Acadas and Fertilizer Girls: Young Nigerian Women and the Romance of Middle-Class Modernity

  • Misty L. Bastian


As we might infer from the newspaper opinion pieces above, the perceived shortage of appropriate marriage partners was a subject much on the minds of literate Nigerians during the late 1980s, and this continued as a problem in the 1990s. Most of the elite young women and men of my acquaintance during fieldwork in 1987–88 were exceedingly anxious about marriage and expressed varying degrees of ambivalence toward it as an institution and even as a personal expectation.1 Well-educated, professional men saw early marriage as potentially disadvantageous—especially if they wished to immigrate to the United Kingdom or to the United States for further education or employment. Equally well-educated, would-be professional women aspired to being part of what Agugbuo above calls the “matrimonial class,” but often found their aspirations thwarted by the realities of life in the collapsing Nigerian state economy. Young elite women raised during the 1970s and early 1980s oil boom with the expectation of at least limited hypergamy and an attendant bourgeois lifestyle now found themselves stigmatized by their seniors, peers, and the Nigerian press as “acadas” (academic women) or “fertilizer girls” (a rich but derogatory metaphor I will unpack further below).


Young Woman Academic Woman Nigerian Woman Sleepless Night Elite Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Dorothy Hodgson 2001

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  • Misty L. Bastian

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