Getting married may be described as the happiest moment in the life of anyone living being, though some may want to equate this with the birth of the first babies of their life, or even believe the birth of their first babies the height of their happiness in life. However, marriage by far signals manhood and womanhood, and responsibility and ability to manage one’s affairs without external influences, which may become minimal.
Usually, in Africa, the search for soul mates is never an easy task considering that the economies of African countries are in shambles and exertions of more efforts are necessary if one is to legally marry. One’s mate can be sourced from anyone but in my own observation, no one deliberately goes into the street to look for a wife or husband, though it may be argued that in the world of today, we are inclined to electronically log on to dating sites, browse for potential partners who may meet our targets. With persistent chats and phone calls this candidate can eventually become our life time partner.
This now occurs against the once old time practice of Africans who discreetly conducts traditional searches on future partners of their wards and children, this is made possible by the communal social belief that a child belongs to all as against the western belief that child is his parents. Among the things looked out for were the background of the both families, whether the family is known to posses any life-threatening disease(s) like leprosy, asthmas, whooping coughs, madness, etc. Families may also monitor the life of their daughter/son-law to be with a view to discovering her proper character which she may decide to temporarily hide until after her marriage.
If you find a man or woman of your choice, all you need do now is introduce her him/her to your parents who further advise you to take him/her to your uncles and aunties. The African society may frown against your deliberate refusal or perhaps any mistake which has seen you not introducing your future husband/wife to your close relatives. This can spell doom for the marriage if not well managed, our orientation in this part of the world is your prior refusal to inform means you have decided not to carry me along and have therefore considered my presence not necessary.
A lot of benefits may accrue to anyone who goes about it the right way, for instance, the society of the Yoruba helpfully encourages relatives to make contributions towards the successful hosting of marriages, in other words, a marriage is considered a communal rite which requires the efforts of all the members of the family. It is therefore not surprising to see Yoruba families arriving marriage scenes with foods and drinks in assistance of one of their own. This makes everyone participate, a marriage of one man or woman becomes the affair of all.
At the end of the marriage, the couple takes a visit to the homes of almost everyone who was physically present at the marriage scene known to him, expressing endless gratitude for gracing the occasion because without them, it would have been impossible to bring the marriage to a successful hosting. Bear in mind again that your failure to fulfill this condition may ostracize you from them, causing you to once again seek people to appeal to them, a situation that may require you bowing and prostrating all through the event.
This social norm continues with the birth of your babies when again you are required to throw a bigger party “Iko-omo” a day your child is named, again both families become of help, not only assisting in preparing meals but also helping to make provisions of things that are necessary. This day provides you with the knowledge of your family relatives hitherto unknown to you, as you reminiscent on just how much money you have spent hosting teeming number of guests whether invited or uninvited, you suddenly notice guests coming to inform you that that it is time to leave, you have no option than walk them to a particular point, bidding them farewell, laughing and thinking just how you can pay certain of these loans you have obtained from friends, neighbours and maybe these particular set of relatives after all you are married, and unexpected responsibilities are your duties.
This is the sweetness of marriages in Africa.