With Of Sons And Husbands, Ayeni tackles matriarchal mentality in African homes
This statement best resonates in Modupe Jayieola Ayeni’s Of Sons And Husbands. In many African homes and marriages, men have all the power, so to say. And as a result, there are always different kinds of expression of this power.
In fact, power, to the average African, is character, not fate. Some use it widely while some others are tyrannical in its usage. It, therefore, becomes inherent that men, both young and old, have the right character to ensure the survival of their homes. That’s what Ayeni’s Of Sons and Husbands says.
Sons and Husbands is the second edition and a follow up book on issues concerning the bringing up both male and female children in a typical African society.
The 20-chapter book, with a total of 137 pages, adequately gives insights on how the boy-child should be raised since they are the ones who inevitably become husbands and leaders of their homes and the larger society.
Suffice it to say that Africa is one of the harshest and most difficult places to live in. Life, especially for men in most parts of the region is marked by an unending struggle to see through diseases, ethnic cleansing, conflict, poverty, forced labour, sexual harassment and other quandaries from birth, through childhood, adulthood and even death — In fact, the journey of a boy child, born in Africa, starts from the day of conception.
So much research, statistics, writings, oratory and action have been dedicated to the girl child, but nothing substantive has been done for the embattled boy child.
In the book, Ayeni insists that there is the need to inculcate the right values in the boy-child. This, she believes, will build the right future for such a child while also teaching how ‘his relationship with the opposite sex should be managed’.
A retired economist-cum-banker, Ayeni also takes on the persona of a Christian adviser and counsellor who also emphasises the need for spiritual wholeness for ‘worthy sons’.
Based on her Christian background, Ayeni spices the book with a touch of the Christian faith by including the role the church in the preservation of morality and discipline in the boy-child.
As a counsellor, she highlights core Christian values in the book, which can be put to good use in courtship. She also provides practical instances and real-life stories that can be learnt from. She also goes the extra mile to proffer solution for problems that arise in courtship, relationships and marriages in general.
The first chapter titled, The Way We Are, is particularly striking; not just because the author starts it with the story of a typical Nigerian (Yoruba) wedding, but the way it reflects a true way Nigerians behave as a people: They enjoy the festivities, the many little details that add colour to the wedding ceremony, yet they are not the ‘meat of the event’.
According to the author, even within the festivities and the activities, just like in a typical home, most of the attention is placed on the woman. A lot is expected from her and she is not allowed to forget. This focus is what the author scrutinises, pointing out that the man is left without instructions or admonitions.
In the subsequent chapters, the author gradually eases into explaining who a boy-child is, while masterfully pointing out the holes in the upbringing techniques as Africans. The boy child has been forgotten. As a result, they have been rendered or rather subjected to all kinds of inhumane societal mischief, and unending life-struggle.
Though the male child in Africa has for many generations unwittingly benefited from a patriarchal society that has prized men over women and sons over daughters, they are, however, left to fight on their own when they get to a particular age, they hustle and tussle to make it through without the equal opportunities, support, guidance and protection showered and instilled in favour of women. He has always been given priority and dominion over his female counterpart.
In chapter four and five, Ayeni also touches on the love and discipline, two keys to raising a boy-child.
In chapter six she admonishes parents to lead ‘him’ to Christ. Subsequently, the author focuses on the other values to be inculcated in the man as he grows.
Chapter 11 gives an insight into the kind of man a well-mannered boy-child would become having been nurtured right. She further introduces practical ways to apply praises as a means of infusing him with an appreciative attitude.
All the way from work to picking the right partner for marriage, no topic is sacred as Ayeni dissects issues in clear, concise, yet engaging manner.
In the last two chapters (19 and 20) with three case studies, the author paints typical marriage scenario. She rounds it up with a true-life experience of a marriage where the husband has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). She highlights the symptoms, the role of the role of the church and her prayer for young men and women aiming for marriage.
This second edition of the book proves to be more in-depth and holistic with a great deal of transformative information that every parent, boy and man should desire.
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