By Nwafor Obinna Stanley
Two years ago, the Supreme Court of Nigeria without much ado shocked the entire Igbo race by declaring that females who have acquired a lot of property in their individual families could be entitled to such properties even after marriage. In a way, the Supreme Court struck down the Igbo culture that daughters should not be entitled to fatherly inheritance.
Although many people did not take such Supreme Court decision seriously but it has become a law whether we like it or not. For me as an Igbo scholar, I saw some merits in the decision although I may have some reservations. I have come to recently appreciate the fact that today, if we, too, carry out any research, it will not be difficult for us, the Igbo, to come to the conclusion that it is the daughters in every family that has been carrying out major family support and development.
For example, since the end of the civil war, many of our male children have traveled overseas in search of greener pastures more than the females. Many of these boys who went overseas in search of greener pasture have virtually become suburban train (Loko) that is to say; they have not been doing well.
A couple of years ago at the University of Texas at Arlington, a young man walked up to me as I was waiting for my morning class while taking my morning tea in the refectory. He told me he was Igbo, I welcomed him and asked him to sit down. In the course of our discussion, he told me he was the first Igbo to set foot on the soil of Dallas and the first to register in that school.
I was shocked when he told me that it had been more than seven years he came and yet, no degree. Ensuing conversation, he did not waste time to reveal his frustration to me. When I asked him how often he gets in touch with people at home then he laughed at me derisively and replied,”O boy, I have more important things to take care of than to think of home.”
I sighed and looked at him with pity. The shocking bomb came when he said “since I came here, I have only written two letters to my parents at home.” Then I told him that he is not doing well by not getting a degree within seven years has a relationship with his nonchalant attitude towards home.
Interestingly as I was leaving the US having received three degrees within seven and half years, I met him at Dallas airport on a line of taxi drivers waiting to pick passengers. As I met him to announce to him that I was going home, he exclaimed, “Nna, so you are leaving all the golden opportunities in this country to return to our country that is almost a hell?” For me, it is a matter of perception and choice.
Many will be shocked to hear that he was the first son of his family. Invariably, there are many of our sons like that in Europe, America, and Asia who had gone to these countries in search of greener pastures and forgot everything about home.
Back to the story line. In our various communities today, it is evident that female children (daughters) have come to be the backbone of their families.
Before now daughters were neglected when it comes to education in the family. Vividly, while I was in the US, I got three admission letters for two of our boys and my niece-the daughter of my sister married at Owerre Nkworji. When my wife and I went to the airport to collect the three of them, I was shocked that my niece was missing because my in law-her father said,”I will not allow my daughter to go to the United States.”
Thank God all of that have changed and many parents have come to realise that in terms of capacity, love and care our daughters are more dedicated in assisting the family than the male. In Igbo Culture we emphasize on the concept of the first son. But today have we not seen the usefulness of our female children than those of our sons? Admittedly, there are many sons that have lived to justify their roles in their families but today’s technological age and nature have enveloped the sensibility of our male children.
During the lockdown and in the existing Covid-19 calamities, many of our children overseas-more of the daughters than the males mobilized to freight large consignments of palliatives. For instance, one of our daughters married to one of the Governors in the South West organized and mobilized trailers of palliatives and sent to her community to their greatest joy.
Evidently, during the ongoing Covid-19 episode, communities recorded a large number of deaths and cost of burials these days have been astronomical. More often than not, while the first son claims sexual authority, the daughters’ rally round to ensure that their dead fathers or mothers were given befitting burials while the “males” take the glory.
This essay does not deny the fact they there are many sons who have been trying to bring succor to their parents and community dwellers, but the truth remains and strongly remains that our daughters today are playing important roles in their parental homes. This fact is not deniable. Therefore the time has come when emphasis on first sons must be reviewed by trying to recognize the importance of performing daughters.
We must face the reality of today’s circumstances. Those parents who have not been favoured by bearing male children should not be despaired because today, what males can do, the females can do them better except for those things that are impossible because of their weaker organs. This is a food for thought for many families.