The first time I heard of “kujeran maigida” was about a decade ago, when my cousin told me to get off a chair that belonged to her husband. I was confused and thought it was rude, because he was not sitting on it. In fact, he was not even in the house. I felt insulted as a guest. Because I thought it was a weird personal thing, I didn’t bother to ask about it. Recently, I realized it was a cultural thing. I do not know if it is the same for every ethnic group in Nigeria, but I noticed in the North it is a big deal to have a couch or arm chair strictly reserved for the head of the household- dubbed “kujeran maigida”. (That is, seat of the homeowner). So now, I just find it amusing.
Personally, I don’t think even emirs should sit on thrones. It defeats the purpose of humility in Islam. So yes, I initially thought it was silly that kujeran maigida was a thing. Especially if one goes to the extent to ask a guest to get off the seat. But when I asked more women about it, those with firm conviction on the issue were adamant about securing their husband’s seat.
“It makes them feel important and special”, “He is the head of the household and should have his comfort zone”, “It shows you have respect for him, and others should also respect him”, “It is an honorable gesture.”
Aww, it is an ego stroking move that works well. By securing his seat, a wife has dignified her beloved. A friend told me when visitors sit on her husband’s sofa, she feels irritated. She doesn’t ask them to get off, but she gets annoyed (and probably glares at them).
At a newly married cousin’s house, I heard her giving instructions that no one should sit on her husband’s couch. Not a chair. Not a one seater. A three seater! And yes people, it is usually a three seater that belongs to the maigida. I heard my cousin asking her husband’s nieces, “Don’t you have respect for your uncle? How can you sit where he sits?” I guess it is for a good cause, to make the husband a king in his miniature kingdom. It does make the man feel important and respected, and that will make any relationship flourish. (Honestly, I really do think it’s cute. You should see how passionate the wives talk about it!)
When I asked my aunt about it, she laughed mockingly, “There are still people who do that? Old folks back in the days did that.” She believes things are different now and families are less rigid. She agrees with the idea that husbands should have their own special tableware, but having a seat that no one else could sit on is a bit extreme. Of course, it’s different strokes for different folks. Generally, as tradition in some homes, there are families where only the husband/wife/elder sit on seat, while everyone else sits on the floor (carpet or mat). Some do not even sit at the owner’s corner of a car if it doesn’t belong to them. All in the name of respect. Ah yes, where one places the tooshie is a biggie.
Sitting with my brother-in-law and his wife, I told them how fascinated I was about the special seat saga. Then by bro-in-law told me that most men have their personal seater, and the best way for me to identify the territorial space was to look at where the remotes were placed. I instinctively looked down at the coffee table in front of me and there they were, about four remotes. I chuckled and asked him if I should get up, but he laughed it off (humble man) and said he wasn’t particular about it. (Probably why my sis-in-law didn’t ask me to get up too)
Ever since, I’ve made it a habit to seek out remotes on tables to locate the man’s throne. Usually it is the seat with the best television view, so I tend to go for awkward viewing seats. Always go for the single seater, because husband’s tend to hog the three-seater. To be on the safe side, when the seat is unidentifiable, and to save myself from humiliation, I just go ahead and sit on the carpet. Can’t go wrong with that one in Arewa.
By Fareeda Munir