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Why Men Don’t Last!



Can We Have 'No Victor, No Vanquished'?

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

Take your mind out of the gutter! I can only imagine the immediate reactions of many readers to the title of this article. Larger majority will think what I think is what they think. But, what they think is not what I think.

Sometimes ago, I saw a post circulating on social media. It had a list of many prominent Nigerian men who are dead. The list included many former presidents, heads of state, governors, ministers, business men, clergymen, traditional rulers, so on. The writer listed along each of these dead men, the names of their wives. It was interesting that many of these men who had died many years or decades ago, have their wives still alive and kicking. They might be old now.

I don’t want to start mentioning the names I saw on the list now, but everyone can begin to recall the men they knew, who are dead, whose wives are still alive, whether on that list or not. This is not peculiar to prominent people alone. It cuts across board; poor, rich, educated, illiterate, public figures, private citizens, old or young. My mum inclusive. I lost my father over 12 years ago. I am grateful that my mum is still alive and well. I pray she lives for many more decades, in good health and abundance of the Almighty Allah.

When I ruminated over this, as a man that I am too, it truly gives me concern. It is not that I am wishing that wives should not outlive their husbands. No. Oftentimes, it is actually better, given the nature of women and their capacity to manage the home front and the family more effectively, whether the husband is present or not. Such a chore is not natural to most men. I know because I am a man. I can never match my wife’s capacity to run the home affairs in any way.

Also, I am not questioning the Almighty God for how He has designed and destined everything. Only Him knows and decides when any of his creature would die. This is a given. But, is it designed to be like that? Why men don’t last?

A deep thinking can unearth many factors that are contributing to this. Many come natural but a lot are man-made. They are consequences of the actions, inactions, decisions and indecisions of men. By default, men are programmed to take on most of these factors. They are naturally burdened by them. By the way, today or this week isn’t “World Men’s Day”. It just happened that series of events I witnessed recently prompted me to write this, being my own “constituency” too.

Once a boy is born, his destiny begins to follow him like his shadow. If he cries too much as a baby, something ‘manly’ will be associated with it, whether positively or negatively. As he grows up, he is expected to be strong to be able to protect his younger ones, especially the girls. When he becomes adolescent, he is task with more rigorous chores. He is expected to support his family; parents and siblings.

As he becomes adult, that is when the real challenges of life begin to confront him. His responsibilities become greater, apart from to himself and family, society expects some things from him, as a form of service. Getting married and having children only pile up on it. This is how his life will be all through, with only a breather at some points if he is fortunate.

Let me specifically highlight some factors based on my understanding and experience. I am not aware of genetically proven factor that makes men die earlier than their women counterparts. But men are more ‘endangered’ specie. They are likely to be exposed to greater risks than women. It’s easier for society to query the manliness (I almost wrote ‘manhood’) of a man when faced with dangerous and life threatening situation where he is expected to act. “Are you not a man?” is a common slogan, as if men have two lives.

Let’s start with the official ‘risky’ assignments of being in the armed forces. What’s the ratio of men to women? May be 90 to 10. I am being generous to women. The military, which comprises of the Army, Navy and Airforce. The Police. The State Security Service (SSS). And all other arm-carrying security agents who face life-threatening and death situations regularly, whether in war, or while providing internal security service to the populace.

In the course of their duties, they lose their lives. Few weeks ago, there was an ambush of the military in Niger state where about 36 soldiers and officer were reportedly killed. I doubt if one female soldier was among. On daily basis, it is rarely you hear that boko haram killed female soldiers. May be they are being tactically excluded in such postings. I am not saying female soldiers are not part of our military deployed to fight the insurgents or bandits. No. We can all recall our gallant heroine, Flight Officer Tolulope Arotile, who was said to be a menace to bandits whenever she flew her combat helicopter.

Likewise so many other gallant officers who are females, combating insecurities to protect all us at the risks of their own lives. We are proud of them. However, it is clear that more men are involved. More men are always at risk. Same thing is applicable to the police and other security agencies for internal security. When crime is being committed and police station gets tipped off, it is almost natural that the majority of the officers to be deployed will be men, with exception of where a woman is the leader of such squad.

On the flip side of this is the criminal world. While crime knows no gender, more men get involved than women. This is usually due to many other reasons that will be highlighted later. When the terrorists are killed, captured or they voluntarily surrendered, what ratio of them is women? These are people who are committed to go and die for different causes, irrespective of how senseless. They go on anyway. Same as the bandits.

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What about the underworld? Armed robbers, kidnappers, ritualists, cultists, and so on, are dominated by men. These are adventures they know could lead to their death. This is why even women who get involved dump their feminility and begin to act like men. They are eulogised as “obinrin bi okunrin” (a woman like man). Ironically, many men who go into crimes do so to achieve outcomes that will help them impress women, whether wives or girlfriends. Most things men do, they do them because of women. This is not exonerating or excusing men, justifying or defending them for whatever wrong they do, but it is just what it is. I know because I am a man.

Reverse of these is rarely the case. How many women armed robbers arrested have ever said they do so to help their husbands or families? They often do to live large, when not being financed by men.

Let us look at more responsible scenarios. The amount of burden heaped on a man from childhood till adulthood is enough to shorten anyone’s life. Every man who wants and tries to be responsible knows what he goes through on daily basis to live up to and meet up with them. “No be moinmoin”.

Two days ago, at the Valedictory Service of my children’s school, Ota Total Academy (OTA), for their graduating students, we met my wife’s friend whose child is also graduating like mine. On enquiry about her husband, she said “he don go jamajama o. With the increasing school fees of children, man no fit sit down one place”. Sounds like a joke but she said it with all seriousness. She even said she had warned all her children that they dared not fail and think of repeating in that school. If that happens, “na to go another cheaper or public school be that”.

The school, though private, is very strict and tough academically. Students who do not get very serious can fail and have to repeat classes. Multiple failures will lead to expulsion from the school. They are not about the money that students pay in fees like many private schools that have turned education to big profit making business ventures and care not how sound students are, so long they are paying their schools fees regularly. Their motto is: “OTA: Strictly For The Serious-minded”. It’s a no-nonsense school.

My point is that, such is the burden that a man carries, not only on his head but on his mind always. The increasingly challenging economic conditions in the country have worsened the situation. “Pressure ti wa gidi”. A man is constantly under immense pressure to do all of these. Pay house rent and associated bills like electricity, waste management, security, etc. Feeding, clothing, health and general welfare. Then, school fees. This is the most scary. When you pay one, before you could finished relaxing, the term is over and another term payment. We are about to enter another session now. “Na serious wah!”.

All these are enough to increase a man’s blood pressure, which if not consciously checked, can lead to stroke or even death.

I am not saying only men do all of these. I am not saying women do nothing. In fact, there are women who are wholly responsible for all of these. However, it is often seen as “unnatural”. A single mother will likely definitely do all of these where she has no support. But, is being a single mother something natural and desirable by most women who are? I don’t think so. Which women won’t do with a caring, responsible and reasonable husband?

My point is that men are naturally expected to do them. This is how they are gauged as being responsible or not.

Most men marry younger, sometimes far younger women. So, chronologically, they become older faster than their wives. It is assumed they will pass on earlier. Also, as men and women grow old, men have the tendency to “suffer” more. Starting with what Igbo people called “omugwo”. A practice where a mother goes to take care of her daughter whenever she puts to bed. With the (mis)fortune of what Africans have learnt from the colonialists as to practice of monogamy, the mother will now abandon her husband to go and take care of the child. This takes about three months minimum.

Where the trip is “sumptuous” and enjoyable, there is likelihood that the mother could extend such stay, while her husband languish in distress back home. For me, this is totally unacceptable. This is one big advantage of the polygamy. All the children cannot put to bed at the same time to warrant all the wives to leave the man for their children’s homes simultaneously, “ti ko ba si nka mi nibe”. This part of my opinion is a sore one for many, especially women and I expect it to generate controversy since we loath truth. I have only one beautiful wife who I love. We must come to agreement of no “omugwo” while I will be abandoned and suffer. No way! Or we will both go for the “omugwo” together. “I no go gree layelaye” (lol).

Another unfortunate practice which many of us are guilty of is giving preferential treatment in love and care to our mothers more than our fathers, even we, who are men ourselves. I can’t explain why that has been. It’s been like that like forever. A child will come visit or send money and materials things to his or her parents. They will never be equitable. There is a high probability that the mother will get the lion share, while the father will be given remnants. With such inequality, injustice, and lack of fairness, why won’t the mother outlive their husbands?

Issues like this might not look that important but it is real. As a man myself, I don’t feel comfortable when I think about them. Therefore, while God gives and takes life, every man must take care of himself, even if it is still the period he has to be alive. My admonition is that men must take things easy (as if I heed my own advice too). Working themselves to death just to meet up their responsibilities will not change anything. If they die, those they laboured for will never die with them. They will survive and even prosper. This is why we see women live for many years or decades after the death of their husbands.

Men should cut their coat according to their cloth. They should never allow anyone; wife, child(ren), family, peers, society, etc., pressure them and push them to do what they are uncomfortable to do. From childhood to adulthood to old age, men should “yara won ni brain”. Don’t take on responsibility beyond your capacity, especially financially. Live in neighbourhood you can afford. Put children in schools that you can afford. Buy things like cars, clothes, vacations, and other material things, within your income.

While working hard to take care of one’s bills, men should eat well, rest well, take care of their health, exercise, enjoy themselves within reason. If death comes, let it not be because they do not take care of themselves or due to neglect. Let it be that it is time. May we live long to reap the fruits of our labour, in good health and abundant grace of God.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole
Email: [email protected]
Whatsapp: +2348036034685

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August 26, 2023.


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