Immigration has never been an unusual act for human beings to engage in. Infact, I’ll argue that moving is part of the required sequence of life. People move out of their parents’ home to become more secure in their adulthood. People buy homes together in a different part of the country upon getting married.
Again, people immigrate to other countries and continents in search of better opportunities and greener pastures.
As to be expected, when people move to a new place, they take with them the good, bad and ugly of their previous place. A basic example of this is when female students or young workers move to a hostel and have to adjust to other students sleeping with the light on when they’ll rather have it off. Or downright have to raise their voices about a roommate not being as clean as they are raised to be. Sometimes, girls who grow up in homes of where cleaning rosters exist may find it hard to live with other girls who were raised in homes where any random person cleaned.
Where am I going with all of the aforementioned examples? It is to simply illustrate that culture is not static and moreso culture must be open to criticism should we see positive change.
Nigeria and lots of other African countries often have people moving to countries like the United Kingdom and Canada in response to the bad economy in African countries.
Rather uncoincidentally, these countries where lots of Nigerians male and female flock to yearly, are reputed for having strong laws protecting women especially when compared to other countries in Africa.
Now, what has always interested me, is that African men who behave clueless on the rights of women back home suddenly give advice to other men coming in not to harass or rape because violations of consent are taken seriously.
These are the sort of men who shall perform housework when they marry white wives but expect to be served like kings with a Nigerian woman on her knees.
All of this said, the sexism from Nigerian and African cultures hardly ever leaves completely. There have been numerous reports of Nigerian men in the UK engaging in pedophilic acts and luring young schoolgirls. Asides these, there is the way Nigerian men exploit often white women in sham marriages in order to get citizenship.
This also follows the same line of emotionally abusing women of numerous nationalities because cheating with reckless abandon and bad behaviour in relationships is so normalised back in most African countries.
Sometimes, this attitude even transfers to the women who come with them from Nigeria. It is not uncommon for Nigerian women who are nurses or in well paying professions abroad, to be killed by their husbands especially when they are doing well financially.
To better understand what fuels the manner in which Nigerian and other African men misbehave even in countries with protections for women I spoke to a few women.
For Doyin*, a mum and homeschooler, she says that the general bad behaviour and double standards of African men in the diaspora is because they see white women as an aspiration.
To quote her: “They don’t see black women as people but they see white women as an aspiration, a perfect trophy wife, something that gives them a greater status than their brothers.”
She went on to say: “They’ll try their best to maintain this status which includes washing dishes, doing the laundry until they get tired of it. They also love the idea of having kids with some white genes.
After kids, when the work is much more than they thought or when the white woman can’t tolerate their bad behaviour anymore, they could split and look for a Nigerian woman that will do their chores for them.”
When asked to give her thoughts, Isabella, a writer and software developer had this to say: “I think it’s internalized racism. Black men hold black women to a higher standard while white women can do the bare minimum and receive praises. If not that they hate themselves and the color of their skin, it won’t happen. They’ll treat a white woman with more respect, not even expecting much, but a black woman must climb seven mountains and swim in the seven seas.”
For Aliyah, a UX writer and feminist, she says that ultimately the bad behaviour of African men in the diaspora still boils down to how African women at home are treated and disregarded. For her, if women where you come from are not seen as human, then it will reflect in the way you see other women outside your country and when you are away from your homeland.
It is important that we talk and create solutions to the negative way Nigerian and African men’s behaviour impact the overall outlook of Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.
Not just because it doesn’t look well, but even more importantly because of the women home and abroad who are victims.
*Name changed to protect identity
Angel Nduka-Nwosu is a writer, journalist and editor. She moonlights occasionally as a podcaster on As Angel Was Sayin’. Catch her on all socials @asangelwassayin.