Marriage in Africa: The Roadmap to Generational Poverty

Marriage In Africa
Marriage In Africa

Even before organized marriage, humans survived not only because of their ability to manipulate their environment but also because of the ability to procreate. From the single-celled Prokaryotes to the multicellular Eukaryotes, the existence of every piece of matter under nature has been dependent on the ability to survive and this ability to survive was transmitted into an ability to still exist.

For unicellular organisms, it is in the ability to replicate by asexual processes some of which are fragmentation, binary fission, and budding. For multi-celled organisms, Fertilization, Allogamy, and Autogamy were commonplace. And by Internal Fertilization, man, a mammal, procreated and spread his offspring into every corner of the earth.

He battled with nature and somehow won. Without procreation winning wouldn’t have been possible because not only was intelligence needed to master nature, numbers were also needed to initiate certain intelligence networks and without procreation no numbers. Survival and the gathering of food were the primary concerns and instincts, and communication was nonverbal.

That sense of shared ownership of the partner wasn’t commonplace but in the course of our civilization we moved from barbarism towards civilization and some level of order was created to help reshape the society. But that was centuries ago. We are no longer fighting the numbers game. Today, society no longer battles the consequence of under-population but of overpopulation.


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At our birth, our motivation, inspired by fear, was that we needed many humans to build our shelter and survive attacks from other animals but today the real fear is that the planet is running out of resources to sustain us all and despite the fact that we have no means to sustain ourselves we have also continued to plunge ourselves in positions of danger.

Today, marriages are not deemed to be complete until there is a cry of a baby in the house and young people are not deemed to be complete until they get married. In fact, failure to get married is seen as a sign of bad behavior. For the man, he’s often accused of being a player and a negative influence whose treatment of women is also assumed to be selfish. He was brought into the world and he must, as a duty to his parents and society, bring someone else to the world.

The remarks reserved for the woman is often worse. If she is around her thirties and above, she’s called an Evening Newspaper and a wayward lifestyle is blamed for her predicament. This is karma for all the abortions and men she has slept with and if she’s not careful, from the way they see it, she will get to menopause without finding a husband.

In Africa and as far as Nigeria, in particular, is concerned, there is an age for marriage and anyone who gets there ought to be married. At that age, singlehood is an abomination. You can abuse your spouse but as long as you are married, in a way, you are better than the singles. While we look at the age for marriage we often fail to see other ingredients of marriage.

Age is just one of the ingredients of marriage. It can only help you determine if the person is marriageable, as in, biologically, are you allowed to marry a child, and is it morally or biologically healthy for the would-be couple? Obviously, no, and that’s where the age argument in marriage ought to end. But we don’t stop there; we take our argument to the ages of the couples who already passed the biological test.

We look for the wrinkles on her hands, the health of her womb, the level of respect that comes with his or her age, and the last past that has nothing to do with respect, age, the womb, or wrinkles, baseless targets. My mother married at 24 so I must marry at 24. My dad got married when he was 26 to my mum who was 20, so I must go with that.

While you can easily dismiss these things as ridiculous for missing the marriage meter, there are many in the majority who believe that marriages are compulsory for the completion of the young and will not respect an unmarried person above thirty-five, if they are been generous. In marriages, people ought to work as a team, grow as a team, and preserve each other’s sanity as a team. To do that, some ingredients are necessary.

Like, one, the ability to understand and process, the ability to let love lead, the ability to work for the team irrespective of personal biases, and most importantly, both parties must be of healthy and sound mind. That last point is what most African marriages lack. Infected people no longer want to be in the hospital anymore. People in need of psychological evaluation and anyone with even the slightest distaste for one house chore is told to get married.

If a man says he hates cooking, he is asked to get married (as I have experienced several times). If she can’t find a job she is told to look for a husband. If he sleeps around with various women he is told to marry to stop it as though marriage is a magical portion that improves willpower. If she exhibits even the remotest anger the lack of a man in her life takes the blame.

She is bad mannered and he is bad-mannered, she is crude and rude and he is crude and rude, she is wicked and intolerant and he is wicked and intolerant, she can’t take care of herself and he can’t take care of himself but they are both told to marry to live a happy life. Unhealthy people unwilling to adjust their lives want to procreate with unhealthy people unwilling to adjust their lives and this has helped to reverse the herd immunity for humanity.

To offer one a vaccine, first, you have to be vaccinated. To protect anyone you must understand the idea of protection, to produce healthy children you have to have an idea of what health means. But here the weak want to engage in battle, the dullest are proposing theories, a dunce is the president and the ones without the mental means to engage in marriages are producing children.

About a week ago, the wife of a Nigerian journalist working with Channels TV posted a video with the architectural designs of her husband’s fist all over her face. About two days later, there was a reconciliation exercise by a serving Governor. Reading the tweets and posts and listening to people talk about the matter actually betrays their understanding of marriage.

She was thoroughly beaten and while most people didn’t directly say it is a deserving gift to a ‘misbehaving’ wife, they argued that it is their marriage and they have the right to build it however they deem fit. What this actually means is that they see nothing wrong with what happened. In many Nigerian homes, there are animals like this and many people raised in abusive homes are now replicating what they learned.

Beating is not only the workings of a lower animal but they fail to see, even for their own good, that instead of inducing respect, it leads to repulsiveness, and considering that where they come from the kitchen is an abomination, it could be disastrous for them. When a man is mentally unfit to handle his anger, he shouldn’t be getting married but age and not anger management is the first requirement, unfortunately.

Another overlooked ingredient of marriage is finance. One of the reasons for a large number of people in poverty in Africa today is marriage by financially incapacitated people. A man without any financial muscle is been pushed to marriage either by blackmail or good old societal brainwash. He is told that he needs to get married to become a man and so he foolishly listens to them. She even believes she is not a woman until she is married.

In the second mistake, he is told that he needs to have a child, preferably, for the very local fowls, a son, so he tries to get a son. She agrees. She also needs a son to establish her foothold in her husband’s house. In the process of looking for a son, they might produce eight girls or more while at the same time he is overtly or covertly blaming his wife and contemplating a new bride. One man and a woman who couldn’t survive on their own now have eight children and the man wants to add more children from another woman who cannot survive on her own. Genius!

By the time they have a son; they already have kids they can’t give the necessary tools to survive. He is angry because he is poor. She is angry because he is poor. He is angry because he can’t do anything about it. She is angry because she could have hunted for a richer man. He is also angry that all he got were girls (and because by looking for a male child he didn’t place much value in his girls except for future value in Bride Price returns); he pays zero attention to them. In the home, love and care are imbalanced.

With this malnourished love and care, the home is divided and unstable and if you add lack of money to the table you have a home of lamentations. But it doesn’t stop there. The kids can’t receive quality education or advice because of the association the mind that birthed them created for them. They can’t have access to better opportunities because they have been put in an awkward position.

The father is unhappy. The mother is unhappy. The daughters are unhappy. The son is subtly hated for the preferential treatment he receives from their epileptic father and for simply been the reason the father hates them all. The family is in ruins. Now, add the woes of the family of the new bride to it. What often follows is generational poverty. A situation whereby the great-grandparents were housemaids, the grandparents were housemaids, the parents were housemaids, the kids become housemaids who, if they follow their father’s principle, will give birth to children who will become housemaids too.

About Poet 171 Articles
I am Rey Alaetuo, a conscious Poet and health care professional living in Owerri, Nigeria. I am an exponent of humanism and a vigilant Poet. I am deeply interested in the propagation of positive human values and behaviour.