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Redpill Stories

A Stint in Redpillville

by Ubong Johnson

1.

Kojo said six words over the phone that morning: “I wan see you, abeg, bro.” A beep. It was a troublingly strange text. So I stopped by his house after my classes for the day. Three knocks, and he opened the door. His eyes were red, a bit swollen, his face a shade darker.

“Welcome, bro.” He walked over to a chair.

I followed behind him, confused. Had someone died? We sat silently, opposite each other, for a couple of minutes, and then he began: “Bro, that girl don leave me o. I no know wetin to do. She don leave me.”

“Wetin you do?”

“I swear to God, I no do anything. She say she no fit cope with me again. Say I no get money. Imagine Lola o. She leave me go follow that OG Balon D’or guy.”

I feigned composure, suppressing a sigh threatening to dislodge itself from my throat. I was not surprised at all. I’d foreseen the breakup and even told Kojo a couple times that his girl would leave. But he waved me aside each time with mockery: “No be all girls dey find money. Dis wan love me.”

The first time I told him, we sat outside her hostel waiting for her. When he called on the phone to ask why she hadn’t come out yet, she kept saying she was on her way. But ten minutes passed and I became tired.

“I go leave o,” I told Kojo. But he didn’t answer me. His eyes had caught something: Lola, his girlfriend, dressed in a short, black gown. She walked towards us from the other side of her hostel. Clearly, she just stepped out of the black jeep behind her. It reversed and, before zooming off, honked at her. She didn’t wave; instead, she acted cool, like she had never seen the jeep before.

When Kojo asked who it was and why she was in the car, she told him not to worry. It was her uncle, she said. He visited from the U.S. and wanted to spend more time with her. Kojo believed this because he loved her. But I didn’t, and Lola knew, because she frowned at me. The next day, she told Kojo I made her uncomfortable. He told me, and we laughed about it. But his laugh was not full; it had particles of resentment in it.

We both saw the same jeep a couple of times, then Lola began to act funny. She called and texted less frequently, even when she was online. When she did reply Kojo’s messages, her responses were short. Kojo would send screenshots to me, the relationship guy who knew how to handle stuff like this. I told him she was getting detached, and he asked why.

“There is someone else,” I said. I had seen stuff like this before in my past relationship, during my first year in uni. There used to be a guy my then girlfriend told me not to worry about. He worked in a bank. She called him C-man (pronounced “seaman”) and spoke fondly of him as a family friend who often brought her stuff. But he was no family friend. It became obvious when she began to visit his house. On nights when she visited him, her phone would remain switched off. And when I asked, she would say, “Is it your business?” She left me for the guy after the semester ended—just weeks before, he bought her an iPhone and a braid which must have cost more than a hundred thousand naira. Her excuse? Nothing. She didn’t feel comfortable with me anymore. She couldn’t be herself. When I tried to argue, she broke-shamed me.

2.

Kojo didn’t reply. He avoided me for two days. Then, one evening, he said, “I don’t think so.” I knew he was getting upset, starting to take what Lola said about me to heart, and so I stopped talking to him about relationships, and I stopped asking about Lola. Until one day, out of the blues, he said, “She keeps posting this guy.” I asked to see the picture of the guy. Clear as day, what he showed me was a picture of a fair, fine boy in the front seat of a jeep—the very jeep we had seen often around her hostel. I fought hard to stop myself from chuckling.

“Omo,” I said, “as e be like this, your babe don go.”

He flinched. “O boy, no dey talk dat kain thing.”

I spent minutes explaining to him what I had come to understand. Status play a part in maintaining attraction. And our economic landscape doesn’t help either; here, love costs a thing. Or two. Like how a guy’s wallet power can maintain a girl’s attraction to him. I told him that whilst men tie their value to what they have been able to acquire, some women, especially university girls like Lola, tie theirs to being in a relationship with a rich guy.

“A woman wants to be with the most influential male in the group. Because being a king’s mate, she becomes queen. Your babe don see high-value man. Chest your L. Let her go.”

After his break up, Kojo did what most guys do after their first break up. Something even I did. He joined the red pill community, the Manosphere, a taut community of men who believe in “true masculinity,” and soon became a fanatic.

He spoke ceaselessly about their ideologies, particularly the idea that all women want is money. I do not believe this. What women want, I believe, is value. And value can exist outside a person’s bank account. It is mediocrity to think a person’s value lies in how much a person earns. (I often take caution in Jesus’s words when I catch myself slipping into the belief that I am my money: “A person’s life consisted not of the things he possesses.”)

“I no fit ever fall in love,” Kojo’s WhatsApp Status read night after night. “Fuck b**ches, chase the bag.” “On this mula grind.”

One time I snuck into his inbox and mocked him: “Heartbreak don turn this one to poet.”

His response was a long voice note. He thanked me for opening his eyes. “Dat talk wey you give me dat day ehn, na true. These girls want money. Dat’s all. See dat girl? She go come back.”

I wanted to tell him I didn’t mean it that way. That what I meant was: as long as a woman perceives you are of lower value than herself, she would consider leaving you. It all lies in perception, and perception is elusive. I didn’t tell him, though. I let it slide, hoping he would get over hurting and get his life together. We were both in medical school and distractions like this were a bad thing.

I hoped wrong. Kojo didn’t stop. Wouldn’t stop. From posting anger snippets about women, he began to post TikTok videos. I remember a particular video with the caption, “If you no get money, you no suppose cum.” A girl danced underneath these letters, half-unclad, her butt vibrating.

If anything, the video showed what broke-shaming looked like in its  best form; similar to the debate Facebook intellectuals had sometime last year. One party said poor men deserved to love and be loved; the other averred that no man was supposed to be in love, or in a relationship, if he doesn’t earn an averagely upscale amount of money. This is scary to imagine. Pinning love and affection to money is a warped way of thinking about our humanity. Must we have millions before we are allowed to be humans? Must men drip in wealth before they’re considered men?

In response to the video, I asked Kojo if broke men are not supposed to have sex, and as you may guess, he said yes. He quoted Cardi B: “Broke boys don’t deserve no pussy.”

I laughed, then went on to explain why I thought he was wrong and needed to stop towing the path he was. To my surprise, his next posts were a couple of screenshots from our chats. He mocked me on his WhatsApp Status: “This one never see shege. B**ches go show this one pepper.” He later posted a video of a hypeman saying, “If you no get money, go low-key.”

A thought hit me. Kojo didn’t say life will show me pepper. He said “bitches” will. Kojo was a struggling guy. He barely ate three times a day. But he was making money for “b**ches!” Not for himself.

This demonstrated one of the flawed beliefs peddled by the red pill community. Another is how they attach value to a man’s body count. A man who has sex with more women increases his value than the man who has sex with just a few women. This is seen in how men who are chaste, men who are fine with keeping platonic female friends, are mocked for being simps; whilst men who bed a lot of women, who will never settle with a platonic friendship with a woman, especially an attractive one, are true alphas. In other words, men with ladies live the life, and men who have no ladies are pitiable fucks without game.

3.

When Kojo’s Facebook account no longer bore a profile picture, I called to ask if it had been hacked. He said no, and asked to meet me. I sat in his house, and he said that girl, Lola, was going to come back in five months. I had never heard him sound so sure about something.

“How you take know?” I asked.

“I go start dey press. I go dey see money.”

Press means he was going to start internet fraud. I looked at him, expressionless. Then I asked if he was mad.

“No,” he said. “I go use the Facebook thing get money.”

He told me about a guy who had done same, whose babe came crawling back the next day. He also told me about a new girl he had started talking to. She told him he was broke and she wouldn’t date broke guys. “Imagine dat kain nonsense, bro. When dis thing work, I no go dey date again sef. I go carry hook up girl hold body.”

I wore a blank expression. “You dey mad, bro?”

“No. Wetin sup?”

“All these for girls? You be fool, guy.”

I left his house. The next day, I called his elder brother. There had been scoldings, I knew, because Kojo didn’t talk to me for weeks until our professional exams. He blamed me for making him stay broke, as he couldn’t defy his brother who was paying his tuition. He blamed me for him not getting enough girls. Well, until a few months ago, when he began to read my comments about the red pill community and its damaging ideologies. He soon fell in love again, to a girl richer than him. She loves him and has helped him see that it was simply sex that was pushing him into fraud. 

These hypemen in our nightclubs, these songs, these posts which glorify wealth and sex, they all have to be stopped somehow. And women, too, who think men pluck money from trees and would do naught but squander this money trying to get laid. Maybe even older men need to be stopped, too. Young men have to be taught to live life for themselves, to earn money because they want to and not because they must earn money or risk being considered lesser men.

Ubong Johnson is a doctor-in-training and storyteller. He is fascinated by literature and music.

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