Apart from the colorfulness of the book, the title of the book is really appealing, it sparks curiosity. “Nearly All The Men in Lagos Are Mad” is a collection of 12 short stories describing Lagos women’s different experiences in their dealings with Lagos men.
Lagos being one of the largest cities in Nigeria as expected is filled with a mixture of different types of people; it is a concoction of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a very big picture and this book tells a very small part of that big picture.
One of the arrays of things that comes with the mega-city is the assortment of men that are strategically dished out that you are bound to meet one that will leave you in amazement. This book was written for the mummy’s boys, the gigolos, the gay men who use their wives as a cover the peculiar ‘alpha male’ who, for some suspicious reason, loves to role play as a little girl during sex, the stereotypical energetic Lagos fine boy with a special interest in the city’s crackling nightlife, and all the way to the endless cheats.
Kuku Damilare in her book made it known that the madness is not limited to the men native of Lagos, it is almost like she is saying that it is the city that makes them mad. This was highlighted in the part where she talked about the oyibo guys (a title used to describe a light-skinned foreigner) who may have migrated to this bustling mega-city for one purpose or another.
The novel provides an endless supply of laughter, amazement, and shocks. Kuku wrote the story using different narrative techniques of which the most captivating was the first-person point of view. The first-person point of view felt more thrilling because of the intimacy it carried in relaying the story, the conversational tone sets the mood for brilliant storytelling.
She did not only use simple and relatable English, but she also threw in the Nigerian-English, a tasteful grammar that sounds correct to a Nigerian indigene living in Nigeria but is not necessarily correct grammar, and the Nigerian pidgin. The characters are reasonably witty and mostly relatable, giving insights into their various personalities.
Even though this book elicits laughter and the stories can be wild and ridiculous, it touches on certain things that happen and why these things happen, why these things seem normal to these men even though it is seemingly abnormal; the psycho-affective conditioning that impels their madness.
She tried to effectively relay the different kinds of socio-cultural and socio-economic structures that are supported by long-held norms. These abnormal characters of the men are the things that regulate the experiences of many women in the novel.
One of the stories talked about a self-righteous pastor who believed he was celebrating the lord even while committing adultery. His hypocrisy is enabled by the fact that the wife has a perforated view of marriage, the same views that many African women have been conditioned to uphold. When her husband’s extramarital affairs threatened to pull down the picture-perfect she had built, she solely resolves to calm the storm, scared of the skeleton in the closet that might be brought to the public for them to analyze.
Most of these stories brought to light the things women have had to endure just to be with most men at specific points in their lives. They have had to shrink themselves just to be with a man. This point was also made in the story of Shike Macaulay where a financially stable woman tells her experience of wounding up with a traditional man who boldly upheld the deformed standard of a regressive society. He continuously dismissed and reduced her success and financial privileges, his backdated ideals were seen to have clogged up his brain leaving no room for new ideals or even common sense to thrive, this resulted in him refusing to enjoy the convenience of Shike’s car and instead suggested the unsafe idea of climbing bike to go over the third mainland bridge. The irony of this particular story is that as much as he upholds his alpha-male-ism, he has a questionable sexual kink of role-playing as a little girl.
Kuku also touched on the issue of barrenness. As much as this particular topic spreads to all other parts of the nation, Kuku spoke on it in particular to Lagos as a city. Until recently where African women have begun speaking up and reacting against this deep-rooted bias, the burden of fertility usually rested on the women, hence the fault of a childless marriage automatically rests on the woman. A woman without a child was often ranked as the lowest in the hierarchy of most African households; the side talks, becoming a co-wife, and becoming a former wife, to mention but a few. The struggles a childless woman goes through are emotionally draining, this includes, and is not even limited to, fasting, prayers, tears, visiting several hospitals, resorting to herbalists, resorting to traditional medicine, visiting different prayer houses and so much more. They become desensitized to foolishness and extremely gullible as seen in Orode’s case. Orode’s husband’s uncle gave her a “pregnancy-causing” mixture to be rubbing on her “private parts”. It could be argued that her desperation dulled her sense of smell because the book described the mixture as a foul smelling mixture. The sad thing about this is that both the uncle and the nephew (Orode’s husband) knew that it was the man who was infertile. The sadness of the story did not end there as Orode’s husband also robs and abandons her later on. Her husband, Dele’s madness was spiced with wickedness.
However, the book does justice to its title emphasizing the “nearly” contained in it. As much as there are many mad men in Lagos, some of them are arguably sane just like Ivie’s driver turned lover in “First Times”. As long as you expect to see anything in Lagos, you should also expect to see the good which sometimes can be more shocking than the bad.
Kuku’s book is very inclusive as it explains the plethora of things that could happen or not happen in the Lagos dating scene. Apart from the sad reality it brings to the readers, the book promises a lot of laughter.