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Kingsley Obom-Egbulem: No Pregnancy, No Wedding

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Oftentimes, I wonder, What is the true value of a woman? Do we truly value women? If we do, why should the ability to bear children be part of a woman’s evaluation?

The answer to these might end up being a subtle albeit honest indictment on the African/Nigerian society, where a woman’s value is based purely on her ability to bear children.

This is one grudge I have held against the Nigerian man since my first taste of maturity. And it never got me so peeved until the experience of Thursday, December 27, 2012.

It was the last wedding ceremony I attended that year, and being in the yuletide mood, I was set for a great time.

I was indeed having a great time, enjoying the live band, until the entrance of the bride and groom truncated the song. Her protruding tummy was just too conspicuous for anyone to miss. Watching the careful manner she took her strides, a few of us feared she would put to bed before the end of the wedding reception.

“Here comes another pregnant bride,” a lady behind me joked. And all the people in her circle laughed as if this was a fad they were deliberately observing and recording.

“So, what’s happening here?” I muttered. I wanted to be sure I got the entire thing. And I did get the gist.

The mother of our dear bridegroom wanted to carry her grandchild before joining her ancestors. And she couldn’t hide her impatience. So, she told her beloved son to bring home not just a beautiful, educated lady capable of giving her the much-awaited grandchild, but that the said lady must demonstrate a capacity to reproduce.

So, our young lady accepted the offer. Or so it seemed. She was pregnant!

Now, I understand what happens when a man and a woman decide to play like real adults do. I also understand what the result of that play could be. But what I don’t understand is when a lady decides to demonstrate her level of fecundity because her would-be husband and mother In-law wanted her to get pregnant before her wedding day.

Motherhood, in my estimation, is a thing of pride that comes with womanhood. So why make it transactional? Why denigrate and make it part of the conditions for whatever relationship you intend to have with a woman? Sincerely, I don’t understand it.

Now, how does that make the woman different from or better than a poultry farmer and his farm produce?

Just in case you are wondering what sense I intend to make with this metaphor, let me educate you a little bit about the poultry farmer and his produce.

Many men (and women) in Nigeria perhaps don’t realise that the Nigerian woman, just like her counterparts in most developing nations, is actually being treated the same way a livestock farmer treats his cattle or birds. All in the name of marriage. This may sound ridiculous, but that was one of the shocking revelations I got at the end of this wedding.

It appears to me that our relationship with women is becoming more transactional, such that whenever anything is done for a woman, it is done with a livestock mentality. What, then, is this “livestock mentality” or “poultry farmer and poultry farm produce metaphor” we are talking about? It’s quite simple.

It means doing things for your wife or partner not because of who she is (or based on her value as a human being) but because of the benefit she brings on board.

For instance, if a girl child is being trained to cook, it is for her to cook well for her husband. If a woman is asked to feed well during pregnancy, it is actually for the foetus; so she could have a healthy baby, not just for her sake or health per se. If she is fed well after the birth of the baby, it’s for her to have enough breast milk for the baby. If she is bought a nice dress, it’s not just for her to cover her nakedness or feel warm, but to look beautiful, sexy and good, for her to look attractive and appealing to her man. But how many men eat or wear clothes so they can look good for their women? How many men go to the boutique to buy clothes with the intention of only blowing the mind of their women?

Back to our wedding ceremony. I couldn’t stop asking, “Why would a man want the lady he is dating to get pregnant before getting married to her?” Isn’t that “the making of a village chief?” (Sounds like the title for a tragicomedy.)

This is a great cause for concern because this might just give us an indication that the man is actually marrying a thing, not a wife.

If you value a woman only when she can bear children, it is indicative that how the woman will be treated when she eventually gets pregnant and how she is valued when the child is lost or even if the child is born is a cause for concern. It also means that the children are indeed the reason she is given any regard in the first place. You need the children and not the woman.

Again, we ask, how is this woman better than a layer, broiler or pullet bought at the start of the year and fed enough mash and all manner of chicken feeds so it can grow well, lay good eggs and be sold for food and money during yuletide? How is she different from a goat fed enough grass just so she can bear children we can sell at the end of her breeding season? It’s all about her offspring.

As I watched our young and pregnant bride walk out of the car and into the hall, my mind raced back and forth. I thought about the stuff in her head (what she’s made of and what she was out to prove by getting pregnant before her wedding day). I thought about her groom; how miserable such a man would be if that pregnancy was lost after the wedding, and what on earth would be his honour and pride walking two people to the altar (yes, the woman and the baby in her womb).

But would you blame him?

I thought about our society and how much we have degraded women. I thought about the bride’s father and what is left of his pride, having given away his precious daughter: tasted, sampled and heavily loaded by a boy he was not even sure would be sane enough to be a great husband, father and son-in-law.

I didn’t bother about the bride’s mom, for obvious reasons. For her, I could only mutter “shame.”

Now, this is not about sex before marriage and whether or not it is bad. From the slant of this article, one can guess my take on that issue. You can choose to fall in love with a guy and if your values permit you to have sex before marriage, that’s ok. If you get pregnant in the process, all is well and good too.

However, this is simply about the pride and dignity of womanhood, and the need to keep it intact irrespective of the pressures from a patriarchal society that wants to acquire and own her as one of the possessions around.

For a woman to choose to prove to anyone that she can bear children as a condition for her to be wedded is not only disgraceful but also classless. In fact, it puts the woman on the same level with a livestock. And for a man to give pregnancy as a condition for marriage makes him a herdsman and not a husband.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Kingsley Obom-Egbulem is a social entrepreneur, author, radio talk show host and an advocate for positive masculinity and gender violence prevention. He is host of MANHOOD- a weekend talk show dedicated to addressing issues that affects MEN, fathers and boys. He's the author of When Fishes Climb Trees - a book that helps parents discover their children’s purpose by connecting their passion with their talents

14 Comments

  1. Becky

    December 8, 2018 at 6:26 am

    Lovely, ???. Case close

  2. Miss Smart

    December 8, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Very beautifully written.

    As I read, I felt my heart sink, the question bubbling over in my mind is – how do we right this wrong?

    In a country where many women want to get married regardless of all conditions placed upon them, in fact getting pregnant first isn’t even the worst of conditions I’ve heard.

    I believe as women, we have to give the finger to society and it’s so called oppressive demands and live. Know that you too can be financially independent, you too can demand more, you too can be happy and there are also MANY decent Nigerian men who do not succumb to whatever ‘mummy’ wants. They are their own men. I have seen and experienced them.

    Pray you cross paths with them and in the meantime, develop yourself, read and form meaningful relationships with diverse people- learn! Life should be savoured regardless of your marital status- which we have come to place too high a value on.

    Motherhood (a beautiful place) is only but a small part of Womanhood.

    • didi

      December 9, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      Majority of the people who cause this problem of getting pregnant first before marriage is the MOTHER INLAW TO BE so am wondering why you are bashing the men? When a woman dresses up to look good ehhh as a grown woman who forces her to make-up and show all her endowment? Please answer me.? ITS because women keep having this wrong mindset that until there’s a ring on her finger she is not accomplished, until a sugar daddy pays her bills she cant make it in this life, the comparism,unhealthy competition and jealousy is the root cause why this pregnant bride couldn’t say NO. THE fear that she might not find another man to marry as foolish women say, MAN DON FINISH it keeps women under because they have no standards again.Even the men you bash do not criticize and pressure single ladies as MUCH as we women hiss, underate and shade them.

    • fine girl

      December 14, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      didi, you are wondering why the men are being bashed instead of the mother-in-laws?? well it is because such men do not have the guts to tell it to their mothers, to set their mothers straight, to be men and not babies. That’s why.

  3. larz

    December 8, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I totally get this. My grandfather insisted all is children are either pregnant or were with a pregnant women before he approved. My mum was his first born n got married a month before my sister was born.

    Apparently he wanted to guarantee a long lasting marriage n didn’t want shame brought to his family name. He also felt thst evil powers can lock the brides womb on their wedding day. Guess what, none of his sons stayed married to their spouses despite his insurance.

    This is 2018, I really hope we are smarter now than ever before

  4. Saywhatnow

    December 8, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Gud question ” why make it so transactional “?

  5. Cocoa

    December 8, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Nothing but a demonic agenda….and only a certain type fall for this trap. If a man’s mother can demand your womb be tested….i don’t see why your own Father can not demand your integrity be kept for the marital bed.

    Aside from the fact that Im a Christian and therefore there will be no sex before marriage….if the mother of the man i was abut to marry made such a suggestion…I WOULD NEVER MARRY HIM..WHAT A FAMILY TO MARRY INTO. A family that doesn’t obey God’s precepts. GOD FORBID.

    So I’m not interested in blaming the man nor his mother….I BLAME THE WOMAN who allowed herself be defiled before getting to her marital bed. No man can have consensual sex with you if you don’t’ lie down.

    What we should focus on is why MOST WOMEN don’t know their worth. Why they don’t see themselves the way God sees them. God even said He would NOT listen to the prayers of a man mistreating His wife. He said the man that finds a wife has found A GOOD THING and will obtain FAVOUR from God. YET women walk around not like the GIFT and the TREASURE and the one to be sought after…..but as an option and an afterthought,

    WOMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!KNOW THY WORTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is better to be a spinster than married to an “OF AGE BOY” with no wisdom.

    • larz

      December 9, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Why r you blaming the woman without knowing anything about her? Why are you assuming she shares your beliefs? What if she agrees to such beliefs? What if she came from a family that also beliefs in pregnant bride?

    • didi

      December 9, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      Please my dear this is not about religion but the fact that the value for women is dropping because WE WOMEN ALLOW IT. Why can we say no to domestic violence but we can say no to the misuse of our bodies ehhhh. Wait ohh you want respect from the same men you allow to misuse you sexually and mentaly? Ahhhhh i bet you this bride has laid the wrong foundation for more abuse from her husband and his family members.

  6. Yewande

    December 8, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    The sense in the article is just too much. I totally agree and glad its a man writing it. Nigeria will be better if all men can have sense like you.

  7. Manny

    December 8, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I’m sorry but this was written from a very naive point of view. What makes you think the transactions between men and women are one-directional?
    Some women also want to make sure a man can impregnate them before they commit. And this is more common than you think.

    • molarah

      December 9, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Yeah – and not forgetting the women that can only marry guys that are loaded, very transactional something there. Bottom line: like Cocoa said above, it lies with us women. When we get tired of this kind of societal nonsense and decide to collectively resist this and any other practise that diminish our value, we’ll make progress. Till then, happy complaining.

  8. Amazing

    December 10, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Welldone Kingsley, good write up.

  9. Nahum

    December 10, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    I am sorry but how are you any better than the bridegroom? The bridegroom placed the value of his bride on her ability to get pregnant, you have placed her value on her ability to close her legs…how are you any better than the bridegroom with your hypocrisy? Is she not an adult? Was she underaged? Was she forced into the marriage. Was it not two CONSENTING adults that agreed to begin their marriage this way? How is this any of your business? And why is it shame on her mother? Did her mother force her to get pregnant? I am trying to understand your logic because from your own standpoint, you are judging a full grown adult for making a decision that has no effect on you, neither was she forced into it. Why can’t you just eat your small chops and mind your business? Are you the one that will pay for delivery? This is the chronic problem with Nigerians, minding everyone’s business except their own. Leave women alone to make their own decisions about their bodies, whether good or bad. Her body, her choice!

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