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We Need to Speak About Unhealthy Relationships in African Households

Growing up in a Nigerian household, to a single mother, I’ve always been well aware of what an unhealthy relationship was. The divorce, the circumstances that led to it and commuting between the homes of both parents framed home for me (for a few short years). More than anything, I learned what a relationship should look like. My mother emphasised the importance of having standards, being discerning and taking time before and after entering into a relationship. I grew up believing that as much as a relationship was about genuine love, mutual respect and responsibility, it would be something that I entered into in my own time and willingness. However, it wasn’t until I got older and had to experience it second-hand that I realised, outside of my bubble unhealthy relationships were commonplace in Nigerian (and generally African) households. The norm even.

At the centre of every African community is family. Despite the pressure to achieve academic excellence and financial stability, family is truly the most important thing. To settle down, get married and have a family is not an achievement, but rather a standard that we are supposed to strive towards. Trickling down to the younger generations and travelling across oceans, this has filtered its way through to the diaspora communities. We forge new paths in countries that are at once “home” yet undeniably unfamiliar. However, these journeys are seen uncompleted until we create our own families.