I saw a video clip of Chicago based Nigerian-American Engineer Tunde Aiyemoni cooking on Bellanaija.com. It brought a smile to my face and took me back to days when it was a thing of pride, within the Nigerian community in Nigeria and the diaspora, for the men to boast that they could not cook. Worse, attempts were made by these men and some women to attack, shame and destroy the Nigerian girl or woman who could not cook. You were less of a girl or woman if you could not cook.
How times have changed. We now have Nigerian men showing off cooking skills in lifestyle magazines, on television and internet web series. (Dia is God ooo).
For me, I hated cooking and truthfully I am still not a fan, although I appreciate and understand the necessity for every adult to know how to cook. We are what we eat. However, my hatred for cooking was more a rebellious stance against absurd societal standards placed on my gender. I was told in unequivocal terms in the Nigerian society I lived in at the time the following:
1. You are a girl, therefore you must cook. Says who?
2. A Nigerian man will never marry you if you do not know how to cook. Really?
Even at a young age when I would hear those statements, I had a very strong reaction to them. I rejected, strongly, the notion that my value was reduced to cooking and marriage as a woman. First, there was the assumption that I wanted to get married. Second, there was the assumption that if I did marry, it had to be a Nigerian man.
I have nothing against Nigerian men. I believe they are some of the strongest and most beautiful soldiers God has placed on planet earth. But, make no mistake about it.I love diversity of people and cultures and always have. So, why anyone would limit my choice of a spouse to a certain group/race; and even have the audacity to make the decision, in advance, for me always perplexed and irritated me.
3. You should be ashamed because you do not know how to cook. I never understood what there was to be ashamed of and still don’t.
As an aside, the idea that any woman would raise her son to depend solely on a woman to feed him is scary. Who makes these rules?
All of these happened before I was even 14years old.
In any event, in the USA, a lot of what may be issues in Nigeria are simply non-issues. Men cook, in fact most men I have met, including Nigerians, cook and do so rather well I might add.
Within the Nigerian community, it is good to see the evolution. Here are some quick videos of Nigerian men who cook including the one I spotted on BellaNaija.com.
Meet Battabox Nigerian men who can cook
House husbands (Just jara (extra))
Now the fancy stuff 🙂
Chef Tolu Eros
Dining with Tunde
Chef Eros Again, this time he is baking o. Levels “don” change.