Dapo and I have been dating for 18 months; when I finally agreed to meet his family he was excited.
I was reluctant to meet his family because of what happened in my previous relationship. My ex and I talked about marriage from the word go. As christians, we adopted the word ‘courtship’ rather than dating because we knew we were headed to the altar.
I met his mum about a week after we started courting, met his two brothers shortly after that, they were all so happy that he finally had a girlfriend. They started calling me ‘Seun’s wife’, added me on social networks. He was a regular visitor in my house and my family loved him. We broke up after one year because he ‘heard’ God tell him to call it off. Apart from dealing with heartbreak, I also had to end my friendship with his family. I had to stop chatting with his mum and brothers on bbm and whats app,unfriend his brothers on Facebook. I had to because it became awkward.
I made up my mind after that not to meet family members till much later in my next relationship.
Dapo didn’t push it when I insisted on not meeting his family. I avoided family events and his mum and sisters constantly asked him about his invisible girlfriend.
He had talked about his mum’s 70th and the small party they were planning for her with very close family and friends. I thought what better time to meet the family than to meet them all together in high spirits.
I got her the high range of Daviva and a nice card. Dapo came to pick me up at 1pm to take me to his family house in Anthony. He complimented my orange flowery dress I bought from River Island the last time I traveled.
I knew who was who and what each member of his family looked like, I had spoken to his mum on two occasions, spoken to one of his sisters as well. I tried to remind myself to calm my nerves. Dapo told me with confidence that his family would love me because ‘what was there not to like about me’.
We got to Anthony some minutes after 2pm, I carried my gift bag and walked beside Dapo as he held my hands.
As we walked in, we were greeted by Dapo’s elder sister, Tinu . We both recognised each other and I greeted her with a hug and beaming smile. I noticed she seemed startled but I shrugged it off as me just being paranoid.
We met his mum in her room and his two other sisters getting dressed. As soon as we got in, Dapo prostrated and started speaking yoruba. Mind you,not the adulterated yoruba you hear people speak. His mum and sisters also spoke yoruba too. He even said all the ‘eku’ things you say when you greet elderly people in Yoruba. I just stood there smiling uncomfortably. I’m so sure I heard his mum say something about me being Igbo but Dapo said I was Yoruba.
I wished her happy birthday and gave her my gift. She went ahead to ask about my parents and work in Yoruba, I replied in English too. She asked if I grew up in Nigeria with all this my phonee*. I became confused because I was sure she knew all about me from Dapo.
The few times we spoke, our phone conversations didn’t last more than 30 seconds. I used to think maybe she didn’t like talking on the phone, not knowing she was put off by my English speaking.
You see, I was born and raised in Lagos but I left after JSS 3 to England with my family. I was in England until 2 years ago when I moved back to Nigeria because of my job. Dapo and I met at Nottingham University, he was doing his Masters, we attended the same church and quickly became friends. We remained really good friends, although he wanted to take it further. We both didn’t want to go into a long distance relationship because he moved back to Nigeria after his Masters. We started dating when I moved back to Nigeria.
My parents are not very traditional, we didn’t speak Yoruba at home, even when we were in Nigeria. The little Yoruba I picked up over the years was from watching Africa Magic Yoruba. I knew Dapo could speak Yoruba and we joked about him teaching me how to speak Yoruba. What I didn’t know was how traditional his family was.
Throughout the party, I felt uneasy because his sisters ignored me and his mum didn’t talk to me till we said goodbye. Dapo noticed I was quiet on the way home and he asked if I was okay, I just said I had an upset tummy because I didn’t feel like talking about it.
I called my friend Sade and told her what happened and she said I was over thinking. I decided to block it off and stop thinking about it.
The following weekend, Dapo and I went to see a movie and had lunch afterwards. I noticed he was a bit uneasy and I wondered what was bothering him. He finally spilled the beans. ‘Princess, my mum called me during the week and… she said she was insulted because of the way you greeted her, she was shocked you could not speak Yoruba too’ I simply smiled because I had seen it coming.
Nothing prepared me for the next bombshell he dropped. He continued ‘ I was going to propose to you on your birthday, but I’m not sure anymore because my mum made it clear she won’t accept any daughter in law with no home training’ My mouth dropped as soon as he said that. I was too shocked to say anything.
First, I didn’t know he was going to propose to me so soon, my birthday was a month away. The shocker was that he was going to put it off over something so trivial.
‘Lola, I’m talking to you, please say something! ‘ I just kept staring and I didn’t realise tears where rolling down my cheeks. I just got up, hailed a cab and went home.
He called me several times over the next few days but I ignored his calls, didn’t reply his pings. I was too hurt, shocked and angry that Dapo, my Dapo would think of ending 18 months of dating, 18 months of talking everyday over the phone, 18 months of praying together everyday, 18 months of exciting dates and dinners, just because I could not speak Yoruba, just because I didn’t kneel to greet his mum. How dare they(Dapo’s family) say I lack home training simply because I wasn’t very traditional???
I’m not trying to brag but I’m a very good catch; God fearing, a virgin, an amazing cook. I have 2 master degrees and I work with Mckinsey Nigeria. I’ve been there for Dapo through thick and thin. I was there when he lost his job and was unemployed for 4 months, I was there for him when he lost his best friend.
The truth is I’m not sure I want to be with a man whose family has so much control over him. He never mentioned that the fact that my inability to speak Yoruba bothered him. Maybe I should have met his family sooner,then it would have been easier to end the relationship. I’m 28 years old and I can’t believe I’ll go back to being single.
I’m in tears as I type this and I’m asking anyone out there ‘Is tradition a deal breaker when it comes to marriage?’
*Phonee – Foreign accent