You may have seen this news before me, but it got me thinking when I heard Tonto Dike's latest interview. The Punch asked her about her fiance who happens to be from Edo State, and what seems like a defensive manner, she compares Igbo men to Edo men, unfavorably.
"... [Benin men] are not siting [sic] and judging you unlike an Igbo man that will want to be poke-nosing in everything you do. You make your money and the Edo man is not interested in your personal affairs. If I keep waiting for an Igbo man I will just end up eternally single." - Tonto Dike.
To be honest, I admire Tonto for doing her own thing which sometimes is not what the majority may care for. I haven't watched a lot of her movies, but she does quite a good job in a few of them. Now, some may expect me to say she unfairly tarred a whole group with the same brush, but can I be real? LOL...
Yes, yes I know it's a stereotype, and I know there's no one Igbo man, what with all the villages and dialects, not to talk of background and upbringing. But, stereotypes usually have an element of truth and can be used in general. I remember back to my single days when I talked with and dated some Igbo men.
In dating, I find that you start with the familiar and may end anywhere. I was born in Enugu, my parents are Delta Igbo, and I went to school in Anambra so the first guys I knew were mostly Igbo. Even after I moved to Abuja for NYSC and then work, my circle was still mostly Igbo. OK, it still doesn't mean I know all Igbo men. But it left me with a personal view of them, and almost affected how I saw all men.
It was one baggage I had to work on while dating Atala. I had to be careful not to read the wrong meanings into some of his actions. This is because I had been used to most of the Igbo men I knew being off-handedly patronising and quite myopic in their view of women, and what I could do or not do. At a stage I almost decided I would never get married.
Don't get me wrong, some of these guys were awesome, accomplished, hardworking, smart, etc, and even very accepting at first. But with time, it became clear that they had very strong opinions on women, especially wives, their wives. I think this comes from the Igbo culture of Ori aku - a wife comes in to chop her husband's money. It works if the woman is willing and expects to do that. I'm saying this with no offense meant to the wives of Igbo men either, not all of us can be the same. Variety is indeed the spice of life. If the woman is more personally adventurous, like Tonto Dike, it might be a problem.
I almost hesitate to say it, and I know some might say I'm pointing fingers because I married a non-Igbo person. And they might be right because we have several ambitious women like Dora Akunyili, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Oby Ezekwili, who are all married, I believe, to Igbo men. But I wonder, are they not in the minority? Do they not fit a certain, staid, profile?
I want the Igbo men and their champions who read this blog to challenge me. Like I said, wanting what you want is not a bad thing in itself. But let's call a spade by the name. Are Igbo men not controlling? Do they not prefer traditional - read: ready to settle down - women as wives?