6 Nigerian Men Share Their Struggles With Fending For Their Families

September 29, 2020

Being a man can be difficult. It’s not hidden that society expects so much from men as providers, and many men are doing the best they can to meet up to the standards. While these responsibilities come easy to some, it’s not so easy for some others.

We spoke with a few men about their struggles taking care of their families and here’s what they had to say.

1. Fred, late 20s

I started fending for my family three years ago, during NYSC. I’m not married and I don’t have kids yet so it’s just my parents and my siblings. At that point, I was using my NYSC alawee and my PPA salary to take care of the family. After some time, I rechannelled some of the money that was leaving my account into making sure my siblings got some skills. Modern skills. They need to be able to go on their own ASAP, I can’t keep doing this forever. My parents are old, so I don’t mind taking care of them.

I can’t lie and say that I’m not struggling. I’m constantly searching for editing jobs on Twitter, Upwork and Fiverr, just to make ends meet. I’m a Lawyer, so I’m also constantly looking for more briefs. I want to settle down and I want to start my own family.

2. James, mid 30s

I started taking care of my mom just after law school, before NYSC. I had seen all the sacrifices she had made all the time I was in school and I just knew that I had to man up at the earliest possible time. A few years down the line and now I’m taking care of my mom, my dad, and my expectant wife. It would definitely have been better if I had a good job and more money, but I must say it’s quite a fulfilling experience.

I’m not saying it’s easy though. It’s hard. I’m struggling. The thoughts of the people that depend on me for survival are what wake me up and keep me on my toes all day. My needs are no longer valid to me. I can’t even remember the last time I bought something for myself. But I get joy doing what I do. For me, the feeling is like I’m spending money on my hobby and it brings me joy.

3. Ahmed, mid 40s

These responsibilities started out a year after my father retired from active work in 2002. Coincidentally, that’s was a year after I finished my NYSC. My dad’s last two children became my responsibilities.

In taking care of my wife and kids, I have a philosophy: my wife’s income is hers. I pay all bills to ease the pressure of “contribution” away from my wife. It’s not so easy to bear all the cost alone, but if I can’t give her all she wants, taking pressure of expenses off her goes a long way.

I can say that I’ve been a bit lucky to have good means to take care of my family. At some point when I got broke, I had to resort to borrowing to meet up. At that point, I focused only on my immediate family and dad. My siblings and extended family were left to bear their cross. But I returned to taking care of things when the situation improved.

When I reflect, I feel like I’ve left myself out in most cases. Until recently when I started making conscious efforts at doing things for my self, I have always put others 100% above me. My wife and children always comes first. But I realized they also need to learn opportunity cost.

4. Charles, 31

For me, it all started eight years ago. I’ve been married for four years. I used to be an assistant to some big shot talent manager before I was married, but when I got married, I went into the transport business and then opened a car park and an event centre.

Everyone always expects you to forget about your pains and struggles and just provide for them. The pressure is just constant. It’s been crazy for me this year because the government’s ban on keke really hindered my transport business. I had to create other sources of income to keep me afloat.

I wouldn’t say I’m happy to bear all of this responsibility, to be honest. I do it because I have to, and because I love my family. I always feel like I need to do more.

In the past two years, I’ve gotten myself a car, a piece of land and a PS4, and that’s all. Every other thing I do is for other people. I wish I could just go on a vacation alone. No wife, no kids, just me and my FIFA 20 with Orijin and peppered snails.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughters. But fuck them kids.

5. Samson, 33

When I started working seven years ago, I was 26. That’s when I started taking care of my family. I wasn’t the sole provider though. My dad and sister were doing their bits but then my contribution fraction just jumped from zero to half. I was in charge of paying rent and giving my little brother pocket money.

Now, its gotten a lot worse in terms of fraction. I’m the only one working among us, so it’s mostly me. So even though I am abroad now and the wages are a lot better, I still have to support 3 adults on two continents. But it’s only for a while. My sister will get a job and a lot of things will change. Then I’ll sort my bro and my dad will be left.

The expectations can be overbearing, but I am an Igbo man. We are born to just take responsibility without complaining. So maybe I am not happy, but what do I do?

6. Thomas, late 50s

I got my first job as a lab assistant in 1982. I earned ₦300. From that money, I would give my mom ₦10, and all my siblings ₦5. I’m the firstborn. I have six younger siblings. As the years went by and I earned more, I became more responsible for my siblings. I put all my younger siblings through University.

When I got married, my focus shifted to my immediate family, but my wife saw that my siblings weren’t doing great and she pushed me to start taking care of them again. So my children didn’t get the best life they could have because I had to house and feed my siblings and cater to their needs. And my parents were still very much alive. I was everyone’s provider.

In Yorubaland, it’s just one of those things you have to do as the first born. You’re olori ebi.

There were so many times when I didn’t know where the next meal was coming from but because I was destined to take care of these people, something would just come up and we wouldn’t go hungry.

A few days ago I was talking with my friend and we talked about how being a man means you have to push your own needs aside and cater for others first. That’s the reality I live.


Names of subjects have been changed to protect their identities.


Man Like – A series about men, for men, by men. Every Sunday by 12PM.

David Odunlami

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

November 5, 2020

We’ve all been there, at some point. (Yes, I’m judging you.) Sometimes, we get carried away with enjoyment that we forget there are neighbours around the house that can hear you crying unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. They might be even more confused when they start hearing “Daddy, please.” I digress. […]

October 28, 2020

If you’re a woman with a male bestfriend, you’ll relate to one or more of the things on this list. 1) People are always coming to you as “a woman.” Guys, pls. Let’s be guided. 2) His girlfriend is always suspicious of you The ones that don’t come as a woman are always wondering if […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

December 4, 2020

Lawal Adijat Opeyemi of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) will be contesting in the Lagos East Senatorial by-elections which is scheduled to hold this Saturday, December 5, 2020. The by-election became a necessity after the death of Senator Bayo Osinowo earlier this year, who represented Lagos East Senatorial district, following a brief illness. A […]

December 4, 2020

If your friends are bugging you to join them for outings this month, we have the perfect harmattan excuses to help you stay indoors. You’re welcome. 1. “The sun is too hot” This one isn’t even an excuse. It’s a fact. The sun these days can make somebody run mad. Just stay inside your house. […]

Recommended Quizzes

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

December 5, 2019

We already tried to guess how much you have in your account and your current net worth, and we think we did a pretty great job (keep any complaints to yourself). Now, we’re going to try and guess your monthly salary based on your relationship with money. Oya, take the quiz: 11 Timed Quizzes For […]

More from Man Dem

November 25, 2020

If you’re a Nigerian woman living abroad, chances are that you’ve run into one or more of these types of Nigerian men. 1) Mr. qualifications Before you say anything, they’ll remind you about all their degrees – MBA, PHD, WAP, MD. 2) Green card gang In your first conversation, they want to know your status […]

November 25, 2020

Traditionally, marriage is designed to be a life-long commitment between two people. Sometimes, people go against the norm and seek emotional and sexual solace with people other than their spouses. I spoke to seven married men about cheating on their wives, why they do it and what the future of their marriages look like. Ben […]

November 18, 2020

If you’re here wondering the secret to the appeal of Nigerian men, welcome: 1) Sweet mouth Nigerian men open a conversation with “you look familiar” and end with “I can’t live without you.” When Nigerian men give their sweetness attack, you defend. Or reset your defense. 2) Dress sense Ice on their neck. Ice on […]

November 13, 2020

Nigerian women aren’t the most communicative people, some times. When they catch feelings for Nigerian men, they won’t exactly in straightforward terms. They prefer playing a complex game of “Read My Mind” to tell you that they’ve caught feelings for you. Here a couple of signs that show you a woman is in love with […]

November 11, 2020

What does IJGB mean? – “I Just Got Back.” This means someone who’s living abroad and is back in Nigeria for December rocks. Now that you know the definition of IJGB, let’s begin. December is upon us and God willing, the innits will soon be upon us. We’ve prepared this guide as a safety measure […]

November 9, 2020

It’s never too early to start thinking of Christmas gifts for your man. This year, make efforts to get, you know, actual gifts for your man (not boxers and singlets). Nigerian men deserve better, therefore, we’ve made a list of all the things you can get your man for Christmas this year. 1. A PS5 […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X