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Why A Woman Should Never Return Bride Price After Failed Marriage In Igboland – Ada Chinyere

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Dec 1st, 2015 – Why A Woman Should Never Return Bride Price After Failed Marriage In Igboland –  Ada Chinyere

The institution of bride price was carefully designed by some affectless tradition to cow the womankind into subjugation-weaving an intricate mat of destiny’ pathway.This is often shrouded in intrigues and repression upon which she must tread. As a child, tradition pulled the usual wool of ignorance over us and compelled us to accept without question whatever we were told was the norm. Tacitly, I saw bride price as the spirit that joins the body-man and the soul-woman together in a solemn wedlock. It was the high point of any traditional wedding ritual.

For me, it was a sacred ritual as I never witnessed. First hand, the often messy divorce case. At a point, it became clearer to me that the female gender to a certain extent, has the same character-traits like Christ: long suffering, full of love and so unassuming. She is the tender and emotive part of man that was made flesh. God left a tiny, little fraction of this tender part in the man just for him to retain a semblance of human and humane feelings, else, he would degenerate into a complete animal, as I saw a man beat his pregnant wife almost to coma and others maltreat their wives and still, they humbly remain loyal in their husband’s house. But as time went by, my belief in the solemnity of the ritual began to flag. I began to wonder if my beliefs

were true and if what I thought I had known were founded on real solid grounds or on vague imaginations of a growing child as divorce became the order of the day. As an adult, the institution of bride price began to lose its value as modernization crept into our traditions and cultura practices. The real meaning of bride price became distorted by selfish interest and greed. Parents began using it as an opportunity to get rich and make up for the money they expended in training the girl and turning her into a commercial object It became obvious to me that the huge amounts parents ask from their daughters’ suitors play a role in the domestic abuses in marriages. It has a serious adverse effect on the woman in giving proprietary rights to the man over his wife. It became a tool to making a woman submissive and powerless.

The truth is that ass maturity of mind rivals my rustic innocence, I began mocking my old beliefs and queried myths and ancientnorms/taboos as the truth unveiled itself. Bride price was actually a point of subjection for womenfrom the old times- a tool of enthrallment. A woman must submit her body whenever the man desires-not love, but a duty. She must, importantly, bear male children, and she must also do everything the man wants rightly and at the right time, or else she will be beaten up, insulted, humiliated, or bereviled as a slave. And this is the untold work of bride price which has made the wife the slave, her father the middleman and the husband the slave master. The groom pays the bride price as demanded by the girl’ family in exchange for the bride, because if the bride price is not agreed upon, there will be no marriage. In case the woman wants to divorce the man due to brutality and others similar mistreatment, the bride price paid to the bride’s father must be returned to the husband, notwithstanding the duration of the marriage or the children involved If the wife’s family is unable to pay back the bride price to the husband, the wife remains the legal wife of the man forever and cannot get a divorce. If the woman goes ahead to marry another man, any child gotten in her new marriage belongs to the estranged husband because she is still legally/spiritually/traditionally married to him. This means that bride price has a strong spiritual hold against the woman, so it must be reconsidered.

The reasons for high divorce rate in this present time are legion. Women are fast becoming breadwinners or associate breadwinners in our homes. So, if divorce becomes inevitable, she is able to return the slaver money which is called bride price and regain her freedom. The rate of enlightenment today, sued by technology especially, the advent of social media has made many men and women to be so conscious of the rights in marriages. in some cases, disagreement is based on irreconcilable differences that ought not to have arisen in the first place. But because of what each person holds on to, the spouse refuse to reach to a common ground. These are avoidable issues that have wrecked many marriages these days.

I have always wondered why the family of the woman is made to return the bride price while the men are never asked to make any restitution or be made to pay remuneration. In marriage, women have a lot to lose: their body, mind and self worth, but men have absolutely nothing to lose. It is therefore clear that bride price is another traditionally instituted means of women denigration and should be given a second thought.If the institution of bride price is not intended for the subjection of the female gender in Igbo land, then it most not be returned to the husband in the case of a failed marriage, but if such practice should continue, it is, of course, a point of enslavement and should be stopped.

I wish to state that the goals of my activism is to point out the underlying causes of women denigration in our society that seem to have eluded us in years past and proffer a solution so that the girl child will not be put through such subjection. I also wish to see a society that is truly of, by and for the people, not just patriarchal society.

•Ada Chinyere Cummings, an activist, writes from Lagos

Phone:- 08020558188

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  1. T

    December 1, 2015 at 4:12 AM

    True talk, I’m not from Ibo but I don’t think it’s right for the bride’s family to returns the bride price. After some years and the man had used the best parts of me and he want divorce, perhaps he want to use the money to marry another woman, so after taking my virginity, will he replace my virginity, or what is he going to pay me for those wasted years, old culture that need to be reverse, rather the man should be paying the woman and have the custody of their children .

    • Larape Samson

      December 1, 2015 at 5:08 AM

      I agree with you, bride price is a old tradition

  2. Lilian Orie

    December 1, 2015 at 5:44 AM

    Ada I totally agree with your suggestion/opinon on the issue of returning of bride price. It’s high time women wake up to this realization of permanent enslavement in the name of tradition. As rightly said, what is the woman’s compensation after these years of slavery? Returning bride price is adding more salt to the injury! The man walk away with a refund to go get himself a brand new and even younger bride and you are left to lick your wound! Arrant nonsense. It’s time to pause, think and act!

  3. ocpeace

    December 1, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    i quite agreed with the writer. the man has used the woman soul,body and spirit. what is he returning again? Bad custom ,new sense……08057323826

  4. Lola O

    December 1, 2015 at 8:58 PM

    How can the diminished value of a woman be replaced, after living with the husband and bearing children? Is the value of a used car the same as that with zero mileage from the factory? It is such a shame that in the civilized world, a man pays alimony to a wife to compensate for her diminished value after years of living with a man, bearing and raising children and the process of aging to her body, while we return bride price in our own part of the world. It is time to change this outdated unfair practice.

  5. Shut Up!

    December 3, 2015 at 11:37 AM

    Stupid **** do this more.

  6. Aisha

    January 8, 2016 at 5:52 PM

    Nigerians are very good at abusing women, expecting the women to take blame and continue to suffer the same indignities. Women please, teach your girls to be proud. Their self-worth does not depend on Marriage or ability to bear children!!!! Young Ladies please, please shine your eyes!! Only get into relationships that are healthy and uplifting! Otherwise, forget it and enjoy life single!!!!

  7. AMAKA

    January 8, 2016 at 11:27 PM

    I agree with you all.

  8. Alice

    February 29, 2016 at 2:05 PM

    give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God

  9. Henry Iyke

    July 29, 2016 at 5:21 PM

    There are cases where the woman is the one agitating for separation/divorce, probably against the man’s wishes. Don’t you think the bride price should be returned for the woman to be free to go after any man of her choice, since you stated in the passage that the woman is bound legally/spiritually/traditionally to the man, and that the bride price has a strong spiritual hold on her? I feel she should be allowed to be free from any spiritual bondage or otherwise, if that is the case.

  10. Emlix

    June 28, 2017 at 1:31 PM

    I really don’t get why women keep using the term “being used by men.” What has the man used in the woman’s body? Cos if ur talking about sex I don’t get where d use comes in. She wasn’t raped n she also felt the pleasure of having sex. It’s not like d man took her vagina from her, off her body, satisfied himself with it then gave it back to her without her permission. So where does the being used comes in. Sex is an act of mutual benefit while rape is a crime. So, unless u want to report ur husband for rape stop saying he used u. Didn’t u use him in d process too? Did u lock ur mind to the sexual pleasure of it and the orgasm that followed? Abeg, if u wan write about women right and gender equally just go ahead cos that’s d only thing ladies of our time knows about n stop blabbing about marriages and bride prizes that was religiously instituted.

  11. Emlix

    June 28, 2017 at 2:03 PM

    Lest I forget, a bad man is always a bad man and so is a bad woman always a bad one. There are some women that if u hear abt d way they treat dia husbands at home u will b ashamed to call ursef a woman. So shud men now because of such woman encourage all men to be hostile to their wives? Please my dear, even in those ancient times there are men that loved n cherished there Wives, treated them like gold n made them feel proud among their mates. Stop giving ladies excuses to perpetrate stupidity

  12. Grace

    April 11, 2018 at 10:31 PM

    I just came across your write up today because of my inquisitiveness on the refund of bride price…
    Am from the Eastern part of nigeria.
    Been that I called it a quit, does it mean my family will have to pay back every penny spent on that day to my husband or just the dowry? Please reply soonest…

    • Chika Obi

      April 11, 2018 at 10:51 PM

      According to tradition, all you are required to return is the dowry not the money spent on your wedding day

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