In Defense of Nigerian Nurses

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Careers in healthcare have a proven record of leading African women out of financial woes and hardship.  It has been responsible for their financial stability and independence; becoming the breadwinners of the household and the “ATM” for other members of their family.  Their choices to become physicians and mainly nurses have given them a bad rap and have made them a target for lazy good-for-nothing men with little or no ambition of their own.    These nurses have also been stereotyped as “bad women” and that men looking for wives should steer clear of nurses.  *Note- all of above situation develops once they come to America.     Contrary to popular belief, such conclusions have no basis when we take a closer look at the dynamics at play why nurses have been labeled as they have.

Contrary to past practice, in the last two decades, Nigerian men living in the United States travel back home in search of a “wife,” regardless of physical attributes, family background, and personality traits.  After all, the men are not looking for a trophy wife, but for a “nurse wife.”  They choose nurses because of the economical and financial benefits they hope to gain knowing the earning power of a nurse.  Genuine love is never factored into the equation.  As a result, women are deceived into believing the men courting them are doing so out of sincere attraction and interest, unaware of the dishonest and selfish motives behind the man’s interest.  Sadly, these women fall for empty promises.

Finally, the newly married woman come ready to live in the United States with her new husband who may not have had any higher education or a stable job, a fact not often disclosed to the wife.  The nurses are then put to work 24/7 and begin to note great changes in her earnings compared to the earnings in Nigeria, a significantly larger salary.   However, the husband’s joy in cashing in from his newly acquired “ATM” machine does not go unnoticed too long as the nurse begins to realize the motive behind the marriage.  The man is not what he claimed to be neither does he show her love but is only interested in driving her to her two full-time jobs and a third part-time job.

As the nurses’ exposure to varied professional environments and people from all walks of life  grows, her strength and independence grows coupled with the realization that she is nothing more than an “ATM”.   The husband begins to lose his grip and control over her and as the realization that he can no longer manipulate her hits home, his frustration grows escalating to constant arguments about finances.   Rather than staying in an unhealthy relationship, they chose to exit out of it which often leads to bitter divorces.

Unfortunately, with this newly found independence gives them a bad rap.  Outsiders looking in, start to label these women as “bad wives, financially independent, non-traditional, and Americanized.”

In their defense, they are not to blame.  If love was the foundation, and if men were looking for true mates instead of importing them as “cash cows” in America, this whole situation could be avoided and nurses would not have to be labeled as such.  If all the right elements were part of a marriage, then it would no doubt be a successful one.

Nigerian women have always been independent, but not by choice.  The demands on them to be perfect daughters, mothers and wives had always been their reality, so even in America; this “independence” did not come by chance.    However, independence would not drive them to wreck their relationships simply because they have money rather they continue to be independent women because their culture and circumstances gives birth to that quality.  It is a quality that makes for a great wife and contributor to a man looking for a woman to marry with all the right intentions.

By: Ashley I. Okonkwo, inspired by Helen (R.N.)

Photo Credit: http://www.positivenation.co.uk/issue114/pics/nurse.jpg

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Nice nice… I've always maintained tho that this only applies to dead-beat men that have no true careers, that pose as "Big" men in nigeria, and deceive "america-hungry" babes into thinking they are dong well in america.. after-all some of these things can be solved if u do ur research.

    In addition, these men definitely have no real career cos if they did, they really wouldn't be bothered about how they can extract money from their wife, but rather how they can combine "both" incomes for the greater good of the family.

    U rarely hear of these stories with men who are engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc… most times it's with random people with no main ambition in life.

    By the way, who still goes to Naija to find wife in 2010.

    • Well written as an aspiring MD and one of the principals of Jaguda I can second Ari's sentiment. Many of the guys (us) who have higher degrees don't necessarily fancy such nonsense. However, we value the tradition because of the love for the culture and the fear that more westernized standards of living have become status quo for Nigerians and all Africans.

      Ari I don't know about the research aspect of the relationships. In the past it was a much more reliable process, but more difficult if the relations in which the man is seeking woman have no correspondence abroad.

      I'm down for arranged marriage if I don't find it here…its allowed so long as she is educated an has my interest.

      • I am very glad you recieved this well. I agree, those men looking for wives making money are good-for-nothingn normally with no career and even taking on different odd jobs. Relationships should be pursued out of genuine interest.

  2. Only applies to useless men that are driving taxi around… nonsense. I like the article… u forgot to add these men end up killing their wives.

  3. Interesting Article Ash, I never thought the situtation of Nigerian Nurses were in this light, GOod to be Educated….Nice Article

  4. Hey Ash,

    This article highlights the age-old challenge of balancing one's role as a mother, wife, and worker. I find it interesting that these Nigerian men, who frequently call themselves, "the real men, African men," are so eager to neglect their responsibilities as husbands and fathers.

    I do agree that is unfair to criticize these women for their independence. In fact, I believe that they merit much sympathy because they provide their children and husband without any emotional support that a marriage is supposed to provide.

  5. Well written article. very insightful. This is great journalism. very informative of real life situations, I learned a lot!!!

  6. So true, what most niga men fail to realise is that the dynamics of marriage here is so different from back home.There, even if you work full time ,you have lots of help with the house work and the kids,your pay is just considered pocket money or at the extreme supplemental;the man bears the financial burden.

    Here, you are working maybe even harder,and you are still expected to take care of the kids,house and turn over your pay check without having a say. It's all about compromise.

    Anothe great article Ash

  7. I am a nurse practitioner and I submit 100% to my husband. I give him all my money and he takes care of me. WHen you let you husband be the head, all will be will. I feel sorry for all the women who made ignorant comments. Before you know it you will be single and lonely. Me, i will do anything for my man and that is why we are happy. African women need to be careful in the diaspora. Shine your eyes and dont be deceived by TV and your friends.

  8. Thanks a lot 4 ds article. It's a real eye opener. I'm a nurse and really,it's like d writer is describing my situation. Now,i'm pregnant wt our second child,my husband has no job in particular n we still depend on my salary. Women, be on the look out 4 these men who see women,especially nurses as magas n atms. Love is neva blind. The responsibility saddled on an African woman is an enormous 1,bt being d breadwinner should not be part of it.

    • Amina, your welcome. Unfortunately this article mirrors your own situation though I am glad you advise other nurses to be careful. All the best.

  9. I don't agree with you Ashley. The truth is that those Naija women are so desperate and can sacrifice anything to come to US. Most of them don't really know and don't really care about what the man does for a living just because they want to make it to US at all cost. Eventually, when they make it to US, and get well situated, they begin to fabricate all sorts of stories experienced the western lifestyle and want there independence. I live in US, and I know what am talking about. They are golddiggers who can do anything to come to US , and eventually dump their man when they feel they are accomplished.

  10. Ashley, I just want to commend you on this article, because I believe that your argument was valid. I do want to comment on the pressure on African women becoming a "double" full time RN.

    I DISAGREE with Maccino because not all African women are desperate neither can they always afford to leave an entire family behind to enter the United States. In reality, most men come before the wives, while the wives are left with the responsibility of the household and must simply wait her turn.

    Its funny, because a significant number of these men remain financially guarded from potential gold diggers aka women who refuse to remain financially independent. Thus, I find truth to your excerpt that many women are the breadwinners.

    The medical field is the ideal profession for Africans in general to connect to their aspirations.

    For women, its their first and last option. When they obtain this success, they most immediately share the wealth with their gold digging men!

    I actually know someone with this same exact situation. The circumstances are a tad different, but it mirrors the same point.

    It is really sad when women are rode upon and taken advantage of…

    As far as divorces are concerned, if a relationship is unhealthy, women or men should have the right to leave…

  11. Madam,Salam alaykum(you r a muslim,i guess). The fact dat God was very gud 2 u n he gave u ur own husband doesnt mean everybody else is lucky or that a all women are d causes of her matrimonial woes(some are,i'll admit). I don't know how long u've bn married(i've bn married 4 almost 7 yrs),bt i am sure u only commented based on d little u hav seen. I'm still married 2 my husband,and xcept he dies,i'll always be,though we both knw it's a toxic relatnship. U probably are happily married n i pray it remains so till death n dat u dnt go thru what i n other woman in similar situations r goin thru. I must b sincere,ur comment was very myopic.

  12. Madam,Salam alaykum(you r a muslim,i guess). The fact dat God was very gud 2 u n he gave u ur own husband doesnt mean everybody else is lucky or that all women are d causes of their matrimonial woes(some are,i'll admit). I don't know how long u've bn married(i've bn married 4 almost 7 yrs),bt i am sure u only commented based on d little u hav seen. I'm still married 2 my husband,and xcept he dies,i'll always be,though we both knw it's a toxic relatnship. U probably are happily married n i pray it remains so till death n dat u dnt go thru what i n other woman in similar situations r goin thru. I must b sincere,ur comment was very myopic.

  13. Am a serving in the army , i lost my wife recently and i need to marry another wife .these are my contact address and my phone numbers 08033012908, 08056141983,am living in ikeja.

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