24th August, 2011
Â Miss God’s Gift Akpabio, a business owner, Novel Mega, based in Ikeja, Lagos, here speaks on African woman, its culture and heritage
How do you think African culture can be reflected in marriages in the Western world?
Traditional marriage has been an African custom for decades. This is where the groom pays an agreed sum to the family of the bride, but the flow of information and improvement in knowledge has taught the new generation to exercise their right of choice in marriage issues. Another that is being overlooked in African custom is where a woman is supposed to be a virgin until after marriage in most of the cases. They are also supposed to follow a specific order of event from love affair to the birth of a child. The ideology of physical love without wedding is not recognised in some Africa countries and have kept to this custom for centuries. Now, there are claims that many African girls have been falling into extra-marital relationships under the Western culture influence, some say that it is good to know about oneâ€™s partnerâ€™s sexual compatibility and fertility before marriage. This point is not enjoying good support, but it does not mean the African custom is intact. With all observation, the legal code is very decisive, but the absolute age of the bride on wedlock is not clear yet.
In the former days, wedding was a life time contract, but now, the education dogmas and Western Muslim brides marry from age of 19 to 29 years, while that of Christians is higher. Moreover, the unorganised date shows that about 36 per cent of brides in rural and 24 per cent in urban areas have to bear with polygamy and this is not an end product. However, the age gap between the husband and woman plays a part in the heavy number of polygamous relations.
How can determine a African womanâ€™s culture?
I will say culture is a way of life and it depends on your belief of where you come from. Culture, naturally, can be imposed on an individual while it is an in born thing. For instance, tying of wrapper is an Africa culture and talking about African woman culture and heritage, it is believed that an African woman cannot marry more than one husband or just want to get divorce all because she needs one, unlike white a woman who can get divorce any time she likes. Naturally, an Africa womanâ€™s duty is to take care of her home, which is her number one role in the society.
Do you think women in Nigeria still embrace African culture, especially in the way they dress?
In terms of dressing, most women seem to have forgotten what our attire is like. Our culture is supposed to be an everyday thing, but the truth is that we have diverted from our culture from the films we watch, to our society as a whole. At least, we all now what our society looks like; there is confusion in peopleâ€™s dressing these days. They say charity begins at home, you see, most parents out there no longer encourage their wards to dress in their traditional attires, all you hear them say is that the world is know civilised. Check out what the Nigerian film industry, which is supposed to be used to educate the people to embrace our culture, is doing. I donâ€™t understand what is happening in our society any longer. People think it is civilisation, but we are only killing our motherland. More so, one has to be very careful, especially with the kids at home. There are several programmes being shown in the media which are uncalled for. The media, which is supposed to educate, can now easily influence a child negatively.
Talking about culture, most girls of nowadays no longer believe in virginity?
That is why the case of rape is rampant in the society as there is no longer the fear in our male youths. This is where the role of parents is very important, especially mothers. Parent are supposed to guide their children and put the fear in their heart to enable them know the consequence of evil deeds. These kids need to be enlightened so that they donâ€™t involve in pre-marital sex, which is no longer a big deal to people as they feel it is normal to have sex before marriage. This is so devastating; the dignity of every woman is her virginity and there are some covenants attached to having sex with someone and when you do it with the wrong person, then I fear for what may end the personâ€™s life. There are some parents who donâ€™t care to know what their children do, who they are involve with. Parents are to lead and guide their children and that is why they are the kidsâ€™ caretaker on earth. Parents, teach your children the way of the Lord, when they grow, they will not depart from it.
Do you think keeping oneself can secure her future marriage?
Yes, of course. I have a friend who got married at the age of 38 and has been married for so many years but only blessed with a child. She had gone for all kinds of medical attention but I will tell you that the man is not bothering himself,but only thanking God that he was the one who deflowered his wife and if not, he would have had a doubting mind concerning the issue of kids. It is these days that I hear that men no longer regard virginity as anything and if it is not a curse, why will a man not want to go for a decent lady? I am not saying that if a woman is not a virgin, she doesnâ€™t deserve to be valued, but the truth is that it is a honour to the man himself. If a woman keeps herself for the right person, she is not only protecting her future but saving herself from evil atrocity.
Do you think the society is encouraging the growth of our culture?
You say society, when we should be talking about the people in society. It is what the people in the society do that will determine if our culture grows or civilization has taken it over.
Do you believe in superstition?
Somehow, I would not say I donâ€™t believe in it because most times, superstitions work. Anyway, it all depends on individuals, there are some superstitions that are real and they come out this cultural thing that we inherited from our elders.
Do you think culture has a vital role to play in the home?
Of course, culture is what must be treated in one home before it has to be shown to the world. Culture is life, it guides us as to what to be done and not to be done.