Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Is he a Christian...?

"Is he a Christian?"
"No. He is a devil worshipper"
"Blood of Jesus!" her mother shrieked.
"Mummy. Yes, he is a Christian", she said.
"Then no problem", her mother said.


Today, I decided to start this post with a quote from a novel I'm reading. You may recognise it as an excerpt from Chimamanda's novel, Americanah. If you haven't yet read this novel, but are from a Nigerian or even African origin, you may recognise it anyway as a conversation you yourself have had with your mother/aunt/interfering family friend that has taken it upon themselves to become far too involved in your life.

*Aside* If you have indeed read the book, please no spoilers, as I am not quite finished.

When I first read this quote, I chuckled out to myself causing the people on my commute to glance up at me with raised brows. I ignored them and continued to chuckle as I assumed Chimamanda intended, but then I began to think. Why was this the first question Ifemelu's mother asked? Why is this the first question any of our mother's ask? Why did she so readily accept Ifemelu's prospect based solely on the fact that she was satisfied with his title of Christianity? Then I thought some more. I don't know about any of you, but it seems to me that our parent's generation made many mistakes when it came to choosing life partners and based their decision on some warped criteria of the 'ideal man'. Is he a Christian? Is he a lawyer? Is he a doctor? Is he tall?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against tall, Christian lawyers/doctors. In fact, if you fit that description, then hit me up as I'm free this weekend and will probably be hungry. However, I've dated  Christians that were assholes. I've dated non-Christians that were assholes and I've dated a red bracelet toting guy that practiced BuddChristiKabbalianity or some such ambiguous faith that was also an asshole. So it seems to me the question should be, "my darling daughter, is he an asshole? and if so, dump him". 

I don't want to get too deep into my views on Christianity, but my point is that the title doesn't necessarily always reflect on the person. No title does. If you ask my father, he will tell you I'm a lawyer. My degree says that I am, my law school qualifications gave me a title that says I am, but when I go into work, it sure as shit isn't to a law firm and fundamentally, it is not what I do (thank heavens for that). 

We teach young girls to focus on titles, we say to them, you can date a man, but only if he's a doctor (ok,ok, I'll stop before I butcher Chimamanda's words) - I guess the point I'm making is that titles are not everything. Our parents were of this opinion and I honestly think that some of this errant thought has trickled into our generation too and methinks it should stop. I'm not saying you have to fall in love with a penniless poet, I'm just saying that we need to look beyond the obvious and ask better questions of our prospective partners beyond 'is he a Christian?'

That will be all. I think I've fulfilled my deep thinking quota for the day.