BRIDE PRICE IN AFRICA:THE OLD NORM AND THE DEMAND FOR A NEW APPROACH 

by - December 27, 2017

         

The agitation for gender equality has been around for quite a while now ,which is an emancipation from that stifling box women have been placed in; hence, making them enjoy the same benefits and opportunities the opposite sex enjoys without any form of restrictions. This is a welcomed development, which has had a tremendous effect over the past years. According to Wikipaedia, the Feminism movement/history(it is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a commom goal:to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, person, and social equality of the sexes)started in the 19th/20th century.It is divided into three waves, each with slightly different aims based on prior progress.


First-wave Feminism of the 19th and early 20th centuries focuses on overturning legal inequalities, paying emphasis on women's suffrage (the right to vote). The second wave Feminism (1960s-1980s) broadened debate to include cultural inequalities, gender norms and the role of women in the society.  The third-wave Feminism(1990s-2000s) refers to diverse strains of feminist activity, seen as a continuation of the second wave. It is important to note that, when Feminism was introduced to Africa, it was seen as an abomination,because it was not in our culture for a man and a women to be treated in equal proportion. Hence, the resistance initially. But now, we are gradually acclimatising into it though slowly, and we will definitely get there some day.

The issue of Bride price has become a controversial issue in the present day African society. Some see it as an archaic culture that should be abolished, while others see it as an essential part of the African culture that should never be cut of. It is the believe of the latter that for a man to show his love and worth to the family of the bride and also as a form of respect to the bride in question, he has to pay a certain amount of money which is always very low. But the marriage list that comes with it is usually very expensive to fulfil.

For example, in Ondo state;the bride price is a paltry sum of five thousand naira which is always returned to the father of the groom. But the wedding list (Eru Iyawo)which includes:forty-two tubers of yam, a bag of rice, twenty-five litres of palm oil and vegetable oil,crates of soft drinks, crates of malt drinks, two big baskets of different types of fruit,a big suitcase containing clothes, shoes and hand bags for the bride and list goes on; can be very expensive and demanding which must be fulfilled, even to the smallest thing on the wedding list. The groom has to provide everything on the wedding list, because without it; the bride price isn't valid and the bride won't be handed to the groom.

So how exactly can gender equality be achieved with the inclusion of bride price? Is the female gender a commodity that should be purchased by the highest bidder? In our society, if a man doesn't fulfil the wedding list of his bride, he can never be regarded as a real man. As a result of this, some men do resort to borrowing money from friends, taking loans from banks and at times; even stealing just to fulfil all righteousness. So after going through all that stress just to get married to the woman he is in love with, you really expect that type of man to see his wife as an equal? NO, he will continue to see her as a commodity he had spent his life savings on to purchase.

This archaic practice is usually backed up with the African culture card. Culture is the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. People make culture. The rules and regulations we have all over the world were all made by humans so many years ago, not spirits. In the 19th century, it was the culture of the Efik and Ibibio:a particular ethnic group in Nigeria to kill twins. But it was later abolished because of the intervention of the late Mary Mitchell Slessor who fought tooth and nail to ensure that the barbaric tradition was put to an end. Of course, so many people were against the abolishment initially because they were sacred of upsetting the gods of the land. But, it was eventually abolished, and the ethnic groups involved are still flourishing till date.

So, can this tradition be cut off? Yes, but it can only happen when the African society start seeing the female genders as full human beings whom they do not have to transfer to a new owner/master as a mere commodity. So many men in Africa believe that, bride price automatically means ownership. It is important for every African parent to know that once they accept the bride price of their daughters, they are automatically selling them off; stripping them of their rights, dignity and honour. Some men maltreat their wives because of the huge amount of money they've spent in "acquiring" them. They see them as  lesser beings . But love is a beautiful feeling which should never be quantified by monetary standard .It is not important for a man to pay a certain amount of money or fulfilling an outrageous wedding list in order to prove his worth and love for his bride.

An incident occurred on Christmas day in my street; where a man kept beating his wife for a flimsy excuse of not answering him immediately he called her. The surprising thing however was the statement he kept repeating:"I've paid your bride price, you're living under my roof and you should accord me with respect because I'm your Lord"! People had to intervene to get the woman from his grip after designing her face and body with different patterns. This is just a typical example of how some men treat their wives. The man in question spent a staggering two million naira on the bride price of his wife. The man obviously sees and treats his wife like an object, this mentality is really demeaning.

There are so many hustling guys out there who would really love to settle down, but they are being discouraged due to the high amount of money they'd have to part with. Can we all have a sane society, where women aren't treated as second class citizen, devoid of any owner? It begins with you and I, by educating people about the outcome of this archaic culture,which should be cut off completely. I honestly crave this type of society, because there will be happier men and women without any form of expectations.For gender equality to be achieved in the African society, the issue of bride price must be abolished totally; giving women a sense of freedom and right without any restrictions.

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2 comments


  1. This is worth reading to educate the deluded mind of their ignorance. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Seun. We all have to keep educating them.

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