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Opinion: Bride price and the well-being of women - Adejola Adeyemi Crown


Bride price, bridewealth, or bride token as an important aspect of marriage tradition in Africa and most especially in Nigeria. This is a sum of money or quantity of goods given to a bride's family by that of the groom. 


Although Nigeria's diversity and cultural differences has created rooms for different types of marriage, but one thing that has remained the same is the payment of bride price.

In many parts of Nigeria, most especially the south eastern part of the country, bride price is essential to be paid by the the groom's family first in order for the couple to get permission to marry in church or in other civil ceremonies, or the marriage is not considered valied by the bride's family.

Pride price payment has become an important part of the a valid customary marriage in regardless of it's various types of marriage. The bride price is usually the payment (in monetary form) to the parents or guardians of the female partner made by the groom on account of marriage and it Similarly varies from one culture to another and to some extent no fixed amount on how much to be paid.

These payments can however be categorised into two main parts, dowry and pride price. The dowry which is common in Asian countries involves the payments made by the bride to the groom or his family, while bride price on the other hand refers to the payments that a prospective groom and his family are to a prospective bride and her family and this is very common in Africa cultural practice.

It was observed that bride price payment served as a measure to validate the customary marriage in most African societies so as to strengthened new family bonds created by marriage and to legitimised children born to such marriages.

Meanwhile, bride price is practised all over Nigeria with differing variations as it grants women financial independence of their own most especially in the Northern part of the country where majority of the women are uneducated home keepers and mostly unable to fend for themselves. 

However, most women are denied access to the money thereby rendering it's age long purpose useless as it's collected by relatives who delegate the sharing formula without the prior permission of the bride.

In some cases, archaic village laws prevent women from owing property and purchasing assets etc.

Popular feminist, Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie once said, "I think we should get rid of the whole idea of money in marriage, we are not selling anybody."

The concept behind bride price, that women are commodities to be bought and sold is rooted in patriarchal beliefs where it is common for the proposed husband is believe that by paying the bride price, he now owns his wife without any external Influence or interference.

Considering the rise of unemployment, inflation and other economic issues, most young men are unable to pay the "exorbitant fees", that can go as much as N250, 000 alongside other materials attached to the pride price like clothes, livestocks, property etc.

Most men however turn to loans from cooperative and other financial institutions so as to meet the requirements to marry their "bride".

This culture is the one reason why there can never be gender equality in Africa as long as it looks like the man paid for his wife or bought her with his money.

I have heard some men saying things like, ''my wife must do whatever i say without objection because i paid her bride price'', ''my wife cannot be disinterested in sex whenever i am interested because I paid for it''.

The woman cannot say anything because that is somehow the truth and with such ultrances, I begin to wonder if marriage is another form of slavery in Africa and this is what feminists should stand up against.

I found out that there were social and psychological implications of the practice of bride price, although in Nigeria, paying of the bride price is taken primarily as a cultural constant that has to be fulfilled but it had both social and psychological implications for the men who pay and for the women from whom it is paid, the practice of bride price is a sensitive cultural issue, and to suggest it's proscription is likely to be slow or to fail, but measures Shou be considered to review it's age long existence and purpose to suit it's modern needs in marriage.

1 comment:

  1. This is great opinion with great write-up. Honestly, government, and religious body must see to this.
    Kudos to you Crown. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete