I had some free time last weekend and spent time observing the kids playing with their dog outside my house. Mine were safely inside. (Children, not dog!) The dog was decidedly racist as it always chased and barked at my daughter anytime it saw her. As I watched, I saw one of my neighbours going from house to house distributing her Avon catalogues, trying to make extra income from cosmetic sales. This woman also had an online store on eBay and a full-time job with our local council. Well done to her!
I am always filled with admiration when I meet or hear of ladies who are able to juggle many roles together, especially those with entrepreneurial skills. I once tried to develop a clothes business in Nigeria many moons ago. I sent clothes home for sale but it never took off, partly because many of the pieces I bought were so nice they ended up in my wardrobe. I also did not consider the competition that the Indian and Chinese import market would have on the prices of the clothes that made it to Nigeria, so I lost my capital and gave up the venture.
I recently met a Nigerian lady who ran a very successful kiddies party planning business. She had three jobs when she first arrived in the UK just to be able to pay for her accommodation and feeding. She was only nineteen years old at the time but she learnt to work really hard and make her own decisions. She recently turned thirty five years old and was unmarried. She claimed that many of the Nigerian men she had met in the UK were intimidated by her independence and self-sufficiency. I asked if she would consider going back to Nigeria so she could meet a man and she laughed. She suspected many men would only approach her because of her British passport and her money. Was she right to be so cynical?
Who is an independent woman?
For me, being an independent woman isn’t about being married or single, having a lot of money or even about status in your career. It is the ability to make your own decisions. I feel like I have been an independent woman since I was 11 years old and my dad made me complete my common entrance form and choose my school options. I have always had a certain outlook on life which is that I am responsible for my own choices. That is what makes me an independent woman.
An independent woman won’t sit and allow a man to do whatever he likes because he believes he knows better than she does because he is a man. She can make good decisions too. Blessed is the man who recognizes that having an independent wife is a good thing, for two good heads are better than one. Women need to be respected for what they can do, not criticized for being too confident, intelligent, creative, industrious or hard-working. Our parents invested a lot in training us, and no parent spent money with the sole purpose of creating a foolish woman.
A story that springs to mind as I write this involves a family friend who bought a car and later lied to his wife that he paid a lot less than he actually did. The family could not afford a new car at the time, chiefly because the husband had run up large debts on credit cards which led to re-mortgaging their only house to pay said debts. His wife had, on several occasions in the past, complained bitterly to me about her husband’s laid- back attitude at their impending financial ruin.
Years before she got married the wife managed her own finances and bought cars for her own use. However, her hubby chose to ignore the fact that she was quite knowledgeable about cars and continued to lie until his wife did her own groundwork and found that the car cost three times what he said. They had a big row which led to a temporary separation.
Thankfully, they patched things up and life continued. It wasn’t long before she discovered that he bought shares in a company that didn’t exist. He funded the purchase by further re-mortgaging their house plus the little savings they had. Their only house was re-possessed by the bank and their marriage collapsed.
After many more years of hard work and careful investment, she was able to buy another house through a mortgage. Her ex-husband told people that she took all his money in the divorce settlement and left him with nothing. Only a few people knew that he was a spend-drift and his wife wasn’t. He should have used her financial acumen for the benefit of the family, instead he ignored the fact and expected her to keep quiet and agree to the disastrous schemes he came up with because he was the man of the house.
Being independent doesn’t mean a woman can’t compromise or defer to sound advice. It doesn’t mean that a woman is arrogant or confrontational. It doesn’t mean she knows it all. On the contrary, it means she is discerning and careful to do things right. She asks for help when she needs it and is never afraid to own up when she is wrong.
They stopped manufacturing ‘mumu’ Nigerian women many years ago. To those who don’t know or refuse to accept this fact, we can only apologise for your disappointment. We won’t apologise for being that woman who adds value to her role at work, the community she lives in, and most importantly, to the people in her life by being independent.
To women who would rather not be independent and prefer to rely on others, ensure you find good people to make good decisions for you. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a very bad place. Seriously, Eve (in the bible) refused to think for herself and see who she turned to for advice!
Writer – Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK, with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listening to her musings on everything.