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“Endure when your husband is trying to kill you”

“Let me tell you, if you’re married to somebody, that day you sighted your eye on that person that you’re going to marry him, you have to be submissive to the core. Endure even when he is trying to kill you because you have chosen. That is Africa for you,” – Akinyele Idowu said in a video on Instagram.

In a video by Joy Soap, Idowu said it is not right for women to take rented apartments on their own in Africa because they are meant to live under a man. “As an African, I don’t think it’s a right for a woman to look for an apartment, you live under your husband.” When asked where unmarried women should live, he said, “You have to look for one (husband) as an African.”

The man, who had been a landlord for three years, further said as a landlord, he wouldn’t rent out his apartment to single mothers, especially because he would struggle to control her.

“The people I don’t like taking as my tenant, not that they offended me; we call them single mothers. There are single mothers, and there are single ladies. A single mother is somebody that has married somebody and has kids then decided to leave that person and stay alone, so that is exactly what I am talking about”.

“Staying alone without a husband, when you pack into my house, it will not be easy for me to control her because they do not respect much, and that is the reason why they left the other husband’s house, so having such a person in my house, there is no way we would not have chaos,” Idowu said. 

Experiences 

Sadly, this has been the reality of so many single ladies. Abi Jibrin said she had to commute from Kano to Jigawa every day for six months in 2017 because she was denied a place to rent in Garki Local Government, Jigawa State, because she had no husband. And when she eventually got an apartment years later, her cousin had to pose as her fiancé and pay her rent. 

“The first one happened in Jigawa State, Garki Local Government precisely. In 2017, I was told that I wouldn’t be given an apartment to rent because I was a single woman, and no responsible single woman should be out of her father’s house. I took that in good faith and ended up commuting to and from Kano daily for six months.”

“Then I moved back to Nasarawa State. I thought they would be exposed, but the first landlord said I have to come with my dad, who will stand in as the person renting the house if I was a responsible person. Seeing the stress that would cause my dad (he lived four hours away), I left that one and eventually got one without such rules,” Abi said.

Again, Abi moved to Keffi last year and was turned down by three landlords because she was unmarried until she took her cousin as a “male figure over my head” before the fourth landlord accepted her as a tenant.  

“I moved to Keffi last year, and I was turned down thrice because I had no male figure over my head to stand in, so the fourth apartment I got, I had to beg my cousin to stand in as my fiancé before the landlord accepted.”

“I had to transfer the money to my cousin to pay because a woman must be under a man’s authority and not have N200,000 to pay rent seamlessly if she is not an ashawo or runsgirl, in the words of my current landlord. My cousin still renewed the rent from his end because the landlord will not collect money from me,” Abi narrated.  

For Agnes Ibimiefaka, the landlord said if she was not married, she must introduce her fiancé, who would be the only man allowed to visit her in the house. “I was house hunting in Ibadan in 2020, and I was told of an agent around Challenge. I went there to see her, and she began asking me some personal questions.

“She asked if I was a graduate, what school I attended, my tribe and where I was working. At that point, I honestly knew I wouldn’t get the apartment. Then the next question came: are you married? I said no. She then said the owner of the house wanted a married person or someone who was engaged because I would have to introduce my fiancé to the landlord, and that was the only man he wanted to be seeing in the house. I just left,” Agnes said.

Kitmwa James was turned down twice in Jos because of the same reason: she was a single lady. She said one of the landlords said it would have been easier to rent out his apartment to her if she was married because he was concerned about young children in the compound who would see her bring different men and think it was right. 

“I had only two encounters with this regard; the first one said she wouldn’t want to give me an apartment because she was looking for a man, and her reasons, she said, were for security purposes, and meanwhile, all other tenants were ladies.

“The second landlord said because I am not married and feared that I would be bringing different men to the compound, and there are children growing up, and he doesn’t want them to think it’s a norm. Mind you, he never asked if I had a truck load of men as friends or ‘boyfriends’ as the case may be. He just concluded, then he said it would have been easier if I was married,” Kitmwa narrated.

Meanwhile, several women have shared their sad experiences under the video on Instagram using their handles. One Miss _vonx said, “I had to lie to a landlord that I am married before I could get a house that I paid with my money. Not like I am taking the house for free.”  Maryammefoods said, “reminds me of the last house I rented before I relocated, an Alhaji for that matter. He said; I don’t rent my house to a single mother.” 

“Any woman not under a man can’t stay in his house. During house meetings, he still reminded me of that, and I would just stand there without saying a word.”

Thechef_pee wrote, “I was 23 and looking for a house in Abuja to live in and commence my culinary school. 90% of landlords said I was single and wouldn’t give me a house. Even when I filled in my mother’s information as the one taking the apartment, and she spoke with these landlords herself too.”

These extreme stereotypes cut across different cultures and regions in Nigeria and have pushed many women into silence and unhealthy relationships. The world has gone ahead, but many are still holding and preserving extreme cultures regarding women.

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