In my view, I think the act of “paying’’ for a human being casts a shade of slave trade. The mere fact that a “cost” is fixed and that, at some point, there is a session of haggling (during the course of marriage) over ‘price’ creates a mental scene of a typical market place where an item which is put up for sale is being negotiated with the dealers- who are the girl’s family or the man’s family members- and buyers.
This mode of marriage appears, in some light, to debase the natural essence of a woman and as such cannot in practice and principle hold the value of equality. If a member of a certain gender can be “sold off” then it would also seem right that the other gender should tow the same line to show equality. This tradition of marriage rites still holds in most African societies because most African societies have refused to develop its culture for centuries. The idea that culture should never improve but maintain all its ancient traits has become one clog in the wheel of African progress. Unlike cultures in the West, African societies are still grappling to modernize their languages to meet the 21st century demands. For instance, they are no words for ‘nuclear physics”.The contemporary African woman is caught between two separate worlds. One that has advanced greatly and demands her to fit in and the other that is slow to change/solving problems Africa faces today. The African woman has multiple questions to deal with each day. Questions that border on identity, equality and relevance in a world heavily controlled by their male counterparts.
On identity, the question, as well as others, is “Who am I as a woman?” then “Who am I as an African woman?”
On equality, the question is, “Why, as a fellow human being with same capabilities, am I second-rated’?
While on the question of relevance it is, “Do I really have a role to play in a world which has been coined a “man’s world”?
Unless the world truly embraces the fact that there is GENDER EQUALITY, some practices like “selling off” a lady would still be in practice. It would be more dignifying to replace the apparent ‘sale’ to a symbolic acceptance to marry a lady by a particular family. The use of money or material items creates a practice of ‘purchase’ which I personally find demeaning and offensive. The element of ‘purchase’ in a typical African marriage is what creates a mindset that the husbands have bought an item and, as such, should demand absolute compliance from the wife. The modern woman would find this in sharp contrast with her personal values and this might just be a recipe for disaster.
by Uche Onu
PICTURES SOURCE: PINTEREST.COM