A year and some months ago, I was having a chat with a friend who by her early 20s had already finished her Masters’ degree in one of the world’s top universities, was lecturing at her alma mater and is one of the most voracious readers and finest thinkers I know. Our talk went round to marriage and she made a statement that piqued my mind:

“You know our Northern men get scared when they meet ladies who have achieved so much”.

That got me thinking a lot, and I was saddened to admit that she was not far from the truth. Generally speaking, Northern men get intimidated when they meet a lady who has achieved so much, or who is ambitious and driven. It is the reason that from my observations most times, for example, once a young Northern lady reaches her fourth year studying Medicine and she is not in a relationship, she most likely ends up with a fellow medical doctor. This is mostly because young men outside the profession feel intimidated to ask her out.

I was talking with a female friend last week, an ambitious and driven lady who remarked that she observed that she hardly gets men from her native Plateau State asking her out, and the few that do, when she talks of her dreams and plans, they never make any effort to encourage her.

This attitude is not something that began with our generation. It has been so even from the time of our parents’ generation. I have seen so many cases both close to me and far away where a promising, driven young lady marries a man who then pours cold water on her ambition and drive, and she then settles for a much less fulfilling life. It seems the mind-set among our men is that the only way they can assert their being head of the home is when their women are beneath them in life.

This has in turn affected our women to demand less from life and to become mediocre. Whenever I talk with my fellow young Northern men about this, I usually ask them to count the number of young Northern women they knew in university who switched courses because they did not like what they had been offered to study. I cannot recall any of them bringing a name forward. Our women now think among themselves, “what does it matter what I study? After all, I will finish school and get married”. I have personally heard many ladies say this.

In cases where a young Northern lady is driven and following her passions, she is assailed on all sides with such statements. A friend I know back home who was working for free in her uncle’s company to pick up business experience complained of being discouraged such. Few weeks ago, I came across this blog post by Zainab Usman, a young doctorate student at the Oxford University where she mentioned this same thinking.

It is a very sad phenomenon that such thinking and mind-set exists among us, even as young and supposedly modern as we are. I stand firm to say boldly that any man who is intimidated by the success and ambition of a woman suffers from insecurity. Yes, INSECURITY!! A man who is equally driven, ambitious, knows what he wants in life and is working towards it will not be put at ease by the ambitions of his woman. Rather, he will work to help her achieve her dreams so she can live her life to fulfilment.

We should seek to help our wives, our sisters, and in future our daughters live their lives to fulfilment and not to be just educated, baby-making machines. That a woman is ambitious does not mean she will then usurp your role as husband and head of the family. It is not being unambitious that makes a woman to submit to her husband and become a good wife, as the Bible instructs. Rather, it is her maturity that makes her a good and submissive wife.

It is also about time that we encourage our women to not accept societal limitations on them and their ambitions. There is nothing in this world to suggest that a woman cannot do certain things. You want to be an entrepreneur? Yes, You Can. You want to go into active politics? Go for it, girl. You want to reach the zenith of your career? We are here to encourage and support you as your husbands, brothers and fathers. This should be the message that young Northern men of our generation should pass on to our women.

I have been in a few relationships, but enough to note that there is a gulf of difference in being with a woman with drive, passions and ambitions than being with a woman who has none. A woman with drive and passions recognizes same in a man, and she then seeks to support him and see that he becomes the man of his dreams. There are fewer things in a relationship worse than being unable to share your dreams with someone you love and are hoping to spend the rest of your life with. Or worse, sharing your dreams and all you get is an ‘ok’, or she asks you about your project thus, ‘how is that your thing’ off-handedly. There is basically no effort from her to see how she can support your dreams because all that matters to her is when both of you are getting married, and as soon as possible.

It is this present mind-set that largely makes our women to become marriage-obsessed, where you see girls in their early 20s having all their thoughts occupied by when and who they are going to marry rather than seek how to develop themselves and make impact in their societies. This is because they have been made to think that fulfilment for them in life comes when they marry; once that has been achieved, there is nothing more to aspire to, besides bearing kids.

Whenever I talk to young women about marriage and life, I always make reference to the Bible in Genesis 1:27-28, which goes thus:

So God created human beingsin his own image.In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.”(New Living Translation)

Both men and women have been created equally in God’s image. But unfortunately, we have made our women to believe their fulfilment is in marriage, as though they are created in man’s image. We have also misconstrued the charge ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ to only mean ‘to give birth to children’; on the other hand, it also means to multiply and be fruitful with whatever gift, talent, passions and abilities God has given us, men and women alike.

It will be disastrous if we continue to feed our women with the notion that their ambitions in life should not be too high lest they end up as old maids. We stand to be robbed of the immense positive contribution our women can bring to the society when we relegate them to be educated, baby-making machines.

A real man, secure in himself, will seek to bring out the best in his woman and encourage her to be the best she can ever be, even if it means that she will be more visible and prominent than he is.



Call Me

41 Comments on this post

  1. You couldn’t have said it better.Our men need to build up their confidence to accept ambitious women

    Fatima / Reply
  2. Well on point, Mark! I once heard a norhtern Professor publicly speak very highly of his wife who is a judge. And I was encouraged. I’ll maintain my belief that there are exceptions among men, and my hope that such exceptional attitudes will soon become the norm. How for do?!

    u know me / Reply
    • We need more of such men. Most of d ambitious young women I know always have the support the men in their lives. It is very paramount.

  3. Thumbs up! I guess I now know why some malo jerks only say “hmmm” when I tell em I wanna do dis and dat afta skwl.. Shegus! Thanks for this.

    Shan / Reply
  4. Well I really would say you have really pointed the finger well and said it all.Well in my case. The reverse is the case cause most ladies I meet in my life to encourage them turn out to see as a big waste of time cause I don’t take them for the jamboree and see me as out of class,lol.It doesn’t matter though cause I only see that they don’t know what they want.I really haven’t met a lady with such kind of zeal,I do admire an industrious woman,why?because she fills the gap and gives me an edge and to top it up she would let the kids know and understand the world very well with good ethics.This message you is really a good one I just wish and hope all Nigerians of both sex see this.

    domya gaius achana-yaro / Reply
    • You know, I’ve been there before too. I always struggle to find the ambitious, smart woman I like. And then some folks begin to think you think you’re too good. But at the same time, I realize that Northern men generally don’t encourage even the few that are there

  5. I hope our men get to read this nice piece,truly we hv a problem and as you’ve said it na insecurity they worry them

    jameela Aleeyu / Reply
  6. This is apt, i learnt a very long time ago that an ambitious or successful woman need not intimidate me as no matter the amount of success, the man is still the head. In fact the woman should be every man’s glory. It therefore behoves on men to encourage women to aspire to even greater heights than they may currently desire because in the final analysis, as my pastor once said, with all her successes, she is still Mrs. …………. lol

    ignatiususar / Reply
  7. Mark! You are so on point! The low esteem thing is not only in Northern Men but in Most Nigerian Men. Recently, I picked up a Job because the M.D. Challeged me. He said he does not employ female Engineers because construction jobs are too difficult for women to handle and that I am too petite to do the job. All I said was that He should give me chance. After series of interviews, I was finally taken but then the MD placed me on Probation with small pay! My salary was as little as what the site Secretary earn. I happen to be the only University Graduate Engineer on site, other Engineers are HND holders and the Secretary is an OND student! In less than a month after I started work, my MD was amazed! He lifted my pay and started consulting me anytime work gets tougher. Now, my MD has employed a female Builder and she doing very fine. Thank God for everything. Why am I telling this experience? There are lots of discouraging factors in our kind of society for women to build on their passions. It takes extra strength to stay focus.

    Maryclare / Reply
    • True. There’s a lot of perceptions that women can’t do what men can globally. Big ups to you for shattering stereotypes in your own way

  8. Generalization is a crime you know. Am a northern youth, bsc, msc and PhD all in Nigeria and am just 34. My wife just finished her msc in Cardiff in February this year, we got married in April and she just left to UK last month for her PhD. I am not the only one, lots of ma friends have similar or more fascinating stories. Times are changing and believe me alot of us are not left behind. I believe a guy should be proud of achievements made by his gf, wife, or fiancee.

    Adnan / Reply
    • Of course, Adnan. There’s an exception to every generalization. And I’m so happy of you. Your wife is one to be admired

  9. Interesting piece,I believe if the men continue to feel intimidated by the women’s achievements then they should also strive to achieve more.besides a driven and ambitious woman is a companion every man desires to have.

    Abubakar Sanusi / Reply
  10. Mark! Dan-Uwa thank you!

    tbm / Reply
  11. Agreed with all the points you raised. However, there are many men today that want just these type of ambitious women as wives. The problem is that most of the women don’t expand their social cycle or be a little adventorous such that they can come across such men. Have you ever tried dating a banker Mark? You will soon realize that the only few free time she has that you can spend together are times when she is mostly exhausted and needs rest. So she will hardly find your company enjoyable. Sometimes it’s not jst about the man’s self esteem but there are other factors like the one I just cited.
    And at the end of the day, most women even the ambitious ones see marriage as an important end and this is why they complain about not having men interested in them.

    IG / Reply
  12. I know this is true. Being married is the lowest I’ve felt in my life. Killed the spirit and zeal to better myself

    lala / Reply
  13. nice i luv this piece,its d right thinking but sometimes voicing your dreams out even to female friends makes u feel like you are nuts or something,,its not just d men, women were raised dis way it takes alot of guts to dream as a woman especially in d north.

    hyelni mshelia / Reply
  14. Exactly!this is why the northern part of the country is retrogressive and backward! Most of the men have insecurity and ego issues! A man feels you should be miserable and hopeless before you are accepted as a wife! They, in their ignorance will quote tonnes of scriptures that talk about a woman as the manager of the home only! Women have a role to also play in the society! Apart from been mothers wives and sisters! It is unfortunate when our counterparts in other parts of the globe are carrying out monumental achievements to humanity and we sit in our backyards unable to make our children better people than us! Things have gone so bad! We should start from the scratch teaching our boys to value, respect and encourage women! Women will always be partners in progress.

    hannatu / Reply
    • That’s true. We can’t afford more ‘lost’ generations. We need to bring up our boys to be men who will feel secure enough to encourage their women and daughters

  15. If by an ambitious woman, it will mean hiring househelps to raise my kids, then no thanks. There has to be a balance. Unfortunately (or fortunately), a woman’s position as a mother and a child’s first teacher will affect the kind of jobs she takes up. There’s hardly a Nigerian man that will be happy if his wife is globetrotting in the name of career. It’s not just a matter of men feeling threatened by their wife’s ambitions, or of insecurity – that’s an oversimplification. You’ve made some noteworthy points, but you have to expand and look not only from the woman’s perspective but from the child’s, the husband’s, the home’s and the society’s (moral) perspective. Thank you.

    Ibrahim / Reply
    • I get your point, Ibrahim. It is a very valid fear. I also do not want my kids to be raised by househelps, and also to miss my own presence. Balance in life is everything.
      However, we’ve moved to an extreme where we do not encourage our women to aspire. We need to move more to the centre.

  16. This is completely true! I have a friend who was married recently and i took my new car to show her and dn maybe take a drive round! When i got to her house she wz lookin so sad nd said to me that her hubby had told her if she enters that kinda car b4 him, the price wld b her marriage! Such pettiness! So backward! Tell me if dats not insecurity! Hw can dat guy encourage dis woman! She’s got a 1st class in econs from ABU but he refuses to let her work anywhere except teaching.well wot wld u expect from a B A Hausa holder!? It is just painful to watch my friend waste away lyk dis!

    Aisha / Reply
    • Heavy sigh! I feel for your friend. It is so sad that people as her husband exist, with their education and what-not

  17. ????-???»??cool«?? -??????? article. Arewa guys #EXPOSED but sir, the women need this enlightenment more than the men. They ar the one’s that need to fight for there rightful place in the fabrics of the society.

    arc. Dogara Durkwa / Reply
  18. truth!

    thewordsofanslem / Reply
  19. I am extremely happy that a friend of mine posted this article on Facebook. I’m in my final year of an Economics degree and most people expect me to do masters immediately even though I’m not sure what I want to do my masters in. I believe there is no point rushing into something i’m not sure I would enjoy just for the sake of having an additional qualification.
    Many people say it is best to get your education out of the way so you can come back to Nigeria, serve, work for a bit then get married. I have applied to go teach English in China and be paid for it.I will be learning Mandarin, developing certain skills in the area of my hobbies and networking with Chinese citizens ( China is the next superpower so there is no harm in that). My parents are not aware that I have applied and I don’t plan on letting them know until I have been offered the position. I have spoken to a few friends about going to China: One of my male friends Questioned my reasoning And remarked that I’m not getting any younger (I’m 20 by the way). He said I need to think of the future and settling down and finding a good guy and that there are no black guys in China. Honestly, I was quite upset with his statement as I previously though he was quite a sensible person. Firstly, as a Lady, I should not be searching for someone, he should be searching for me. Secondly, as one of the earlier commenters mentioned, they don’t want their wives to be globe trotters, now that I am young(ish)and single, Is it not the time to travel the world and learn new skills? Another male friend of mine who is pursuing his masters in Economics said “it’s a waste of time, what do you want to learn in China?” Such ignorant statements irritate me. He said I should just go and do masters in Economics and even though he doesn’t love his course, he is still doing it. Now, I have interned in a few finance organizations and I must say, I hated the work but loved the people I met. I don’t want to be in a situation where I would dread going to work, but I want to wake up smiling because I am looking forward to working. I want to Follow my Passion and know i am making a positive impact in someone’s life everyday i live.
    To summarize this rant (I apologize, but I had to let it all out)
    A) Females, Follow your dreams!!! Now is the time and you do not want to regret missing out on certain opportunities because a guy crushed the thought or said it was silly.
    B) Males, Support the Females and Think before you speak because words are Powerful and you may not aware of the impact they have.

    Thanks for reading!

    P.S. I have never commented on a blog post before but this one stirred up too many feelings.

    Tuke / Reply
  20. My mum is an ambitious woman, who has reached the pinnacle of her career, and she couldnt have done it without her husband’s help. I am grateful that dad showed me the kind of man I need to marry (he’s not perfect o) if I want my ambitions to be realised. He has been a pillar to my mum all these years. Marriage is good,life is even better when the spouse one ends up with helps one achieve one’s dreams and aspirations.
    My parents are northerners.

    Thank you Mark for this piece.

    niechai / Reply
  21. Nice piece Mark. Good to know there are Northern men thinking this way. Im happy there are women who will be driven by this to go for their dreams, many more will push harder to achieve theirs. I am one 🙂

    Chalya / Reply
  22. I wonder will you read comments on articles this far back (I just discovered your blog). Anyway, whilst I agree with the general direction that men (not just men in the North, mind you) should be secure enough in themselves to be able to encourage women (and particularly the women they are supposed to care about – wives, daughters, sisters, mothers) to do well and open up opportunities to them. And I am really glad that you have said so.
    – surely these same secure, open-minded, fair and encouraging men (like you) do not simultaneously believe that they must have a “submissive wife”? Haba. Marriage can be a partnership, with either spouse able to take leadership or follow (and often depending on what the issue is)
    – regarding children raised by ‘house helps’…
    first, the assumption seems to be that only women should raise children. What are the fathers doing? They should also be in there, doing the hard work – and getting the huge pleasure – that comes from being an involved parent in childcare!
    second, it depends on the house help – not everyone (educated or otherwise) is good at raising children, and some people employed in domestic service are great at it!

    ayeshamimam / Reply
    • I agree entirely with you. Marriage should be a partnership & both parents should be involved in raising the children.

      Mark / (in reply to ayeshamimam) Reply
  23. I am impressed to say the least. I know a lot better comments have already flooded your reply. Mr. Mark you just earned yourself another loyal fan.

    Abdulkadir Sammani / Reply

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