Isoko tolopia means ‘Isoko carry cutlass’. It’s a known fact that Isoko men though peaceful by nature will not hesitate to ‘tolopia’ at the first wind of a man being fresh with their woman much less catching her in the throes of adultery. The women are never harmed though they are utterly disgraced by the village, often shunned by their husbands afterwards and shamefully chased out by their in-laws because they have been warned before-hand that their infidelity will result in the shedding of blood by their husbands and bring shame upon the family. Sometimes a man after killing the offender forces his wife to continue to live with him perhaps hoping that they can move past it and that the horror of witnessing her lover’s murder will be punishment enough. Now that jungle justice is no more the order of the day and civilisation has made men less prone to obeying their primal instincts, men think twice before committing murder but inflicting bodily harm is a line they will cross when a man crosses the line where their wives are concerned.
Many tribes in Nigeria have found both mythical, traditional and spiritual ways to combat a woman’s infidelity. Here are a few un-disproved examples:
In some parts of the South, there are curses associated with a woman’s infidelity and many of them have far reaching consequences, for example, a husband may die suddenly after his wife has been unfaithful. I personally do not see the sense in this as I believe tradition should allow the criminal suffer the consequences of his/her actions instead of inflicting more sorrow on the heart-broken victim. Anyway that’s a tradition that holds these people bound. And as a result, other tribes in the South put women through harrowing rituals to deduce the cause of their husbands’ deaths as infidelity is as likely a cause as witchcraft or deliberate murder.
Back in the days, in some parts of the Bini Kingdom, especially with Royalty, a woman was expected to dance nude in front of the family shrine after her husband returned from a trip so that the gods would expose her if she had been unfaithful.
In many parts of the West however, the culprit pays for his/her crimes in a rather comical manner. There’s the ever popular ‘magun’ that has inspired hit Yoruba movies and various legends. Your husband does magun for you when he is suspicious of your movements and you get stuck like glue after sex, unable to disengage. Often times the wife-snatcher dies on top the woman and the woman is left with the open shame, the trauma plus the police wahala.
In the east, a woman who is caught cheating is disgraced by the other women in the community, she is taken to the market square and they dance around her, booing and chanting because she has brought shame to the women of the community and her head is shaved bare. Her husband may also demand that her parents refund the rather steep bride-price paid for her and the man takes another wife. Her children may also suffer the repercussions and may even be disowned by their father and chased out of the house labelled as bastards.
In the North, where the Sharia law guides the people, a woman who is found in the throes of adultery is judged, sentenced and publicly stoned to death in accordance with Islamic laws. Shikena!
Men have always been unforgiving of an adulterous woman. Society has made men the flawed custodians of the vows of fidelity and they have been known to commit crimes of passion where women were killed, bathed with acid, banished, made to watch their lovers being butchered or his penis being severed and even the most docile man counts his woman cheating on him as the most grievous of offences. Almost unforgivable. But are their hands clean?
While serving in Akure, it was fairly common news to hear of a woman who rather than repenting after being caught cheating by her husband would turn around accuse him of the same offence and insult his life and since his hands were dirtier, they took their matter indoors, settled grudgingly and life continued. Sometimes these women were breadwinners, other times not!
It is rare or nearly impossible to hear of an Isoko woman ‘tolopia’ or a Yoruba woman doing magun for her husband or an Igbo man disgraced for infidelity or a Northern man stoned for adultery or a Bini man dancing naked before a shrine or going mad after being unfaithful! WHY?
With the advent of women’s lib, women have begun to adopt the ‘what is good for the gander is good for the goose’ approach and many have cheated because ‘all men cheat’ or because payback’s a b***h or because they are bored of the same old ‘soup’ or simply because there’s a prize attached to it; sometimes a blackberry phone (sic), which means the women no longer have to be emotionally attached to a man to cheat on their husband with him.
With these new trends, men have become more careful because the modern day woman is as unforgiving as the man when her feelings are trampled upon and with the financial freedom she has as well as the challenges and temptations of every day living, the reasons men give for cheating are slowly becoming unacceptable and cliche. After all, if I have a husband and family but I work 10-12 hours a day, and my husband doesn’t seem to appreciate me or even remember to tell me I’m beautiful and a sizzling sexy man at my office makes it his duty to make me blush and feel good or even a virtual man on my blackberry and YET I still remain faithful, why should I condone a man who when faced with a similar situation gives in to temptation? Men don’t wanna hear about the other men on their woman’s case but maybe if they knew just how much temptation the modern day woman overcomes on a daily basis, they wouldn’t be so fast to justify their shortcomings.
Lucky men! Nature has a way of balancing this new equation and population studies have shown that there are more women of marriageable age than men at any given time in the world today. Hence the average woman still has to slow her role cos unlike a man, she may not have the luxury of marrying multiple men or effortlessly abandoning one marriage for another. Bigamy is still a criminal offence punishable by law whereas polygamy is not!
In the hospitals, doctors are seeing new trends. Women demanding paternity tests for their un-born babies when they were neither raped nor drugged during the act that led to conception and women proudly announcing how many pregnancies and termination of pregnancies they’ve had before wedlock in a bid to demonstrate their fertility.
Men can’t point fingers cos they started the scourge and are often just as guilty. Men in the past cheated less and were more prone to marry a second wife rather than have bastard-babies. Men in the now cheat more, are almost totally against a second wife and have turned ‘bastard’ into a colloquial abuse and baby mamas are the new step-mothers!
With the marriage institution crumbling, families disintegrating, sexually transmitted diseases being spread ‘in-house’, children having queried blood lines and the population explosion, is there any point getting married? I think it is high time both men and women decide to either respect the rules of engagement and the vows of marriage or not even bother anymore. I think it’s time to dig up those dusty, almost-forgotten values and refuse to compromise. If someone has a great solution for this that will keep both parties satisfied and protect our children from the selfish emotional hurt inflicted by their parents, we’d crown him king. But while we are still tryna save the world, remember that change starts with you. I once had a boyfriend who brought the 50-50 rule to our relationship. He said babe you are as desirable, intelligent and attractive as I am so we both are gonna be tempted. If I see you at the cinema with another guy then I’m gonna take another girl to the cinema and if I catch you in a compromising situation then I know I’m free to do as I please and the same applies for me too. The measure of commitment and honesty you put in is the measure you’ll get out of it. It was a different mentality all together but it worked for us. Well he was a lawyer so not surprising. 😉 Step out of the box people, if you’ve done things one way for ages and it hasn’t worked, maybe it’s high-time you found out what works for you.
You are too old for peer pressure, decide to be too wise for media pressure! Talk to your partner and come up with rules guiding your relationship as equals. Decide that your partner and perhaps your kids are all that matter and you don’t want your piece of heaven on earth dysfunctional! Don’t wait till he or she carries cutlass! Remember “Isoko tolopia” 🙂
Have a great wednesday peeps…xoxoxo 😉 🙂