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New Thoughts About Side Chicks




Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD for short) needs no introduction; he is our Warri Bros. He has huge followership on social media, so you cannot wave aside whatever he says or does. It reverberates in many places, including our home front (Effurun-Warri and its environs).

Recently, he made a post, which is still reverberating. He advised wives: “sidechics are family members. They sit within your husband’s friends and colleagues, when he invites them for your occasion. They know you, but you don’t know them. Every woman whose husband is successful has one.”

My understanding of the post is that modern wives should come to terms with the fact that their husbands have or are likely to have side chicks. So they should accept them the way their grandmothers accepted their grandfathers’ concubines.

Before I continue, let me pause and give RMD a 60th birthday shout out. He was 60 years old last Tuesday and he is very ecstatic about it. His parents never made it to 60. I can imagine his anxiety as 60 years approached.

But every man (and woman) has his own race. He has passed where his parents came short. I wish him many more fruitful years in health of mind and body. Happy birthday, Bros.

 Initially I did not want to get involved in this side chicks matter, although I did engage some people privately. As I grow older, I am tending to respect other people’s choices and mind my business more. Everyone has his individual battles and I am concentrating more on mine. But some information about what is happening to young marriages around Warri-Effurun and its environs prompted this response because RMD’s post might unconsciously add to the problem. Many young marriages around the area are allegedly troubled and collapsing and two of the people, who reached out to me, blamed the trend partly on infidelity.

RMD is an Urhobo man and I fully understand where he is coming from. Our forefathers had concubines (side chicks) who were known to their wives. When they were going out and told the household to lock up at bedtime, the message was clear: I will not be back tonight; I am spending the night with my concubine. No questions were asked. I found out late in life after my father had passed on that he had a half-sister he never mentioned to us before he died. But my grandfather’s philandering was elementary compared to many of his contemporaries.

Christianity came with a new culture. This Christian culture involved not only getting married to one wife, but making a vow before God and his church to be faithful to her “till death do us part.” But this new culture could not get rid of the culture of side chicks. Some church leaders and knights still had (have) side chicks and even second wives and families. But while Christianity did not stop the practice of side chicks, many men now did it Nicodimously (and hypocritically, some would argue), not with the impunity and openness of our forefathers.

I was in my pre-teen when a man brought his girlfriend to his matrimonial home and introduced her as his relative. The wife pampered and took her everywhere introducing her as “my sister-in-law.” The nephews living with him knew the truth because they never knew any such female relative, but they dared not betray their uncle and benefactor. The charade continued until the wife caught them in bed in the act. She had forgotten something at home and came back from the office to take it when he stumbled on her husband and her “sister-in-law” in bed.

Now see what happened next. She wanted to leave the marriage, but her mother reminded her that “your father had concubines, so what is the big deal?” My own mother rebuked her, “w’ekpa (you are a fool) you want to leave your marriage because your husband cheated? Go and unpack your belongings now before I beat the nonsense out of you.” You see the different generations of women and different mind sets.

As far as I can recall, the intolerance for husband’s concubines was already there in the 70s. Where the men only married their wives in the traditional way, they had freedom to marry more wives and have side chicks. In truth, it is dumb to accuse a traditional man of infidelity when he never took any vow to be faithful to one woman in the first place. But men, who married their wives in the church, had no such freedom. I remember their wives always reminding them that they exchanged wedding rings and vows. That did not deter some of them from having side chicks, but it did create marital problems.

RMD does have his points, but things have changed. The wives of today are not the same with wives of those days. They are not ready to tolerate side chicks. They are territorial and do not want to share their husbands. Some are ready to walk away from the marriage. So RMD’s template will not work with many of today’s wives.

So what do we do? Allow infidelity to continue wrecking marriages? Two of the people who reached out to me, as I mentioned earlier, said the marriages of young people are collapsing like a pack of cards in Warri-Effurun and its environs and they blamed the trend majorly on infidelity and domestic violence. Many young people in their 20s, 30 and 40s are already divorced or separated.

This has grievous implications for the Urhobos, Itsekiris, Ijaws and Isokos, who majorly live in these areas. Large scale breakdown of the family unit can endanger the future of these ethnic groups. Many youths from these areas already exhibit symptoms of children from dysfunctional and broken homes and it is already a cause for concern. Any ethnic group or culture that wants to endure needs strong family units. The family unit is the bedrock of any society; destroy it and the society is gone.

Where do we go from here? There are some tips I give people preparing for marriage. One, “In marriage, only one spouse changes and that spouse is you.” What do I mean? In life, we have habits and character traits, which combine to form who we are. If your habits, character and actions are the stumbling blocks in your marriage, change. Do not expect any change from your spouse.

Two, your marriage is bigger than you and your spouse. Therefore, subsume yourself and your interests to ensure your marriage works. Three, you vowed to love and cherish your spouse. If you habitually do things that cause your spouse distress, you are not acting in love. Four, to have stability in your life, especially young married people, you need stability on the home front; do everything within your power to ensure this stability.

Finally, I debunk the myth that every successful man has a side chick. It is not true. I know successful (whatever the criteria for measuring success are) men who have no side chicks. I also know artisans, who earn less than N60,000 a month, but have many side chicks. I agree that success, like carcass, attracts many flies, sorry women. Sometimes the pressure is suffocating, but at the end of the day having a side chick or not is a decision every married man has to make.

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