Archive for March, 2012

It’s officially my first new blog, since actively moving over to wordpress, and so I figured, the “Lifestyle” category would be a good place to start!

On many occasions over the past few years, I have constantly had the bible passage Exodus 20:12 thrown at me. For non-Christian readers, this passage is regarded as God’s only commandment to his people, which comes with a promise. “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee”.

My parents, and many other parents I know, have found a way to manipulate this commandment to get their every whim, and make many a decision for their children.

Love, however, seems to be one of those spots where this commandment hits the brick wall.

I was on the phone on one afternoon with my dad, when he goes, “Ade, why don’t I go and get you one of Uncle Musa’s daughters as a wife? We have known Uncle Musa since my University days, and he must have trained his daughters well, plus they are all University graduates already!” Does this sound familiar? Of course, it does! My reply was sharp and succinct and it promptly ended that conversation. What followed next? An SMS from my father. It contained a quotation from Exodus 😉

As an ardent proponent of “the right to choice”, in today’s world and environment, I really think the choice of life partners should be left entirely to the individual. Putting this aside for a few moments however, let us then examine the classic case of “Honor thy parents” vs “Love”.

What issues do we want to evaluate here?

  1. Are arranged marriages really simple-minded?
  2. Does defying our parents’ offers to arrange marriages qualify as “dishonouring”?
  3. Do this generation choose Love and Personal choice over Arranged marriages?

I’ll try to play Devil’s advocate and argue both sides, or just tell two different sides of a story and then you’ll weigh in with your comments.

Ready? Set? Go!

Are arranged marriages really simple-minded?

Our parents have been around for much longer than we have, and they know the ways of this world. They know what is important and possess the all-important wisdom associated with age. They look beyond our fickle ideals about love and the individual. They put family, background, tribe and “how well we know them” into context, in ways beyond our reach. In addition, they have discussed this issue countlessly with their friends and shared experiences and heard stories, and within the committee of Parents, they have realized that arranging a marriage is the best thing any parent can do for their child. And don’t forget that our parents have been married for more than 25 years, and even their own marriage was mostly arranged.

How can you fix me up with someone I don’t know? How can I marry someone, who I have barely spoken to and know nothing about his habits, ideals or goals? What if he beats his girlfriends? What if he leaves the toilet seat up? What if he wants 5 kids, when I only want 2? Does he even go to church? What if I don’t like him at all, let alone love him? If it is a bad choice, will I now end up with a broken home? This doesn’t make any sense joor! This is a new age, aviz one that maintains certain strong socio-cultural stances. We are very educated and exposed, and this means that we need partners that share or at least value our religious, academic, professional and social wants or aspirations. And seeing as we are not so westernized as to discount the institution of marriage, we can’t make random choices, since divorce is not an option open to us. 

Does defying our parents’ offers to arrange marriages qualify as “dishonouring”?

Efe’s mother had decided to “hook him up” with Chinenye, based on some of the arguments above. In her words, “Love is a choice and Efe will eventually grow to love Chinenye, once they are married. I have already decided on this, and I will be making the necessary arrangements with Chinenye’s parents. It is important for Efe to always obey me, as his mother, as mandated by God, and this way, Efe will always be blessed for doing the “right” thing.”

Efe, on the other hand disagreed. He is known to have protested vehemently. “She has to respect me as an individual and appreciate my choices. I am very well educated and I have experiences from around the world, all possible courtesy of my mother’s effort to make sure I had the best,” he explained. “Of what use is it, that I am this educated, and still not allowed to make a choice of a life partner, based on my likes and wants? Why can’t I be allowed to marry someone I know and who I love?”

Efe blatantly disagreed with his mother and has since gone on to marry Omonigho, who he met during his tertiary education. Efe’s relationship with his mother is strained, and there is no love lost between Efe’s mother and Omonigho. Efe feels lost sometimes, and continues to wonder if he has really dishonoured his parents by refusing to pursue the offer of an arranged marriage with Chinenye.

Do this generation choose Love and Personal choice over Arranged marriages?

Reading the many comments and perspectives among Nigerian youths, made possible by twitter and many blogging sites, I am still not sure what choices people of this generation will make.

I have read or listened to people talking about how their parents don’t want them to marry someone from a certain ethnic group. I have listened to people saying that they can only marry people from certain ethnic groups, because of one absurd generalization or the other. The Yorubas like to go to school. The Igbos like to hustle. The Hausas are the ones running this country. The list continues. Does this kind of ethnic bias have any impact on fostering arranged marriages?

A number of others talk about how they can only marry a man who is focused, who is rich or on the road to wealth, a woman who treats them right, a woman who has ambitions and aspirations that match or surpass their own and so on. Does this then mean that these people will detest arranged marriages?

A conundrum, this definitely is. My vote says, young people of today would lean towards arranged marriages, considering that many of us cannot stand up to our parents and are driven by certain fickle desires that our parents will spot and capitalize on, when they choose us partners. I mean, my mother knows all her friends whose daughters are pretty, are respectful and can cook. If na those things dey do me, how she no go find me person?

As usual, the comments’ section is yours. Throw out your perspectives on all three areas and help me, help myself! 🙂

ps. All names and ethnic references in this piece are fictional and do not allude to any real place or person.

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