Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Igbo's And The Bride Price Phenomenon

I watched Adaora Onyechere of AIT on a program which she anchors, Gender Agenda, this afternoon where she harped on the need for a review of the high bride price in some parts of Igboland, indeed she advocated for an outright abolishing of the culture of bride price. Her postulation is that the rights of the individual(bride) must be respected, that high bride price connotes a sale transaction. She surmised it thus; "It is individual first before culture".
For the purpose of this treatise, the term 'bride price' is used to refer to the entire gamut of bride price and it's concomitant levies. Much as there may be some truism in Adaora's expressed views, they don't paint the full picture. Asking for an outright removal of the bride price is stretching it a little too far, we must learn to interrogate the circumstances of traditions that existed long before our berthing before attempting to make imput. The bride price exists as a token of appreciation, expressed in pecuniary terms by the suitor in commemoration of the bride's family's good work in raising a child worthy of the suitor's proposal. It further serves to validate the suitor's capable disposition to care for his intended wife. Finally, it's ultimate symbolism is that it emphasizes the dominance of the male spouse in a union of equals.
I hardly think that one who finds the bride price a thorny issue can weather the more arduous task of family provision. While it is true that many instances abound where the suitor was initially unable to make good on premarital conditions but later became a model and even prosperous husband, that doesn't elevate such deficient conduct to the desired ideal. Bride price is merely a tip of the iceberg in the scheme of family expenditures. While it is agreed that certain communities parade unduly exorbitant levies disguised as marital rites, the fact that it is meant to be a onetime 'payoff' should be a consolation for any would-be suitor.
Also, much as no man would like to be singled out for dubious extortion, once it is confirmed that the demands made are consonant with prevailing norm, it should not be open to debate. No self-respecting man will haggle over an established marriage protocol for he isn't the first neither would he be the last to marry from that community. No woman worth her heritage would accommodate such pestilence, it is only when desperation creeps in that a lady will raise issues of bride price with her family. Men don't complain about prohibitive cost when spending on what they value, why must it be any different when a wife is involved?
Our women should wake up and stop lowering set benchmarks in pursuit of their 'Mrs' appellation. When a lady 'sells' herself cheap at the beginning, she will forever live to rue the moment. People should stop advocating for bride price adjustments, what we need are character modifications on both sides, these agitations about exorbitant marriage practices are puerile, family life itself isn't cheap. This is however without prejudice to any family or community that decides to review it's set standards, when you know what you have, you know where to place it.
Rolls Royce cars have never been priced like Toyota's, and as I always tell my friends, you can be expensive once there's value added, apologies not necessary. Though culture may exist for the individual, we cannot individualize culture. While it may be okay to demand only a pittance from a suitor as an outward demonstration of love by the bride's family, it is hardly his place to make such demands, he isn't doing anyone a favour. Once the demands are standard communal practice, any suitor who complains isn't ready, he should be shown the door, period.

Okey Joe Emenike

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