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Caleb Okereke: This Is How to Be a Man



dreamstime_l_27260137Look my friend, this is how to be a man.

As a man, you should be sinewy, rigid like an Indomie carton. Your shoulders should be sturdy and your voice deep. People should be unable to judge your feelings by your voice. It should be like the block of cement that remains the same in rain or sunshine – brawny when you are poignant and brawny when you are enthusiastic. Your arms must be burly enough to hoist a bag of Mama gold rice and to catch elevator doors; your legs strong enough to stand for women to sit on BRT buses and for little children to hop on.

When you are a man, emotions become what salvation is to the devil, they are anathema, unheard of. You do not show the world how vulnerable you are, you become incapable of love, of selflessness, of kindness, you become a man.

Because you are a man, you should be far flung from the world, because if life were a stage play, a man would not be the actors or the actresses thrilling the enthusiastic audience. He would not be the band playing on stage for everyone to see. He would rather be the backstage crew, or the makeup artiste, or the play director, detached from the audience.

As a man, you should love women. You should pay for exotic dinner dates at Oriental Hotel and Tom Ford or Mulberry bags at Park n Shop. Meet her friends and drink red wine with her colleagues, and every new month send a text or BBM message to them appended with 1000 Naira airtime.

But you should love her with restraint – as one treats a box of chocolates he dislikes, you should not love her helplessly. Your love should be perceptible in acts of rigidity- Hitting her, forgetting dinner dates, cheating-rather than acts of vulnerability. You should never say, “I love you” and mean it, you should say it only because you mean, “I want you” because you are stimulated by the scent of her perfume and the swirl of her bosom.

My friend, as a man, you should never have one woman in your life. You should view them as clothes that become dirty over time and need to be changed constantly, you should view them as phases of your life rather than torpid things. Women are things that are to be left along the line, they are luggage’s that you’d tire of after some time. No woman, I repeat, no woman is worth your time.

The one who finally becomes your wife would be the submissive one-Good Morning dear, I washed your ties dearie, Should I follow you to work? Haba!-Marry her, but only because she would please your Mother, because she would let you look at other women with the meagre reassurance that you were hers, and because she would not be like the self confident women from Zenith Bank or NLNG who fling wine glasses at their husbands when they as much as smile with other women.

Boy, a man must drink beer and watch football. You are not a man if you do not do these things, for they are to a man’s life what a storyline is to a Novel, they are imperative, you cannot do without them. I am not saying you should smoke o, although you can add that one to the catalogue, but at least drink beer and watch the Premier league, don’t even think of doing those things the effeminate boys do biko, I will just disown you.

Do not read Novels, Poetry Collections, or anything at all. Only read newspapers, because they look sexy when you hold them in your palms. Do not have platonic female friends, mbanu, any friend you have that is a woman, you must be collecting small something.

Do not clap in church, or lift your hands in worship. The Holy Spirit is for women alone. Only dance during praise, as you did in the club the Friday before, dance during Praise.

If you are going to the Cinema, it should be to see Transformers, Fast and Furious or Star wars and not all this mushy romance com’s girls see these days.

You see, if you do not do all these things, people would call you gay O, a man who likes another man and it would be your fault, you hear, it would be your fault.


Look my friend; this is the man I am.

I am not sinewy, at least not yet. However, I refuse to believe it is a benchmark for determining how much of a man I am. My voice is not yet deep enough; people say it’s somewhere in the concave vent between a man’s and a woman’s, yet I know I am man enough.

I like to read Novels and fall helplessly in love, I say I love you and I mean it, without restraints irrespective of how opulent, my shirt pockets are and how many dinner dates I have paid for.

I am no longer of the school of thought that a man is sewn almost inseparable from the fabric of these stereotypes, I do not watch football or drink beer and I love to lift my hands in worship. I go to the Cinema to see whatsoever movie I please, I have platonic female friends and I honestly do not care what people say.

And if you do not like this man, biko, take your chair and sit one side.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime


  1. whocares

    January 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    well Caleb *pushes glasses to the bridge of my nose and looks at you over the rim* -we the female association of men hunters, gatherers and recruiters united sisterhood for the peace of all mankind (FAOMHGRAUSFTPOAM) (is anyone else trying to pronounce that acronym? I tried, I really tried to pronounce it. loool) have our eyes on yoouuuuu. loool.
    I enjoyed reading this, although I don’t know.. it’s not complete. That is “their” rhetoric of a man but whose rhetoric? Women or men? Who said the men should be this way? their fathers, women or society’s perception of them? I would have enjoyed reading about where you think this originated from, and how you think or if you think most men are deviating from the story. It is all well and good if you consider yourself the exception but it does nothing for the picture that most men are what you described above as that is what is mostly said. I do not mean to be mean, but I sense this was written with a “let me pander to what women think men are” mindset to give us a platform to rip into men. Ripping into people is always a nice and pleasurable pastime sure, but it does not solve anything or give a potential solution. I did enjoy reading it though.

    • henry

      January 24, 2016 at 11:40 am

      Your critique is misplaced. The society we live in, the Nigerian society, has a list of criteria, a male must fulfil if he must be a ‘man’. It is common. But, if you are female, and don’t know this, then you’re forgiven.

  2. Know waht caleb?

    January 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Caleb you know what? be yourself.

    If a man chooses to be all that (in the first divide) let him be, if you choose to be the man in the second half of the article, good luck to you. You are not in any position to dictate what a real man should be.

    You advised them to get a seat and sit somewhere? You dont get a seat, just go hang. Stop being a woman wrapper and writing nonsense.

    Na your type be ice prince wey woman go dey sleep behind and rub it on your nose

    • MEE

      January 22, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Like he said “biko, take your chair and sit one side”. You seriously can’t pretend that this isn’t the stereotypical “man” that’s been shoved down our throats. And there are guys trying hard to be like this who would rather be something else. I love this. Please be yourself Caleb.

  3. julius

    January 22, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Indubitably , the first man is the stereotypical man -let’s tell ourselves the truth.
    Personally I agree with Caleb , I also believe that we shouldn’t castigate a man’s demeanor because he does not conform to what society has deemed the perfect man.
    An excellent piece Caleb , certainly laudable

  4. Great Lady

    January 22, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Dear Caleb, pls let us date.

  5. ElessarisElendil

    January 23, 2016 at 1:40 am

    So much pandering.

    Men who were taught to keep their emotions in check tend to keep it check all the time, being a gentleman means not hitting a woman period.

    They’re those who read novels and newspapers because they enjoy reading.

    Seems to me you took all the negative male stereotypes and decided to portray your uniqueness, you ain’t that special mate, Indian males for example tend to favour cricket, American males; baseball.

    I do not drink alcohol, would never cry in front of anybody, enjoy newspapers, only stand for the elderly or pregnant, have never had a female friend, Harlequins were the first 150+ page books I ever finished and I haul bags of rice up a combined 8 floors every year.

    People tend to be unique not cliches.

    • Cindy

      January 23, 2016 at 3:55 am


    • ElessarisElendil

      January 24, 2016 at 1:34 am


  6. generalFortune

    January 23, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Some hard truth knocked into that piece with a light shade of contrast. A man must be revered,a sublime picture to adore.

  7. serendipity

    January 23, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I know it is sarcasm. Well written. To all the men out there, my candid advice is this. Do you. Dont listen to the hogwash about being the typical male stereotype. Break the mold. Be yourself. If you like chickflicks, fine. If you like adrenalin pumped movies, cool . I am a girl and yet i love watching Jason Statham blow up buildings, But i still enjoy my Cameron Diaz. I sleep on a huge hello kitty pillow yet I take apart my electrical gadgets when they are faulty because i like to repair stuff. You wont find me running because i have seen a cockroach or pretend that i cannot open a jam jar because it is not feminine to do so. My dear, just do you.

  8. Whocares

    January 24, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Ahh Henry.. Comprehension is important. Maybe I didn’t write clearly enough? I believe i did. Read again and try to understand my comment as a whole. Don’t just break it down to the bit that appeals to your pseudo intellectualism. I did say that is “society’s rhetoric” of what makes a man.. I would have been more interested in the genesis of this and if he thinks it is changing despite what people say etc etc… Read he comment again. I cba with repeating myself.

  9. Henry

    January 30, 2016 at 12:05 am

    @whocares, this is the centre of your critique or ‘question’:”That is “their” rhetoric of a man but whose rhetoric? Women or men? Who said the men should be this way? their fathers, women or society’s perception of them?”
    Now, this was my critique of your critique: “The society we live in, the Nigerian society, has a list of criteria, a male must fulfil if he must be a ‘man’. It is common.”
    Say again: who lacks comprehension now? And, answer without the whole big words too.

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