Breaking News

Culture in marriage: African Perspective (continuation)

By Pastor Okokon Ating

MANY young men who have no money to marry are now adopting the method of just bringing a woman in to live with them to fast-track their ways into ma-rital life.

wedding ring

In this kind of marriage, the consent of both families is zero, payment of bride price is ignored and neglected and therefore no parental or family’s blessings, the two people involved goes ahead to have children.

There are lots of dangers found in this kind of rela-tionship. Such dangers are premature death of the lady during pregnancy, barren-ness, miscarriage and other serious sicknesses which may be inflicted on the lady by unknown and unseen negative family forces. Such misfortune may come from the bride’s family or ancestral spirit of the an-cient to torture the couple.

This is because the bride’s family feels cheated by the groom who refused to fo-llow the cultural rites of the people. Some young men, who have the fear of God, would after some years tell the lady to take them to her parents or her people to do the right thing. But some men who do not fear God would rather send the lady away when such need arises, with the thought that “after all, she has given me children and I don’t have business with her people”.

I know of a man who refused to acknowledge the parents-in-law yet have had more than six children with their daughter, I have discovered that this sort of marriage does not last, in that, it is bound with many challenges such as abandonment of ladies who try to persuade their partners to pay a visit to their parents and perform the necessary marital rites. A man who is taking an advantage of a lady to satisfy his carnal curiosity may turn down such a lady and send her away.

In this kind of union which was contracted without genuine love, it will become very difficult to stand the test of time and withstand storms and challenges. Hence, as it started wrongly so will it end wrongly and abruptly.

Going through the memory lane, one could see that the above system of marriage was contracted because of a condition like, “seeking for shelter”. Genuine marriage would involve an agreement between two parties, acknowledgment of both family members, bride price and other marriage rite would be paid and parental blessings would be given, this is a proper marriage.

Hence, in my study of the different cultures affecting marriages, I discovered that only a handful of these marriages lasted “till death do us part”, very many did not last. Some that lasted do so based of certain cultural beliefs and customs. It must have been banded by an oath or a curse which no succeeding generations could shift or break.

As a result, the people can practice it because it has become a way of life; nobody sees it as an evil or bad omen. For instance, the taking of someone’s daughter without the consent of the parents, the couple will not worry, so far as it is the laid down custom they have come to see. They would even be happy living together as husband and wife, bearing children who will in turn practice same. And they dare not marry outside their cultural background.

This type of union cannot marry from another region, distant race or nation because they are used to their own lifestyle. Others may not last as said earlier due to the fact that many things may militate against it, for example:

  1. The marriage may have been forceful due to the influence of both parents but not to the satisfaction or agreement of the couple.
  2. The decision was taken on behalf of the couple without their agreement to take responsibility for their marriage.
  3. In the occasion where the marriage was contracted by the parents using cultural cults e.g. the goddess of their land, Ekpe cult in Efik, Ekpo cult in Ibibio land etc to threaten the girl just to accept the marriage, there will always be a time of expiration when the spells or the influence become powerless.
  4. Every culture has a “mistake of the past”especially when the culture was against human rights and freedom of choice in the society. For instance, a girl of 14 to 16 years is forcefully given to a man of 60 years in marriage. At the refusal by the girl, the parents would bind her with an oath or curse, calling the ancestors, some parents use their daughter to borrow money or properties.

In most society where couples suffer shipwreck, the factor had always been the evil influence of the wrong culture which makes the couple see themselves as enemies to each other or as unwanted gift which is meaningless to each other. Closely monitoring, one would see that in the time past many women were fond of running away quickly from their marital home. Some ended up marrying up to three or four husbands and vice versa.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.