By now, you have probably heard about the media personality/vlogger Toke Makinwa’s breaking news. Her husband cheated on her with a woman who is now pregnant for him. Neither party has released a statement confirming or refuting the story. For the last two days, there has been twitter and instagram fuelled frenzy going on regarding the Toke and Maje marriage.
The couple dated for 12 years and have been married for just 1 year and a few months. Personally, I think this is sad and the couple should be left alone to deal with their problems, or lack of, because we all might just be speculating.
However, I believe that there is a reason why this is such big news here. Toke is an “it” girl who has truly worked very hard within the Nigerian media circuit. She hosts an early morning Radio show on Rhythm FM Lagos, and hosts a regular weekly vlog which discusses relationships primarily on youtube. Beyond that, she hosts events, and is now a brand; many commercial brands have signed her up as an Ambassador. She’s gorgeous, hard working, and quite fun to watch and listen to.
Toke is a brand and thus literally every event she attends, every endorsement, every media or tv appearance ends up on social media and on blogs. This is good for her business, because in such a short period of time, she has become a household name. This means she works hard, hopefully she smiles to the bank. But this visibility in a young woman who is neither an actress nor a singer, is one which Nigerians seem to love and hate all at once. You will see why.
So why has Maje cheated on her? There really is no known cause of infidelity in marriages, there is a long list of potential factors. Infidelity in relationships could be seen as high blood pressure in humans. Sometimes there are certain pre-dispositions, perhaps not exactly genetics in this case. These predispositions may have to do with individual values, society’s expectations; including abhorrence or acceptance of certain behaviour. There is also the question of consequence or lack of it.
In the same vein, there are other potential factors such as incompatibility, mid-life crises, communication, revenge, or even certain needs. Sometimes there is no known cause. Unfortunately, because of Toke’s demand-driven and highly visible brand, and seemingly glamorous job, the feeling on twitter and on blogs is that her husband cheated because she was not available.
Nigerians are very religious. One who does not pledge allegiance to a faith in Nigeria is in a minority and is often ostracised. The non-religious in Nigeria is considered weird and suffers proselytism. However, Nigeria is also a society where religious beliefs are separate from values. It is a place where moral standards and family values quite commonly apply to only women. The world is an excellent place to be a man, but an even better place is Nigeria.
Suffice to say, the feeling even among some women and many men (at least if the tweets are anything to go by), is that Toke is responsible for her husband’s infidelity because she was at events all the time. Apparently, Toke also partied constantly, and was not available to Maje. He loved and respected her so much that he channelled his “missing her” energies into impregnating another woman. He could have done something more honourable if she was not available; leave respectfully. She had that career before they married just over a year ago, so he knew about her brand.
She probably feels a sense of shame at this time, but one can see why. There are people are mocking her on social media. The cheat should be the brunt of these jokes not the wife (although there have been a few angry women on his instagram comments sections). She is also double mocked for hosting a vlog where she discusses how to find and keep a man, how to spot a “side-chick”, and the types of men to avoid. Never mind that most of her vlog posts are girl next door-chatting-to-my-girls satires. So yes, she is responsible for her lot in life, she must be mocked, and perhaps in her next life, reconsider having a career. But even doctors can become infected. Oncologists are sometimes diagnosed with cancer too.
I wonder then if all career women, including surgeons, new resident doctors who work impossible shifts, broadcasters and journalists who have to chase down stories, or politicians and activists all have unfaithful spouses? I wonder if researchers who often travel to present papers, or conduct significant bodies of research have been presented with news of the pregnant ex? Perhaps international development experts, bankers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, in essence women with demanding careers who are shattering the glass ceilings, all have trifling spouses?
How about women? Do women with husbands who have been working in these careers for the longest time possible cheat on their men? Do we can blame their husbands for their lack of availability? I was irritated by calls to her to become more available to Maje because it fosters a sense that somehow, we know it all. We are insiders in their routine, in their home. That we know their story. But I was even more put off by the gentle chiding of him by both women and men alike regarding the use of condoms. Does condom use mean it is no longer infidelity?
“Couldn’t he have used condoms? Did he have to get her pregnant,” one tweet questioned.
The video above is one of Toke on a panel discussing men and cheating. In analysing her thoughts and views, it is clear that she urges restraint in telling a woman that her husband is cheating.
“It may ruin your friendship, because the woman does not want you to know what goes on in her home. She will probably stay with the man,” she says.
She reflects briefly on an experience she had where she confronted her husband (then fiancé) on rumours of “someone else”. So what does this mean? Did she see this coming? Was it something that had occurred in the past that she had forgiven and moved on from?
The condoms statements on twitter bothered me the most. Is this an acceptable norm in society? Just as long as you do not get caught? This story should not be so important but it has become so. This is because it has triggered a conversation that we did not have before. A conversation about careers and women and fairness in the narratives that will become a legacy for our children.
I believe it could certainly mark a fundamental turn in how Nigerians perceive what is good and what is not when women are involved. Could this mark the turn of the tide where women are accorded the same level of humanity as men? I may be dreaming, but it may well form the foundation or the quick start to how we perceive women or society’s treatment of and perception of both sexes. Does a double standard exist? Absolutely. Can we see past our sentiments and recognise a fundamentally flawed psyche?
Invariably, it will be left for Toke to decide if she can move on. She must decide whether to carry on with him or to move on with her life. I have a feeling that she will heal and bounce back. She seems to be doing so already, appearing on radio this morning. Hilary Clinton seems to be doing alright; she could be President of the United States. If she wins, the man who cheated on her will be standing beside her at the inauguration. He will be former President and First Man. Hillary Clinton describes herself as “arguably the most humiliated woman in the world”. When asked about recovering from the Monica Lewinsky saga and forgiving her husband, she said “forgiveness is hard”.
12 years of one’s life is a very long time. Whatever reason Maje had or not, for being unfaithful, Toke is unequivocally, the victim here, the “injured party”. He should be ashamed and remorseful for what he did. He deserves a Tiger Woods type of shunning. The other woman deserves shunning as well, she very well knew he was married. Perhaps he didn’t quite think she was good enough to share his life properly, why else did he marry someone else and return for a dip in the pond?
Hopefully Toke will find succour with family and friends and decide what she can live with.