You shouldn't marry someone who isn't Nigerian!

A few days after completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Leicester, I had a conversation with my beloved grandma over the phone. She’s my great aunt, but it’s an African tradition that your age determines your title.

She said I should visit her, which I never did. A few weeks passed, and now my family reminded me that Grandma wanted to speak with me. This had to be something important - I was being reminded left, right and centre. What could it possibly be?

She eventually appeared at my home in Kent with my other uncles and aunties (all given their titles in line with African tradition).

Naturally, I was hoping the visit was money-related. My younger sister was also part of this conversation. We were sitting by the dining table, stuffing our faces with food from the local Chinese takeout; that’s when she joined us for an 'important' chat.

What she eventually had to say was not worthy of the suspense it had built. I already knew the opinions of her demographic regarding these matters. However, her efforts to sit us down and 'tell it straight' caught my sister and me by surprise.

She went on to say: "You shouldn’t marry someone that’s not Nigerian!". And indeed, only marry someone from our tribe. When we heard this, my sister and I gave each other 'the look'. We were both thinking that she should probably mind her business, but if either of us said that it would have been a ticket to the afterlife; so of course, we just nodded and smiled.

Photography: Universe Never Lies

I did play with her on the topic by throwing out some counterarguments, but she remained firm. In her eyes, this is what’s best for us, and in her defence, there are some reasons to support her belief. One of her reasons for the goodwill advice was that:

Photography: Universe Never Lies

What I believe she meant was much deeper than a reference to the mother tongue. It links back to the traditions and how you raise a family. As a kid, I learnt I did something wrong by being beaten with house decorations, wooden spoons, or fashion accessories – whichever was the closest. If a modern white family was watching through a secret surveillance camera, they’d probably call child services. But to me, it’s just discipline.

It’s 2022 and the term 'white privilege' is still up for debate amongst people who just can’t digest that in our society ethnic minorities are worse off. Why, might you ask? Well because ignorance is bliss. A person that does not share your skin colour would never truly understand your struggle. It’s the privilege of being white.

Photography: Universe Never Lies

What we’re attracted to physically and mentally, stems from familiarity. It’s what’s built from social interactions within the cultures we’re a part of.

Who we marry is probably the most important decision that we will ever make. My grandma is less accepting of mixed-race relationships, all because she grew up in a different era of white privilege. We are now however in a time when society is much more integrated and meaningful interactions are constantly being made between all races.

I am proud to have started and completed secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria, a city that is more populated than London but not as diverse. Consequently, unlike in western practices, the right to same-sex relationships is strictly prohibited and even punishable by law.

But I believe dating outside your race or sexuality expands our view of the world and increases your odds of meeting someone special. It is no one’s business who anyone is sexually attracted to – regardless of gender or race, and that’s just the privilege of love.

While I lived in Nigeria, I could only have feelings for the sorts of people I was exposed to. In these parts of the world, different ways of loving are still being demonised because people are ignorant of the fact that you cannot control who you love.

However, this does not mean there aren’t still people out there being themselves.

For a person like me who lives in England, I cannot control the things or people I am exposed to. I cannot control who I love - and why would I want to? We should all be able to freely take part in the privilege of love. Ultimately, love has no right formula, and I think my sister would agree.

This is from the Kindred. Identity issue, out now. Purchase the copy through the link here.