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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Miss B and the desperation for Marriage

I was saddened but not surprised by the news I heard this weekend about somebody known to both me and my wife. To protect the person's identity I will just use the pseudo name Miss B. Earlier this year, Miss B rang us to say she's getting married, which is always a positive thing to hear. However, we were taken aback by the fact she said she has never visited the suitor in question who she claimed lived in Lagos as they got to see each other whenever he came down to the east where she lives. Her description about what he did for a living was at best very vague. I found it hard to believe but it was true from what we heard by other people close to her. Things moved quickly and within two months we were informed about the traditional wedding. All along I had mixed feelings; on one hand I was happy for her but on the other hand, I knew the road to this marriage was fraught with danger. It's not as if to say you have to know someone for an awful long time to get married to them but to know very little would really worry me.

Shortly after the marriage, Miss B discovered that her husband had no job and the wedding was organised and paid for by his family. Apparently, he's the first son in the family and they've been desperately trying to get him a wife and in what did seem like Miss B's desperation to get married, she failed to ask the right questions or perhaps asked but didn't get the right answers. News reaching us just recently confirmed that the marriage has broken down and the girl's family has now repaid the dowry. All this has happened within the last 6 months, would you believe it.

The reason I wanted to share this story is to highlight what I perceive as the unfairness in our culture that continually turns our young women into this desperate frenzy to get married. Don't get me wrong, I am pro-marriage and firm believer in the institution of marriage but when the only way women can gain acceptance and respect is to get married regardless of whom they do so to then we have real problems. It always strikes me that in Nigeria, whatever you achieve as a woman, be it in business, education, politics, you name it, there's always a question mark over you as long as you don't have the prefix, Mrs before your name. In my view, this is at the heart of why desperation by some Nigerian women to get married has reached fever pitch, which makes it almost inevitable for many to settle for anyone wearing a trouser and supposedly a manhood down below.

Nigerian women also need to take some responsibility and begin to redefine what it means to be a successful woman. As much as it would be nice to have a good education and be successful in whatever career path you choose, the brutal reality is that not every woman will get married. Don't ask me why because it has always been that way and will continue to remain so. The same way I believe not every Nigerian man deserves to get married to a woman or should in fact. Being a man shouldn't just give anyone the free passage to a woman who has probably being successful in her own right but needs to crown her 'success' by getting married to man who hasn't bothered to get a life.

I hope Miss B can now rebuild her life and try to be successful with whatever she chooses and if the right man turns up whom she at least knows something about then marriage may be worth a second chance.


  1. First, I applaud you for a well thought out post, as always. Yes the reality is that not every woman would get married or indded needs to get married. Sadly, the pressure is enormous. And no matter how progressive parents and other loved ones are, the pressure is always there to do the 'normal' thing. The truth is many women - young and not so young - get their lives dragged down by trying to save themselves from being ostracised from a culture that stifles individuality and choice.

    I don't think women can on their own take responsibility for redefining what it means to be a successful woman within our culture. It is our overtly patriarchal culture that defines what a good/successful woman is and the nature of patriarchy is that it oppresses and subdues women so that their voices are not heard. So any effective change has to come from the men - they hold the power and define what society at should do.

  2. sad story but i still dont think you should marry anybody, whatever the situation is, without knowing them well. but then again, the naija factor can push some people into anything

  3. Hmmm...that is such a sad story. It is unfortunate what the culture in Nigeria drives women to do. And men too, as is obvious in this case. I hope Miss B will be able to pick up her life after this.

  4. It's really disappointing that she rushed into the marriage cos we hear stories like this all the time. It just seems people never learn. I mean, now she's already out of it. I dunno if i'll blame her or society. Society has a huge role to play but ultimately we're all responsible for our choices. I hope she picks up the pieces and moves on. So sad

  5. @Adura Ojo, thanks for your contribution and I take your point that it should be a shared responsibility. But I still think women needs to take a more active role in defining their place in soicety. Leaving their fate to men alone to decide will not change anything.

    @Luciano, I agree you shouldn't marry someone you don't know and the reason we should square up to the 'Nigerian factor' wherever we find it.

    @Myne, She has indeed moved on and I'm sure she has a better future ahead.

    @Stelzz, I completely agree that personal responsibility is as equally if not more important than societal responsibility

  6. I've often wondered too on this issue. Too many women keep searching for love in the wrong places and at the wrong timimng and for the wrong reasons!

    Many women pursue career wholeheartedly before thinking of marriage. And then there are the ones who think that some men just fit the definition of 'a friend' and nothing else beyond that. That's rubbish to me. I believe the best marriages are the ones between friends...friends before lovers. A friend is someone you are very familiar with, one that you almost know inside out...Miss B didn't marry a friend, she married a 'statistic'

  7. @Afronuts, I think you made some valid points but unfortunately our society is one that often shy away from debating issues like this. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. First of all, Kudos to you for broaching such a sensitive subject with a good dose of sympathy and tact. I would typically expect to read this type of post from a woman and then of course, the spotlight would turn to her and nasty commenters would start speculating on whether or not she is actually married.

    The sad part is that it seems like single women get pressurized by other women who are married and might be in loveless marriages. You would think they would be more sympathetic or advice differently, but unfortunately that is not the case. Marriage is an individual choice and a person has to leave with the consequences for the rest of his/her life. It is wise to take your time and make a good choice, but not everyone will look at it from this angle.

  9. Well I believe the only way we can challenge so called taboo subjects us by debating and talking about it. Perhaps it's didn't come across as controversial being put forwatrd by a man, I don't know. Wise words from you though and as always your contributions are always valued.



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