Happy Tuesday everyone. So this post is for the single ladies who live alone in Nigeria. If you have ever lived alone as a woman in Nigeria, you have heard this phrase at a minimum once in your existence. “Let me pay your rent”, is often from a man who thinks you can be bought for the price of your rent. Don’t ask me why, but lets examine the intricacies of living alone as a woman in Nigeria. I will be your case study.
I moved back to Nigeria in 2010 from all my sojourns. I got a job on Lagos Island, but my folks live on Lagos Mainland. The commute to work almost killed me, so when an apartment i previously purchased was delivered to me in November or so of 2010, it was a no brainer. Commute for 2 hours daily on average each way or commute for 30 minutes or move back to the overseas. You see my last office before i came back to Nigeria was a 7 minute walk from my apartment, and on really hot days in Dubai – i would take a cab and get cursed out by the taxi drivers because of the short distance.
I made the decision to lose potential income from renting the place. My Salary was far from sexy, but i was about to lose my mind. My father all of a sudden became the guardian of my honour. He got worried about me living alone, did i say i went to Iraq at the height of the war and lived in about 4 other middle eastern countries over a 5 year period? I literally have lived away from home since i was 18 and going away to the university, so it was at 28; my honour became an issue? My father offered to pay for a driver for me, so i could sleep while the driver drove – the problem with this approach is that people like me end up more paranoid. Nigerian drivers like tailors are possessed by spirits. Imagine someone driving you on the bridge and slamming the brakes every 2 minutes. Really great quality of sleep for someone who doesn’t sleep well.
Lets gain some further perspective, it was easier living with my parents, because i just added my laundry to the pile, my mom always made me a breakfast sandwich and my coffee mug always had tea in it when i was ready to leave the house etc. The benefits of an oyinbo mother, if you don’t have one, rent one for a few days. lol. I also paid zero bills while i was home, it was like new found glory after years of being solo. I found i used to drive in my sleep when i lived on the mainland, i would shift my right leg around- it was almost always swollen.
The decision to move came- lets say the apartment was delivered in a horrible state. Had to negotiate and revamp it, and wonder why everybody wanted to take advantage of you. Guess what, you are a woman, you look stupid to them. After moving in, i realized i ate less – no more Mother cooking for me, but i was sleeping till 7am instead of getting up at 5.30am. My husband doesn’t wake me up in the mornings, nobody wakes me up- i have to get up myself through an alarm. If you wake me up with a phone call, i am angry at the person for the rest of the day. If i call back and i ask if someone died, is dying or its an emergency and the caller says no, i just hangup and call back hours later. Nothing is that serious at 7am, as i dislike mornings significantly.
I moved out, i bought a bed and didn’t even bother with living room furniture etc. Can i say i had way more money when i lived with my folks? However, my disposition changed, i got to work more cheerful, happier, and my quality of work improved. When you are happy, you tend to forget you don’t have much money. lol.
In the 3 or so years i lived alone, i got multiple offers from men who wanted to pay my rent. I don’t believe i look like the stereotypical Lagos runs girl, but i think people just assume you are loosey goosey because you live alone and you must be engaged in other activities outside of work to pay your bills. Few people called me an Island big girl- we all know what that implies; i am not a socialite, and not remotely social. I avoid weddings generally and other such events. Thank God my husband dismissed the rumors he heard about me and i had my prior income statements saved to prove how i could afford many of the things i had.
There is a lot of exploitation that comes with living alone in Nigeria as a woman. People make a lot of assumptions about you when you are just busy living your life and about making the best of your situation. You are navigating the world of male filled artisans who think they can violate you because you are female. I remember a facilities manager threatening to fine me because of what he called a wonky meter that needed to be replaced etc – only one wire was lose. I have been frustrated with blocked sinks and just poured gallons of bleach down the drain instead of paying someone the said N25k to fix it, and it often worked. I have also ended up with a flooded apartment about 4 times, broken glass top cooker, pest problems, AC servicing problems etc. So what i started doing was using vendors that all the males such as my brothers and friends were using. So they helped with the bill negotiations half the time or told me the going rate for the said service. I have also come to depend heavily on crazy/ super glue- its an almost guaranteed fix for many things that break. Glue it together.
One thing i was fortunate about, my apartment was serviced, so i didn’t have to line up for fuel, pull generator, or deal with a generator repairman- they are always a handful too. I also didn’t have to deal with discriminatory landlords who didn’t want to rent to single women. lol. I guess i was my own boss at that point.
As for the rent payers who think all single women who live alone are willing to sleep with anybody who can pay their rent? I say to them- no matter how expensive the said rent is, many of them give gifts that can never be returned. So sorry i won’t accept your combined gift of rent and Herpes, or your combined gift of HIV and rent. At the end of the day, the said rent will disappear, and the other gift will keep giving. No buenas. Not everybody is in the business of receiving such gifts.
I believe every woman should have a time window in her life when she lives alone, it helps one better appreciate the whole dynamics of truly running a household and creates better expectations of her partner should she choose to marry or evolve into a domestic partnership.
What are your thoughts on living alone? Do you live alone? Have you gotten rent offers?