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  • Writer's pictureDamilola Agubata

Dealing with "Black Tax" as a Married Man: 5 Nigerian Men Share Their Experiences

For many Nigerians, “black tax” is a reality that cannot be avoided no matter how hard one tries. Different cultures and family settings encourage this practice for a number of reasons. The major reason is that families in this part of the world are usually not comfortable enough to raise their children on an unstable income in a dwindling economy.



As such, they single out the seemingly ‘brightest’ child to invest in providing him or her with quality education and other resources required to turn out as a responsible member of society. This ‘star kid’ then matures into an adult who has to repay his or her parents for their investment and reward his or her siblings for their sacrifice as they had to manage the leftover resources while he or she was being heavily invested in.


The common player in this familiar game is the emotional blackmail tactic known as guilt-tripping. Children born and raised in this situation are often left without choice: they must send money to their parents and siblings, aunties and uncles — nephews and nieces are not exempted — and this is done to prove that the collaborative effort that went into raising them to become financially independent did not go in vain.


The problem now is this: although these adults feel indebted to their parents and/or guardians for giving them a good education, they also have to support their immediate families which mainly consist of their wives or husbands and children. These financial obligations can therefore be overwhelming. And when they do try to evade some of the responsibilities, they are guilt-tripped into taking on even more.


Black tax, originally a South African term that has now spread across African communities for its relatability across the board, is the bane of the lives of many Nigerian married men. To get a clearer picture of the distressing nature of this African practice, hear five Nigerian married men talk.


Bolaji, 35


I have been married for three years and I have a two-year-old daughter. My wife owns a hairdressing salon and she makes an average of 40,000 naira to 50,000 monthly. In months with festive days and activities, she makes around 60,000 to 75,000 naira. While I expect that she has her personal savings, she supports me with at least 20,000 naira every month for miscellaneous items.

This is because almost half of my monthly salary goes to my mother’s health bills and feeding. My father is late. He died when I was about to enter my first year in senior secondary school. About five years ago, my mother was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and managing this condition has been financially draining for my family. As the first child and only son among three children, it is my responsibility to ensure that my mother’s medications are paid for in addition to other checkups that she might need from time to time.



Beyond that, I also send money to the youngest sibling who is still in university every month. She might need to get textbooks and other items that are necessary, so I ensure that the money I send can take care of these and her feeding too.


I understand black tax quite well. I can’t do anything for my immediate family (my wife and daughter) without considering my siblings and mother. My youngest sister calls me regularly to request for cash gifts and I oblige her. She is in the university and needs all the support she can get. My mother is a priority to me too. If I did not have to finance her medical bills and support my sister through her university education, my family savings would be much more than it currently is.


I will never stop giving my mother and siblings money. I am only hoping that my sisters can become so independent that they won’t need to regularly receive money from me and also contribute to giving our mother enough money for her upkeep and medical expenses.


Layo, 42


I am a civil servant. I earn a fixed salary every month and I have been working for the past twelve years. Before I got married ten years ago, I financed the renovation of my father’s compound with my savings.


This was the very first time I was doing something of such magnitude for my family and that was when I began to get an idea of what black tax is all about. These days, my mother expects me to send her an average of 30,000 naira monthly regardless of my financial situation. My first child is about to start secondary school and he is my priority now.


My siblings call me from time to time to ask for money and I support them as much as I can. Whenever I can’t because of my commitment to my immediate family, I do not. And they understand that. My youngest brother is getting married in a few months from now and he is counting on me to pull my weight behind him. I will but it will not be at the expense of my children’s education. And that is what I have told him.


Tony, 29


I just got married three months ago. And while my wife and I’s finances went into organizing the wedding, providing for our feeding and footing our utility bills has been on my shoulders. I earn 300,000 naira per month currently and 100,000 naira goes to support my sister who is running her Master’s program. My youngest brother is currently processing his admission into the university for his undergraduate degree and I have to take care of that too.


We (my wife and I) are not yet having children because she also supports her siblings and parents as the first daughter with portions of her income. We are considering setting up a trust fund for our unborn children in the near future.


Lolade, 38


My culture does not permit me not to support my parents financially. As their child, they made a lot of sacrifices for me to have a good education. Basically, I feel like I owe them a lot. However, I have had to borrow money on several occasions because I needed to sort out a medical bill for my mother.


My wife is a full-time housewife and we have four children. My third child could not go to school for a whole term when my mother had her surgery because all the money I had then was gulped by her medical bills. It is black tax but I feel obligated to do it. We are Africans.


Saheed, 28


I can’t say I fully know the extent to which black tax affects married men because I’m newly married. I’m only one month in. But before I got married, I always sent money to my parents — my mother especially. And whenever I do, she usually prays for me. I always look forward to receiving her prayer of blessings. As I’m speaking to you, I am about to complete a credit transaction to her and I know she will call me back immediately after she gets the alert to shower me with prayers.


I’ve not always been financially stable. I’ve had periods where my girlfriend at the time — who is now my wife — was the one feeding me because I was struggling to pay rent and other bills. There was a week I had nothing on me and my mother called in respect of an urgent financial need. I had to borrow from a colleague turned friend to be able to send the money to her. I do whatever I am obligated to do financially as long as my mother is involved no matter how difficult it may seem.


For married men who have to support their families, black tax may be a barrier to financial growth. It can also affect their retirement planning because of the obligations they have to their family members. However, Oak Pensions Limited is a Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) that reduces the strain on our finances by helping us plan our retirement well. To speak with the Oak Pensions Marketing Manager to plan your retirement, call 09087448661 or email info@oakpensions.com.





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