Jumai glanced at her phone and hurriedly put it on speaker. It was a call from Vivian to remind her of her rendezvous with “the girls”. She was running late for the appointment because she had stopped to pick up her “mate’s” children from school because their mum (Billie) was experiencing severe cramps and had asked her to help out. As she pulled into Vivian’s drive-in, she found that Adijat and Gloria had both preceded her in arriving at the venue. Jumai breezed into the living room mouthing apologies for her delayed arrival to which Vivian quipped “Meet our quintessential woman living peacefully and comfortably in a polygamous relationship. I doff my hat to you Jumai, picking up your mate’s kids. How do you do it”?

Jumai settled into her seat and asked in a matter-of-fact manner “What’s wrong with that?” She continued,” Billie is such a sweet girl and she has two adorable children who keep our home lively. You know my children are all grown and away from home We take turns to supervise the menu and cooking and sometimes collaborate especially on occasions where we have guests over. So, it is a pleasure to have these little ones around. There is absolutely no rivalry or competition as she ascribes to me the position of a “big sister” and fondly refers to me as “Yaruwa” while I treat her as I would my younger sister”.

“Hmm…” Adijat cuts in and continues, “polygamy seems to sit well on you o. As for me, I can’t imagine living in the same house with my “senior wife”, how much more sharing chores or collaborating on issues. Bode knows I can’t stand her talk less of allowing her to get close to my children. I don’t trust her. We are so different and our philosophies of life are so far apart. I sometimes wonder how Bode copes with our extremes. Although he spends four nights a week at my place, I sometimes wish he could spend more time with me though”, she whines.

Gloria responds with a quizzical look at Adijat. “Adijat, you should be grateful you know where your husband spends his time and money, outside of you. At least, his relationships are in the open and not shrouded in secrecy. Besides, his religion permits polygamy. What does one make of Charles who under the guise of attending vigils and other church-related programs, is involved in extramarital relationships? In fact, I understand he has a family outside of me, yet he is not man enough to mention it, how much more discuss it with me. “Anuofia”. I am simply watching and playing along for now”.

Vivian interjects with “Wow Gloria! Is she a “baby mama”, “side chick” or a second wife?” She continues “You know I think it is always better to know what you are dealing with. A man who is courageous enough to be polygamous should be man enough to take it out of the closet”

Jumai nods in assent and advises – “transparency helps everyone understand their situation and determine the best way to handle it. I must admit when Ahmadu first broached the issue of bringing a second wife, I found it unpalatable but at his insistence, I prayed about it with an attitude of accepting what I cannot change. Over time, I found peace and adapted to the situation. These days, you will have observed that I travel at will and that is because I have someone, I trust to take care of Ahmadu’s welfare when I am away. Of course, we sometimes have our misunderstandings as every family does but they are easily resolved and forgotten”. She continues, “Openness in relationships helps build confidence and trust in one another. Undoubtedly, we all have our downsides but marriage is about making the best of the situations we find ourselves in and achieving peace and happiness. Unfortunately, courtship does not always reveal the challenges ahead in marriage. To Adijat, my admonition is that you strive for a peaceful environment because, with that, you thrive. Peace encourages progress and fends off illness, anxiety and the like. For me, I have a peaceful home where things work, I have gained a younger sister and enjoy all the privileges the situation accords”.

On that note, all four of them fill their platter with the barbecue goodies on display and start a conversation about their school’s upcoming Founders Day Anniversary and the proposed plans.

Havilah likens marriage to a surprise package. You are excited about receiving the package and can’t wait to unwrap it. When you do, your reaction may be one of elation, indifference or depression. These reactions can change along the line and can occur at any time during the marriage. It however calls for a determination to live at peace with yourself and those around you to navigate the storms that may assail and end up fulfilled.




Yaruwa                – a Hausa word for elder sister.

Anuofia               – An Igbo abuse of a worthless man.

Baby Mama        -Mother of one or more of a man’s children, who is not his wife or current partner.

Side Chick           – Slang for a mistress.

THE TALE OF TWO CITIES – A mothering perspective

It was a wet Saturday afternoon and Arit Jasper had just finished her Aria(solo) to the standing ovation of the audience at the Young Olives International School Hall. The audience comprised staff, parents and students of the school and the occasion was the Annual Musical concert. As she rounded off her last note before taking a bow, Mrs. Okolo (a parent and friend to the Jaspers) scanned the audience for Arit’s mum. Realising she was absent; she hurried to the stage and gave Arit a giant bear hug and kisses in appreciation of the performance. She also ensured the moment was captured on camera. At the end of the concert, as Mrs. Okolo was making her way out of the school premises, she saw Arit in tears with her elder sister, Eno, making failed attempts to placate her.

Mrs. Okolo stopped by and enquired about the cause of Arit’s distress at which Arit, pointing to her sister, blurted out the words “It’s all her fault. I hate her! It’s because of her mum never appreciates anything I do, regardless of how hard I try or how well I perform. She is madam perfect…always acing her subjects and clearing the school prizes. Mum has never missed a Prize-Giving Day but she never attends my concerts and drama presentations. I try so hard to be like Eno so mum can appreciate me, but the truth is …I am different… I am ME. My grades are good but not excellent. Eno is the intellectually gifted one but I am gifted in the performing arts. That is not good enough for mum as she wants me to clear prizes like Eno. Aunty …is it my fault? I wish dad were back from South Africa where he is currently posted. He understands me better. You know, I really didn’t expect mum to be here today as usual, but I guess it really got to me when I received a standing ovation and she was nowhere to be seen,” she continued between sobs. “Thank you, aunty, for saving the day, I really appreciate your coming up stage,” she ended.

Eno quickly corroborated Arit’s allegations about acts of favoritism and informed Mrs. Okolo that it was hurting their sisterly relationship. She pleaded with her to speak to their mother about it. Mrs. Okolo immediately dialed her friend and enquired “Mayen, where are you? It appears you forgot about the musical concert at the children’s school today?” She continued excitedly “You should have been here. Arit had everyone mesmerized with her voice – Mayen, she got a standing ovation! You must be so proud to have such a talented daughter. I also hear she is the livewire of the school’s theatre group”. Mayen responded that she was occupied at the shop and lacked the enthusiasm to sit through a musical concert. Nevertheless, she requested Ebere Okolo to give her daughters a hug each on her behalf and inform them she would see them on the next school visiting day. Ebere ended the conversation but not before fixing an appointment to see Mayen at her shop the next morning.

At Mayen’s shop the next morning, after the usual pleasantries and chit-chats, Ebere broaches the topic, “Mayen my dear sis, it’s about Eno and Arit. Have you noticed the build-up of some resentment between them? At yesterday’s event, I witnessed a scene and Arit is hurting really bad because she believes you are constantly pitching her in competition with Eno and you do not appreciate her effort and talents. Rather, you have a “preferred daughter” and she (Arit) can never do enough to please you. Eno also confirmed the situation. You wouldn’t want to promote strife between your God-given jewels, would you”?

Mayen responds with an emphatic shaking of the head saying “Ebere, you don’t understand. Eno is an outstanding student who makes her parents proud. What we need is for Arit to emulate her. What will she do with singing Aria’s etc. in Africa? We are not in Europe where concerts are appreciated. If she devotes the time, she spends on these other things to study, she can rival Eno’s scores. I know she is intelligent also but I don’t think she is applying herself to the right things so I show displeasure”.

Ebere responds with wise counsel “ Mayen, have you ever appreciated the beauty in diversity? We were each created to be unique and different thereby complementing each other, else it would be a very monotonous world. You should thank God that Arit is no laggard and appreciate her God-given talents that can still take her to places beyond your contemplation. The way to share your love among children equitably is to support each one in their preferred endeavour thereby appreciating their uniqueness. Treating them similarly reduces the likelihood of negative competition and sibling rivalry among them. Trust me, I know what I am saying. You know my sons Akonam and Nkem are so close yet have totally different interests. Nkem is a sportsman par excellence while Akonam plays 4 musical instruments. I am at every sports event to cheer Nkem and at every concert to applaud Akonam. In fact, they tease me by referring to me as “political mummy”, because they say I never lean in either direction concerning them. That is the way to be equitable. Similarly, I am fair in punishing negative behaviour or mannerisms”.

May God grant us wisdom in raising our children.




Priscilla jumps out of bed as she quickly silences her alarm and rushes to get ready for work. She is a midlevel manager in the bank and is recognised as a “high performer”. She takes pride in her excellent performance and is constantly raising the bar for performance expectations.

The home front however portends a different scenario. The cracks are visible in her relationship with Obaro. They have been married five years and have tried albeit unsuccessfully, to have kids. As she prepares a quick breakfast, Obaro yells from the room “I don’t need your breakfast…all you ever think about is work, work, work. Why don’t you get married to your work”!

Priscilla fights back the tears, clenches her teeth and heads for the office while playing back the spate of verbal assaults and exchanges at home in recent times. She gets into the car and Ahmadu (her driver) informs her of his intention to swing by the corner and have the vulcaniser inflate one of the tyres, en- route the office. She barks at him – “when will you ever think straight? Must you wait for me to get into the car before fixing the tyre? You are just stupid”! Ahmadu glances through the rear-view mirror at his madam and decides it is best to rein in any further explanations. He stops to inflate the tyre and they ride to the office in deafening silence. He dare not put on the radio or music because he has observed her foul mood.

As she strides into her office, her Personal Assistant (PA) Azuka, utters a cheerful “Good morning ma”. Rather than respond, Priscilla fixes her a steely look and rasps out “See me in my office immediately”.

Azuka allows her to settle at her desk then she takes a deep breath and prepares herself for one of the inexplicable eruptions that have characterised their relationship in recent times. As Azuka enters Priscilla’s office and shuts the door behind her, Priscilla stares at her fixedly and points at the grey “Chanel” jacket Azuka has on. She speaks menacingly “Don’t ever wear that jacket to work again if you intend to keep your job here”. Immediately, Azuka removes the “offending “article and returns to her seat fighting back the tears. Today is her birthday and the jacket is a birthday gift from her fiancé. She lapses into thought…These days madam is always angry and no one seems to understand why. She cannot concentrate on her work and decides to unburden herself to her friend Tobi, the Personal Assistant to Madam Nadia. As she relates the recent scene to Tobi in tears. Tobi consoles her and ends with the words “…don’t mind the old hag. No wonder she doesn’t have kids”. Unknown to them, Nadia had overheard the entire conversation and decided to broach the matter with Priscilla over lunch.

As they seat to have lunch, Nadia addresses Priscilla. “Hi, Prisca. You are looking sharp as usual and I want to commend your presentation at today’s Management forum. It was brilliant!  However, I think you need to relax a little, you seem tense and stressed”.

Priscilla responds “Nadia my sister, indeed I am stressed. Obaro is making my life miserable these days which makes me take solace in my work. It is as if he hates my advancement at work and not having children only makes it worse – as if it is my fault. We have both done tests and there appears to be no scientific barrier to my conception. Am I God”?

Nadia reassures her and gently inquires whether her PA added to her stress as she learns that Prisca ordered her to remove her jacket.

Prisca replies “Nadia, that girl has guts!  Imagine her wearing the very same kind of “Chanel” jacket I bought. Where did she get the money”.

Nadia quickly cuts in “But Prisca, anyone could have given her the jacket and she may be from a privileged background. Your reaction was mean and unwarranted”.

Prisca takes a deep breath, pauses, and introspects – “I guess you are right; I’ve been so uptight of late. My life is a mess”.

Nadia gently counsels “You must slow down and breathe. You must strive for a work-life balance. Maybe you should spend more time with Obaro in relaxation. I am sure it will help heal the fissures. Once you are happier at home, you will no longer display transferred aggression. Besides, stress and tension affect fertility so you must reduce your stress and anger levels. Deep down Prisca, you are a nice person but you have allowed your situation to get to you and have treated work and more work as the panacea. That cannot help”.

Prisca breaks down and agrees “You’ve nailed it, Nadia. You know, I’ve always envied your peace and tranquility. You are a silent achiever who does everything with grace”. She then promises to make out more time for Obaro and gently woo him back.




Teni is the Manager of human capital in one of the multinational companies, while Mark, a colleague, and former classmate, heads human resources in one of the parastatals. They meet at a Human Resource Workshop on Appraisal Systems. During their lunch break, the two former classmates grab a table and after the usual niceties and small talk, Teni engages Mark on the issue of gender discrimination in the workplace.

Teni commences: “You know Mark, I’ve been thinking lately about proposing a bill on Women’s Rights In The Workplace and Gender Equality as there appear to be a lot of obsolete laws that need to be abolished or modified to reflect the reality today that women be given equal opportunities in the workplace and their remuneration should be equivalent to  that of their male counterparts who have the same roles and responsibilities. What is your view on this?”

Mark clears his throat and responds: “Teni, this is a sore issue but I will let you know that I agree with you absolutely. However, while I do not agree with those who practise such discrimination, I’ve heard arguments given to justify their stand. I will classify their reasons into 3:

  1. THE CARE ROLE – Women by their God-ordained role are the first point of contact with relation to children. They are the ones who mostly do school runs, attend open days and other school activities, and take them for medical appointments and after-school extracurricular activities. This impacts the time available to devote to the organisation’s work. Even when they return to their desks it takes a while to settle back into their routine.
  2. THE CHILD BEARING ROLE – Every pregnancy entitles the woman to three months of Maternity Leave with pay and often for the first month after resumption to work, they are entitled to one or two hours off the regular work hours.
  3. JOB ROLE – There are certain job roles that have guiding regulations regarding employing women e.g. the Nigeria Police Force. This is because of the sensitive nature of their function which requires screening of their intended spouse and prohibits married women from joining the Force although they may fulfill the conditions spelt out in the regulations to enable them to get married after joining as spinsters”.

While Mark is reeling out the arguments, Teni’s mind races through some scenarios experienced. She recalls victimisation many years ago as a young woman earlier employed. She returned from her three months of maternity leave with a two-month-old pregnancy. She was utterly confused and opened up to the Human Resource Manager that she was shocked when informed by the Doctor, during her post-natal check-up that she had taken in and was in fact two months pregnant. The organisation was peeved that she needed to go on maternity leave twice within a year and made her pay for it by being passed up for promotion twice. She is currently facing challenges on staffing with the Customer Services Department of her company as Tito resumed maternity leave a week earlier to face her with exactly the same scenario, she had found herself in so many years ago. To compound it, Chitru commences her maternity leave in a week’s time. About this time in the previous year, Jumai had to proceed on maternity leave earlier than planned as she fell into premature labour. She has however, managed to juggle the affairs of the Department without negatively impacting service quality and has maintained a good retention rate. She rouses herself from her reverie just as Mark rounds up and expostulates her position as follows:

“My take on the arguments is that while the situations analysed are a reality, nothing is jeopardised by fulfilling the roles described. The organisation loses nothing provided the output of the staff involved meets expectations and is at par with their male or other counterparts. Productivity should not be measured by physical presence at work but on tangible markers,e.g., output, impact on the organisation’s bottom line and reputation, positive creativity, etc. This is why modern Appraisal Systems must be developed and deployed. This Workshop is indeed timely.

My views are ably supported by my observations regarding productivity when most organisations switched to working remotely as a result of the recent COVID Pandemic. Statistics indicate improvement in productivity while affording employees flexibility in work methods and routines. Women are naturally gifted at multitasking and are able to organise themselves into achieving desired results and objectives. It is therefore important for countries to revamp their extant laws where they tend toward gender discrimination”.