I Am Marrying Mr. E. Not Timothy Matthews



Long before Mr E and I got together, my girlfriend, SB used to joke that I would end up with ‘Timothy Matthews’ because of how little I knew about Nigerian culture.

Timothy Matthews was the name we gave to the Oyibo man and all that came with it.

I was born in England and have lived here all my life. I have only visited Nigeria once, when I celebrated my first birthday and have vague memories of the trip. Mr E was born in Nigeria and has lived there all his life. He came to the UK to study and has been here ever since.

One of my dear readers recently sent me an email asking whether we faced any challenges given our cultural differences. Interesting question!

Growing up I often felt like a coconut {black on the outside and white on the inside}. I knew I wasn’t white but I didn’t have a lot of external black influences outside of my family and OFNC. My parents were great in telling us about Nigeria, teaching us some of the language and cooking the food etc but it wasn’t the same.

I was one of three black people at school and given that one of the other people was my sister, that’s not a lot of black people!. We went to a white church and I mainly had all white friends. {Side Note: Ever see that episode in Desperate Housewives when Gaby’s daughter Juanita doesn’t realise that she is Mexican. Carlos and Gaby can’t understand why, but then look around Wisteria lane and all they see are Caucasians.}

It wasn’t until I left university that I began to have more black people in my social circle. I joined a black church and was shocked when SB, who is Jamaican knew more about my culture than I did. Hence the term Timothy Matthews. It was at that point that I knew I needed to re-engage with who I was and learn more about my roots.

Over the last few years, I have gradually learned to make the dishes {still lots to learn but we’re getting there}, have started to build my gele and ankara collection and know how to have a basic conversation in Igbo. I love our culture, our food, our clothing, our hospitality and while there are still many things I am learning I am enjoying being a ‘student’. I look forward to the day when I can speak Igbo fluently.

Mr E came to the UK and had to become accustomed to a different way of life too. No more house girls, no more drivers. He went to university and had to learn how to cook for himself, something that would be unheard of for a man in Nigeria. But he dealt with it and adjusted.

Despite our obvious cultural differences, Mr E and I discovered we had very similar upbringing because essentially Christianity came before culture. We both always went to church and Sunday school, learnt about the bible from an early age and each always prayed as a family. We were both taught about Godly values and we both grew up on Salty and Kids Praise, Sound of Music and the King and I. We both came from homes where education and integrity was important. But fundamentally God was the foundation and that has helped to provide common ground as we start to build our home.

Comparing the two cultures. The Nigerian way is all about reaching out and connecting. You know you can always stop by a Nigerian’s house and there will always be food. You will always be welcome and you don’t even need to give notice! The English way is much more reserved, often insular, as if in a way people are too afraid to reach out. There is no way you could rock up without seeking permission for your visit beforehand.

The Nigerian way is very lassez faire and BPT {black people time} rules the day, whereas the western way, time is money and people like to compartmentalise things.

Family and community is everything is Nigeria, hence why our weddings are enjoyed by all whether or not you have an invitation. The guest list often exceeds 300+, but in England anything more than 80 is classed as a ‘large’ wedding.

In a society where the world is getting smaller and we mix with so many different cultures on a daily basis, from Day 1, Mr E and I want our children to know where they come from and to visit Nigeria frequently. We want them to be able to understand and speak Igbo, enjoy the food and know their roots, at the same time still appreciating the positive aspects of British culture.

I firmly believe it’s about having a good level of understanding of who you are and getting the best from both worlds.

What cultural differences do you and your significant other share and how are you tackling them?


Writer: Chichi is a twenty-something Christian woman who is getting married to an amazing man {Mr E} and they are currently planning their June wedding as they prepare to spend the rest of their lives together. She blogs at


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Click to comment




    June 28, 2010 at 6:09 am

    What an interesting article!
    Something I want to point out though is this: Africans in the West are not the only ones who suffer a culture clash.
    I am of identical origin as the writer but have lived in an African country most of my life. Still, I feel disconnected from my roots.
    From my experiences, I have serious doubts I’ll end up with a man with shared origin like you.
    I am interested in write-ups & studies comparing the challenges (similar & different) encountered by Africans brought up in another African country and Africans raised in a Western country – culture-wise-.
    Chichi, I wish you a happy married life.



    July 5, 2010 at 8:27 am

    dis is true but wat i crave most is a sound education and understandin of our language 2 avoid cheatin.



    July 15, 2010 at 12:29 pm


    Even in Nigeria, two people can have cultural differences that vary widely…but in my opinion, sometimes you have to reach a compromise for love’s sake…understanding the culture will help in understanding certain xteristics that ur significant other will display.

    My 2kobo…

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