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The SSS Women of Nigeria: Single & Still Searching (SSS) for That Tall, Dark, Handsome..

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Written by Dr. Phil Tam-Al Alalibo

A few days ago, an email graced my inbox from a Nigerian lady who was responding to one of my articles that addressed the dilemma faced by Nigerians born in the US to Nigerian parents. After she offered her experience of how she returned to Nigeria and learned about the culture, etc, she referred me at the end of her email to her personal website with a note that read, "write me if you like what you see." Of course, in my never-ending curiosity, I went to the website and saw several nice pictures of this beautiful lady who could have easily been one of the beauty queens chased out of Nigeria by the Talibans from the north in the bungled November 2001 Miss World Pageant.

On the site, she was advertising herself to naija men of a certain type and shade. The advertisement read, "I would like to meet a tall, dark-skinned, handsome gentleman 6ft tall and beyond, preferably a professional in medicine,law, engineering or in academia. Must be between the ages of 28 and 35, preferably living in the eastern part of the US. No divorcees and no gentlemen with child[ren]  need to inquire. Serious inquiries only." She proceeded to describe herself generously as a petite, 5 ft 6 inches tall, 26 year old business lawyer living in the eastern part of the US with interest in writing, reading, romantic novels, travels and being very loving and romantic. She indicated that she was ready for a "serious friendship" that would hopefully lead to a "serious relationship" that would eventually, [my own summation] lead to marital bliss.

The ad got me thinking about some Nigerian women who have held out for so long waiting for that Mr. Right to sweep them into the twin bliss of emotions and romance. For some, the wait is tiresome, frustrating and most of all, exceedingly arduous. The ad also brought to memory a situation I was quite familiar with some years ago while I was a university student in the US. At the time, a good Nigerian friend and classmate, [still a good friend] Babatunde, was lamenting his rejection by a beautiful Nigerian lady, Adenike, called Nikki, whose attention he sought so fervently, but was never reciprocated, reason - his physical appearance. She was a graduate student having just begun an MBA program. When Tunde, a doctoral student in Bio-Chemistry, attempted to court her, she told him she liked him very much, that he had a sense of humor, a gentleman and was very intelligent. She then added the famous "but" that has become the nightmare of most men in such a situation.

In her case, the "but" had to do with the fact that Tunde wasn't an Iroko tree. He wasn't tall enough to even touch the stem of an Iroko tree. He was standing about 5 ft. 6 inches and that fact alone, deprived him, regretfully, of his happiness to be with this lady he called "his princess". Throughout his time at the university, he spent almost every waking moment thinking of new strategies to convince Nikki to look beyond his height. I could remember one spring day when he invited some friends, including Nikki, to his campus apartment for a home cooked meal. Tunde was a great cook, any woman who ends up marrying him would enjoy gourmet meals for years to come. We used to tease him that we ate many good home cooked meals because of Nikki as he always had social gatherings in his apartment where he would invite a few close friends, including 'our fair lady'. On this particular occasion, Tunde was making his own bidding by telling Nikki, albeit, jovially, that his 'love' for her was taller than Mt. Everest.

And so Tunde chased Nikki who kept on saying “no” to him. His eyes wouldn't fall anywhere else. He wasn't to be blamed, for she was as beautiful as they came. A Yoruba goddess from Akure, she always had on funky braids that added much glamour to her already enviable disposition and accentuated her looks. Her lips were always wet with the application of a special lipstick, teasing the flock of aspiring gentlemen (Nigerians, other Africans and African-Americans) who applied for her affection of unending luscious entanglement. The human that he was, Tunde saw these irresistible attributes and lodged his affection and love on the doorsteps of Nikki. He would spend his last penny for her and go hungry, that, he would consider his cross and a sacrifice for love.

In fact, Tunde was misled by his group of "relationship advisers" which included yours truly, who kept on telling him, in spite of the obvious disinterestedness shown by this lady, that he stood a chance. I was one of those who advised him to continue his pursuit, for with time, she would come to appreciate his being, which in essence would overshadow his height. He was further encouraged by the story of one of the so-called 'advisers' who told him of his own story with another Nigerian lady at the university in Nigeria when he was an undergraduate student. After more than two years of chasing her, she finally came around. Tunde listened to us carefully. He was overly encouraged by that story and hoped for the same result. But alas, the lady stuck to her guns.

These two good friends couldn't go beyond the friendship line even though both agreed that the 'chemistry' was there, but for his height.  Isn’t it ironic that Tunde, now a Biochemist, could not concoct the right chemical mixture for love. For him and most Nigerians men finding a soul mate is usually a tough decision sprinkled with unwarranted rejections from the women folk. For most Nigerian women, they have decided that their husbands to be must meet specific professional, physical, emotional, religious, spiritual, etc, requirements (nothing wrong with that). And in a society such as ours where some of the single women have unrealistic and tough requirements, what happens if they don't meet that man with the required specifications? Will they continue to hold out or will they begin to eliminate one requirement after the other as time ticks on?

For some of the SSS women, their soul mates, the ones with the standards they are looking for, are not yet born, neither are they conceived. In the days of our parents, most Nigerian women got married early in age. It was an expectation and traditional for women to do so and families took pride in giving their daughters away into early marriage. Now, in the twenty-first century, priorities have changed. Women are not just homemakers, but deservingly, they have careers, they fulfill their educational needs and they are postponing marriage until later in life when they have achieved some of their professional and personal goals. But there is a price to pay. This means that they may not be able to keep to those high standards when they plunge into their early to mid thirties.

For at the onset of their early to mid thirties, the "theory" goes that some women eliminate two requirements for every year they are waiting for Mr. Right and in some cases, end up with the same type of guy they have been rejecting. There seem to be many variables to consider when assessing this behavioral pattern of some single Nigerian women. Considering the fact that their main domineering influence in life has been their fathers, most would like to marry men who have similar qualities as are likely to be men to women who have like qualities as their mothers. This is particularly true if their fathers have been positive influences in their lives.

Given this restriction, amply compounded by family and societal expectations, which I consider unkind to our women, [open for argument], some of them are stranded in this logjam of twin expectations being mindful not to disappoint society or family. Most young girls in Nigeria today when asked whom they would like to marry would often say a "doctor", "lawyer", and "engineer", not necessarily in that order. The response is hardly a school teacher or journalist. This mindset is carried through when they become young adults to womanhood and in some cases, causing some women to wait eternally for Mr. Right, that medical doctor, that lawyer who is ever elusive.

In any case, it is interesting to note by way of update that Tunde, now 34, is a professor in one of Georgia' univeristies and engaged to be married, not to Nikki, but to a nice white lady he met while he was a post-doc in Maryland. Nikki, on the other hand, is still an SSS and last we heard through a mutual friend, had just recently broken off a 1-year relationship with a Nigerian gentleman in New Jersey whom she stated did not have the educational qualifications to be her husband. At 31, she is an investment banker in New York and still searching for that tall, dark and handsome ...

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