Sugabelly: I don’t have the strength to be a Nigerian (Y! Superblogger)

Of all the things I’ve noticed since I moved back to Nigeria, there’s the underexplored issue of the kind of energy commitment that goes into performing femininity in this country.

Note, I said performing femininity not being female because while the two are often confused, they are not the same one does not necessarily need to be present for the other to exist.

Let’s not play games. Women in Nigeria have a lot of energy. I unfortunately am not one of them.

The performance of femininity in Nigeria is a complex formula of ridiculous “beauty” paraphernalia – Brazilian Weave, bleaching cream Egyptian milk, bi-weekly spa and salon appointments, alarming gym routines, “designer” clothes, statement bags and shoes – and advanced angling – learning the fine art of hooking a Lagos/Abuja big boy (or three) to bankroll your needlessly expensive lifestyle.

I’m a little in awe of these women and how they juggle the time for all this with social events, dating worthless rich men and managing their pseudo careers, but honestly, I don’t know if I can be like them.

I mean, do I want to be pretty and be able to wear whatever clothes I want and look amazing? Hell yeah!

Is it fun to be a glamourous social butterfly and flit from one party or event to the other and have your picture taken and be in all the magazines and have all the guys come after you and buy you nice things? Of course!

But I had a long thought about it and I just don’t have the energy. I mean yeah I need to lose weight and if nothing else, I’d like to be back to my old size and be healthy and not have random horrible health scares, but beyond that, I think it requires an incredible amount of commitment and dedication not to mention a pretty strong stomach for the sort of stuff that goes on behind closed doors in this country to claw your way to the top of Nigeria’s social ladder like a lot of women I’ve seen in Nigeria are trying desperately to do.

It reminds me of the other day I was talking to a friend of my Mom’s. (Full disclosure: This friend has always been a rather sketchy person, so I am totally used to the sketchiness of his utterances)

I mentioned to him that I needed one million Naira to buy some equipment to launch/operate my comics label Jigida Comics properly, and he said to me “Getting one million Naira in this city is really, really easy. I have a couple of friends who would happily give it to you…. but you’ll have to hang from the ceiling.”

It wasn’t lost on me at all that he was implying that I’d have to have sex with his friend(s) to get the one million Naira. I politely declined and then went to Salamander to cry into my peppersoup.

I don’t judge girls that would have taken the offer. And if you’re desperate enough, you actually might. Hell, if I was in an utterly desperate situation and the circumstances were dire enough, I actually might. Thankfully, I can live without the money and I can still draw on paper but the process of making the comics takes many hours longer than it would have if I could buy the equipment I needed. But I don’t have the energy for runs and I get queasy really easily so I can’t just close my eyes and pretend I’m far away while some yucky man that I have no feelings for sticks it in me.

Although… now that I think about it. Practically everyone in Nigeria is having sex for money. I don’t know about other countries, but from what I’ve seen of relationships in America from different ethnicities, while there’s an expectation of exchanging gifts and other such things, it is nowhere near as advanced and expensive as it is in Nigeria.

People in Nigeria demand so much stuff in relationships and it’s not roses and chocolates neither.

Houses, cars, yachts, flats, designer bags, designer shoes, gold plated phones, trips abroad, property abroad, plastic surgery, land, etc and the list goes on and on.

Most Americans wouldn’t dare to ask their significant other for the kinds of things that Nigerians ask for on a daily basis without shame.

So if you boil it down, Nigerians are having sex for money in a roundabout way because they’re not entering relationships on the basis of love or even mutual attraction alone. I think arguably, I can say with reasonable confidence that on average Nigerians have comparably greater expectations of financial gain as an outcome of entering a relationship than other people in the world (or at least those that I have encountered and whose relationships I have been able to casually observe).

So what does this mean for me?

I’m not sure yet. What I am sure of is that I don’t have the strength to do runs.

If I find a rich boyfriend, yay for me!!!

If I don’t, my minimum requirement is that he not be significantly poorer than me, and that he be at least as educated and as exposed as I am.

Beyond that, I don’t know if I have the strength to fight for all the stuff women in Lagos and Abuja are doing battle for.

I should have been born in Ghana or Cameroon or something.

I don’t have the strength to be a Nigerian.

Sugabelly is a Manga artist and illustrator of epic comics at Lover of art, digital media, anime, and pre-colonial culture. She blogs her life (and loves) at and tweets @sugabelly. Kwenu!


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


  1. Well, its just the plain truth u laid out. that wish u made about being born in Ghana instead, I'v made that wish severally. I can relate to wat u aяe sayin cos its out there everywhere. A lot of people will deny this ofcos. I'm sorry for us

  2. Myopic opinion. No sufficient premise/facts to arrive at the conclusion that relationships are expensive in Nigeria. This is a subjective issue. A few "expensive" relationships in Lagos/Abuja can't be interpreted to mean relationships are expensive in the whole of Nigeria. You will agree with me that there are also "hot zones" in developed countries where super runs girls work. Does that mean relationships in that country as a whole are expensive?

  3. @omelotte on twitter: I love this post……so so true, thot I was one of the few naija chics left with same opinion about the new crase naija girls re into of late….especially the "yellow" skin syndrome….if only they knew the dangers of bleaching creams….

  4. Hello, I understand where u re comin from but I want to remind you that our culture demands our men spoil us. The problem is that our men go travel overseas, come back with this so much talk of nothing. We, the nigerian women re used to good tins. If our men will no longer give us for free, what do you expect the women to do. Am neither against or for gifts cos our culture demands our men spoil us. Come to think of it sef, u go de shag 1 guy like that all in d name of love 4 naija, y e de cheat on u!!! Yes, too much strength but men need to remember too sex shouldn't payment that gifts are part of our culture

    • Pray please tell exactly which culture and from what tribe in nigeria coz i have never heard of this before and i quote "our culture demands our men spoil us" . I know that husbands are supposed to provide for their wives and children traditionally but i don't know anything about spoiling

  5. @ Harold, that's why it's an op-ed piece and not a research paper. You can't say she is wrong, it's her opinion, everyone has the right to an opinion and she has presented hers eloquently and with complimentary facts.

  6. Lovely piece, I'm into manga and anime I'm tripping, you don't have to sleep around for the machine, we could go into buisness, I've got friends and a whole underground fanbase on anime, comics, video games, etc. We should connect, have you heard about comicon? Its happening in lagos, comic exhibition, opportunity to exhibit your work and network

  7. Sadly, I agree with you. I really do wish things were better. I wish the men would stop taking advantage of women for money and the women would stop exchanging sexual favors for money. As someone who didnt really start dating until i left the country, it was my first culture shock when I returned that everything was more or less about money or material things. Of course the good thing is that there are exceptions, there are some really lovely ladies who do not care about the material things. So there is hope after all.

  8. i think nigerians are just more practical about relationships than americans. same goes for a lot of non americans actually. its the US where a girl will do whatever with a guy and not even know if he likes her lol. at least in naija, the woman could care less whether you love or like her, but in her heart she’s satisfied because she gets what she wants

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