By AbdulSalam Muhammad
KANO — A blind couple, Batula Umar and Adamu Faidawa, and a Muslim convert, Isa Gamber from Lantang in Plateau State were among the first set of 100 couples who tied the knot at a mass wedding conducted yesterday at the Kano Central Mosque by Kano State Shariah Police, Hisbah Command.
Commercial activities were temporarily halted in the city as a large crowd turned up to witness the marriage ceremony that took place at the Kano Central Mosque located within the precinct of the Emir Palace. In line with Islamic tradition, the grooms and their accredited representatives were present at the mosque in a ceremony that was solemnized by the Chief Imam of Kano Central Mosque, Professor Sani Zaharadeen.
The brides were the first set of 1,000 divorcees and widows the sharia police screened for marriage to available suitors. Grooms were dressed in flowing robes as a Hisbah official read out the names of the couples at the mosque.
The brides were represented by the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, and the grooms by a senior government official on behalf of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Also in attendance were the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, who also doubled as the father of the day and notable Islamic clerics in the city and beyond who witnessed the mass wedding bankrolled by the Kano state Government.
Pays N10,000 dowry on each bride
Kano State Government paid N10,000 dowry on each bride on behalf of each groom, and also provided household utensils and furniture worth a hundred thousand and additional N20,000 each for economic empowerment of the brides.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the brief wedding ceremony, Director General, Kano HISBAH Board, Malam Abba Sa’id Sufi, explained that necessary steps regarding the health status of the grooms were ascertained in line with laid out procedure of the Board.
He disclosed that a Non Government Organisation headed by Hajiya Atine Abdullahi , executive director, Voice of Orphan Widows and Divorces of Nigeria (VOWAN) had notified the board of existence of over 1,000,000 divorces and widows in Kano which spurred the board to take up the challenge to fix them.
He lamented that in the past there was no contract agreement between would be couples neither do we have proper arrangement in marriage before couples entered into marriage, stressing that the near absence of a social contract was principally responsible for the collapse of marriages among faithful in the city.
“I’m very happy today. May God reward all those involved in this project,” 40-year-old bride Magajiya Ya’u said. One of the grooms married his second wife, as Islamic beliefs allow for up to four.
“I’m in high spirits today because I have married the woman of my choice virtually at no cost because the government has shouldered the cost,” said 55-year-old Sule Alaramma, surrounded by well-wishers outside the mosque.”
The wedding was a product of a Hisbah programme seeking to match divorced and widowed women looking to re-marry with available men. It aims to address what officials say is a high divorce rate as well as to provide a stable home environment for children.
Part of the goal is to reduce unrest in Kano, which has been hit by deadly violence blamed on Islamist group. Analysts say frustrated youths have helped fill the ranks of the Islamists.
Women who volunteered for the programme included those left in difficult circumstances after the death of their husbands or a divorce in a region where arranged marriages are common.
The programme was run in conjunction with the Voice of Divorcees and Widows Association of Nigeria (VOWAN), and officials say all women participated on a strictly voluntary basis.
Women and men who qualified were allowed to meet each other at the Hisbah offices and decide on their own who they wished to marry.
“We are grateful to God that we have begun to realise our dream of marrying 1,000 women as part of the government’s commitment to mitigate the social malaise we are facing in our society,” the head of the Hisbah, Aminu Daurawa, said after the wedding conducted by the city’s chief imam.
“We will continue to conduct the weddings in batches and soon we will have the wedding of the second set of 100 women already screened.”
Outside the mosque, a large crowd waited at the gates while the sharia police screened grooms before allowing them to enter the mosque.
Armed policemen kept watch in the scorching heat amid drumming, singing and dancing.