OUR MARRIAGE, THEIR WEDDING

OUR MARRIAGE, THEIR WEDDING


Our Big, Fat, Wasteful, African Wedding


I have always wanted to talk about this but somehow I just never get around actually putting pen to paper. I’m the sort of writer that produces her best work mostly only when heavily inspired. And someone has just poured some salt on a part of my open wound, and that seems to be just the kind of inspiration I needed to get my laptop and type this.

Being my first post on this blog, I’d like to just alert those lovely readers who do not know me personally about my writing style. I could appear a bit harsh, too straightforward or opinionated. I agree I tend to stick to my guns, however, I also believe that I must RESPECT every body’s opinions, even if I don’t agree with them. So, apologies if anything I write offends you a little, we may not agree but I respect and value your OWN opinions.

Right. I am going to say one or two things on aspects of African cultures, specifically the Nigerian cultures, and more precisely the Yoruba culture.
I’m not on a mission to bash people’s cultures, or mine for that matter. I just simply hope that after you’ve read this, you will agree that every culture has its good and deficient aspects; no one culture is perfect (well, try say that to a Nigerian parent or gran! Ha!).

I am going to focus today on Nigerian weddings. It’s generally accepted by most Nigerians that your wedding day is not exactly about you, it is about your parents. I have heard sayings such as “Our marriage, their wedding”, meaning, at the end of the day it’s your marriage but the celebration part of it is for your parents, their friends, and random relatives you never knew existed. Of course it is all about them – you don’t even know over half of the people present. Actually I don’t think it’s an issue that’s only with Nigerian or some African weddings. I know a few cultures in South America are like that as well. I also have some South Asian friends who complain about how their parents have taken over their wedding plans. I’m still learning more on other cultures with similar situation. But I do know that my Caucasian British friends have no such problems. On average, they know what they want for their wedding, who they want there and the exact budget. They plan it down to the last detail. Most times they get their exact wish. I think when pigs start to fly, when hell freezes over, a Nigerian girl might just get to have her wedding exactly the way she wants.

Some of the funniest wedding convos you’ll ever hear are those that take place between Nigerian mothers and their daughters who have been a little exposed to other cultures. If you’re Nigerian and reading this, chances are you have had arguments with your mother about how you want your wedding to be. Okay so when I tell anyone that would listen that most Nigerian weddings are unnecessary festivals that put you in debt in the end, I get accused of losing my ‘culture’. And here is where I begin.

What is culture? It is simply ‘a way of life’. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as ‘a way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time’. So basically, culture is living your life according to the general customs or beliefs of a particular people. As human beings, we inevitably find ourselves shaped by the cultures of the environments we grow up in. But as education gives us better exposure, we broaden our horizons and begin to question things. My concern is that, a lot of people, despite going to school, never question situations or things. Of course we can blame that on many factors such as different upbringing or status or quality of education. My people, learn to question things! Because your grandma used to make white corn pap and akara every Saturday, then passed it on to your mum who made sure you had this ‘delicacy’ every Saturday, doesn’t mean you should also pass it to your own kids. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but don’t do things just because they’ve been passed on to you. Asking the question ‘why’ helps us establish the reason we do a lot of things we do, and also helps us eliminate the things that are not worthwhile but we spend all our energy doing. Therefore, my refusal, for example, to follow some aspects of culture which I see as retrogressive does not make me ‘a mannerless girl’. I’m happy we are able to establish that.

So now, think about it. A typical Yoruba wedding celebration goes like this: introduction, engagement, church, mosque or court wedding, then reception (and in some cases, church thanksgiving a few weeks later). I’m sorry I’m going to focus more on Yoruba weddings because I am Yoruba and more familiar with these. I would like to know the way it is done in other cultures as well so please feel free to drop your two cents. Ok so my point is, do we really need all those different forms of ceremony?
Again, let’s get down to basics. What is marriage? Let’s look from both biblical and dictionary/social points of view. According to the bible, it’s basically the process whereby a man leaves his father and mother, cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Most countries’ laws say that all you need for a wedding to be conducted are the PRESENCE of both intending couples, one or two witnesses and an officiating person to conduct the ceremony. Cambridge dictionary says marriage is an official ceremony which results in a man and woman living as husband and wife. Simples. I personally think that if you or your family have the dough to put on a 7-phase fanfare wedding, then by all means go for it. My concern is that many people cannot even afford it, yet because of cultural demands, they get themselves into unnecessary debt. They start their happily ever after with debts. Don’t jeopardise your future all in the name of tradition. The people you fed during your many wedding ceremony phases, those you spent all you had on, trying to impress, have moved on with their lives and ate and danced at many other weddings after yours. Despite all the money you spent, they still criticised your food choice and wedding gown. Whether you spend £100 or £10,000 on a wedding, you can never satisfy people.

I’m not against weddings or big celebrations. My point is, why do so many versions of one wedding? For example, if you are Christian, why do traditional wedding and then go to church weeks or months after? Ok let’s break this down. If we go back to the basics of a wedding ceremony, you are good to go as long as God is present, an official is present, your witnesses (or family and friends) are present and you and your spouse are also present. So, wait, you plan a traditional wedding and you spend loads feeding loads of guests, buying attires, travelling, housing guests and if you are a man, buying things for the bride’s family. No, that’s good. I’m not against traditional weddings. But why can’t you just stop there? Are you saying God was not present? Were your witnesses not there? So, most people go all out on the traditional, then again go the extra mile for the white wedding. WHY??? You hear parents say, “Oh it’s our tradition! Oh you are getting lost. You have no regard for culture. You have to do things the way they should be done.”
This is why I think most Nigerians who practice non-traditional religions (e.g. Christianity and Islam) can be huge hypocrites. One minute they can be oh so anti-tradition, against the ancient gods, all very ‘holy’. Yet they go all traditional when it comes to ceremonies and weddings. WHY??? You are accused of ‘losing your identity’ when you suggest you do not want a traditional wedding because you do not see the point of it.

Even the whole ‘introduction’ saga. I mean, introduction simply means you are introducing people who don’t know one another. This is an issue between the families of the intending couple. I don’t understand why people exaggerate this simple, intimate gathering, hire halls and sew new matching outfits. Why can’t both families meet in the sitting room of the bride’s parents and introduce themselves, eat good food and get to know themselves better before their kids get married? Must the parents invite their uncle’s sister’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s wife? Why not invite them to the wedding instead?

My conclusion is this: if you avoid the excessive introduction party, choose between the traditional or modern wedding, cut down the exhaustive guest list, and save yourself a huge amount of cash, you will have a better future. Put the savings towards opening a new account for your unborn children. Even if you have excessive cash in your deep pocket and your surname is Dangote or Gates, if you could get away with having your wishes, ask your parents to cut some aspects of your wedding ceremony phases and give you the money instead to open a trust fund account for their future grandchildren. I think they should be well impressed. Of course I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes, thinking, it’s not that straight forward. You are right. But revolution and change has to start somewhere, from someone, and that could be you.
I believe if people want to do a modern/white wedding, then they should go ahead and do it. If you prefer the traditional wedding, by all means go for it. But doing both (and the many other celebrations that follow), in my opinion, is a barbaric, wasteful tradition which is detrimental to the future of young Nigerians.

Culled with permission from kemi.blog.com

Click here to subscribe to The Paradigm Newsletter

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comments

Share your thoughts


Our Big, Fat, Wasteful, African Wedding


I have always wanted to talk about this but somehow I just never get around actually putting pen to paper. I’m the sort of writer that produces her best work mostly only when heavily inspired. And someone has just poured some salt on a part of my open wound, and that seems to be just the kind of inspiration I needed to get my laptop and type this.

Being my first post on this blog, I’d like to just alert those lovely readers who do not know me personally about my writing style. I could appear a bit harsh, too straightforward or opinionated. I agree I tend to stick to my guns, however, I also believe that I must RESPECT every body’s opinions, even if I don’t agree with them. So, apologies if anything I write offends you a little, we may not agree but I respect and value your OWN opinions.

Right. I am going to say one or two things on aspects of African cultures, specifically the Nigerian cultures, and more precisely the Yoruba culture.
I’m not on a mission to bash people’s cultures, or mine for that matter. I just simply hope that after you’ve read this, you will agree that every culture has its good and deficient aspects; no one culture is perfect (well, try say that to a Nigerian parent or gran! Ha!).

I am going to focus today on Nigerian weddings. It’s generally accepted by most Nigerians that your wedding day is not exactly about you, it is about your parents. I have heard sayings such as “Our marriage, their wedding”, meaning, at the end of the day it’s your marriage but the celebration part of it is for your parents, their friends, and random relatives you never knew existed. Of course it is all about them – you don’t even know over half of the people present. Actually I don’t think it’s an issue that’s only with Nigerian or some African weddings. I know a few cultures in South America are like that as well. I also have some South Asian friends who complain about how their parents have taken over their wedding plans. I’m still learning more on other cultures with similar situation. But I do know that my Caucasian British friends have no such problems. On average, they know what they want for their wedding, who they want there and the exact budget. They plan it down to the last detail. Most times they get their exact wish. I think when pigs start to fly, when hell freezes over, a Nigerian girl might just get to have her wedding exactly the way she wants.

Some of the funniest wedding convos you’ll ever hear are those that take place between Nigerian mothers and their daughters who have been a little exposed to other cultures. If you’re Nigerian and reading this, chances are you have had arguments with your mother about how you want your wedding to be. Okay so when I tell anyone that would listen that most Nigerian weddings are unnecessary festivals that put you in debt in the end, I get accused of losing my ‘culture’. And here is where I begin.

What is culture? It is simply ‘a way of life’. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as ‘a way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time’. So basically, culture is living your life according to the general customs or beliefs of a particular people. As human beings, we inevitably find ourselves shaped by the cultures of the environments we grow up in. But as education gives us better exposure, we broaden our horizons and begin to question things. My concern is that, a lot of people, despite going to school, never question situations or things. Of course we can blame that on many factors such as different upbringing or status or quality of education. My people, learn to question things! Because your grandma used to make white corn pap and akara every Saturday, then passed it on to your mum who made sure you had this ‘delicacy’ every Saturday, doesn’t mean you should also pass it to your own kids. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but don’t do things just because they’ve been passed on to you. Asking the question ‘why’ helps us establish the reason we do a lot of things we do, and also helps us eliminate the things that are not worthwhile but we spend all our energy doing. Therefore, my refusal, for example, to follow some aspects of culture which I see as retrogressive does not make me ‘a mannerless girl’. I’m happy we are able to establish that.

So now, think about it. A typical Yoruba wedding celebration goes like this: introduction, engagement, church, mosque or court wedding, then reception (and in some cases, church thanksgiving a few weeks later). I’m sorry I’m going to focus more on Yoruba weddings because I am Yoruba and more familiar with these. I would like to know the way it is done in other cultures as well so please feel free to drop your two cents. Ok so my point is, do we really need all those different forms of ceremony?
Again, let’s get down to basics. What is marriage? Let’s look from both biblical and dictionary/social points of view. According to the bible, it’s basically the process whereby a man leaves his father and mother, cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Most countries’ laws say that all you need for a wedding to be conducted are the PRESENCE of both intending couples, one or two witnesses and an officiating person to conduct the ceremony. Cambridge dictionary says marriage is an official ceremony which results in a man and woman living as husband and wife. Simples. I personally think that if you or your family have the dough to put on a 7-phase fanfare wedding, then by all means go for it. My concern is that many people cannot even afford it, yet because of cultural demands, they get themselves into unnecessary debt. They start their happily ever after with debts. Don’t jeopardise your future all in the name of tradition. The people you fed during your many wedding ceremony phases, those you spent all you had on, trying to impress, have moved on with their lives and ate and danced at many other weddings after yours. Despite all the money you spent, they still criticised your food choice and wedding gown. Whether you spend £100 or £10,000 on a wedding, you can never satisfy people.

I’m not against weddings or big celebrations. My point is, why do so many versions of one wedding? For example, if you are Christian, why do traditional wedding and then go to church weeks or months after? Ok let’s break this down. If we go back to the basics of a wedding ceremony, you are good to go as long as God is present, an official is present, your witnesses (or family and friends) are present and you and your spouse are also present. So, wait, you plan a traditional wedding and you spend loads feeding loads of guests, buying attires, travelling, housing guests and if you are a man, buying things for the bride’s family. No, that’s good. I’m not against traditional weddings. But why can’t you just stop there? Are you saying God was not present? Were your witnesses not there? So, most people go all out on the traditional, then again go the extra mile for the white wedding. WHY??? You hear parents say, “Oh it’s our tradition! Oh you are getting lost. You have no regard for culture. You have to do things the way they should be done.”
This is why I think most Nigerians who practice non-traditional religions (e.g. Christianity and Islam) can be huge hypocrites. One minute they can be oh so anti-tradition, against the ancient gods, all very ‘holy’. Yet they go all traditional when it comes to ceremonies and weddings. WHY??? You are accused of ‘losing your identity’ when you suggest you do not want a traditional wedding because you do not see the point of it.

Even the whole ‘introduction’ saga. I mean, introduction simply means you are introducing people who don’t know one another. This is an issue between the families of the intending couple. I don’t understand why people exaggerate this simple, intimate gathering, hire halls and sew new matching outfits. Why can’t both families meet in the sitting room of the bride’s parents and introduce themselves, eat good food and get to know themselves better before their kids get married? Must the parents invite their uncle’s sister’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s wife? Why not invite them to the wedding instead?

My conclusion is this: if you avoid the excessive introduction party, choose between the traditional or modern wedding, cut down the exhaustive guest list, and save yourself a huge amount of cash, you will have a better future. Put the savings towards opening a new account for your unborn children. Even if you have excessive cash in your deep pocket and your surname is Dangote or Gates, if you could get away with having your wishes, ask your parents to cut some aspects of your wedding ceremony phases and give you the money instead to open a trust fund account for their future grandchildren. I think they should be well impressed. Of course I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes, thinking, it’s not that straight forward. You are right. But revolution and change has to start somewhere, from someone, and that could be you.
I believe if people want to do a modern/white wedding, then they should go ahead and do it. If you prefer the traditional wedding, by all means go for it. But doing both (and the many other celebrations that follow), in my opinion, is a barbaric, wasteful tradition which is detrimental to the future of young Nigerians.

Culled with permission from kemi.blog.com

Click here to subscribe to The Paradigm Newsletter

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