The Hide Hide Culture

So last weekend, I attended a girls night bbq that was loads of fun. It was a mixed crowd of both American and Nigerian women. There was a group among the American women that happened to be close friends and they shared with us how they go on couples retreats and share stuff with each other. They shared some of the things with us that ranged from personal to sexual and one of them told us some of the things she didn't know and had learned just by talking to the women.

I thought about the night and I admired how open they were. I mentioned this fact to some of my friends there and also added that Nigerians would never do that. They disagreed with me and said it depends who it was and within their circle they would and they do. Unfortunately, I don't think I agree with them. I think it's just ingrained in us to just keep stuff hidden and put best foot forward. Hell, till today some of us still have that superstition of never giving out our travel dates even though we know better just because that's just how we are raised.

Thinking further, I wonder what is it we are so afraid of? You bring this up and the first thing Nigerians will tell you is that "something something trust" (I am guilty of that) but okay for some certain things though eg you have post partum depression and you share with someone, what is so terrible about people knowing that? Is the issue that we care so much about what people think? or we are in some subconscious competition and want to be better

This topic came about because I was reading about Hayden Pannettiere's struggle with post partum depression and it occured to me that I don't personally know any Nigerian who has been through it. I think of all the other things we go through as a nation but don't speak on it and end up feeling alone or less than because we aren't like everyone else. 

Oh well. just jumbled thoughts on a Tuesday night.

PS Meanwhile, I feel like I have been posting to empty halls. hellooooo? is anyone out there still reading?


The Googster said…
I'm still reading o! :-)

I agree with you.. I think as Nigerians we have been raised to appear Holy Holy, and to maintain the family name in public. Hence why we don't discuss these things.
HoneyDame said…
We dey! We ouchea! I mean with regards to the empty hall.

I think your friend is right. It depends on your circle of friends. I know of an older group of women who meet about once weekly or so, over drinks and nibbles, and discuss all aforementioned. The possibilities of topics of discussions are endless because the level of inebriation also determines how much gets shared.

But then, I am sure even within this group of Nigerian women and wives, there are some issues individuals keep to themselves. Amean, look at me, I am nowhere near these people's circle of friends, yet I know some of the stories that have been shared there (SOME).

Trust is a big issue. And unless the sharer of the story has gotten to the point where she will not be embarrassed if she hears her story from an outsider, that story is better off in the recesses of her mind.
Diyani said…
Definitely still reading. In terms of sharing, the problem as even a comment above mentioned if really trust. She isn't a part of a "closed" circle and knows some things shared. We generally do not value trust at all, we enjoy gossip a lot and assume that EVERYONE else does and in some instances from personal experience, when you aren't interested you are deemed a "non-friend". I found myself feigning interest in some instances just to 'feel among".
Another thing is the level of judgment Nigerian women have towards each other is ridiculous, i am certain there is comfort in some close close circles but man... It can be tough to find situations where you can be open securely and honestly without the concern of someone using your personal story for their evening wine date. so yea, most of remain closed off. And you do know a Nigerian who has had issues with post partum depression- I. Not to the level of commitment but I did need to talk to people and have people literally come to my house daily to check up on me but it never came up in regular conversation and since I was not asked and quite odd to voluntarily disclose when maybe there were probably bigger things going on. I know someone else who did and was very candid with me, funny she wasn't a close friend.
Sometimes people are just quiet out of fear or learned lessons from untrustworthy friends so they either stick to people outside our "Nigerian women groups" or share things on very very limited basis.

Damn.. that was a long response but a topic that I get VERY curious and passionate about. The lack of openness with our people.
TheRustGeek said…
Some light reading from an oldish essay by Ike Anya on depression in Nigeria As for not sharing I suspect part of it has to do with needing to put up a good front/ happy face...and trust as tons of commenters have also highlighted..

Still pop by these parts from time to time :)
yujubee said…
Haaaa, we are here naw.
I feel the exact same way, on the contrary I wasn't raised like that and I feel I can Share a lot of stuff with my friends ,as in old friends . Alas the kind of friendships you make in old age does not give room for that. I always find that I'm the one sharing and giving information, and every body else is hiding their own. I was just ranting to my mom the other day ( i was going to tweet about this same topic 2 days ago) that I am going to start doing 'hidey hidey'. My mom will call and tell my cousins and who ever cares to know even what time her flight is sef. Abi is it the day she is going for surgery, she'll tell date and time sef. But when is their own they will tell you 3 weeks later. I'm even angry typing this sef. Maybe I'm ranting on your page, my examples might not be yours but I think I can relate to what you are saying.
My tweet was going to be that, when or how or is there a code for if you are not sharing yours please don't ask mine? Like how to tell ppl like if it's your own now you won't share, but you want to know mine. Ok now I'm talking rubbish, but I hope you get my point.
Ps. I actually wrote out a whole reply to the last post number and everything, but I lost it* facepalm .
Berry Dakara said…
I think that Nigerians in general hide a lot of things. However, if they have a closeknit circle of friends, those friends typically know what's going on. Things like pregnancies, marriage difficulties, etc are discouraged from being shared sometimes, and I think it's detrimental to a certain extent. I'm not saying that anyone should go and share their business with the whole world, but there is a certain comfort in knowing that you're not alone in your struggles and even happiness.

Berry Dakara Blog
olaoluwatomi said…
Been missing from blogosphere for a while so just reading this post! - Great topic! Methinks it depends on your circle of friends, who you trust, family too!
I find that the culture of disclosing everything a little too much for me, I would not do that simply because I view some things as sacred and only worth disclosing to close friends and family. I also find the culture of not disclosing anything as a bit too paranoid but when you hear some stories you understand why people behave the way they do.
Nedoux said…
Nigerians have a culture of judgement. The unofficial national anthem is "What will people say?" Lol :-)
MPB said…
We are still here. I agree that most Nigerians are in built that way. We have a culture of shaming whether outwardly or in thought....I dunno. Sometimes you marry someone that is not as open as you and you then tend to try to respect them in what you share to others.
LohiO said…
awww I missed reading your blog! I still read!!! I agree with you though. Our culture has this hide hide ideology that I had to learn about the hard way. Since then, we are all innocent in public. *adjusts halo*

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