HIGH COST OF BRIDE PRICE IN AKWA IBOM
“That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and they will become one flesh” –Gen. 2:24: Mark 10:7,8.
The marriage institution has been among one of the oldest institutions on planet earth. It came into existence about 600 years ago when the originator of marriage, Jehovah made the above pronouncement upon yoking the first couple in the world with everlasting desire in their heart. Of course marriage is an institution that its subject should enjoy if they are bounded with its regulations governing it.
It is indisputably and widely accepted that the success of marriages is to a large extent embedded on how the marriage was contracted. The mode in which a marriage came into existence would turn to be either a blessing or a curse. Valid and legally contracted marriages have plethora of advantages over the “ghost marriages” that are unknown to law and humanity.
Though an attempt has been made by Ambassador Mike Umoh, (the founder of Mr/Mrs culture of Akwa Ibom, developer of epistle DANCE Academy, and initiator of #Bringbackourlanguage) to publicize a similar appeal through a video, there is still the need for a formal and written appeal.
The aim of this work therefore is to critically analyse the processes that are involved in contracting marriages, pointedly showing the challenges and hardships that have befall many in the process to marry, the ordeals and upheavals on the path of contracting a legal marriage and finally, concisely appealing for a rethink on this issue in Akwa Ibom State.
Firstly, it should be borne in mind that before a valid customary or statutory law marriage can be contracted, the bride “price” or “dowry” must be collected by the bride’s parents or guardian who have consented such marriage accordingly. Before a marriage is registered in the registry, which will be evident in the marriage certificate that would be given, the essential and formal requirements of marriage must be met which include the above.
The history of paying a price for wife can be traced back to when the first husband gave his ribs as a price for the wife. (Gen 2:23). The trend was followed when Laban made Jacob worked 14 years before marrying Rebecca. These were all bride price depending on the time and age not leaving locations unconsidered that surrounded each marriage.
Following the above, can it be boldly said that the bride price is still serving its original purpose or does it turn to an instrument of selfishness and extortion? Does the accompanying requirements still bearable in some communities or has it become unbearable?
It is sad to know that most persons in our contemporary Akwa Ibom communities and societies have become predators in the course of giving out their wards in marriage. They have by their actions made the process of marriage disgusting and undesirable. Would be in-laws have become hosts and the bride’s family becoming the parasite which most times cause collapses of pre-marital relationships.
Nationally, it is no longer novel news that Akwa Ibom (Calabar marital procedure as often reffered to) marital procedure is very exorbitant and demanding. Without ascertaining the veracity of the information, many suitors have made change of mind as per marrying from Akwa Ibom which is detriment of our pretty young ladies.
Couple of months ago, one Ediomo, an Akwa Ibom lady was reported being hospitalised for high blood pressure and unconsciousness emanating from the disappointment she experienced from both her family and the Fiancé. The intended husband cancelled his mind marrying Ediomo after introduction because of these twin reasons: how exorbitant was the marriage list given to him and how Akwaibomites seems to value the money paid to them and a day celebration than a long lasting relationship that the marriage was about creating.
“Ukañg nnyin mbok, awo ayaiya mbuk akan idem”. For how long will we continued to be known this way? Who will come to redeem this negative image that we are having within and outside our state? Who will even have the time and patience to ascertain the veracity of the blasphemous information given regarding our marital processes? What can be done to revive our seeming tainted image regarding marriage?
In Akwa Ibom state, some communities and Local Government Areas are widely known for being demanding when it comes to marriage. With utmost respect and without discrimination to these tribes, Eket, Oro Nation, Etinan, Mkpatenin, some parts in Ikono and Essien Udim are noted for extreme demands when it comes to marriage. Research and enquires has shown that in Eket and Oron, the list of marital requirements is not less than 1.3million naira while consultation and introduction may amount to 300,000 naira respectively excluding the celebration proper.
It troubles the minds of many how and when young men of Nigeria and Akwa Ibom will gather such funds under this biting, catastrophic and recessed economy. There is seriously a need for rethink. We are not advocating that our ladies should be given out for free neither we are trying to belittle their worth in the society and the value of our culture.
Let’s think of this: is it not better that we consider our suitors by making things easy for them than letting our ladies cohabit them without respect and dignity? Is it not good we try to help them do the proper thing as stipulated by law and Bible rather than making them go extra miles marrying adulterously? Is it not good we let them marry in a way that is more financially simple than letting them being ill-treated by men that they cohabit because of fear of menopause? These are things to ponder over.
We know that our dear state has long been known for orderliness and respect for culture, but if such changes are made it will not cause a shift in the paradigm of our culture. Customs and customary laws are primarily known by their flexible nature as was enunciated in the court Case of Lewis v Bankole. Thus we pray our own culture should not be an exemption.
With this article, I humbly appeal to the elder’s statesmen, the paramount rulers, clan heads, commissioner of culture and tourism, village heads, family heads, concern indigenes and other traditional institutions to help us look for the possible ways to reduce the cost of marriage requirements in our state.
We can no longer be leaving our ladies in our hometowns for greener pastures in other states because of high cost of marriage in the state. Our ladies can no longer be abandoned, tutored, mocked and ridiculed for remaining unmarried because high cost of marriage has eschew all their suitors. Let’s help our young men please, Nigerian economy is becoming unbearable every day.
Long live Akwa Ibom state.
Edikan Ekanem is a student of University of Uyo, a contemporary/inspirational writer and a columnist. He can be reached at or [email protected]