‘Spouse or hostage?’: The bizarre custom that permits males receive wives by kidnapping younger ladies


Dowries and bride value appear extra humane compared to the fee for a kidnapped baby.

In Nigeria, with over 250 ethnic teams, there are such a lot of traditions that it is arduous to maintain monitor of all of them. On the subject of marriage traditions, the story is similar. Nevertheless, there are some similarities — man sees lady, proceeds to hunt hand-in-marriage from woman’s mother and father, pays some type of compensation and goes residence with spouse.

That looks as if fairly a standard course of, proper? Nicely, it hasn’t all the time been the norm in some areas.

Marriage by kidnapping in Nigeria

Inside the Tiv/Igede tribe of Benue state, marriage in current instances is a factor of wealth and celebration, similar to in lots of different elements of Nigeria.

In earlier instances although, custom allowed a person who discovered a lady he likes to organise to kidnap her from the streets. He would maintain her hostage after which proceed to barter the wedding rights along with her mother or father. The entire course of includes reward giving, rituals equivalent to gun firing, telling different intending suitors to avoid her. After the entire rites, the girl is formally his spouse.

This weird marriage custom is so historic in Tiv tradition that it has been phased out over time. Now, marriage is extra respectful and the lady has a say in the entire course of.

Whereas we wish to suppose that this marriage apply is totally outdated, it’s nonetheless very a lot alive among the many Latuka tribe of Sudan, and much more weird.

The Latuka tribe are a quiet folks tucked away within the Southernmost elements of Sudan, who apply subsistence and livestock farming. They’ve been in a position to stand up to the affect of western religions and applied sciences of their communities. That is apparent of their enduring apply of marriage by abduction.

Similar to in historic Tiv tradition, when a Latuka man sees a girl he likes, he kidnaps her and retains her hostage, after which he goes to her father’s home with an elder to hunt his blessing on their marriage. If the daddy of the bride agrees, he’s anticipated to point out his approval by beating up his potential son-in-law. Nevertheless, if the daddy disagrees, the son-in-law both returns the girl to her mother and father or marries her anyway. Most instances, the person chooses the latter.

The place of custom in trendy instances

Bride value and dowries have typically precipitated controversy in these instances after we cautiously wade the waters of feminism, whereas trying to dismantle patriarchy. In September 2018, a number of conversations had been began after award-winning writer and activist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, spoke concerning the commercialism round marriage, and said very clearly that she isn’t a fan of bride value.

At her meet and greet in Lagos, she was quoted to say, “For those who return in historical past, the thought of marriage is totally different from what it’s in the present day. Sure, there was bride value the place basically you type of give issues to the bride’s household, however there was additionally an trade of items… and it was a bit extra fluid… For my part I feel we must always simply eliminate the entire thought of cash. I feel it simply ruins issues.”

Whereas many argued for the necessity to protect the tradition of bride value, it is very important observe that this horrifying marriage by abduction, which basically offers the lady no voice in the entire strategy of her personal marriage, is a part of Sudanese tradition. What can appear alien and horrifying to us, could as effectively be justified as a part of their “tradition” to them.

African tradition is little doubt lovely and deserves to be preserved, however how does one decide what’s price protecting and what needs to be abolished? The place will we draw the road?





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