Female Economic Dependence

A really important aspect of women in Nigeria is economic dependence. We see the same sort of marriage-for-money concept first with Aunty Uju and the General, then with Ranyinudo and Don (not married but dating), and learn how common the relationship is when Ranyinudo’s wedding planner friend Priye tells Ifemelu that the first rule of life in Lagos is “You do not marry the man you love. You marry the man who can best maintain you” (492). It’s interesting to consider Ranyinudo’s manipulation of Don, when she sneaks around him to date another guy that she’s interested in and appears to just be using him for his money. She feels no real emotional attachment to him but rather recognizes that with the way it is in Lagos, she needs to be dating someone to support her. She chooses to also date men she’s actually interested in behind Don’s back in search of love./

When Ifemelu writes an article about “young women in Lagos with Unknown Sources of Wealth,” Ranyinudo gets mad at her for writing an article about her without her permission. She calls out Ifemelu for having a similar situation with Curt in America, since he helped her to get a work visa and a job. I think it’s interesting to see Ifemelu’s relationship with Curt as an extension of this archetype, especially since she had such an intimate view into the downfalls of economic dependence shortly before moving to America. Aunty Uju served as an important lesson to Ifemelu about relying entirely on a man and not keeping anything for yourself. Ifemelu certainly came to America with no intent of relying on anyone else and making her own way in the world, but I think the reality of life as a foreigner on a student visa caught up with her and her desperation grew, eventually coming to a head with the tennis coach incident.

An important group to consider are Ifemelu’s coworkers at Zoe. Aunty Onenu is very rich and the girls speculate that she runs the magazine as a hobby and is only in it to get back at a friend of her that runs the competing magazine Glass. Even Doris, a supposedly independent women working for an all-female magazine, asks who Zemaye has started dating after she gets a nice new car. She assumes Zemaye did not pay for it herself and so it must have come from a new man in her life more capable of saving his money.

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