An honest and practical guide to placing you at the big table of Nigerian relevance
By: Mazpa Ekejiuba Ejikem
Start off by becoming a man! It is the ticket to the heaven of Nigerian privilege. Even before you are born so, the sperm cell which you will eventually come to represent must force your father’s hands into taking a second wife if the first has given him only useless girls for children.
When you are born, you will hear the voices of family and friends distort the delivery room and sing of how you are hairy and wide-eyed, just like your father. This is after he proudly declares that his child, finally, has a larger clitoris than his other children.
By this, you will know you on the right path.
The first thing about being a man, is learning to hate the colour pink. For you, it must be taboo.
As a man, fix your mind, instead, on manly things like playing Table Soccer in dirty places, and even more manly things like doing backward somersaults on sand heaps. Play with soldiers too. Toy soldiers, I mean. And when you are a bit more motivated, shoot at other boys with tree branches that look like guns, and fall and ‘die’ when you are shot at.
Of course you know you must never cry. Not when you are being punished. Not when you are broken (you aren’t even allowed to be), or when the doctor sticks a needle into your buttocks. Because men don’t cry.
When you are asked what you would you want to be when you grow up, your tongue must never lead you into saying “A nurse” or “A Fashion Designer” or any of those professions that would make you appear feminine. Instead, inflate your chest and say that you would be a Soldier or an Engineer (preferably a mechanical one).
Rule of thumb: A boy must do football. Even if you do not do anything else, you must sit or stand in crowded spaces where deep voices rant about how skilful or appalling the players can be while watching the UEFA Champions League. You must try to play football too, no matter how terrible you are at it. The more you play, the more points you score on the test of manhood.
Forget Scrabble and Volleyball. They are for your little sisters, and other women who do not realise that they should spend their time grooming themselves for their marriages to you and your likes.
Oh! And speaking of women. You must love them. Even when you really don’t or when you simply don’t. Just try, or better still, pretend that you do. You must do this by turning your neck and smacking your lips when they pass by, making sure to be seen doing it. If nobody sees you, you must draw attention by saying something like, ‘Dayuumm!’ Stretch the word like that. And say it loudly.
Indeed, most of your mind should be dedicated to women, money and weed. And if by some rare chance you have a little more brain space, consider video games and hip-hop music preferably by Jay Z, Joe Cole or Burna Boy. You must not be caught nodding to Blues or Soul or Lady Gaga or Beyoncé. You will be written off as weak.
Be warned, you must not like another man! You simply cannot. But if by some sort of unfortunate and inexplicable mistake you do, you must never show it.
For example, do not hug another man with the whole of your body. A transient and careless brush of shoulder against shoulder will suffice so you do not transform into a woman.
Do not greet by saying ‘Hello’ or ‘How you are you?’ in a gentle manner. It is not the way of men. You must raise your voice, crudely, and start with, ‘My man!’ or ‘Nigga’ and then go on to ask, reflexively, ‘Wetin dey sup, man?’ or ‘How far, man?’.
Take note of how English isn’t spoken amongst men (except the other man is your father).
Take note of how you must always remind the next male that he is a man, or at least supposed to be, by adding ‘man’ to every sentence. If that would be too boring, replace it with ‘bro’. It sends the same message.
Also, you must not say, to another man, ‘I love you’ or ‘you smell nice’ or some of those things that might suggest admiration, without adding the panacea, ‘no homo!’. If you fail in this regard, you will automatically become a gay man, and believe me, that is not good.
If ever you want to lose whatever privilege you might have garnered, then consider eating Ice Cream or Yoghurt when you go out on a date with yourself, or anyone else. The world will look at you with blatant suspicion and ask you if you did not know that beer or rum existed, or something a little more caustic. And if you cannot justify your actions (and trust me, you won’t be able to), you might find out that your penis is missing, because you probably do not deserve it.
Remember, as soon as you successfully assume a position atop the pinnacle of unadulterated manhood, and you have begun looking down at the women and lesser men below, then you must consider making money. Because you are the man. And you have to get married (to a woman of course), and poor men do not get married in Nigeria.
I should not remind you to be smart. To choose between the criminality of Nigerian Politics, which is essentially the easiest way out of poverty, if you can play the game well; or the criminality of cyber fraud. Personally, I would advise the former, for obvious reasons.
The All Progressives Congress is a good place to start. Forget the fact that there is nothing progressive about them. The most important thing is that they are in power, and so you will most likely get some cake. When it seems difficult, or your place at the dinner table feels threatened, jump into the Peoples’ Democratic Party, or whatever new coalition that might have been formed. What does it matter? The political parties have nothing to do with ideologies. Rather, they are associations formed based on the common interest of pocket infrastructural development of its members to the detriment of non-members.
But pretend you do not know this.
When you are settled. Run. Run for Governor or Local Government Chairman. Run, because you are a man. Who better to fill up executive public offices than one who bears a penis?
You might win the elections, and you might not. But if you do, stand before all the people you have successfully deceived and thank them, just after you have thanked God.
And yes! You must thank God in all that you will do. He must be invited to take the front seat of those meetings where the money set apart for the Health Insurance is siphoned. After all, the Health people say that women and children are most affected by poor health care. And they aren’t men.
In case you are stupid enough to think that the Nigerian politics might not fetch you bread, or truthful enough to admit that it isn’t your sort of thing, and you really are in need of a Mercedes Benz and a Baby Mama, then pick up a pen and paper and write out the following needs: A Laptop Computer and/or a cell phone (preferably an i-phone; the security is better), a social media account, like Facebook and Instagram, or an account with one or more of those dating sites, and, of course, some foreign contacts. Round Chinese women won’t be bad. Neither would older retired Americans. All those pale-skinned people are potential clients. You will probably hear that they are all daft, and have no brains. This makes them most useful to you. And so for them you can be anything – man, woman, trans, gay, lover, professional, businessman. Anything but yourself. They will send you some hallowed foreign currency after you have told them that you own a huge-ass company in South Africa and Lagos, or after you tell them that you cannot live without them.
See how I wasn’t in a hurry to suggest formal education. Here, that is no good. You cannot spend all your time sitting for and failing JAMB and WAEC in order to get into the moribund tertiary institutions while your mates – men like you – sit at home and ‘blow’.
After all, in your country, privilege is defined by a rich, apparently straight, man.
But remember, if, somehow, you fail at getting rich and being, or pretending to be straight, I urge you to be consoled by the singular fact that you are a man, and therefore sooner than later, everything will fall in place.
Mazpa Ejikem is a final-year medical student. He lives in and writes from Calabar, Nigeria. He enjoys reading, writing and talking. He hopes to be a Human Rights Activist.