For most than none, there are no boundaries in the search and maintenance of a love relationship. ‘Love is a beautiful thing’, just another cliché we hear regularly. A beautiful loving relationship is all-encompassing and is usually built on trust, fidelity and communication. In committed relationships, trust is built over time on triumphs and challenges, strengthened by perseverance and being faithful, is the sacrifice we make which sustains that fire.
I recently attended a wedding in Akure and while hanging out with friends at a hotel bar, a guy we met there (let’s call him Mr. X) started bragging about the fidelity of his wife which was apparently hinged on some long standing tradition that she would go mad if she ever cheated on him. From his story, it is a tradition in his hometown in South-Eastern Nigeria (those in the know could deduce and triangulate his place of origin). The story is that when a woman marries into the place she is bound to be faithful to her husband and of which if she defaults in her fidelity and does not confess to her husband, she would go mad and sometimes this leads to death. Initially, I was half-interested in this story because it sounded like some ‘bad Nollywood mix’, but on further investigations, I discovered it is actually the reality in some parts of Nigeria. In fact, we all know them in our local lingua as ‘magun’, ‘ibegu’, ‘laiya’ etc. What truly amused me about the story was the not so surprising fact that the men had some sort of predetermined hall pass with not so much as a lightning bolt from Amadioha for an unfaithful husband.
In parts of the country where polygamy is a way of life, women who are not so willing to share their husbands go the extra mile to influence their husbands in their favour by mostly use of traditional means (juju). This is to ensure the husband’s unfaltering loyalty, love and commitment to her.
I once heard a story of how a promiscuous husband that lavishes most of his money on women and frivolities while neglecting his responsibilities to his family. This went on for a while and out of frustration the woman sought the services of a thaumaturge (popularly called ‘Babalawo’ in Yoruba) to safeguard her marriage and restrain her husband’s itchy feet. Unfortunately, for her the ‘juju’ was overly efficient and he now became obsessed with his wife refusing to leave her side and demanding sex at all times. The poor woman who could not meet up with the unhealthy obsession ran back to the Babalawo seeking for the spell to be undone.
Apparently, this tradition is not limited to our locality, in other cultures and as far back as the renaissance era, there has been a perceived need by men to checkmate their partners, though the popular technique of choice then was the chastity belt. According to modern myths, the chastity belt was used as an anti-temptation device during the Crusades. When the knight left for the Holy Lands on said Crusades, his Lady would wear a chastity belt to preserve her faithfulness to him. Recently, USA Today reported that at Athens airport in Greece, a woman’s steel chastity belt had triggered a security alarm at the metal detector. The woman explained that her husband had forced her to wear the device to prevent supposed precognitive infidelity while she was on vacation in Greece.
My argument on Mr. X’s story is that it is not of true divine origins. Sue me if I am wrong, but in our various religious beliefs, if God were dealing out such outright punishments on all erring wives or sinners as the case may be, the world would be a rather desolate place. Moreover, this tradition does not inspire a lot of confidence and trust to the discerning mind because its scale of justice seems to be tilted in favour of men. For Christianity and most other religions, tend to promote equal justice for all without bias or favour.
It also begs the question as to the nature of the man who would subject you to a fail-safe measure to ensure your fidelity or keep you in line at the expense of your life. Love, fidelity, trust and confidence in your partner are better earned than forced or coerced; these should be acts of free will. As Mahatma Gandhi famously opined; “Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right”.
I put forward the question to you; would you rather your partner is faithful to you within the freedom of her will or because of a cleaver hanging over her head if she errs? This does not in any way mean I am advocating infidelity or laxity of morals in marriage but the freedom of choice inspires higher commitment and loyalty to the course or belief you hold dear.
Back to Mr. X’s story. It was an intense argument and most of the men there believed my views of the matter were rather unorthodox and lax according to them; “if you love the man, wetin dey there? Take the oath naw… all follow to show say you go dey true to am”. So my dear readers, I throw it open to you, would you willingly take an oath or wear some contraption as a test of your fidelity and why? If by chance you will not go through such extremes, do state your reasons. I would also appreciate true-life experiences of women in such unions.
In conclusion, both genders have overtime found a way around issues surrounding fidelity; the cheating partner and the partner who is none the wiser. In more general situations, some would rather avoid such traditions, fetish or weird contraptions from the beginning (as I would) while others would tie their head ties on their waist all prepared for the worst or the best of this peculiar reality.
Photo Credit: hairstylesforwoman.com
Enita Akpojevwe is a Nigerian seeking change and finding her pathway in our beloved country. A Civil Engineer by day whose first love is writing and passion cooking. You can follow me @Akenitta