My Dad got married when he was 26 years old. My mother was 22. Dad bought his first car; a tear rubber Datsun saloon car with plate number LSB 2707 (sorry, he made us memorize it.😂) when he was 27 years old.
He got a job waiting for him at Texaco Overseas Petroleum Company of Nigeria (TOPCON); now Chevron. He got the job because he had impressed his employers as a pupil engineer during his internship. My mom was a receptionist at the time in the same company (that’s how they met by the way.) She bought her ‘tear rubber’ Volkswagen Beetle car for N2500 and later upgraded to a Toyota panel van which she bought for N4000.
Although I was born immediately after their marriage, and Dad had to move from his one-bedroom bachelor’s condo, to a two bedroom flat, they both didn’t feel the pinch so bad.
Hey…it was the 70s…the year of the oil boom. Even School Cert holders were getting fantastic jobs, not to mention full fledged university graduates. The naira was 79 Kobo to a dollar. Dad said BTA was N450. My mother said feeding budget for a month was 10 naira; it included some extended family relatives they brought from the village to empower who were living with us. Half Kobo could buy you enough candy to share with your siblings and 5 Kobo could buy you a nice loaf of fresh hot straight-out-of-the-oven bread, peddled by the bicycle man.
I had my elementary education in the defunct Mid-Western Region, where Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s “Free Education” program touched me until I got to Primary 3. By the time I got to secondary school, a taxi drop which was popularly called “along” in Warri in those days was 20 kobo. You could have many children and still cater well for them as a civil servant. Most ministries and government parastatals gave staff free accommodation in their staff quarters.
The beauty industry was also very affordable. Women rocked their natural afros, cornrows, braids and threaded hair. Permed hair dressing salons sprung up in Nigeria in 1977. Women’s makeup was simple. Their foundation was white talcum powder or the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ brand tinted brown talcum powder. That and a simple black eye pencil with “Wet Lips”; a popular clear lip gloss brand was all that was needed to look beautiful. Pressed powders popularly called ‘pancake’ became popular in the 80s. Same with the neon eye shadows popularly called “trafficator” back then.
Fast forward to 2018. If you like read up to PhD level and graduate with a first class, there is no job for you. Landlords will hammer on top your head with exorbitant house rent. Public schools have gone extinct. Private schools are the new vampires…sucking the very financial life lines of parents. Three kids are more than enough. Where you wan see money train many children? Women are continuously feeling entitled despite their mouths leaking gender equality and feminism on one side and “My man must buy me everything” on the other side. Why not? When the cost of some human hair is enough to buy land?…and the cost of designer bags, shoes, cosmetics plus fake body parts is enough to raise a house to lintel level? Which bachelor wants to die young before achieving his purpose in life?
My empathy truly goes to the Nigerian bachelor. All I can tell you now is: The Lord is your strength.