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    Divine Chidi

      Africans have notable ways in which they carried out their culture and existence. In African marriages, different cultures have unique approaches by which a man and a woman can unite together in other to establish a family.

      Traditional Marriage
      In traditional society, marriage is essential for the survival of the group. He had to prepare from a young age until the day of the engagement. Everything was planned, from the first contact to the engagement and the conclusion with the celebration of the marriage. In some countries, we still speak of customer engagement, of children (boy and girl) whose parents decided to marry from early childhood. But this practice is tending to disappear. The choice of bride is made either by the boy’s father or by the boy himself, who proposes it for his father’s approval.

      What remains is the meaning of marriage: in addition to uniting individuals, it also unites two families. One of the symbols of this reality is the practice of the dowry. It is paid by the future husband to the family of his future in various forms (work, money, or material goods). It comes to compensate for the loss caused by the departure of the daughter to another family. It is necessary to replace the force of fecundity which is given and to mark well the union of two families. However, in recent years, the weight of the dowry has often become an obstacle to marriage. The boys’ families are struggling to raise the exorbitant sum demanded by the girl’s parents. Losing its meaning as a symbol of the alliance, the dowry has become a source of income.
      Despite these abuses, the community dimension is one of the most important characteristics of the African marriage. It is still considered the center around which the whole life of the community revolves. There the living, the dead, and the “not yet born” meet. These three categories of people form a single community in three dimensions.

      Early Marriage

      If the “customary engagement” took away the freedom of choice of future spouses, there is another place, today, where girls experience the same frustration. It is about the early marriage where the girl is given in marriage still adolescent. It causes serious damage: first, it presents a most detestable ‘commercial’ aspect. In addition, it can have serious consequences on the health of young girls. More vulnerable to early pregnancies and HIV/AIDS, they give birth too early with many consequences for their health and that of their child.

      Celebrated in tradition, it is protected from the law which condemns forced marriage and which often sets the minimum age of marriage at 18 for girls. Young Mauritanian women, as young as six years old, have been seen given to men from the Gulf States. This is becoming a lucrative trade as this typically rural marriage practice is exported to cities.

      Poverty is one of the main drivers of early marriage. In many poor countries and communities, the marriage of a young girl relieves the family of the cost of a mouth to feed. The dowry that the parents receive in exchange represents an important source of income for families in need. Only strong state action can bring about a decline in child marriage (raising the legal age of marriage, extending education, changing social norms).

      Modern Wedding

      Today, young people, both rural and urban, are greatly influenced by new and modern ideas. Everyone wants to be able to choose their partner for marriage and parents no longer have to intervene in this choice. But the choice can be difficult because it commits the partners for many years, and many are afraid to commit for life. They prefer the temporary and are satisfied with a married life on trial. It is therefore important that young people take their responsibilities if they want to grow and make society grow. But the motivations for marriage can be diverse. Many marry out of obligation or to find security and social respect. Above all, you have to make sure the next day.

      Mainly in town, money takes an important place in the choices of future spouses. Male or female, everyone wants to succeed professionally first, to have a comfortable position before committing. This leads many young women to choose their husbands based on their financial assets. “It doesn’t matter how beautiful, how loving, how demeanor if his pocket is full, that’s all. Unfortunately, the reality will often be different. Married, they will quickly be confronted with the true behavior of the man, unfaithful and proud because of his fortune.

      Another problem: in many countries, many men do not dare to take a wife who has studied for a long time. They are afraid that she will not let herself be led easily, especially since, through her work, she will also bring her share into the household.

      The consequence of this waiting situation among young people is the resurgence of sexual relations before marriage. If the man, more free of his body, can multiply the number of his partners, he is also the one who must ensure ‘stewardship’: to go out with a woman, you have to have money and pay for the maintenance.

      Modern marriage is still undermined by the realities of custom: first, polygamy which is allowed in most countries with a Muslim majority. Even if it is condemned by those who defend gender parity, some support it, even among women, because it appears to them as a means of distributing the authority of men and thus weakening their power. Then, the ‘levirate’ is still common in rural areas: the brother of the deceased husband marries the widow, even if he already has a wife. It is insurance for the cohesion of the family and also for the material well-being of the widow. Mention should also be made of infertility and the danger of HIV infection.

      Marriage in the Church

      The Church, too, has to deal with the sexual vagrancy of young people, ‘trial marriages, and all the other problems that couples may encounter. For Christians, it is consent that constitutes marriage and that expresses a free and mature acceptance, refusing compromises, tricks, threats: “We get married, then we’ll see”; “If I say ‘no’ my father gets angry”, “To be honest, I love someone else, but I have to do it like that”; “We don’t know each other very well, but our families have already presented the gifts”; “I am expecting a child. My parents don’t know it yet.
      The criticisms made of Christian marriage and the seriousness of the commitments provided also fall on traditional or civil marriage.

      But this is nothing new. The current resistances to a definitive union are those that the Church has encountered throughout its history. The Church did not invent marriage, she continually proposes to renew its meaning.

      It is to young people that the Tanzanian theologian Laurenti Magesa is addressing himself: “If Christian catechesis on marriage should help adults not to interfere too much in the decision of young people in this matter, it should also help young people not to abuse their freedom and independence, making marriage a purely ‘private’ matter. The human being must not forget that he is a social being, even in marriage.

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