Whoever Pays the Piper Calls the Tune…

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Among some Igbos, a woman that has gained wealth and prominence in her society is treated like a man. She is included in the male circles

[Column: I Will Not Cook]

Is a man the head of the household because he is a man or because he is a provider? 

Most men seem to put more emphasis on the latter. Even the Bible says that a man that does not provide for his family is worse that an imbecile. 

Traditionally, men have been the “warriors”; they have been the sole providers or at least the major providers for their families, both immediate and extended. Society, especially western society, was set up in such a way that there was a clear delineation between men and women.  

For example, women were less educated—if they were educated at all—they could not vote, and they could not be employed in any capacity of significance. If women worked they made significantly less than men. The system created a social hierarchy that served to preserve and protect the male ego.   

Furthermore, just as society has closely tied the essence of womanhood to marriage, child bearing and rearing, and family domestic affairs such as cooking and cleaning, the essence of manhood is closely tied to his ability to provide food, shelter and protection to his family.  

His role as the leader of the house is because he is able to do all these things and more.  

Because his wife and children depend heavily on him for their livelihood, he holds much power in his household and whatever he says goes.  I know many men who say, “I am the head of this household, this is my house, I am the one in charge here so you will do as I say or get out.” Some African men are quick to threaten their wives that they will send them packing back to their father’s house and request their dowry back because the woman does not cook, clean, bear children—we will talk more about this soon.

But what happens when the woman becomes the provider? 

What happens when she does not really need the man to provide for her? What happens if the man based the reason why he should be respected in his household is solely because of the money that he brings in? No money, no respect? 

Now, I know that people are going to come back to me with a lot of ideological speak.  But can we keep it real?  

For sometime now, there has been a paradigm shift. Do some women pick up the provider role, but secretly wish that they did not have to? Do the men support their wives but feel a guilt that they are not doing enough? Or do both parties transcend tradition and work as a team?

It appears that some Igbo traditions –Igbos are one of Nigeria’s largest ethnicity-- have made provisions for a woman that is so powerful and wealthy, that she is capable of being a provider. Among some Igbos, a woman that has gained wealth and prominence in her society is treated like a man. She is included in the male circles.

In fact she is encouraged not to get married—she may become pregnant and keep her children in her father’s house and her children bear her father’s last name.  In other instances, if she does get married, she leaves all her wealth with her family and starts out fresh with nothing in her husband’s house.


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"Speaking Truth To Empower."


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