With a killer figure, which was accentuated with her figure-hugging red mini dress and six-inches high black slippers, which made her tower above virtually everybody around her, it would be hard not to give her a second look as she paced down the walkway of a popular mall in the Ikeja area of Lagos on a Saturday evening in February 2014. It was a day after the Valentine’s Day.
Holding a brown leather purse in her left hand and a rose gold-coloured smartphone in her right hand, the cologne she was wearing seemed to make her garner the attention of everyone around her. She must have learned somehow that wearing a scented deodorant could help boost body image and self-assurance.
Her hair could not be easily ignored as well. That the artificial hair extension is expensive is not in doubt; she equally knew it could attract attention, thus the reason she must have let it loose as it flowed all the way down her back, almost to her bottom. Of course, a subtle flip and flick of the hair there and then added to the sexiness she exuded and made more people gaze at her alluringly and adoringly.
After some minutes of ‘feigned’ window-shopping at some of the fashion stores in the mall, she entered one of the eateries, her shoulders kept back and her chin slightly up. She ordered for a glass of fruit juice and fried chips. Then she sat, hoping for her expectation to come true.
Would her magic work? It finally did that day.
A young man donning a brown polo shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers and a pair of nerd-looking glasses — who had been sitting alone across her — walked up to her to give her some compliments. It was what she had been waiting for in the past two years.
Fast forward to a year later, Busayo, now 33, got married to the man she met at the mall — a software developer in an Information Technology firm at Lekki, Lagos. Both now have a child.
“It was like a dream, though it was one I had been anticipating,” Busayo, who was not shy to share her experience, told our correspondent during the week.
She definitely was one lady who was not afraid to do whatever it took to get a man to marry after some years of what seemed to be an endless search.
An Economics graduate and an employee of a bank on Lagos Island, she said she had spent years praying for a husband, but that despite her prayers, no “serious” man came her way.
She said, “I started a relationship with a guy when I was in 300 Level at the University of Ibadan. The relationship was on till 2010 when we both graduated. He promised he was going to marry me and almost everyone in my family had known him, but when we went for the National Youth Service Corps programme in 2011, everything changed. I was posted to Kaduna State and he was posted to Rivers State. The change started manifesting when I would call him and he wouldn’t pick my calls. I would send chats to him on Facebook but he wouldn’t respond. It was unusual of him. Initially, I thought maybe it was because he was very busy at his place of primary assignment.
“Two weeks on, he didn’t return my calls, he didn’t respond to my chats. When I couldn’t bear it anymore, I sent a nasty text message to him to demand why he was hurting me. It was then he called me and said he was seriously considering our relationship. At that point, I knew he was going to leave me. I was not a child. So we broke up. Few weeks later, I started seeing him use a lady as his display picture on BlackBerry Messenger. They got married. Since then, I had got no interest from men.
“Thank God I got a banking job in 2013, so it kept me busy to the extent that some times when it crossed my mind that I had yet to marry, I didn’t allow the thoughts to stay. But about three years ago when I clocked 30, I figured out my life was not going to be all about job. No man was coming my way. I had to wake up. It was actually from a book on relationship that I learned that sometimes you have to go for something if you really want it. To be sincere, each time I went to the church, the wedding ceremonies of my friends and other events, I used to anticipate meeting a man that would say he would marry me. And I learned that the way a lady carries herself determines whether men would approach her or not.”
Apparently, Busayo’s anticipation got her her goal and her story is one which revolves around a popular saying, “If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.”
However, in her search for a marital partner, did her method not translate to desperation?
She argued, “I don’t think so. I didn’t propose to any man. It’s something I could never have done. I was not desperate. I was only conscious of how I looked at every point in time to get some attention, at least. I presented myself for proposal and I thank God the man who finally came to me is a God-fearing man. I don’t know whether I would have married if I had stayed indoors or had just been praying for my man to come without taking any step.”
Shopping for lovers
Busayo is certainly not the only lady who took the bull by the horn, damned the consequences and devised new techniques to get a husband.
Findings have shown that one of the ways some ladies looking for marital partners have devised is to visit places where men usually are and try as much as possible to create scenes to get the men’s attention.
A 26-year-old female teacher, who lives in Ketu, Lagos, simply named Toyin, told our correspondent what three of her friends looking for husbands usually do in order to see if their dreams would come to pass.
She said, “I have a man I’m in a relationship with right now and we’re planning to get married next year. He is an engineer and my friends know him. But I have three close friends who are also looking for husbands. They had been in relationships in the past, but now they are stranded. They are under pressure to marry, I really don’t know why they are allowing themselves to be pressurised. In their desperation, every Saturday or Sunday, they go to the Ikeja City Mall or any other mall or eatery where there are men. They try as much as possible to look very good when going out. They sometimes go the extra length of buying new clothes and shoes to wear.
“You would think they are at the mall to shop for things, but no, they are ‘shopping’ for men. They would move around the mall, especially where they notice there are men who are without female company and they would try to make the men notice them. If it’s an eatery, they would buy drinks and sit separately and strategically. They said they were not going to sit at home and wait for men to come to them.
“I thought they had lost their minds when they told me this themselves, but it has actually worked for one of them. She met the guy last month at an eatery at Maryland (Lagos). They exchanged contacts and since then, the guy has been calling her. I just pray for her it ends in a good relationship which would lead to marriage.”
Asked whether her friends were really looking for husbands at malls or just boyfriends, Toyin said, “No, they want husbands; they are looking for who would marry them. They are really serious about getting into serious relationships.”
One of the friends she spoke about, who spoke on the phone with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said she didn’t see any big deal in her going for what she wanted.
She said briefly, “By December, I will be 28 and at my age, I should be thinking of settling down in marriage. I am a beautiful lady and I don’t think there’s anything bad in going for what I want. I don’t need a man’s money, I just want love.”
While some say there’s nothing wrong with her method of ‘shopping’ for a man, others say it is not the right thing for ladies to do as it diminishes their self-esteem.
A Lagos-based accountant, simply known as John, said, “I don’t see anything wrong with these ladies’ method. I even wish my sister could also launch out. She clocked 35 in June, but anytime she returns from work, she just stays at home. Even at weekends, she is always indoors. She doesn’t mingle with people in the church also. How does a lady get a husband that way? I’ve been advising her and I pray she listens one day.”
But Mrs. Gloria Babatunde, a marriage counsellor in Ibadan, said even though the method Toyin’s friends were adopting could get them their desired result, “I don’t think it is right for ladies to subject themselves to such ridicule. They are trying to market or promote themselves, but come to think of it, is it right? Have men become so scarce like that?
“In my opinion, I think when a lady is made of good stuff; she will surely get a man to marry her someday. Of course, I don’t support not taking the initiative, but ordinarily, men should do the searching more than the ladies. While it may work for them, the problem I have is that the men they attract might eventually use and dump them.
“Except God has really destined it for them that they would get their husbands that way, the men they get may not hold them in high esteem. The men would probably think the ladies needed them, so they could take them for granted. Marriage is a serious issue and anyone who wants to marry should follow God’s pattern for it. Of course, ladies should look good in order to get attention, but they shouldn’t go haywire about it.”
How churches come to the rescue
Apart from public places like malls and eateries, another popular place where ladies, especially the Christians, are known to shop for men is the church.
In fact, in some churches, getting life partners for ladies is usually a prayer point by the pastors. There are even special anointing and deliverance sessions for ladies — and men — of marriageable age but who have yet to get partners.
In order to intervene in this ‘crisis,’ some churches also develop singles-only programmes where sometimes matchmaking is done.
Some men who are also looking for partners often attend these churches to search for love.
“Not marrying when you are expected to marry is a serious problem. Sometimes it could be a spiritual or physical problem. I think we have a role to play in guiding our youths to marriage, so that is why we often organise these programmes for them. Some get their life partners through such programmes,” a pastor, Abiodun Abisoye, told Saturday PUNCH.
From football fan mates to marriage
Also, findings show that some ladies who are searching for partners go to football viewing centres and bars because they know men usually throng these places.
“I know some ladies like that here that if they see men; they come in and order for drinks. If there is a football match going on, they watch. Before you know it, you see them asking some of the guys, ‘Are you a fan of so-so club?’ There is just this instinct I have that they are not looking for men’s money. They just want to mingle with the guys. I know one of them who is now engaged to a guy she met here,” said Sola Kolapo, a bar owner at Ogba, Lagos.
Truly, a young lady, Adeola Simon, 35, confessed to our correspondent that she met her husband at a viewing centre in Lagos.
In a telephone chat with our correspondent, Simon said her house was beside a viewing centre and she noticed how young men would always troop to the place especially when there was premiership or league matches.
“I didn’t know anything about football. But When I noticed that guys would always come there and form a kind of camaraderie, I decided to key into that opportunity since I was almost 33 years.”
And what did she do? Saturday Punch asked.
“I got an Arsenal jersey and I would wear it to the viewing centre. I read one or two things about the club. So each time there was football competition, I would wear the jersey and I would buy a drink and sit close to where Arsenal fans sat. In football discussion, there is really no class or status. That was how I started discussing with the guys and somehow, one of them took a different interest in me when he realised I was enlightened. We started dating and we got married eight months later,” she said.
Meanwhile, another method some ladies, and even men, are using to search for lovers is through the social media, particularly through Facebook. Stories abound of people of different places becoming friends on Facebook and then ending up as couples.
Duro Olaoluwa, 35, said he would not forget how a lady reached out to him recently on Facebook, asking him whether he was single and available for marriage.
He told the lady he was not available because he was already engaged to someone else and would soon marry.
“But this lady is still disturbing me on phone. She is a travel consultant and she is 34. She is really serious about the marriage issue. I might have considered her, but I’m already in a serious relationship,” Olaoluwa said.
Saturday PUNCH found out that people looking for lovers normally search through a lot of people’s profiles on the social media network and then try to befriend those they feel have lovely profiles.
“For instance, if a lady looking for a man sees on his profile that the man is single, young, and handsome and works at a good company, she could approach him and start engaging. It could also be a man searching for a lady. Sometimes, people become good friends on Facebook and it could lead to a relationship offline. But one must be very careful. There are lots of bad people out there,” an IT expert, Babawale Ojoye, said.
Pressured to marry
Because African culture sees people, particularly women, who are not married as “incomplete,” many ladies are often pressured to marry once they attain a certain age bracket.
“If a lady is turning, say 27, the next thing you hear their families asking her is, ‘Where is your guy? When are you bringing him home?’ Automatically, it just drops into the head of everyone around her that the next thing in her life should be marriage,” said Mrs. Moyo Owolabi, a London-based psychologist and marriage counsellor.
She added, “If they continue asking her these questions each time they see her, it creates a psychological pressure on her. She will see herself as incomplete and especially when she sees her age-mates getting married; it will be a great source of worry to her. She can lose concentration on her job or any other thing she’s involved in.”
When men alone used to search for lovers…
Before the birth of civilisation in the country, there used to be the betrothal of young girls to older men by families in such a way that once a woman was approaching maturity, a ‘husband’ was already waiting for her to marry. Though this still happens in some parts of the country, it is not well-pronounced as it used to be.
Then, a woman had no cause to worry about finding a marital partner because there was an assurance that someone was going to marry her as soon as she came of age. Potential husbands in those days were also hard-working; most of them owned either farms or workshops which gave them the means to look after their wives.
But today, the reverse is the case. Women are no longer restricted to the kitchen or bedroom — “which is indeed a very great achievement,” said Owolabi.
She said, “A typical girl in the country today is sent to school. After leaving primary and secondary schools, she goes to the university or any other tertiary institution. When she finishes her tertiary education, she goes for the NYSC programme, after which she goes for further education or applies for a job. Before she knows it, she is very busy and often escapes the attention of men, except if she is able to get such attention from the men working in her workplace.
“Meanwhile, there is another problem. Today’s men also are very busy, especially the hard-working types — who are often the ones more attracted to ladies. Of course, who wants to marry a lazy, unsuccessful man? Because of this, today’s men too are driven to achieve a certain level of financial security before they marry. Sometimes, it takes them a long time to achieve.
“Men are now taking longer time to approach women, even when they really like them. Unfortunately, ladies’ chances of early marriage now get slimmer. There is now a crisis — there are more single ladies ready for marriage than men. Ladies are now getting competitive for the few men who are ready for marriage. They now also do the searching. Some get desperate along the line,” said Owolabi.
This desperation, probably, is now what has led to some ladies — including Busayo — devising new methods of getting the attention of men to marry.