself as the driving force in the relationship. He sees it as his DUTY to make sure everyone under his roof is happy, in appearance and communication. He fulfils his bread-winning obligations to the best of his capacity. He is prepared to protect and shield every member of his household from external aggression and invasion (which may come in different guises, including rag-mouthed relations and insufferable traditions and customs). The real man believes he is in a relationship with a good and dependable friend, and therefore is obliged to respond and react, as one will do to a good friend, in giddy or threatening climes. It is virtually unimaginable to start slapping and punching your close friend because of misplaced words, inappropriate actions and such indiscretions? You do not beat up a good friend…no; you “yab”, rile, ‘discuss frankly’ and such decent avenues of ventilating your grievances. For above all things, you desire to continue your friendship, share your disappointments; and dream together of great accomplishments…irrespective of your occasional differences. That is what friends do… that is why husbands and wives should first be friends, in truth and in deed, before they really fall in love.

However, some people do find themselves in quandary, when what they thought was a solid foundation of their marriage was erected on a quicksand of infantile infatuation. What they thought were signs of great affection and “I-go-die” emotional attachments, were actually well rehearsed script, and acutely delivered showmanship. Therefore, all embers of affection and mutual desire have simmered considerably in the relationship. The shell of a marriage is only sustained and condoned by the irremovable presence of good-looking and fast-growing children. If such scenario, God forbid, has been on-going in any one’s life for a considerable length of time (and also where new child-birth is out of the question), then only God, I confess, has a say in that.

But if your marriage is young, and in need of an elixir to become a great union, a visit to the labour room, with your wife, will put you on the straight and proper road. Your life will never be the same again … that is if you don’t faint at the sight of blood… I shall explain…next time.