December 10, 2023

‘Me and my Caribbean Queen may have to go our separate ways’

Stressed_coupleBy Dotun Adebayo From The Voice

Dotun Adebayo says his wife ‘behaving like a European towards his African family may jeopardise marriage’

Love won’t tear my wife and I apart, but maybe culture will. The fact that she is of a Caribbean background and that I am African shouldn’t be a problem. After all, we’ve been together for 17 years and, besides, we’re all African anyway. And yet the difference in the way WE do things and the way THEY do things is proving to be the greatest test of our marriage yet and may eventually end up in the divorce courts.

The African/Caribbean thing has never previously reared its ugly head. Not really. Not seriously. We have always joked about it and had fun with it. I have said that Usain Bolt is running for Nigeria and she has responded that with no oil and only two million people, Jamaica has not done too badly compared to the sleeping lion of Africa that is Naija.

It was all in jest. I would tell our children not to take Jamaica seriously; after all, it’s only a treasure island that was once governed by a pirate of the Caribbean. And she would remind me that Nigeria isn’t even a real country but one concocted by the British, the borders of which were drawn up in London regardless of race, class or creed.


It was all in good taste. We joked the way best friends do, because my wife is my best friend.

At the end of the day, we were both at one with our understanding of our identity. My wife repeatedly insisted that the children should not identify themselves as British/Jamaican/Nigerian or half British half Jamaican half Nigerian, as if they were from a mongrel nation, but that we as a family would self-identify as African. End of story. End of confusion. End of historical anomalies. End of historical enmities. End of bitterness, sorrow and pain. One LOVE. One. HEART. One DESTINY.

Easier said than done.

You can’t just say that you’re African and wear that as a badge of honour. Being African is an adherence to certain customs surely. If not for us then for those who are in Africa. It’s not so much as when you’re in Africa do as the Africans do. It’s more When Africans Are In Britain do as the Africans do – if you identify yourselves as African.

So back to my family schism. My cousins came over from Nigeria the other day. Every African knows that you don’t send out an emissary ahead of your arrival to inform the hosts that you’re coming. We’re not King Arthur and the Round Table, we’re Africans. You don’t fire a canon to announce your arrival; there is no blaze of trumpeters as you make your way to your destination. You just arrive on the doorstep. And the hosts say, “Hello cousin, so nice to see you….” and act like you were always expecting them to arrive at any time at any moment. And none of this, “With the advent of the mobile phone you could have at least have called us from the airport” because the answer is “What for?” We are Africans; we use mobile phones for business. Not to let someone know that you are going to fly three thousand miles and come to see them it is very UN-African to give this kind of warning. It is totally European.

So when my cousins arrived unannounced. They are welcome.

“But, D, that’s impossible, we have nowhere to put them.

“What do you mean? Me, you and the children can all sleep in that little cubbyhole under the stairs. This is my cousin from Nigeria, he and his wife and their children can have our bedrooms.

“Why don’t we just put them up in a hotel for one night so `I can sort out some beds and better sleeping arrangements…”

Put My Cousin In A Hotel? So that I can be a laughing stock when he goes back to Nigeria and tells people that we have become European? No, it’s better we just give them the whole house to live in and WE go to a hotel.


I don’t doubt that many of you Caribbean people and you Africans who have become British will not see my side of the argument. But be honest, those of us who are don’t just say we’re African but embrace what it means to be African will agree with where I’m coming from.

Am I not right when I say that behaving like a European towards Africans can jeopardise a marriage? Or do you seriously think that Africans should start acting European and making appointments before they arrive on the doorstep? Isn’t that old saying, when in Rome do as the Africans do?

Please, I beg-oh, any advice that you can give to save my marriage so that we can come to some understanding and appreciation of each other and our cultural backgrounds would be much appreciated. Not just by me and the missus, but also by all the other millions of people who have married across the cultural divide.

IMAGE: POLES APART: Cultural differences could come between couples of different backgrounds (posed by models)

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