Reading about the recent gruesome murder by a Nigerian man of his wife saddened me a great deal and my heart goes out to the family.
Sadly, this situation is not new in the US, with reported unfortunate cases of Nigerian men murdering their newly “emancipated” wives whom they previously controlled but can no longer contain. The women are often brought from humble backgrounds with their education funded by their husbands in the US and a good number of them training to become nurses. Subsequently, these same timid women, who were previously financially dependent on their established immigrant husbands, overtake their men and sponsors and attain superior financial status. As the family financial dynamics change, the once harmonious family order and structure gets thrown into disarray. At this point, there is a struggle regarding who the boss is as the men, in a lot of cases, remain on the same socio-economic levels doing menial jobs but expecting to reap the fruits of their investment in their wives. Resultantly, egos are crushed as social roles are reversed; confidence is lost, respect is gone, and people break and become depressed and desperately mentally ill. Culturally, it takes a lot for certain people to reach out for help- especially when it comes to mental health issues and harmful thoughts. It also takes tremendous humility and courage for both men and women to adjust to changes in financial dynamics in the family.
Additionally, there is no real safety net and no strong sense of community in the Western world for African immigrants who tend to do things as a unit and not as a group. The fact is that a lot of people are psychologically and emotionally isolated. Yes, they come together to celebrate and socialize with friends – they replicate celebratory events they had previously engaged in back home- with food, drinks, music and asoebi flowing- but the fact is that everyone is mostly “keeping up appearances.” Difficult issues are not shared, and things are left to fester as no one wants to be considered weak. Psychological and physical abuse go undetected, and spouses are left suffering in silence-as the “what will people say” fear sets in. Consequently, children grow up in toxic environments as the wounded adults fail to seek help and the institution of marriage becomes annihilated .
Unfortunately, inevitably, the situation is likely to worsen if we don’t start truly preparing couples ahead of their plans to emigrate or japa to “greener pastures.” It will worsen if people don’t start building their communities abroad to preserve their families. It will worsen if we see each other as competitors and rivals instead of as new extended family units and new “social tribe members”. It will worsen if don’t build solid bridges with each other to provide different aspects of the value chain required for the community of immigrants to thrive (from child minding to legal and mortgage services to employment), just like other immigrant communities from Asia have in place.
Therefore, let people falling for the “japa” rush be mindful and prepare wisely before setting off on that long journey of endless life-changing options and disruptions that awaits them in the Western World. Remember, for the grass to be really greener on the other side, there needs to be proper nurturing of the grass by collaboration of different elements. If care is not taken and we do not mind how we japa, the unintended consequence of this trend is a catastrophic future for families.