You’ve probably heard a variation of a saying about how blood isn’t always family. Many people agree. I decided to speak with a few Nigerians who have fallen out of love with their families.
Here’s what they had to say:
My parents have been married for almost 40 years. Last year, we found out that not only was my dad cheating like crazy, but he also had a consistent side chick that people knew about. Here’s where it gets crazy: His entire family knew about it. Now, the reason we found out all of this was that he was sick and almost dying so he confessed. While he was in the hospital recovering, my mum confronted his family, and my grandma straight up told her, “Why are you acting like you’re the first woman to get cheated on in the world? Stop all this nonsense crying and focus on trying to get your husband to stay alive.” His siblings too started giving us general bad vibes, so we decided to keep our distance.
A few weeks later, they contacted us to ask if they could use juju to heal him. It was an insult because we’re Christians. When my dad got better, we cut off his entire side of the family. He’s the only person that still talks to them. What’s crazy is that we were very closely knit before any of this happened. And just like that, everything changed. Cousins no longer speak, we no longer have holidays together, no family meetings, nothing.
I don’t feel close to any of my immediate family members except my immediate older brother because, at different points in my life, he has looked out for me.
My mum separated from dad when I was young and left the country. Before she left, she took us to stay with her siblings, so my formative years were spent with extended family. I did not start living with my mum till I was 17 and even then, she transferred a lot of aggression and bitterness which she felt for my dad, to me because I look like him. I don’t like her at all. I don’t like talking to her and if it was possible to exist in the house without having a conversation with her, I’d do it. We already don’t have a mother-daughter relationship and the transfer of emotions has made it worse.
My father and I stopped talking years ago when I watched him beat my mum mercilessly and say that he would kill her and no one would ask him about it. I thought I had forgiven him for it but I still remember.
My eldest brother is quiet. He’s distant and doesn’t act like he has a family.
I hate my older brother so, so much. Growing up, he beat and bullied my siblings and me very frequently, but because I was closest in age to him, I would protect them by taking most of the beating. He has promised to kill us on numerous occasions and even once stabbed one of my younger sisters. With another sister, he hit her hand with a stone repeatedly until it broke.
When I finished secondary school and wrote JAMB, he stole and hid my JAMB scratch card which I was meant to use to write POST UTME to get admission into university. That entire year was wasted. When the second year came, I had to get into a polytechnic before I could get into university.
Growing up, he also troubled my mum a lot. He would steal from her, run away from school, everything. Now, recently, he took a loan in her name and can’t pay. Even she can’t pay.
People usually blame the drugs, but drugs or not, I know he hates us and I hate him too.
My extended families on both parents’ sides have always been wealthy and influential, but growing up, my immediate family was very poor and I suffered a lot. This led to me having some sort of entitlement to the things I wish I had, and some resentment because I couldn’t get them.
My mum’s younger sister stayed with us for a bit when I was a child. I loved her. She was a mix of older sister and mini-mummy, and it was nice having her around. When she got older, she also became wealthy and moved abroad to live with her husband. One time, she sent us clothes. Now, remember I said I had some sort of entitlement because these people were family. These clothes weren’t abroad clothes. They looked like clothes anyone could have picked up and bought in any store in Lagos. But I didn’t mind, I accepted the clothes and moved on.
A few years later, her husband died, so she came to bury him in Nigeria. At the burial, she suddenly started having a moment of public introspection. Speaking so that everyone around her could hear, she started talking about how she always wanted to buy nice stuff and send to our family, but she would always just send the stuff to her husband’s cousins, nieces and nephews instead. She also talked about the one time where she eventually bought something for us, and how it was just some stuff she asked people to buy from Lagos. According to her, she didn’t know what came over her, and she regrets everything she has done.
I don’t know why she decided to admit to all of this in public, but as I watched her say those things, my relationship with her changed and I cancelled her in my mind.
For some reason, I spent the first few years of my life living with my grandparents. My grandma died when I was 8, and when I was 10, I moved back to live with my parents. I had two uncles living with us when I lived with my grandparents and growing up, the concept of family was perfect. We did all the celebrations together — Christmas, birthdays, everything. Because my dad was the oldest, he built a house with five rooms so that all his brothers could have somewhere to stay, so once again, we all lived together.
When I was in my second year in university, my grandpa died. This was when family enmity started. In that period, my uncles couldn’t afford to contribute for the funeral, so my dad, once again sponsored 100% of the funeral. He’s in a lot of clubs and societies, so his people turned up for him really well. The funeral was really huge — it was the talk of the town for a long time.
After the funeral, my uncles started spreading rumors about my dad. I think they felt threatened by him for some reason. They told anyone who was willing to listen that my was a terrible person who did rituals. The funny part of it all was that whenever they told people, those people would either record them and play the recording for my dad, or just call my dad and tell him what they said. My dad placed one of his brothers on an ₦80,000 monthly salary and that brother went round telling people that he was wicked and stingy.
Now, everyone is on their own. Younger cousins don’t know each other. No more Christmas and ileya parties together, no more surprise visits. Nothing. We just fell out.
I stopped talking to my dad months ago after he tried to force me to come home by 1 a.m. because I promised that I was going to be home that day. I live in a very dangerous area.I explained to him that ubers weren’t working, and that I would be breaking curfew rules and his response was that I should walk home from my friend’s house, and if any police held me, he would pay the bail. He then asked me to give my friend the phone and begged him to kick me out.
When I got home the next morning, policemen came to the house to arrest me. It was a stupid scare tactic. At that point, I realised that I couldn’t live with him anymore, so I packed my load and moved out.
I was sexually abused by a lot of my older cousins, male and female, both on my mum’s side and on my dad’s side. Everything stopped when I was 10. For the next eight years, I blamed myself for everything that happened. I thought it was my fault. I didn’t understand that it was abuse, and I lived with so much guilt in every waking moment. Now when I look back, I realise that I was abused and I just want to round up all my cousins and inflict all the pain in the world on them.
I’m my mum’s only child, and growing up, I loved my cousins so much and treated them like my biological siblings. Recently, I wanted to start a business, so I decided to announce the launch at my mum’s birthday party where I knew that friends and family would be. The party was lit. Everyone was happy and it was the perfect time to announce my business.
The first thing that happened when I got up was that my cousins’ dad came to choke me. It was super painful, but then he started laughing, so I brushed it off. When I was finally able to announce my business, my cousins made so much fun of me. They laughed at the name and everything. One of them even stood up, hissed and left. I cried so much that day, and since then, I’ve cut them off.