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Moses Obroku: Daughters Are Not For Sale

Moses Obroku

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I love it when circumstances make me interact with everyday people. Whether such interaction is with the artisan who needs to fix something for me, or when I find myself in close proximity with people in commercial vehicles, markets or any other public place.  I reckon there is always something to be learned from just listening to people.

I was waiting for my key to be fixed at a locksmith’s close to a busy market when I witnessed a little drama recently. A lady and her two pretty young daughters alighted from their vehicle not far from where I sat. As the young ladies sashayed past me with that cockiness that only models would exude, it was the voice of another lady at a saloon nearby that forced me to look up from fiddling with my phone one more time.

Your money don ripe, your money don ripe’, she exclaimed excitedly in Pidgin English; addressing the mother of those two wannabe models ladies. ‘Look better dowry them’, she continued. In essence, ‘Your return on investment is ready, check out potential bride price yields’. The statements of that lady got me thinking. Do females of marriageable age evoke a longing  for ‘dividend’ or high bride prices in some parents, family members and other enthusiastic associates? Are there still people who eagerly wait for that time when some unfortunate suitors come to marry their daughters so they can slam them with heavy financial burden?

Marriage ceremonies vary from place to place. Some people have argued that certain ethnicities are known for making exorbitant marital requirements in Nigeria. But I am of the opinion such tendencies are usually dictated by an individual’s orientation and disposition. The demand for high-end marital rites is fueled by personal or family greed; and hardly an ethnic position.

Many times, a suitor is given a ‘list’ of items he is expected to present as bride price. That list usually comprises the regular traditional and a few unbelievable items. Food stuff, drinks, a variety of fabrics for clothes, boxes, and shoes for the bride-to-be as well as kitchen utensils, automobiles are some of the things that are surely going to turn up on that list. Then there is this payment to the bride’s mother’s group and that payment to the bride’s age-grade group.

Sometimes, the whole marriage negotiation process is fun and quite representative of our rich cultural heritage. Other times, it is an unfortunate booby trap from relatives standing by like predators trying to make a kill. Exactly at what point did marriage rites become a poverty alleviation scheme here?

It is no news that many young people have been frustrated by difficult wedding demands. At some point, even the bride gets infuriated, as she pleads with her folks for a reduction of such demands. Families have been heard to threaten to withhold their support for the upcoming wedding if they are prevented from making high demands on the suitor as they desire.

In some families, the more educated a lady is, the more bride price her folks insist on drawing on her. As such, the bride price drawn on a lady with a bachelor’s degree would not be similar to her counterpart with a Master degree.

A parochial society like ours where women have had to fight for recognition in most basic things; the conspiracy by family members to make a kill from their bride prices further complicates issues.

To be honest, daughters are not Picasso pieces of paintings that relatives could on a whim stick price tags on. Can we just have moderation in all we do? A few families have rightly insisted their daughter is not for sale; as such, they hardly collect any bride price. Rather, they merely accept a token to symbolically fulfill the traditional requirement. That kind of practice is surely worthy of emulation.

Fortunately, the education which some families use as a bargaining chip in drawing higher bride prices is also serving as a double edge sword. Most educated ladies are now getting more assertive in challenging age-long obnoxious assumptions. With time and a better value system, we shall begin to witness more marriages conducted at Registries alone. That is after shylock family members have made fulfilling traditional marital requirements impossible.

As for those two young ladies, I can only hope that they add to their beauty such assertiveness. I believe that will go a long way in helping them challenge the assumptions that they are mere bride price investments, waiting to be reaped.
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Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Gary Cooper

Aside from being a lawyer, migration management expert, security personnel and fitness buff; there are many other sides to me. I am also a self -proclaimed foodie (and oh yes, to complement that, I can cook!). Of course, writing is my passion and I have a mission to inspire my world, one person at a time. I can be reached on [email protected] Instagram: @mosesobroku

9 Comments

  1. Nunu

    June 29, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Mehn you made me laugh. Some parents will even say they sent their daughters abroad fro their education so they must either collect school fees back or at least pay in dollars. My cousin who married an Ibo lady paid through his nose for every age grade and group. I think we as a people are just overdoing things when it comes to weddings.

  2. Honiilols

    June 29, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Na real poverty alleviation scheme *hehehehehe* Jokes apart, it’s ironic that relatives who most likely never contributed a dime to bride-to-be’s education and growth take charge of the sharing. They may even be the ones goading the fathers & mothers to demand so much. I think more ladies should stamp their foot at such ridiculous lists. Maybe it is easier said because I don’t have a large family or better put, I am not at that level of familiarity with my relatives, paternal and maternal side. I drew up the list myself and only put basic things. Bible. Fruits. Drinks. Yams.

    Why feed your own extended family and inconvenience me?

    Some men/grooms allow this too. Even if you can afford to satisfy your future in-laws’ excesses, please mind for the sake of those who can’t boast of such affluence.

    Daughters are not for sale. Singular reason some maltreated ladies can’t go to seek refuge in their father’s house because they have been ‘sold’

    Our daughters are definitely not for sale. Mummy and daddy after you get the humongous bride price, should your daughter and son-in-law wash their hands completely off your continuous care?

  3. J

    June 29, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Sometimes, its not necessarily the parents of the bride. Its the tradition. The parents actually try to get an uncle or someone of repute amongst the people to help beat down this request.
    Case in view will have to be my sister’s. My uncle had to intervene as a spokes person. My parents were not happy about the process.
    After this, they learnt how to manage it because when a second sister got married, it was way better. My parents had learnt new tricks to make it easier for her.

  4. Ada

    June 29, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    The one that baffles me are the relatives who have never given you N1 or even a loaf of bread, adding to the list or even dictating their own list and insisting on a show down if the suitor doesn’t provide all. I can even understand if your parents who sweated over you decide to ‘reap’ once and for all, not all the mother’s age grade, father’s age grade etc. who may just be seeing you for the second time. First time probably being on the day of your dedication.
    In most cases, parents don’t even want anything. You may be lucky to have educated parents who can’t be bothered with such but are more interested in a man of character and a man they can trust your future with.
    Anyway, in my village, I hear it’s one universal list for everyone, MSc, BSc, First school leaving certificate. You pay N500 and collect your printed list ?. Any biro/ pencil addition can be argued or ignored.

    • Blaise

      June 30, 2017 at 8:50 am

      I agree with you. The greedy umunnas are usually the culprits. I expressly warned my parents to keep them in check or else. My father, being the person he is made sure items on the list was not more than 50,000. He even forgot to collect bride price sef until my mum reminded him (which is 100 naira in my place). In my case, the ‘idu-uno’ items which were given to me were waaayyyy more than what my husband’s people paid in bride price and list.
      Abeg let’s stop ‘selling’ girls. Its a horrible thing to do

  5. Honiilols

    June 30, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Na real poverty alleviation scheme *hehehehehe* Jokes apart, it’s ironic that relatives who most likely never contributed a dime to bride-to-be’s education and growth take charge of the sharing. They may be the ones goading the fathers & mothers to demand so much. I think more ladies should stamp their foot at such ridiculous lists. Maybe it is easier said because I don’t have a large family or better put, I am not at that level of familiarity with my relatives, paternal and maternal side. I drew up the list myself and only put basic things. Bible. Fruits. Drinks. Yams.

    Why feed your own extended family and inconvenience me?

    Some men/grooms should also not allow this. Even if you can afford to satisfy your future in-laws’ excesses, please mind for the sake of those who can’t boast of such affluence.

    Daughters are not for sale. Singular reason some maltreated ladies can’t go to seek refuge in their father’s house because they have been ‘sold’

    Our daughters are definitely not for sale. Mummy and daddy after you get the humongous bride price, should your daughter and son-in-law wash their hands completely off your continuous care?

  6. Honiilols

    June 30, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Na real poverty alleviation scheme *hehehehehe* Jokes apart, it’s ironic that relatives who most likely never contributed a dime to bride-to-be’s education and growth take charge of the sharing. They may be the ones goading the fathers & mothers to demand so much.
    I think more ladies should stamp their foot at such ridiculous lists. Maybe it is easier said because I don’t have a large family or better put, I am not at that level of familiarity with my relatives, paternal and maternal side. I drew up the list myself and only put basic things. Bible. Fruits. Drinks. Yams.

    Why feed your own extended family and inconvenience me?

    Some men/grooms also allow this. Even if you can afford to satisfy your future in-laws’ excesses, please mind for the sake of those who can’t boast of such affluence.

    Daughters are not for sale. Singular reason some maltreated ladies can’t go to seek refuge in their father’s house because they have been ‘sold’

    Our daughters are definitely not for sale. Mummy and daddy after you get the humongous bride price, should your daughter and son-in-law wash their hands completely off your continuous care?

  7. Christy O

    June 30, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    It is mostly the extended family that make huge demand. Most cultures have a specific amount for bride price which is not negotiable. Every other thing on that list are just gifts and that can be negotiated .
    Culture is a beautiful thing though. And if you have a good middle/spokesman who knows how to bargain with those village elders, then you won’t have to give an arm and a leg to get married.

  8. Daniel okwena

    July 5, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    As a people, we were never this viscous when it came to how much we demanded as bride price or dowry. Before the famine in Nigeria, parents gave our their daughters to deserving men, and only accepted a token as dowry. Unfortunately, the process has now become a money making mechanism.
    I want to suggest that there is a significant impact of poverty on our core values. Poverty has brought about a poverty mentality, wherein everyone just wants to accumulate stuff. Even the so called affluent in our society are caught up in this vanity. Sad!

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