Tiwa Savage, Tonto Dikeh, Toke Makinwa, Muma Gee and now Atoke Utomi, just five women in celebrity marriages who have had to go through high profile separations/divorces, complete with allegations of domestic violence, false appearances and husbands who it seemed only got married to fulfill societal obligations.
Toke, Tiwa and Tonto’s marriages lasted two years. Atoke’s only one. Yet in that short time these women went to great lengths to portray the illusion that their marriages were fine, Tonto going as far as buying presents for herself and passing them off as gifts from her erstwhile husband. For a marriage that saw Tonto go from one of Nigeria’s biggest celebrities to practically non-existent (save for Instagram photos), she went to great lengths to convince an imaginary audience that all was well.
But this isn’t about what these women (who are avatars for the average Nigerian) woman did in their marriages; it is about what they became. Tonto completely abandoned her career as an actress and singer for her marriage. Toke married and suddenly began to amass endorsements for wholesome family brands. Tiwa Savage went on a near two-year hiatus after she got married and completely disappeared after she got pregnant. The most startling is the case of Muma who married actor Prince Eke five years ago. Muma Gee, one of our most visible actress/singer celebrities disappeared from the public eye, abandoning her careers for marriage and motherhood. We only saw her when she put out pictures of her family, while her husband Prince Eke’s career soared. We praised Muma Gee and Tonto for ‘changing’, thanked God for Tiwa and Toke who were in their 30’s when they married, because we were secretly afraid that no one would ‘tame’ them.
The changes every single one of these women have undergone after their separations/divorces is instructive. It is as though, they are only starting to live again; they have what pop culture calls the ‘Post Fuckboy Glow’. But it is telling that these women, with all their personal and professional successes, wealth and privilege are still victims of a society that equates marriage with a taming of women’s identities and a limitation of the possibilities available to them.
If these women’s wealth and privilege cannot protect them from the crushing expectations of what Nigerians consider marriage, what more the average woman?