Men Say “I Love You,” But It’s Not How You Expect – Man Like Jaja

September 13, 2020

What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up.

“Man Like” is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to ‘be a man’ from the perspective of the subject of the week.


The subject for today is Jaja, a digital media expert and tinkerer. His definition of masculinity revolves around service to people, vulnerability with his male friends, and standing up for things he believes in.

When did you first realise that you were now “a man”?

It’s difficult to say because I’ve been responsible for myself for a long time. Growing up, my sister didn’t like me because I was stubborn. She probably loved me as her brother, but because of that stubbornness, she wouldn’t buy stuff for me the way she did for my older brother who was better behaved. 

I knew I wasn’t getting anything, so I had to buy those things myself. As far back as primary school, I’d tutor younger primary school students and their parents would give me ₦500. So, I didn’t have that “aha” moment because I’ve been hustling since childhood. 

Wait, what?

My dad died when I was two. This meant that growing up, I had to stand up for myself a lot. My mum was a very busy single mother working tirelessly to give us a certain standard of living so she didn’t have time to be the protector. 

There are people who had older siblings that liked them but my sister didn’t. Also, my brother couldn’t do anything because he’s just two years older than me. He’s like my twin – If someone was bullying me, the person might have been able to bully him too because we were both non-violent.

I learned early to not only look out for myself but to stand up for myself. Most times, this meant digging my heels in; that whatever wants to happen should happen. 

Does any incident come to mind?

As children, my siblings and I had allocated chores. I’d do mine and my sister would try to get me to do hers and I’d refuse. Of course, that never went down well – She’d beat me blue-black but I’d still stand my ground. I used to say, “All you can do is beat me. If you beat me, I’ll cry. After crying, I’ll still not do it. If you kill me, I’ll die and still not do it.” 

It’s different if you offer me something in exchange for doing your chores. Ehen, it has now become a business transaction. But if you’re trying to coerce or cajole me into doing it, do your worst. 

LMAO. Does anything scare you?

Poverty oh. 

It scares me so much mostly because I’ve experienced crippling poverty, and I don’t want to experience it again. In fact, I’d rather die than be poor. I also find it difficult to ask people for money unless I have no other option. I always think that the person you’re going to meet has their own issues. People may be smiling but they are struggling inside and you’ll never know. If you give me ₦10, I believe that you’re sacrificing something by giving me money.

Back in university, I used to wash and iron my friends’ clothes. For me, that was way better than asking, “Guy, you get 1k for hand?” I washed cars too. I had a friend who had a goat, and I’d cut grass to feed the goat because I’d rather work than ask for money.

I work hard for money because having it in old age doesn’t interest me. I want it now while there’s strength in my bones. Not when I’ll have money and I can’t eat because I’m a prisoner in my own body.

Death used to scare me but in recent years, I’ve started to like the idea. I am not suicidal or anything, but as opposed to seeing death as a punishment, I now see it as rest. A way out of all the stress. Life is very stressful. Sometimes, I ask myself the point of all this stress and then envy those who have died because they are without worry.

Bruh. Does anything give you joy? 

I like helping people. It’s not like I have money or anything, but seeing people makes me happy. My happiness comes from service.

Interesting.

You know what’s interesting? I struggle to spend money on myself. I’ve had a perfume in my cart for a while and still haven’t bought it. However, since I put it in my cart, I’ve given out more than twice the amount of the perfume as gifts. But buy for myself, mba. 

LMAO. Is this connected to your upbringing as a man?

Maybe. Being a man in Nigeria is stressful because no one likes you. You’re as useful as your usefulness. You can’t just exist. You need to be solving a problem — either as a provider or a protector. You need to be meeting up with some responsibility. You can’t just exist. Even the “useless men” have to do something. So that’s tough. The only upside is that this background sets us apart overseas. I live in the UK and Nigerian men are in high demand here because we are better lovers, more hard-working, more useful.

The funny thing is that while these pẹople see these as good traits, it’s mostly just PTSD and Stockholm syndrome. However, we try our best. 

Wild. How has dating changed for you outside Nigeria?

To be honest, my dating life has been limited. I can only point to two main relationships because I’m not sure some people count me as a relationship. I’ve not dated extensively to have an opinion, and I’ve been extremely lucky with women. However, when it comes to just knacks, I can say that relationships in Nigeria are way more transactional. I tend to like this because I know that there is a number. If you can afford it, good. If you can’t, move along. No time. Personally, I don’t have time for all the grand gestures. A babe in Nigeria told me before to buy her phone. I said, “No, I can’t afford to buy you a phone. This is what I can afford, are you good to go?”

She was good to go. Alhamdulillah. 

What?

In Nigeria, if all you can afford is penis, you’ll struggle in certain circles. Someone said on Twitter that he couldn’t find a babe. I was like, is it that you can’t find someone to sleep with you? Or you can’t find someone to sleep with you for free? Because if it’s the former, there are people who will for the right number. But if you’re looking for someone to sleep with you for your face, then hmmm. You have to bring something else. Because even people that like your face still have rent to pay and are still unemployed. Buhari is affecting everyone.

Dead. How does this affect how you pick people to have sex with? What’s your parameter?

It depends on the situation and context. I’m currently in a relationship, so I am faithful and committed. As Nigerian men, we don’t cheat. However, when I was a free agent, I preferred sensible women.

I don’t like women who aren’t financially independent. I’m not embarrassed to say. From where I stand, dealing with women who have money is less stressful than those who don’t because those who don’t outsource all their challenges to you. I am not that buoyant. Even if I were, I’d be spending my money on my family or the sex robot SP-3000. 

I go for people who have jobs or earn money because they understand the time value and opportunity cost of money. No matter how little the amount is. The last thing I want to do is send someone money and the person is giving me vibes. 

Also, as a general rule, I don’t date women who have nothing to lose. They can burn everything to the ground, so I’ll not be caught with such people. I have invested a lot to get to where I am. God forbid some indiscretion should cost me everything. Imagine someone fabricates a story and drags my reputation on Twitter. They’ll now use ambiguous terms so that people will intentionally misunderstand because they know that you don’t have the time or resources to correct that impression. God forbid.

Someone once asked why I had never been dragged on Twitter. That is it that I don’t sleep with women on Twitter? I was like, the women I sleep with won’t drag me because they have as much to lose as I do. 

Please don’t kill me. What’s your relationship with your mum like?

I speak to my mum twice a day. Every morning and evening. My mum has been my only parent since I was two. So, our relationship is good.

Awwww.

Remember my sister and how she treated me in childhood? Well, my sister did something. 

When I was going to college, I needed a laptop but I didn’t have the funds. My mum didn’t have money so she told my sister. My sister cleared her bank account so I could buy the laptop. For context, she was doing NYSC and earning ₦9000 at the time. That was a monumental show of love that touched me. When she sent me that money, she said, “This is all I have. I don’t know what you can afford but just take it.” There and then, immediately, all the hurts and hatred from childhood went away. From that moment onwards, I have loved my sister to bits. Loved her children to bits. Loved her husband to bits. She knows that I take her seriously and even if I don’t have enough for myself, I’ll still go the extra mile. Because I love her.

Is someone cutting onions? 

Haha.

Do you have friends? Especially male friends?

Of course I do. In fact I actively seek out male friendships because we need the support. Being friends with a woman is nice, but the moment you get into a relationship, your friendship takes the backseat. You can’t really be as friendly as you used to be so that someone will not get angry. 

I have a male best friend, and we’ve been friends for about a decade. He’s a man after my own heart. We support and advise each other. Male friendships are important for emotional support because even if you’re friends with a lady, no matter how close you are, you have to be careful with what you disclose. Especially if she’s not in a relationship of her own because you could be sending a wrong message. If she has a relationship, you still have to be careful because you are respecting boundaries. For me, male friendships work because you can self disclose without a lot of concerns. 

However, in some male friendships, there are expectations that you don’t explore some places because of why are you gay? Regardless, many male friendships are still deep and rich. 

Someone will say why don’t guys tell themselves “I love you.” While your guy may not utter it, your guy supporting you with that 5k you need is him showing that he loves you. Sometimes, it’s telling your male friends: “You deserve better. You’re a good looking man and you shouldn’t be taking this from women.” Many male friendships achieve the same thing but through different means. Because saying these things to your male friend, especially if homophobic, may not go well. He may start looking at you like, “Alaye, what’s going on here?” 

Have you read our dedicated male category? – https://www.zikoko.com/category/man/

I’m grateful for my best friend because I can go “You’ve got a big dick” without feeling weird. I can say that to my friend because over time, we’ve built a close relationship where I feel like I can express anything without feeling judged or threatened. And vice versa. It’s just sad that so many male friendships aren’t like that, but I hope they get there eventually. 

What do you think of the bro code?

There are so many versions of this bro code. There are some things that a guy man shouldn’t do. For example, you shouldn’t try to sleep with my wife or babe. I also expect my guy to cover up for me when management is carrying out audits of my whereabouts [laughs]. But on a serious note, it goes beyond all of this. 

I’ve heard some people say men cover up rape because of the bro code. I don’t think there’s any such thing in the bro code. In fact, your male friends tell you plainly, “Oh boy, you dey fuck up.” As guys, we don’t mince words. I’ve had my guy tell me, “Guy, why are you getting so fat?” There’s none of that “You look hot in your body, yass queen.” He told me to sort myself out. So, I started using his gym membership because you don’t tell me that without providing a solution.

When the bro code is conflicted with aiding and abetting a crime or being complicit, I don’t support that. However, when the bro code is about support, building together, making progress together, then, by all means, count me in. 


Check back every Sunday by 12 pm for new stories in the “Man Like” series. If you’d like to be featured or you know anyone that would be perfect for this, kindly send an email.

Hassan Yahaya

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

March 3, 2021

The dating scene Is a messy place and everyone has their spec. If you haven’t figured out what works for you, we’ve been generous enough to make a list. 1. People that have money  Money makes romance sweeter, to be honest. People will probably call you a gold-digger, but is it their gold you are […]

April 12, 2021

I am genuinely fascinated by relationship dynamics between Nigerians especially when it comes to giving gifts to their partners. So I set out to speak to as many Nigerian men who were willing to speak to me and asked them who the most generous partner they’ve ever had is. And the answers amazed me. Here […]

August 28, 2020

Fapping. Beating your meat. Polishing the banister. Playing 5-on-1. Self-loving. Tapping into your potential. Finding Nemo. For something that has so many alternate names, masturbation remains a taboo topic in Nigeria, thanks to a society saturated with religion and purity culture. It’s a rite of passage virtually every man goes through at some point in […]

September 28, 2020

There’s every other normal person in life, and there are tech bros. Such is the difference between our species. Nonetheless, it’s not hard to pick out a tech bro from the crowd if you know what to look out for. 1. Turtleneck. Every tech bro has at least 3 different shades of black turtlenecks. It’s […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

May 7, 2021

Twitter went berserk this week after billionaire, Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, called off their 27-year-marriage. Although the divorce appears amicable, we know a Nigerian divorce between billionaires would have been chaotic.  So on this episode of #JustImagine, we created two fictional characters: Belu and Mide.  Belu’s Ikoyi Mansion. Belu is hiding in his […]

queer
May 7, 2021

As told to Mariam I put a call out for women to tell me the things that affect their mental health most. In Ada’s* message, she said her parents found out she is queer. I was curious about how that played out and I asked more questions. Here’s what she told me: I am the […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 27, 2019

Do you have a face that could make angels jealous, or should you really be walking around with a nylon bag over your head so you don’t scare children? Well, this quiz is here to answer that by telling you exactly how good-looking you are. Take and find out: 11 Quizzes For People Who Aren’t […]

November 25, 2019

We already guessed how many people you’ve slept with, and y’all were out here denying the truth. Anyway, we won’t hold that against you. This time, however, we’ve created a quiz that predicts who you’ll sleep with next — so you can either prepare or try (unsuccessfully) to prevent it. So, take and see:

What are you like in a relationship?
February 7, 2020

Your taste in music can say a lot about you, and this time, it’s going to reveal what you are like in a relationship. So, pick a few of your favourite Nigerian love songs, and we’ll let you know if you’re typically a distant, passionate or unbothered partner. Here you go:

January 2, 2020

Do you have even a single romantic bone in your body? Well, if you’re not sure about just how sweet and thoughtful you can be to someone you love, that’s what this quiz is here to answer. 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are Ready To Marry  Are you ready to marry? Take these quizzes.

April 9, 2020

At some point in life, we all learnt that someone can be very intelligent and still lack common sense. That’s the difference between being book smart and being street smart. If you’re not sure where on the spectrum you fall, well, that’s what this quiz is here to tell you. Take it:

More from Man Dem

zikoko- dating advice
May 5, 2021

I am fascinated by the lives of sex workers because I often wonder how they navigate a hypocritical and judgmental country like Nigeria. Over the weekend, I spoke with a few sex workers I personally knew and asked them if their partners would be willing to speak to me for a story on what it […]

April 30, 2021

As told to Femi We hope for easy lives. But life doesn’t always go the way the wish. I spoke to Balo*, a an educational program advisor. We talked about fending for his family when he lost his father and a culture that does now allow men to grieve. We had an interesting chat. My […]

April 26, 2021

I am personally very curious about what the lives of men whose realities are underrepresented look like. Over the weekend, I had a conversation with a friend about his brother who was a single dad and it made me wonder about what it is like being a single dad as a Nigerian man living in […]

April 22, 2021

Puberty is a period of changes in an adolescent’s body. It can also be a very confusing period for them if they aren’t armed with the right information. From breaking voices to hair growing where it shouldn’t, I spoke to five Nigerian men about experiencing puberty. Ben Puberty didn’t take me by surprise because my […]

April 21, 2021

As told to Femi A couple of weeks ago, I put out a tweet looking to speak with young people dealing with hypertension. Ehimen reached out to me. Our conversation spanned beyond hypertension to other issues. Here’s his story. It all began in my final year at the university when I was 19. I think […]

April 19, 2021

People (and by people I mean strangers on the internet) are often quick to say “Nigerian men and women were made for each other. I decided to confirm if this match was made in heaven or Nigerian men were better suited to others. I asked six Nigerian men about their romantic experiences with non-Nigerians. Here’s […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X