A man goes to buy a dog. Pays for the dog, “dog price”. Takes the dog home, and gives the dog a name.
A man goes to acquire a bride. Pays for the bride, “bride price”. Takes the bride home, and the bride begins to bear his name….. as per owner’s tag.
Wives from my place refer to their husbands as “di-iwenim”, which means “the husband who OWNS me”.
Bride price is a cankerworm. An epidemic. A stupid practice that gives one party in the marriage the feeling that they own the other.
I know I have said it several times already, but I’ll say it again. NO MORTAL CAN AFFORD ME. I would rather die single than have anyone pay a peanut amount on me only to feel entitled to owning me.
I have read all the arguments for bride price. None of them holds water.
1. “The groom’s family pay it to the bride’s family as a token of appreciation for training their daughter”.
Question: Who pays money to the groom’s family for training their son?
2. “Bride price is symbolic. It’s only N2 in my village”.
The amount paid is irrelevant. As long as there’s a payment at all, there’s been a trade.
If I sign a contract with the Queen to buy Buckingham Palce for just £1000, the house belongs to me as soon as the deal is sealed. It won’t matter whether or not the market value is more than a thousand times that amount. The important thing is that there’s been an offer and an agreement. And the contract was executed.
3. “It’s our culture and tradition. We can’t throw every part of our culture and tradition away”.
I keep saying it that we Nigerians are slaves to our culture and traditions. Even our ancestors will be rolling in their graves in shame on our behalf that we haven’t moved on.
Must we do things the way our ancestors did?
Our ancestors are NOT a set of geniuses that existed on earth some hundreds of years ago. They were just humans like us. Amongst them were the intelligent and the stupid, the kind and wicked, the young and old.
In the next 500 years, we will all be ancestors. Are we currently making the right decisions? Nigeria is in a mess because we have been making wrong decisions.
Imagine generations after us deciding to live by every rule we set for ourselves. Even though we their ancestors didn’t even consider those rules perfect at the time we lived.
Culture and traditions are dynamic. That’s why we did away we the killing of twins and stoning to death of adulterous women.
We can NEVER progress if we decide to remain static in our cultures. Maybe that’s why we aren’t progressing.
Talk about gender equality, and some people will tell you that “that will only happen when women start paying groom’s price”.
Then advocate for bride price to the scrapped, and same people will give you all the reasons why it should remain.
They want communities to make bride price cheaper. So that even the poorest man can afford to ACQUIRE a wife and claim OWNERSHIP of the said wife. After marriage, it wouldn’t matter whether or not the woman is the one feeding him, he acquired her with his money (which might be as low as N500), therefore he owns her and all she has.
The fact that even some so-called educated people still think this tradition should remain is baffling.
We are so resistant to change, and this reflects in everything we do. We would rather elect an old Buhari who failed in the 80s than try out a new person. That’s why we keep recycling our leaders. Same set of people have been in power since the 60s. Even Obasanjo still stands a higher chance of becoming president in Nigeria than a young intelligent PhD holder.
Bride price is a stupid culture. It gives men a sense of ownership over their wives. That’s why a minister of Nigeria declared his wife as part of his assets. So dumb? Well, technically, he is NOT wrong. He paid to acquire her.
Let’s stop being resistant to change. I understand how difficult it is for it to dawn on you that something you’ve seen as normal all your life isn’t too normal after all. But open up your heart and accept a bit of change.
It starts with you.
As for me, no man will pay a dime on me. If he does, I will NOT marry him. If my family insists, I will NOT do a traditional marriage. I will do registry and start having children, and living as a family.
No man will pay a dime on my children.
I might not be able to change the mindset of everyone overnight, but at least I can rant on my wall. And I call the shots about what happens in my life.
Do NOT even try to tell me that I don’t have a say about bride price. I’m not a piece of furniture that doesn’t have a say how the owner should acquire. I’m a full grown adult human. And I have 100% say about anything that has to do with my life.
Written by: Nkechi Bianze