Is Love Alien to Africa? —By Princewill Odidi

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Princewill Odidi|22 January 2017 Growing up, our mothers use to tell us how they were married to our fathers. One story goes like this: On this beautiful saturday evening, I was barely 15 years old, at the cool of the evening, I saw a man, I use to call him uncle, I barely knew him, but he was known all over the village as being loudly spoken and he lived in the city. He came to our house to talk with mother and father. I just could not guess the topic of discussion because it was old people talk. I just went about doing my thing. On the next market day, this man I often call Uncle, just as a way of respect, because he was not my relative, visited our house again with some people to meet with my parents. They brought palm wine and my parents cooked some food. I helped in the preparation but barely knew what was happening. At close of ceremonies, my mother called me aside and whispered into my ears that Uncle Thomas was going to be my husband. I said no, my mom insisted that he was good for me. I cried and cried it all fell on deaf ears. Mom admonished, Thomas will take you to the city, be a good wife, respect your husband, raise your children in the fear of God and teach them our language. I cried my eyes out, no one would listen. Thomas is good for you was the conclusion. My mother continued, Don't talk back to your husband even when he shouts at you and even when you think he is wrong. Those words of advice sank into my head and protected my Marraige going sixty years now. I grew up from being a little innocent village girl to love my husband and practice African marital virtues. I must say, I really grew up to love Thomas as my mother advised, but I lost my childhood to Marraige because I was barely a child. The question is: where my parents right in choosing a husband for me without my consent? Is it true that African Marraige's are not built on love but on respect? Is it true that African Marraige's last longer because the woman knows her role and lives to grow to love the man? Is it true that love is alien to Africans and that it is the Whitman thing? Do we need to go back to our tradition and allow our parents do the choosing while the bride is just told "pack your bag and follow Mr Thomas to the City? Did our parents really love themselves before getting married? Can we say doing it our modern way  is a deviation from our culture which has kept our parents together for decades? Or do we say we have copied American and Western Marraige's at the detriment of our culture? What has America got to learn from Africa and vice versa in terms of Marraige? Or do we say our parents where dead wrong, it was child abuse, it was a violation of the rights of the girl child, and that our young women where forced into Marraige's was an abuse of their right to choose and right to love? It's Sunday, let's talk love and relationships. Don't be left out, What's your opinion? Princewill Odidi
Writes from Atlanta