Thirty-Two, Jobless, Single and Yes Frustrated



Things are just so crazy. I mean really crazy. I am old I have suddenly realized, very old. These days I wake up to find my hands pressing on my crotch, I still don’t know why that happens but it must be that my body is trying to tell me something. Probably saying ‘‘Tope it’s time you stop sleeping alone.’’


I am old. MKO and June 12 suddenly reminded me of that. I mean I was old enough to know all the songs that were sung in 1993, old enough to know whether June 12 1993 was a cloudy or rainy day.


Twenty years ago I was old enough to know people voted for Abiola en masse. I was old enough to join others in singing “I am tired of this country na so so palaver…..” Even though back then I didn’t know what it was about the country that I was tired of. I didn’t know there were places where electricity never goes off, I did not know that it was possible for anyone to eat food with meat at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I didn’t know that some people cook with cooking gas. I didn’t know there were places where water flows in pipes. So I wasn’t really tired because I didn’t know what to be tired of.



Twenty years ago and now, not much has changed except now I know what to be tired of; I know my life and that of the average Nigerian could have been better and should be better. Really, not much has changed about Nigeria and I. Granted, I am a graduate and even managed to do NYSC before crossing 30 years but hey I’m still jobless and unmarried. Twenty years ago my mother was like me aging and jobless but at least she had a man. Those were the days when everyone I knew was so poor that we knew the usefulness of sawdust more than we knew what planks were used for.


Sawdust. It has a particularly fresh smell. You almost want to bury your nose in it but you just know that was too dangerous a venture and so you resist the temptation.


How can one forget those days? We would pick sacks in the afternoon my cousins and I and head for the saw mill.  One side of its fence was directly in front of Grandma’s Kiosk. (Shop will be too grand a word) and in the afternoons the workers will climb the fence and ask for one milk tin of Gaari and one ball of Kuli Kuli Oloribi. The type of groundnut cake that was shaped as a fist and hard as a rock. It was sold for 50 kobo and you had to get a stone to break it into fragments. They would ask for this and grandma would pour the Gaari inside a white nylon and then open the wooden box with a show glass where she displayed the Kuli Oloribi and drop one of them inside the nylon. She would then take it to the men on the fence.


Those afternoons with empty sacks held firmly, we would walk to the front gate of the mill and walk towards the machine that cuts the planks. We were fearless despite the hideous look of the blades and the way it cut through huge Iroko trees laid horizontally on a bar. It would be cut through them in a short motion that reminded one of peeling the skin off a Banana leaving planks and saw dust flying around.


Looking back now it seems almost like a sweet memory, it seems like something we enjoyed. Waiting for the machine to finish its movement and dropping flat on the floor, we would gather the saw dust armed with a stainless plate that was no longer in use. We would use this to scrape the dust into the sack. We would ignore the shouts of “ e kuro, machine nbo” ‘‘leave the machine is coming’’ and scrape until the machine was almost close, this was when we would then run back in a wild dash giggling happily.  We would go home usually after an hour or after an older cousin climbs the saw mill fence from the other side and yell our names.


Preparing a saw dust cooker was another competition we reveled in. The cooker was made by blacksmiths from whatever scrap of iron they could get. It was shaped like a bucket with a small square shaped hole at the lower end. It was usually made in various sizes. Ours was shorter, the height of a small paint bucket but wider. Bode the son of my Mom’s younger sister was adjudged to be the best in preparing this stove but we all took turns in trying anyway. Usually we would prepare it and the dust would cave in and Bode will have to repair it but still we won’t give up trying.


Grandma would always insist that the process was simple but till today I still don’t think so. You would have to look for the centre of the stove and place a beer bottle there, then you begin to fill the stove with sawdust avoiding the beer bottle, you would do this until it was full and the sides of the beer bottle were completely filled with saw dust, you then began to use your knuckles to push the saw dust down and as you do this add more saw dust, when you are certain the saw dust is firm enough you then carefully remove the beer bottle leaving a neat hole in the middle. This was where I always had issues, the saw dust would cave in once I remove the beer bottle, I never could do it perfectly.


Those days we knew Kerosene stoves existed but there was rarely any kerosene to pour inside. On the rare occasions that there was, we would have to place a small bowl inside the stove and pour the kerosene inside this before putting the burner in the small bowl. There just was never enough Kerosene to fill the container designed for the stove. Those were the days that the few fathers that had cars would park them for days in filling stations.


And then 1993 came and what they called HOPE 1993 came with it. Mom said there was going to be Jobs, Kerosene, Petrol and money. All that sounded so good even though I felt sad at the thought of not having to go to the saw mill. Then June 12 1993 came and Hope died a painful death. The whole country mourned. Grandma closed the doors of the house and didn’t open her Kiosk for several days after.


‘‘The streets are in mourning, it’s dangerous out there’’ she said. But soon we forget and life as we knew it went on. Today it’s twenty years and yet not much has changed. We no longer use saw dust to cook, we now use Gas or put correctly my brother’s wife uses gas (you know I am not married now) but I still know several houses and university hostels where people still have a small container inside their Kerosene stoves.


But right now it’s not even Nigeria’s problem that worries me so much, it is the thought of being unmarried at thirty two that makes me walk around with a cloud on my face. I couldn’t help wonder why, should I blame that on Nigeria or myself? I think I would rather blame Nigeria.


 At least if we hadn’t gone on those numerous strikes I would probably have finished University in my twenties. Perhaps if the public primary and secondary schools were good enough I would have passed WAEC and JAMB at a sitting and not having numerous re-sits because of my poor educational foundation. (To borrow my aunt’s words- the saucy one with the “I better pass you attitude” just because she managed to win one of the numerous American visa lottery programs) Perhaps I would have finished University at 21 like my friend – the one that is the daughter of one of the politicians that ruined this country (May God punish them everywhere they go). Perhaps I would have gotten a man to marry me and not have to live on my brother and his wife’s charity. (Gosh! Thinking of that really hurts).


They say I am moody and don’t relate as I used to. Imagine! Of course they are not thirty two years, jobless and single. Why won’t they say I am moody when I have been a buffoon to be laughing and playing like I wasn’t getting closer to my menopause each passing day? 


I mean what does it take to get a job these days or a man for that matter. I will definitely take a man over a job right now and yes I’m that desperate.

He doesn’t have to be tall, dark, fair or handsome. Let him sha be a man. That’s all I ask. But everything and everyone seem to conspire against girls like me. The men out there are close to forty but looking for girls less than twenty Seven years old with a six digit salary and long glittering human hair firmly glued to their stupid scalps. The few companies recruiting too insist that you have to be less than 26 years old to be eligible to apply.

What the heck! Do I have to commit suicide and leave a note before someone realizes there is a big problem here and none of it is really my fault?


 photo credit: google images


47 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. seunodukoya
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 17:06:29

    Na wa o! You don old o!

    But mesef don old too. So…

    Nice one. Bittersweet nostalgia!


  2. degreatest2
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 17:17:43

    Hmmmmmm! Nice write up as always…
    All of us don dey old dey go…. I was in SSS2 in ’93 and I remember the sawdust stove and every other thing u describe perfectly..we used to alternate it with firewood.. Nigeria will flourish again… I believe…. and I hope we do the right thing.


  3. Abiola
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 18:00:50

    This write-up bring back memories………all of us are old! Nice!


  4. Bukola
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 19:02:17

    Mehn, u just talked about the plight of lots of matured ladies in Naija atm.. It’s so hard being in d 30’s age bracket witout a job or a man, life becomes more dan frustrating…. May the Lord continue to strengthen us to withstand the situation so we can hold our heads up in society.. Thank you for this article..


    • toyinfabs
      Jun 13, 2013 @ 21:40:24

      My dear, it’s so not easy. I tried imagining here but doubt if I could really say it as much as the people that feel it. It sucks really when your mates are already established in their husband’s house with child number two or three on the way and you still have to be dependent. It really does sucks


  5. Dennis Agyeman
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 19:25:50

    What a retrospect to what we’ve been through. If I was to be in Eko right now. I would have a bowl in my kerosene stove. The base is just too large to take a whole gallon. Where is the luxury those days. Before every household didnt had to bother getting a generator, we all lived quietly. Having these generator has even propel NEPA to constantly switch off the power. Those times that you dont have to compare yourself to anyone. But right now, it a must for me to hold a BB in Eko or u simply out of this world. When was those times, armed robbery happens, we go hiding under the bed when the event took place some streets away. Now, we r robbed daylight and we dont even care. Im inspired but wont venture writting.


  6. funsoexcel
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 20:00:06



  7. Onyinye
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 20:16:41

    Hmmm!!! I remember going 2 d villa in 1993 then they said it was “oso Abiola” (Abiola’s race) didn’t knw wat it meant then.. And I never saw d saw dust cooker. Guess I was still little 2 notice. Abt being jobless n Single n frustrated….hmm!! Dts plenty load 4 one person oh!! GOD c u thru cus u need a miracle. I Enjoyed dis “Toyin Tomato” keep them coming.


  8. Adeyinka
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 20:36:47

    U remind me of my childhood and my grandma’s sawdust stove cos i’s jus 6+ and i could remember i’s so happy for not going to school 4 some days then cos of the RIOT cos i knew nothing about politics! Don’t worry its well with your soul and pls kindly think of what u can do out of ur creativity and dnt wait for our useless leaders.


  9. spacyzuma
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 21:33:47

    1st of all, I sympathize with the state of the writer. I have no idea how it feels like, but to be jobless, single and dependent at 32 must really suck a lot.

    2nd. I was in Primary 3 during the 1993 elections, and I remember a lot about that period. I’m now in my late 20s, but I don’t feel old at all! lol


  10. amaeze
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 21:39:36

    Lovely write up , I’d have thought it was you, but I know you have a job. How ever I know a couple of people who are living this write up right now.


  11. lawalaboladefatai
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 21:56:07

    I am 29, single and Jobless, and still put plastic inside my stove. This piece state d truth state of the country, I was in Prymary six at dat time, and my sis just had a son, I could still remember my mum and my sis husband driving down to mile 12 to get pepper for d naming, we were all scared, cos there was riot everywhere in Lagos then.


  12. Adewoyin Joseph
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 23:05:31

    You got me laughing, really. Nice one ma’am [or you prefer I drop the “ma’am”? :)], you’ve gripped the truth by the balls. Hoping and praying for a better day…soonest.


  13. Debbie
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 05:51:52

    Being 32 and not married is a ‘crime’ in our society. The pressure from family and friends is huge. I was in JS 2 during June 12 and I remember vividly all details the writer mentioned. I am 32 and single but it get scary everyday thinking I am getting nearer to 35 and No man in sight. It is well my dear


  14. jointheprofessor
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 06:13:49

    Toyin, sorry about your state and the helplessness of our nation. I salute your courage, or better still, your generation for the boldness and the courage to talk about all these, even openly.
    We were the university students who fought for the actualization of June 12 for ten active years of our lives fighting for that cause. We sustained the hope, despite that some of us carry the scars till date. Mine is poor sight due to police tear-gas and the naive intelligence that either kerosine or petrol can help out. Many of us almost went blind as a consequence. Those are in the past now and those of us alive should be glad and thankful that we are alive to tell the story.
    I am an incurable optimist and strongly believe that while age matters and so also a man to call yours, I strongly feel the time is now for us Africans to ask ourselves the sense in single parenthood.
    I was horrified the other day when as lady friend during the aluta years chatted with me the other day and mentioned that she was still single. The word still scandalize me still. She should be 40 now. She has been in London these 13 years, which makes her case easy and at same time critical. Easy in the sense that she can get a man to impregnate her or walk into a hospital to do artificial insemination and have kids without anyone asking ugly and senseless questions. Difficult because she may not even have a `toaster` in the last five years let alone sex.
    I am sure this suggestion will caught on in some years to come; but I believe that there are some women out there who will benefit from it. If you have a job but no man, get artificially inseminated and have kids. Be bold about it and get joy in that you are a pacesetter.
    By the way, if you can share your email here, I have some advise that can help you out of your joblessness. Mine is


  15. @bimbolanko
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 06:14:35

    Sista toyin, e ku ishe o. U are a talent.


  16. ololade
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 07:06:34

    Na wa o toyin,u no go kill us wit wonder.u av spoken about wat millions of nigerains go through.
    This is an eye opner for every one in the society.actually I av an anty like dis.
    Nice one keep it up


  17. Ibikuno
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 07:39:15

    Great piece I gotta say. Must admit these r facts ringing out at us all.The question posterity n the next generation will ask us,is what did we do in our personal capacities to aleviate ppl’s pains?I for one chose to have some answers ready. First off,I take responsibility for my own happiness,yes am 30,discovered my bf was engaged to someone else 2wks to my 30th bday,lol!am serving so d money isn’t exactly rolling in yet,so now am marketing clothes n jewelries,some of them gotten from bend-down-select(u wudnt kn if I dnt tell u)am also spending time talking to teenagers in schs etc so they can avoid some of d mistakes iv made. Now this isn’t to say I dnt have my sad n down times or to sound superhuman. My emphasis is that mature single ladies must reach inwards n find something to give to society,it will give u a sense of purpose n fulfilment whl filling the void of no spouse,who kns it might also give u a job in d long run. But wats totally unacceptable is to sit n feel sorry for ursef,trust me the world does enof of that for u. Get up,forget Niger n what it hasn’t provided,make a life cfor ursef n be happy cos Afterall,most married ppl these days Aint happy,trust me on that! God help us all!!!


  18. Tunde
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 07:53:24

    Have you seen Ikhide Ikheloa’s comment? You just got a huge fan in me. absolutely fantastic piece.


  19. Funmi Adesina
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 08:11:59

    Quite an engaging read.I think I will be reading it again.And I remember the sawdust era.My family cooked with it.


  20. chimdi
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 09:06:18

    Ty darling, jiisike na oru.ka chukwu nyere ndi ga tukwasi ya obi aka,zoputa ha na nsogbu nka.daalu nwanyi oma


  21. ustyn
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 11:02:20

    ‘small water i dey drink na so so dirty dey full am’ gud old days,i ws in jss3 dat year,tinz aint goin wel 4 us in dis country shaa,bt hw we wnt do,survival is paramount,jst try ur best anyhw and God wìl help us


  22. fairygodsister
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 12:00:53

    I really enjoyed reading this!!! 1993 I was three years from entering secondary school… So when I read a comment about someone being amongst the university students who protested around that period I shudder.

    Well done Toyin. Again, I really enjoyed reading this.


  23. yetundeadebiaye
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 12:52:56

    The writer indeed captured the average woman’s state of mind. All hope is not lost, I got married when I was 34, just 1 month and a few days to clock 35, a few months before my marriage (I have not even stated dating) I did series of fertility tests, scared if I was still fertile at 34? Now I am blessed with a tall, handsome, sweet, caring, loving husband, a handsome and active son and a daughter will soon be born in a couple of weeks by God’s grace. What is my point? To the naija babes, who are experiencing the writer’s state of mind, don’t be discouraged, don’t lose hope. In my own case, I had and still do, have a great job, solely independent, was very comfortable. While single, I was driving a SUV though living with my parent but life was good. I know I have been exceptionally lucky, but still don’t have self pity for yourself. I believe there is hope for all and there is hope for Nigeria. Truth is, the country, the leaders, no one is ready to do anything for anybody. Take the bull by the horn and carve a niche for yourself. It won’t be easy but it can be done. TY as always, you know every!!! By the way, we are all old and young, your age is your state of mind. Cheerio.


  24. Trackback: RE- Thirty Two, Jobless, Single and Yes Frustrated (A twenty something year old’s response) | Toyinfabs
  25. thirdpart365
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 19:29:55



  26. Ifedayo
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 20:47:59

    So so touching cos am a typical example. I was abt entering jss 1 den. d story is nothing bt d truth. Tho am a guy, stil single, unstable job wit no babe on sight. Pipu r facing a lot mehn!!! I jst believe dat we will all be favoured soon by Gods grace.


  27. Ifedayo
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 21:50:28

    I could remember when we made a rough casket with IBB’s postal on it carrying it along Montgomery road yaba and police dispersing us wit tear gas. It wasn’t easy den. At a point, we couldn’t even go out to get saw dust cos everywhr was deserted. SDP and NRC den, now na PDP and APC


  28. biola
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 23:45:29

    wow! Am I that old? I was 7yrs old by then and I cld remember vividly whn my dad and other adults in my face-me-i-face-you house wld sit outside and talk abt politics and IBB. The “Egbe eledin”(SDP) Abiola, and “Egbe eleye” NRC Kingibe… Here I am,a 100L student,still depent,desperate for a hustle and a working-Class girlfriend of same age. Don’t even know when I’ll be ready for marriage. But am not giving up


  29. george
    Jun 15, 2013 @ 06:03:42

    A beautiful piece this is. Are you that unattractive (don’t want to use the word ugly)? Even if you are, you’ve clothed your words in beautiful robes. Looking inwards is the your first option, as it’s said in Yoruba land, bi won guyan ninu ewe, kan se’be ninu epo epa, eni t’aayo maayo. You have no-one to blame but yourself for the present state you’re in – a cumulative of the decisions you made or you’re making. Get off your butt and do something and if I’ll advice you, start by writing more.


  30. Tomisin Ajiboye
    Jun 15, 2013 @ 09:03:15

    Much imaginative work


  31. Omo3
    Jun 15, 2013 @ 10:41:23

    Nice write up, brought back memories of the struggle, how my jerry can was stolen by a girl write in front of my korokoro eyez. You just wrote my story except than I’m a man which makes my case less precarious.


  32. Deoye Falade
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 03:49:39

    This is one of the realest stuff I’ve ever read! Made me remember stuff… Nice one


  33. adefemi
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 05:58:34



  34. jibola
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 06:57:00

    Thanks Toyin for this writeup. I am 31, single and a medical doctor. A lot of women and even men r in their 30’s, single and jobless thanks to our economy however even though there is a stigma about being in the 30’s and single, I still take my time cos the rate at which marriages crumble in our society today is alarming. More than half of my friends who married in last 5yrs are now single mothers. Most guys (who r also jobless) want a working wife cos no one wants to carry the full burden of providin for the family. I saw an article in the paper last week about how in 1982 NEPA promised to be better and I realized Nigeria has been struggling for a loooooong time. People say it’ll be better and I say I hope its in our life time. Guess time will tell.


  35. chat up lines for guys
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 20:55:40

    I want to to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoyed
    every bit of it. I have you book marked to check out new things you post…


  36. monday
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 13:21:00

    i hope u get to read dis sha but ur granny already taught you all you need so if u av good memory as u tried to prove to us with ur jun12 takes , den get a small capital and start selling something instead of lookin for a white, yellow or blue collar jobs. enof sed


  37. i am ok.
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 17:19:50

    i am really jobless single and scared, and would turn 32 in August.. i just googled it up to see what other people in my shoes are doing about their suitation, then i came across your page.. i must say nice page and i love the fact the wall looks like a writting or cardboard sheet.. so i will really write.
    i dont know if you are really single o but i am. and it is really not my fault, i have smelt wiee in my life.
    my last sister is married with a child, then the immediate younger sister is married(mbaza queen) she rubs it on my face all the time.
    most of my friends are married. i have tried my hands on business, put in CVs in all the companies in Nigeria, even tried reality show i didnt win. ok i say make i try date rich man for finicial purpose..we go marry me since the young guys are looking for big man pickin to marry.. its even worse.. cos after dating you..the now prefer smaller finer younger girls.. the marriageble matured guys now want you to have a job with Mobil or UNITED NATIONS! a range rover,self earned if your dad aint’ a minister.. beauty and humility isnt enough these days,they even know whos hair is brazillian and whose wearing a more expensive peruvian weave…. walahi..
    i say ok make i try smaller boys.. the small money i am saving the keep wanting to borrow.. kai will i kill myself? No
    i enter church pray the say na ancestral..ok i have done 7days fasting as instructed, they say 3days dry i have done. then na deliverance matter, i did.
    Ok i am told i am a woman of God.. ah i believe it oh.. i do, but i want a job first husband and children or one first from option 1 and 2.. i will still do Gods work either way, but i want a JOB ooo!
    I ran away from the country to get a second degree to be better qualified and accepted..with my brothers money with bizness we did, how will i pay now!! i will do God’s work but i want a job to be able to give a testimony, to encourage and help others and not to totally rely on the offerings when i start preaching, as what the economy has turned some preachers to…
    bottom line its not my fault, its the oga ontop..Economy..


  38. jaychioma
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 13:50:53

    That’s a nice one. i was born in ’93…after the ‘oso Abiola’. As a result of their belief in a better tomorrow, my parents named me Hope. Reading this, I shudder. I’m scared that I’ll not be able to meet the expectations that the society has set for me…and every other woman…but I believe all ‘ll be fine. we just have to keep believing.


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