So, again being out of Africa for a couple of weeks has put some things in perspective. In real life I am a single woman. In my village I am “married” I have a “wedding ring” that I wear on my left hand, and my “husband” is living in the United States.
Now you may be thinking, so Sara, why all of this fakery? Well the truth is that I get hit on in village a lot. I get at least one proposal per day. Now, sometimes this is part of your every day greetings, and you laugh it off and move on. See the following example:
Sara: Hi How are you
Village man:, Hi, I have health and your family
Sara: My family is well, and yours
Village man: They have health, and your work
Sara: My work is fine and yours
Village man: It is fine. I love you. Will you be my wife?
Sara: Oh I’m sorry, I’m already married.
Village man: But it’s different having an African husband
Sara: Yes, but I believe in monogamy. May God give you a Nassara (foreign) wife. See you later
Village man: Amina. See you later
In the previous situation both of us know that it is a joke, and we go about our day. The worst are some of the higher-ups in the village. In BF there is a very frustrating term called Celibataire Geographique – Which means Geographically Single. Many functionnaires live apart from their significant others, which leads them to believe that they have a hall pass to date/marry other people.Now in American cultural norms this would be called an open marriage. or in other circumstances…cheating.
Sara: Hi, How are you
High to Middle Ranking Functionnaire: Hello, how are you
Sara: I have health, and you?
HTMRF: I have health and your family?
Sara: My family is good, and yours
HTMRF: they are fine. Say, why don’t you come to my house at night and teach me English
Sara: Oh, I don’t think I can do that. I’m very busy
HTMRF: Oh. Then we should get married, and then you can teach me for free
Sara: I thought you were already married, you wear a ring…
HTMRF: Oh, but my wife isn’t here. She’s in Bobo. I’m Geographically Single, so that means I can marry you.
Sara: Yes, but you still have a wife. Anyway, I have to go feed my cat. See you later
HTMRF: See you later.
Now on the nassara side there are some pretty interesting statistics about PCV romance. Apparently (According to the book Monique and the Mango Rains) 70% of returned PCVs end up marrying other PCVs. That makes sense, you have similar life experiences, and you have the same viewpoints and ideas…and there’s always the mere exposure effect. The mere exposure effect is the idea that the more time you spend with someone, the more you are attracted to them. That’s why inter-office romances are so common. (Thanks PSYCH 100!).
So Sara, have you met your dream PCV or HCN boyfriend yet? The answer is no, and I’m really ok with it. No really. I mean, yes it can get lonely at site (certainly a cat and her kittens can help) and there are villagers who are concerned that I don’t have anyone to fulfill my “needs.” No seriously, every time I come back from a training or vacation they ask if I got laid…which is always a fun conversation…Would I like to have a significant other in BF? Yeah, it might help out with the loneliness and isolation, but it’s not high on my priorities, and I just haven’t met the right person yet. I’m also living inAfrica…which can make things a teeny bit difficult.
So Sara, what’s your point? I am a single female thriving in BF living as a married woman in my village. When the right person comes along…he will. And finally, if my octogenarian aunt can get married at 85 and find true love, there’s hope for the rest of us (Shout out to Aunt Jean! I miss you!)