Guy's Corner

Bride for Sale

By popular demand, Ivery Arie: The Contemporary African Woman has finally launched, Guy's Corner. In many African cultures, a man must fulfill marital rights that includes paying a "bride price." Does bride price contradict the idea of gender equality? What does it mean for the Contemporary African Woman?

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


Ivery Arie
Author: Ivery Arie

3 comments on “Bride for Sale

  1. Beautiful piece!
    Interestingly the bride price from most regions in Africa isn’t a total sell-off of a lady(if it were the mother of the bride won’t be entitled to perform certain rights after child delivery as practiced popularly in Eastern Nigeria) The Bride price is a proof a Man’s ability to take responsibility. this practice has been infiltrated with some vile elements. but it still serves a major role in motivating Men to work harder and step up their game to get who they want. .

    • I agree with you. Igbo culture is particularly known for this overly expensive bride price. However, you have to acknowledge the fact that things may change. I think using bride price as a measure to see if a man is able to provide for his family for the rest of his life is a poor tool. I think the best way forward is to standard the bride price so its fair on all ends.

  2. Franklyn

    I believe that it should be done away with and yearly presents to the bride’s family should replace it. Most families never get to see their grandkids and daughter most times after over laboring the man with demands. Also, it has stalled so many relationships. A price in its totality is exchanged for goods.

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