17 December 2018
1. Today, incidentally, happens to be my traditional marriage anniversary. And yes I paid bride price. I was given a list. I bought everything on the list. I paid everything and I married my wife. The list wasn't cheap by any means but it wasn't also above the roof, or exorbitant.
2. I don't think I was buying my wife because I paid a bride price. That's rubbish. I don't think I own her because I paid a bride price. That's also rubbish. I don't own my wife, in that sense. I don't own any human being. I can't afford to even pay for her if I'm asked to pay. I believe that she is worth more than the money paid for her bride price and all the items I bought for the traditional marriage. She is worth more than all the monies in this world. If I'm to really pay for her, there is nothing I will not give to get her. But of course, the very idea of buying and selling a human being is the problem here. It's repulsive.
3. At the face of it, bride price doesn't make sense. No matter how we want to look at it, it will still look like the buying of one human being by another. Many historical commentaries support this perspective. And we can pretend all we want, but the truth is that many families actually think they are selling their daughters. The amount of money some persons charge for bride price is even way higher than what slave traders charged for slaves in the dark days of slave trade.
4. It is even moreso, when some of these brides support their families' demands. They will remind you that they are graduates and all that BS. But who pays for the man who is also also a graduate? One of the reasons why I paid the bride price of my wife is because I found out she didn't give a damn about it sef. She kept pushing me to bargain this and that on the list until I told her to forget it. I can pay.
It's beautiful to marry a woman whose worth or sense of value is not tied to the amount paid for her bride price. We can't say this about many women out there, can we? There lies the problem, a large chunk.
5. I have always held this belief that bride price doesn't make sense. It's a culture that is open to too many demeaning and unhealthy interpretations. Why women, especially gender equality advocates, still try to defend it beats me hollow.
6. My wife shares my views about bride price. We agreed before getting married that no one is paying any damn bride price for our daughters. It will never ever happen. But I paid her bride price because she is not my daughter and we are not her parents. This takes me to the pattern of advocacy we are doing for this bride price thing. The pattern of advocacy most people have adopted doesn't make too much sense to me.
7. Of course let's keep talking about it. But we should stop making our parents look stupid because they collect bride price. I know it doesn't make sense. Maybe the name should be changed. BRIDE PRICE will always be interpreted as the price paid by a groom to acquire a bride. If you like kill yourself trying to explain it differently, it won't work. Bride Price is just that: Bride Price.
But let us not fail to note that many cultures, worldwide, don't make sense; but these cultures still bind the people together and serve as a source of their identity. Maybe we should amend, maybe we should change the name.
8. Better still, we should let our sisters know that a woman's worth is not tied to a bride price. Let our brothers know that you can't buy a human being because you paid a bride price no matter how exorbitant.
9. Our village elders should stop punishing young people who want to get married with crazy demands. If young people marry without your consent you will complain that they have brought disgrace to you. If they choose to come for your consent, you begin to make crazy demands. Why do you make doing the right thing so difficult? Why do you make honouring you so hard?
10. The best of all our advocacy is what we decide for our children not what we decide for our parents. If those of us who just got married or got married like 10-15 years ago decide that we will not demand for bride price for our daughters, the concept of bride price will die off in less than 50 years.
11. To those who have tried to link the paying of bride price to domestic violence, I dare say it's not true.
12. Any man who mistreat his wife because he paid her bride price will still find another excuse to mistreat her even without paying the bride price.
13. As controversial as bride price is, to use it to explain or excuse spousal mistreatment is nothing short of the canonization of idiocy.
14. But the sad truth is that this happens. Men beat their wives, force them to do chores and even rape them because "Sharrap dia!!! I paid your bride price!!!" This is a fact.
15. Many persons will argue and even agree that such a man is just a bad man using bride price as an excuse. I agree too. But you see, because of bride price, they have an excuse. That's the historical perspective that I was talking about.
16. There is always going to be a way to give our daughters out for marriage. Yes. That's culture. We are a people. We have our way of life. So, this is not an invitation to apologize for our culture. No. It's a call to modify our culture in the face of sociological profanities.
Isa writes from Abuja, Nigeria