BY JESUTEGA ONOKPASA
“Suddenly he appeared over how many years claiming to be my father, well he has no right to take my dowry.
“My mum Ms Rita Daniels, was really concerned when my father publicly reacted to my wedding and said his consent was not sought for by my husband, Ned Nwoko.
“My dad claimed my hubby Ned Nwoko is older than 59. He said he knows this because he and my husband Ned grew up together. He added that it was wrong for him to go over his head and get married to me.
“The various interviews granted by my dad, Mr Jude were distressing for my mother and she reportedly panicked.
“Well, anyone can insult my mum for all I care, I have made my choice and I think its left for all of you haters to drink water and mind your businesses.
“My mum is currently in Abuja with me and my beloved Husband NED, her new son in-law and she will be traveling to Dubai soon to cool off.”
From a report circulating online titled: “MY FATHER NEVER MARRIED MY MOTHER, AND HAS NO RIGHT TO DEMAND BRIDE PRICE. – Regina Daniel Nwoko”
According to our African customs and traditions, do you think Regina’s father deserves to collect her dowry?
I was recently sent the above submissions attributed to the actress, Regina Daniels, regarding her recent “marriage” to the politician, Ned Nwoko, with the question for debate that appears underneath. While I cannot necessarily vouch for the authenticity of the responses above, I am aware that the supposed marriage of Miss Daniels to Mr. Nwoko has been framed by what is to all intents and purposes a comedy of errors involving the love birds themselves as well as the parents of the bride.
Regarding the assertions credited to Miss Daniels, however, I would like to inform the young lady that in African culture it is not the father of the bride that collects the bride price as such. It is actually the family of the father of the bride for in Africa, as a general rule, it is families that marry and not couples per se. Now, where the bride’s father did not pay bride price for the mother of the bride, he is ideally denied that honour and it falls on a brother or some other male relation of his who has “made dowry on a woman” to do the honours.
More specifically and in the case of Regina Daniels, it is inconceivable that she does not have any relation on her father’s side who paid bride price for his wife. Even if this were the case, some other male member, however young, of the father’s family who does not yet have children and so cannot be deemed to be plagued by the incapacitation of having not “made dowry” on a woman’s head would be qualified to collect the bride price.
In any such situation in which someone other than the father is designated to collect the bride price, such person shall have been so designated by that biological father of the bride and the bride price is handed over to him as the one who actually brought the child into this world! It is therefore a delegated power sort of situation with the biological father still being the ultimate recipient of the bride price at the end of the day.
Regina Daniels may indeed be some sort of celebrity but with utmost respect to her, I doubt that she is a sage or even really an intellectual of any renown. Given the rather watery presentation credited to her above, she is obviously not any sort of expert in African customs and tradition just as by virtue of her age, she is certainly not an elder and neither is Ned Nwoko if we are to believe he is really 59 years old. At any rate, she is not entitled to insult concerned members of the public by asking them to go and “drink water” when she herself is desperately in need of holy water! The truth is Regina Daniels doesn’t know what she’s talking about nor have the consequences of her highly laughable joke of a “wedding” dawned on her. In fact under customary law, she is not a married woman at all and is certainly not yet married to a certain man called Ned Nwoko!
On his part, Mr. Nwoko, at his age, should realise that this is certainly no way to marry a wife anywhere in Africa more especially since he comes from the ruling family in his village and as such should be especially mindful not to bastardise the heritage of the ancestors. Even if Regina Daniels and her mom are adamant that he completely undermines her dad, it then behoves on him to put his foot down and insist that he will just have to go and see her father in order to be properly married to her. Unless he is just deceiving the obviously ignorant, apparently not very experienced and quite naive Miss Daniels (and certainly not yet Mrs. Nwoko), and taking her for a ride on account of her lack of circumspection, he should go and humble himself before his in-laws-to-be. If he does not realise that he cannot marry a woman without paying bride price to her father then he does not know anything.
In any case, it is highly deplorable on his part to be giving out the impression that, apparently at the prompting of Miss Daniels and her mom, he can ride roughshod over her father simply because he has more money than his fellowman. At any rate, how would Ned feel if Miss Daniels were to give birth to children for him and tomorrow some insensitive rascal were to insult them by saying “you whose father despite his millions did not even make dowry on your mother’s head?” Some of us just do all kinds of ridiculous things in the euphoria of the moment not having factored in the rather serious future consequences of our utterly ridiculous actions. I would in fact urge his family to call him to order and to point out to him the shameful rascality of his conduct in this matter.
As for Miss Daniels, she should realise that a mother, however much she might have suffered, all on her own, to bring up a child as a single parent, it does not entitle her to collect the child’s bride price. In fact, any such conduct on the part of a mother is tantamount to such mother presenting her own child to the world as a bastard without a father!
I do not know if the fair Miss Daniels has been married before but she is certainly not a newborn baby. A woman going into marriage must not give her husband-to-be or his people the impression that she comes from a shaky, unstable, fractious or otherwise compromised family background or she will be merely sowing future tribulations for herself in her prospective matrimonial home. Whoever might have offended who in the past, our decisions and actions must always be framed by wisdom and understanding in whatever situations we find ourselves. Regardless of what might have transpired in the darkness of the past, we must always be studiously focused on the attainment of a brighter future. Whatever grudges we may or may not bear, it is never a sensible thing to throw away the baby with the bathwater.
Yes, her father may not be the ideal dad and may God bless and amply reward her tireless and long-suffering mother for bringing her up entirely on her own but Regina Daniels should realise that she is not the only one from such a background and many such ladies have successfully married without washing their dirty linen in public, striping their biological father naked in the market square or in some other way belittling themselves before their husband’s family in the process!
If Ned Nwoko actually wants to marry this girl, he should approach her father, make amends and proceed to pay her bride price like a matured man. Politician or no politician, marriage is a very serious matter and should never be diluted into a joke, disfigured into a stranger-than-fiction affair or be viewed as an election that can be rigged. Needless to say, a wife should never be deemed as a mere article or ornament capable of being stolen. Indeed, however decadent our society might have become, no man is entitled to view his neighbor’s daughter as land capable of being grabbed from its rightful owners.
For God’s sake, this is a man that wants to be a Senator; what example is he setting with this complete circus show of a supposed marriage? Just because your wife-to-be is an actress, does not mean it is a must to then convert your wedding into a rather very poorly produced home video with a highly condemnable storyline for that matter! Whatever delusions he might have as to his own grandeur, Mr. Nwoko must stop calling another man’s daughter his wife when he has neither been forthright nor responsible enough to do what is expected of him with respect to her father!
My candid advice to Regina’s mother is to be careful not to allow bitterness about the past to cloud her judgment and induce her into taking poorly thought out actions that will only end up painting her, her daughter and her future grandchildren in rather poor light. This world has always been a difficult place full of challenges and knotty situations. At the end of the day, the only reliable guarantor of our happiness is Almighty God and certainly not money or fame nor our own counsel or conceit. Instead of dwelling endlessly on the past, I would urge her to count her blessings, making sure to name them one by one, and it will surprise her what the Lord has done! Indeed, I would exhort her to let bygones be bygones for there is no profit to be made from making yourself into an implacable enemy of the biological father of your own child.
As for Regina Daniels herself, she would do well to realise that talking so flippantly about her father only casts her in the mold of a poorly brought up child for no matter how disappointed she might be, he is the one who gave her life and even if she will not praise him, a child is never entitled to drag its parent in the gutter, no matter what.
While not holding brief for her dad and while in fact unequivocally condemning child abandonment in all its ramifications and indeed in the specific case of her father, the truth is that ever so often in this life we cannot really account for what caused what to happen. My preferred prescription in such cases is to give thanks in all things just as the Holy Book says. Rather than allowing her life to be detained by what might had transpired between her mom and dad even before she was born, I would urge her to forge ahead in forgiveness and reconciliation instead of fooling herself that she is married when she can only be married if her father gives her hand in marriage to a man of her choice.
Colluding with one’s mother to claim that your father is dead when he is well and alive and you and your mother know that to be the case is a hideous abomination before God and man and no meaningful marriage can be founded upon a cocktail of lies, deception and abomination. In any case, giving a man the impression that you fell from the sky or in any other way making yourself to look like a rolling stone without a home cannot possibly inspire him to truly respect you however much he might pretend to be head over heels in love with you for the time being.
For now, Regina remains Miss Regina Daniels for she is not yet Mrs Regina Daniels Nwoko as she would want the rest of us to believe. She is just a young lady starting life and we know much better than to place reliance on material things which come and go. Unfortunately for her and contrary to her pathetically ignorant pretentions to being a married woman, she remains just another spinster out there still living in sin, whether her abode is now a mansion in Dubai, Lagos, Abuja or Asaba, and this will continue to be the case until her father approves of her marriage in accordance with native law and custom.
As we encourage her to retrace her footsteps and to henceforth take the path of honour, decency, good breeding and submission to the will of God, I wish her nothing but the very best and pray that going forward, may the will of God and only the will of God be done in her life in Jesus Name.
Onokpasa, a lawyer, wrote from Warri.