Is Love Colour Blind?

Is love colour blind?A good friend of mine once fell in love with a non-Nigerian man. Her family members were unimpressed to say the least and pressure quickly mounted. My friend asked what I would do if I were in her shoes. I thought to myself, ‘Every woman has her own tight shoes to wear…’ But aloud I said, “Pray. Then follow your heart. We make our choices and likewise we must live by them.” However, her family had other ideas. Next thing I heard the cross-country romance had come to an end.

Now, it’s a beautiful thing when two lovers share the same culture and core values. For starters this eliminates the hassle of constantly doubling up as a ‘tour guide’ at family occasions (‘bow when the chief comes. Eat the fufu with your bare hands. Refer to women you don’t know as auntie…’). But more importantly, it ensures that subtle shades of meaning are not lost in translation in the course of everyday interaction. Heritage is preserved when the language, norms and currency of one’s past are handed down to the younger generation. However, life doesn’t always go according to the script. Many people are receptive to the idea of ‘marrying their own kind’ but for one reason or the other, things may not have panned out as rehearsed. So those who are wise have adjusted their expectations and opened up their eyes to see the bigger picture. Tell me. Is it right for society to pre-judge these people and make their lives a living hell?

I was listening to an emotive discussion about inter-racial marriage on a U.S radio programme very recently. The black men who phoned in didn’t sound too pleased about the growing trend of well-educated African-American women marrying white men. “Sell outs.” They called them (in some quarters those who want to better themselves are called ‘sell outs’ these days). Naturally the ‘sistas’ were fluent in their own defence, reminding everyone who had ears to hear that many black men in America run off with blue-eyed blondes once they become successful, that yet another chunk of the quota didn’t have jobs (or were in prison) and so what’s a ‘sista’ to do under the circumstances. The male retort was that black women are unapproachable, too independent, too strong. The response, ‘for goodness sake, what do black men want?’

Following a series of extra-marital allegations, the media spotlight has lately been focussed on an accomplished golfer of mixed heritage. For some this matter is a non-issue, little more than light comic relief at best, for others it’s about serial infidelity, for many however, it’s racial stereotype confirmed. I am struck by the emotive interest inter-racial topics evoke even in this multi-cultural age. Apparently it’s not only African parents who still lay awake at night praying that their sons will come home and take a wife. Many people are not as modern as they like to think when it comes to culture and colour. ‘Race’ is a super highway that must be navigated with care as those who cross without looking may be knocked down… dead.

Of course it’s concerning when people date or marry for predatory reasons that reek of self hate. However, there are others who venture beyond the conventional borders with much love and common sense. Let’s live and let love, shall we? Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where none of this matters anymore. If racial constructs weren’t that much of a big deal to primitive people of centuries gone by, then why is it the be all and end all in this so-called modern age? Why are we so determined to see the ways we differ rather than the human qualities that make us very much alike?

Wish I could get my head round that one…

* * * * * * *

Ọgọ Ogbata is the author of the brand new historical fiction novel titled Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman.

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40 Comments on Is Love Colour Blind?
  • lucidlilith December 10, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Powerful article. I am currently in an interracial relationship and honestly, as individuals, we have more power than others believe we have as to where we want our relationship to go. We believe that first and foremost, it’s all about us. We need no one’s permission to be together. Period.

  • feango December 10, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    good for U,girl! that is courage and a lot of it, too!

  • rowls December 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    wow dis is so inspiring , well i live in abroad hav been living there for a very long tyme don’t get me wrong am still a small gurl lol.
    well my mum always says to me now so ow is ur b/f n dat n am lyke he is fyne or just give her a big smile , and d next thing she says is plz don’t hav a relationship with a white guy n i say to her is wats wrong wit having a white guy as a b/f or husband are they not humans?
    the point am trying to get across is why why why? do people most espciallly nigerians say dat it pisses me off so much at the end of the day be u white, asian, indian or even balck aslong as u are happy with whoever u with dats all that matters because i personally belive that most blessings comes in disguise.
    n.b good job with the article.xx

  • judith December 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Very spot on! my sentiments exactly.
    As difficult as being in an interracial relationship may be, it has definitely worked for many. No relationship is easy but some folks would rather be in a miserable relationship with someone of their own race than to be in a loving one with some one of another. To each their own. that is one pain I’d rather not endure cos it is so unnecessary.

    Ur even going too far, start with marrying some1 from another tribe first.

  • beezy December 11, 2009 at 2:33 am

    “I live IN abroad”….then went ahead to remind us “I’m still a small girl ooooo”…… WTF is ur point???…
    If you read the article well enough, you would see that this race thing is not “especially Nigerian”….as you put it….

  • beezy December 11, 2009 at 2:42 am

    This piece is amazing …. most tyms when I read articles about race & inter-racial marriages, I sense the writer taking a stand on either side & kinda cajoling his/her readers to see from their(d writer’s) viewpoint. But this one is different, It gave us the arguments on both sides, and went ahead to leave us with an open-ended closing…. bottomline ..”food for thought”!!!..
    Awesome!! Brilliant!!!..and has certainly got me thinking…

  • Remi December 11, 2009 at 6:25 am

    i agree with ogo. why dont we focus on wat we have in common more, and less on what differentiates us. my fiance is british and though my mum has no qualms with him, my dad finds it hard to come to terms with my fiancee not using a “sir” to address him or not postrating for him, rather strectching out his hands for a hand shake or a hug. i think he’s afraid me getting married to a non-nigerian would mean losing me. parents simply need to look beyond the colour of skin, getting married to a fellow country man does not guarantee hapiness or a lasting marriage. what matters most is that both parties love each other and are willing to make the relationship work.
    so my advice to those in inter-racial relationships is to pray, use their head, follow their heart.

  • Nice Anon December 11, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Buhahaaaaaa. Died at this comment. LOL

  • PET December 11, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Inter-racial relationships are usually as complex as inter tribal relationships if not more. As young people involved, we see nothing wrong in it especially in the early stages, however, parents are quick to see the bigger picture (marriage)and considering the many deviations (language, culture, family life, religious affiliations) it is plain to see why most of such end up awfully wrong!

    If relationships were strictly left to the 2 parties involved, success rates might be higher, however, in our society where the families are very much carried along, the probability of failure is higher. You might be wondering who will ”çarry them along’ but the truth is, they always find a way to be involved even without your consent.

    I was in an interracial relationship once much to my mum’s displeasure, yes, we were in love, we swore it would work but issues kept on arising, his family made it clear that i couldnt speak the language and thus would never belong! I thought they would get to like me at some point, all they needed was time, afterall they had been resident in Nigeria for over 2 decades… i was wrong!

    As far as relationships are concerned, the advise is usually, follow your heart, but i’ll like to also say, think with your head. Do you want to spend all the time defending the relationship instead of actually having one? Can you live with the idea of being disowned by your parents (i heard of a case like that)? Would love be enough to help you stick together when the winds of life blows?

  • winneR December 11, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Beezy had me in stitches wit d comments directed @ rowls.
    Was tinkn same,den jus burst out laughin wen i saw d remarks.
    Truly WTF was dat intro abt???
    Tank God 4 freedom of expression (or lack of it) right entertainment.

  • Suzanna Efiok December 11, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I am Kalabari (Rivers State) and dated an Ijebu Yoruba man for 6 months. It was the worst 6 months of my life! The parents hated me without meeting me, his sister said “of all the women in NY, it’s this Kalabari girl you could find?,” had “aunties” calling his phone to set him up with their Yoruba daughters, they would speak Yoruba in front of me with him telling me, “you better learn o b/c we love our language sooo…” even though all these folks had several PhDs, Engineering and Medical degrees between them and English is not a problem. The mother went on a dry fast and prayer routine to remove me from his life. In the meantime, mugu that I was I thought “don’t they see how well I treat him, how I cook, clean his house, surprise him with little gifts, listening to all his wahalas at work and advise him, I cook when his friends come to visit etc etc” whosaiiiiiiii! I was spending my money on him, he would follow me with basket in the market and pay for the items so he wouldn’t have to give me cash as if I didn’t have my own job and I made more money than he did LOL. He made me pay for my own birthday gift and told me he will give me the money and until now, I have not see one red cent.

    After e don do, I carry myself and went in search of my peace of mind. Now several years later, I am with an Eastern European man whose family have accepted me with open arms, who eats eba and okro soup with his hand, loves his jollof rice and dodo and leaps for joy when I make goat meat pepper soup with shaki! If food no get pepper, he no gree. He is learning my language, he is soaking up all our culturals ways so he doesn’t disrespect anyone as he puts it and can’t wait to go to Nigeria. He has already told me that if he likes it when he goes and can find a job there, we might stay!

    You see, the one from my own back yard didn’t work out and you would think it would being that we were both Nigerian even if from different tribes but it was the messiest relationship I had ever had.

    Listen to your heart, lay it all out in your head and step out boldly. Our parents had their lives, they made their choices and though we should always consider their advice because after all they are our parents and they have wisdom of experience behind them BUT they are NOT going to be living with the bad decisions. They are not the ones who are going to live with the man/woman, if they treat you well, if they love you, listen to you, care for you, respect you and you work well together…go for it. Black/White or whatever, if a man is a bastard, he is a bastard!

  • jcsgrl December 11, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Oh my gosh…ur story telling had in me stitches. I’m sure the experience was not funny but I have a friend who went through something like that and she’s happily married with a child to an AA and her story telling sounds like yours.

  • beezy December 11, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Honestly…. a comment dat is as long as the article itself is HARD to read…..

  • beezy December 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    I was lost!!..seriously!!!….But sha, Bella naija comments section totally makes up for the loooooooonnnngggggggg time it takes the page to load…..there are some very “unique” pple wit “unique” thots here…..lol

  • eggone December 11, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    lol! i get you, but if you were patient enough to read it all, then you’d agree that it was certainly worth it. The girl suffer no be small in the hands of the yoruba guy. lol! sometimes we can be mugus, but as long as the lesson is learned, then fine. I can see that she likes to cook very well and i doubt if that is the only thing that is driving that easter european man crazy as girls from that end can cook and f$%k well well – at least na so pple talk. lol

  • Queenie December 12, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Growing up, none of my parents ever told us what tribe we must or mustn’t date/marry… one reason being that both my parents came from different tribes. My parents’ families didn’t really get along because of the tribal/cultural differences but we got along just fine as a family. I’m now an adult in my 20′s and I’m wise enough to know that love comes in all colours, literally.

    I usually date interracially and my family knows this, therefore no one has told me that I must bring home a Nigerian male. I wont let ANYONE make my choices for me….. my family respects my choices and that’s great. If they were the typically controlling type, then there would be a BIG problem. I’m currently with a white American guy and he’s always curious to learn about Nigeria and other African countries. I find our relationship to be very interesing because while I try to enlighten him about Africa, he enlightens me about Europe. I’ve never been too interested in cooking, but I’m planning on introducing some Nigerian foods very soon, which can be challenging because I’m a vegetarian. Na how many Naija people una know wey no dey chop meat? lol

    Anyway, I look forward to a time when people can date/marry WHOEVER they want, without being judged or criticized for doing so. It’s hard enough finding someone who loves genuinely…. thus, skin colour shouldn’t be a reason to reject/dislike the people who love your kids/family/loved ones.

  • Tallchica December 22, 2009 at 6:58 am

    I’m sorry, my comment will be trivial at best….HAHAHA you went for an ijebu man…as sterotypes go they are tight fisted as anyyyythiing….lol…i rather went for a ghanian man who could cook…and wants to cook for me…imagine that, even me ma i was kinda taken aback…where you go find naija man that would do that without his family jumping down your throat. But sha, im just talking in jest here. I may be one of the lucky few whose parents didn’t care where the man was from, so long as his faith was in the right place and he treated me with respect. Tribalism…toh…interracial marriages…toh. Me i never really thought Nigerian families of this modern day and age still cared about race. Tribe yes, race, no….how many mixed-race children do you see running about. Apparently somebody wasn’t protesting hard enough…I’m just saying.

  • Suzanna Efiok December 22, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Then don’t read it, dear.

  • silva December 24, 2009 at 12:18 am

    ur grammer ehn? na die!!! abeg dey try edit small b4 u post…lol,

  • Ada January 3, 2010 at 4:13 am

    Wish we could all get along. Some say inter-marriage will make the world less racist but often the mixed race ones look down on darker skinned people etc. God help us all.

  • ruzy January 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    i have always wished to marry a white man because niaja guys are boring and too demanding.

  • Suzanna Efiok January 5, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    LWKMD ooooo!!! Talk about giving it “straight no chaser!” LOL! Yes, Nigerian men can be intensely boring, rigid and unwilling to try new things, judgemental and a tad too demanding especially is they have two too many degrees BUT that is no reason to marry a white man o because dem too get them own wahala, abeg jare. Marry someone who complements you and dare I say, God has a sense of humor and that person might be Nigerian LOL!

  • Gam January 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    The only issue i have with this, is the children that come out of this relationships…they are given too much to carry, even before they are born..thats why i would really think twice before having an ‘inter-racial’ relationship..i mean, What if i give birth to twins, and one is brown skinned like me, and the other blue with a tail, like their father?

  • ruzy January 6, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Tanks Suzanna, i have noted all that, hope i find one soon. LOL

  • Seiko January 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Which one be ‘blue with a tail’? Abi you wan marry parrot? Ha!

  • Stella January 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    One of many problems with mixed marriages is oftentimes one predominant culture is passed on to the children. I have a relative who married a white man and I doubt the kids will ever set foot in Naija. They certainly don’t speak the language nor do they eat Nigerian food which leads to our culture being swallowed up by the predominant culture. Mind you their mother is kuku the oyiboish type! Not saying the kids don’t wear African print or have African names and other superficial stuff but they’re deeper entrenched in the other culture. Just being honest.

  • Ashanti January 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    haven’t done the interracial thing so can’t comment on that. being from a very small indigenous tribe, it was very hard to find a decent man from my side. I have lived overseas for years, schooled here and exposed to many things. my options demographically, were men from the bigger tribes. I dated thinking us being from the same country, our home states were few hours apart, that it might not be a problem. like i read above, i did the cooking, the washing, the feeding, putting up with the bad looks and name calling from extended family members but no, that still wasn’t good enough. slowly, after a while of dating, i started seeing the influences of his families through his actions.
    During one of my numerous arguments with my mom, she told me something that stuck. She said “you don’t know anything about marriage yet; if me and your father weren’t from the same place, after all we’ve gone through, this marriage would have been over”
    so i looked around at many inter tribal marriages that were still active and she wasn’t far from the truth. Love gets you through the door but its not the only thing that will keep you there in the long run. Its not just worrying about your own side, you have to think about the man you are marrying. if his family can’t beat you away, will he be strong enough to withstand them pulling him? you can answer yes for now, but how do you know the answer will be the same years from now? what about when the challenges come in the marriage such as not being able to conceive. . .yet, or not having a male child. . . yet, or the children not speaking his dialect because their mom can’t teach them, among many other problems? How long do you think he will be able to defend you? I am not saying interracial or inter tribal marriages don’t work out but i am saying that the chances of them failing in the long run are far greater. we are all an asset in one way or another to the society we live in. I decided to take my assets to a place i will be celebrated and not tolerated. A place that i was no stranger to, which could also use what i have to offer. So, I prayed and God who has been waiting for my call all along, sent me a parcel that had everything i requested for and more which he had packaged specially for me.
    The older i am becoming, the more i cling to the elderly women in my family. They are years ahead and have crossed the bridge i am approaching and they know what way works best to cross it.
    an old Ibo proverbs says ” an old man seating down can see farther ahead than a young boy can see even while climbed up an iroko tree”

  • becky January 16, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    My parent are probably the oddest couple ever. My dad is white/persian, and my mom is yoruba. My mom’s parent disowned her just for that.They met, while they were both studying in Europe. Imagine two strong cultures coming together. They had problems from the beginning, but escalated when they started having children. It was like hell growing up. On my father’s side we were expected to know the persian culture, and be american at the same time, and on my mother’s side, we were expected to automatically turn nigerian overnight. It was chaotic. My parent got divorced, bcos they just couldn’t handle it anymore, so my mom remarried, to a nigerian man, and just when we thought the hell will be over, it was another hell, just bcos my mom is yoruba, and my stepfather is not. My question is aren’t they from the same country where English is the official language, where they can actually understand each other. It looked like my mom was been punished to have married my dad, and having us. My stepfather was very abusive, so my mom divorced again. It’s four of us, we all look different, and we all used to say we are American, until people will ask, you guys have unique look what are you mixed with. Because of what we were going through at home, we couldn’t stick to one, so we will say whatever culture was dominant at the moment. It was just too confusing.

    Anyways, as we got older, and wiser, and didn’t allow the society to define us, and didn’t let families get too involved, things became better. My parent got back together, which was the best part, bcos true love is colorblind. No matter what, one culture will always be dominant, especially if it’s strong, so I will say, people embrace who you are, be comfortable in whatever skin you are in, be open, learn, one or more things from each culture, it makes things easier. Eventhough, sometimes you might end up identifying or comfortable with one than the other. I’m interested in my mom’s culture, I love it, and I understand the language, but still working on my speaking. On the other hand, my bro speaks fluent farsi. What thing that my parent always tell us to look for in our partner first, is how his/her relationship is with God, and the deep love and understanding you have for each other, and other things will come after that.

  • Dith-H-P January 17, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Wow Becky! I must say your story really touched me and I am so glad it has a happy ending to it. That right there must be true love!!
    Thanks for sharing, maybe those who are being pressured by society to forego someone they love over his/her ethnicity may think twice about after reading your story.
    It is extremely difficult but I believe if both parties put in arduous work, it’ll work. I hope your momsy have 4given her parents and things are fine now?

  • mooooooooooooomooo January 17, 2010 at 4:27 am

    HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    BEST LINE EVER….

  • becky January 24, 2010 at 1:19 am

    Thanks Dith. Just like every relationship/marriage, you have to work hard at it. It might not be smooth in the beginning, or feel good, but it’s worth it, at the long run especially when it’s true love. Unfortunately, things are still not good btw my mom and her parent. It’s a tough situation to be in, and to deal with. It’s been emotionally hard on all of us. My mom’s parent were happy when my parent divorced, and were disappointed when they got back together, it went downhill from there. I wish it was that easy to fix, but it’s really not, it’s complicated. I just don’t understand how a parent will want to be so involved in their daughter’s marriage, which they claim is part of the Nigerian culture. I respect that, but if it’s a good involvement, no problem at all, but it’s like bad involvement, that will break up something good. So, at this point, we have just decided to move on with our lives.

  • me January 24, 2010 at 5:47 am

    this is jokes..i swear.lol! its true tho..whats that?

  • cihdara January 28, 2010 at 9:19 am

    got me cracking up at work……lwkmd!

  • MamaSeun February 1, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Honestly people – different things work for different people. I really believe this is one area where we cannot generalise. Some interracial relationships work – some don’t. I am in an extremely successful one (thank goodness) – been married for 10 years, 3 beautiful mixed race kids who split their time between UK/Nigeria and who are totally confident about who they are. It takes a lot of work, a lot of compromise and a very very deep kind of love. Understanding in-laws also make a massive difference. People still have huuuuuuge issues though – we def get more flak in Nigeria than in the UK. Check out nairaland and you will see some vitriolic opinions.

  • lizzy February 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    If every nigerian girl gets married to a white man, who will marry naija guys?.

  • xyz November 10, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    @ lizzy…… pls go and sleep if u have nothing to say….who said all naija girls are going for white dudes… rubbish

  • Tsunade November 14, 2011 at 10:18 am

    @lizzy, the white/asian/caucasian girls will go for the naija men.. Even the girls from otha parts of Africa. Hmph!

  • Ifeoma April 16, 2012 at 8:09 am

    my goodness

    • Ifeoma April 16, 2012 at 8:19 am

      ppl are talking abt african ppl adjusting to n understaning interacial marriages but the most racist ppl are not blacks or africans. which ppl r more racist than the whites demselves. or do u fink a fam of a white person is happy to marry a black. look at society, when a black n white come together n have half cast kids, tho dey r der n der in skin colout yet d white says nay d fella is black. i have seen soo many fins happen wif interracial relationships n dey r not as cute n rosy as ppl fink. my friend if u get a decent naija man in my honest opinion it is better. better for allot of reasons. that’s my own

  • Ifeoma April 16, 2012 at 8:12 am

    b

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