Young Nigerians are prefer the baby mama, baby daddy set-up over polygamy.
Emeka (not his real name) is in his late 20s and has twin boys who were born in 2011. Emeka is also not married.
In today’s lingo, Emeka is known as a baby daddy.
This term can be defined as a man who is the father of your child or children but who isn’t your current partner or husband.
The same can also be applied to a baby mama as the mother of your child or children who isn’t your current partner or wife.
These days it is not strange to see baby mamas or baby daddies in our society. It is not rare either to see a young man in his 20s and 30s, married, with a baby mama on the side and vice-versa.
“Yeah, there are plenty baby daddies around these days,” Emeka tells Pulse. “Off the top I know 9 guys who can I say are my friends who are baby daddies. I still know much more if I think well” he says.
There is no clear definitive point of entry of baby mama/baby daddy culture into Nigerian society. It was more of a gradual blending in. A generation ago, having a child before saying your vows was frowned upon and in some cases not tolerated.
So, what led to the gradual change and acceptance of having a kid or kids before being married?
The term baby daddy has its roots in Jamaican music in the 80s. By the 90s, baby daddy and baby mama would start appearing in rap and R&B records in America.
However, it wasn’t until 2000 that the term baby mama would be sealed in Hip-Hop culture. The group Outkast released one of its greatest records that year ‘Ms. Jackson’. In the intro, the enigmatic Andre 3000 said “Yeah, this one right here goes out To all the baby's mamas' mamas Mamas, mamas, baby mamas' mamas” on the intro. The New York Times would describe it as a conflicted ode to baby mamas.
From then on, baby daddy and baby mama would be in a lot of rap songs. Hip-Hop which would be the chief evangelist of the baby daddy and baby mama movements which would go on to influence pop culture on a global scale.
Nigerian youths soaked up a lot of American rap music in the 00s and also the culture too. With icons such as Diddy stacking millions and having two kids from two baby mamas, we could deduce that the baby mama/baby daddy culture was gotten from Hip-Hop.
What made the rigid Nigerian society accept for young men and women to have kids with people they weren’t married to? It pretty much has to do with a bunch of things young people are doing today that wouldn’t have been accepted in the 70s or 80s, tattoos, smoking marijuana and a bunch of other stuff.
Older Nigerians are relaxed about things that would have created a fuss back in the day.
The turn of the millennium saw a loosening of the moral codes that had existed decades ago. The parents of young Nigerians are slightly more liberal than their folks were.
It’s not all wokeness and liberty. Some people frown on the baby daddy/baby mama culture and see it as a wrong influence on western culture.
“A lot of people from the older generation think I am irresponsible, let’s say 65% of them. 35-40% of them understand how the thing goes” says Emeka.
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Don’t get it twisted, having kids before marriage might not have been tolerated back then but polygamy was. The legends King Sunny Ade & co had multiple wives and numerous children and people didn’t make a fuss out about it.
When 2face Idibia started having baby mamas a decade ago, Nigerians criticized him for having a loose sex life. What we have today is the baby mama culture replacing polygamy. “Exactly,” says Emeka when I ask him if the baby mama culture has reduced polygamy in urban areas like Lagos.
Marrying two wives is not cool in our generation but having a baby mama by the side is the norm. For the baby daddies, having a kid by the side hasn’t turned off the ladies.
“It’s an added advantage,” says Emeka about his chances of meeting women. “Ladies feel you are responsible and not afraid of responsibilities” he further says.
He, however, adds a caveat “Well I’m speaking from the angle of the baby daddy that tries to use his head, not deadbeat daddies.”
Is it the same for baby mamas too? Does the fact that they have a kid affect their chances of being in relationships?
“For babes it kind of like 50/50. Sure, you have guys who toast you even if they know you have a kid” says Teni (not real name) to Pulse. “The big issue is the commitment. Most of them want to just have fun and not settle down with a chick who is a baby mama."
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Teni gave birth to her daughter in 2014 to a guy she met at the University. Her parents necessarily didn’t freak out when she got pregnant but some people (mostly older folks) whisper at her back.
“Yeah some old people call me this and that but I don’t really care. I am just focused on giving my daughter the best life she can get.”
Just like Emeka, Teni says she knows quite a few chicks who are baby mamas too. “Almost everywhere you go in Lagos you are most likely to bump into a baby mama or baby daddy. It’s no biggie.”
While our grandfathers and many of our fathers married more than one wife, our generation is settling in with having baby daddies and mamas.
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