This piece is a product of the too many failed marriages – those that I have heard of, witnessed first-hand, or mediated in. As if all my experience regarding this absurdity was not enough, last month, I met another victim in one of the panellists of an event I attended. The event was envisioned to inspire ladies in the creative industry in Nigeria, to focus on soaring high in their chosen careers, not minding the several challenges they are faced with.
The panellist, who obviously had had a very bad experience with marriage, going by the way she emotionally cautioned ladies, to stop sacrificing their careers for their marriages, which according to her most often fail. In my opinion, her submission that marriages in Africa are basically skewed to satisfy the men and thus would always fail is too generalized. However, as much as I hate to admit it, the truth is that too many marriages are failing in Africa.
So, what went wrong or what are we doing wrongly today, that has turned this sacred institution that was designed to sustain mankind, into a venture that is now dreaded and endured by most people who are involved in it. Interestingly, our fathers whose marriages were essentially consummated by their parents, and who married many more wives than we do today, seem to have had more stable and successful marriages when compared to ours.
Maybe, if we re-examine this puzzle from the start, we might have an answer. What exactly is marriage? There are several definitions for the institution, but for this piece, let’s examine the following that I believe will do justice to our quest; marriage is said to be the socially recognized and approved union between individuals, who commit to one another with the expectation of a stable and lasting intimate relationship. It begins with a ceremony known as a wedding, which formally unites the marriage partners.
A marital relationship usually involves a contract, either written or specified by tradition, which defines the partners’ rights and obligations to each other, to any children they may have, and to their relatives. In most contemporary industrialized societies, marriage is certified by the government. Please permit me to also add the Bible’s perspective, because as a Christian I believe it is the book of origins. In Genesis chapter 3 verse 18 the Bible says: “And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him”.
In my opinion there are some prominent factors in all the definitions above that are missing in most marriages we consummate today. It is curial to emphasize the fact that marriage is a contractual relationship which involves rights and obligations. Therefore, it is expedient that parties to such relationship be clearly briefed about the terms and conditions of the relationship. Everything should be laid bare on the table for the parties to see and be convinced that they are capable and willing to go into the relationship. This, in my estimation is the reason why the marriages of our parents were stable and more successful than ours. Some of our mothers knew right from the unset that in addition to their matrimonial obligations towards their husbands they were going into marriage to help their husbands at their farms, some went into it, knowing that they were bargaining tools to either to foster their father’s kingdoms or to expand them so they were never saddened, no matter how badly they were treated or mistreated in their husband’s homes.
Simply put marriage must be deliberately consummated. Nobody should be tricked into it or be in any way made to involuntary marry. It goes without saying that people will naturally perform best on assignments they enjoy and are convinced they should be on. Let’s cut to the chase, no matter how spontaneous and or skilful anybody is, nobody is likely to perform optimally on an assignment that person is not convinced he or she should be on.
It is for this reason that I quickly jumped at the opportunity to celebrate Malawi’s Chief Theresa Kachindamoto on the cover page of this edition. She is a very selfless African who has continued to dedicate herself to terminating child marriage in Malawi, I consider her story very impactful and I am convinced you will be motivated by it. Also in this edition, we examined the complexities surrounding the state of affairs in Southern Cameroun. True to our nature, the edition is another compilation of several other very informative as well as interesting stories for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!