Friday, August 25, 2006

Dowry and slavery


hidden enslavement of the African women occurs through the use of African culture and tradition. In this case, the slavery comes in the form of dowry payment. The dowry issue has gotten out of hand. It has become a moneymaking machine, a total deviation from what our forefathers prescribed. Perhaps, the dowry payment episode that occurred in 1986 would help one understand the writer's perspective.
At the said time, when the value of dollar was gaining strength over the Nigerian naira, a Nigerian lady friend of mine propositioned for marriage by a suitor who resides in the United States of America. For privacy purposes, I will call this friend of mine Nancy. Nancy had a master's degree and was sociable, affable and extremely attractive. Her suitor was also a Nigerian. According to the Nigerian custom, a suitor must pay dowry to the bride’s family and kindred, otherwise, their union would not be recognized.
Nancy's suitor went home to Nigeria to pay the dowry, to his chagrin; information leaked to Nancy's kindred that her suitor was a medical doctor. Instead of paying an average dowry like others, the doctor was charged double. The fact that Nancy had a master's degree did not help matter either. He was also ordered to pay the dowry in dollars instead of in naira, which would have been cheaper. By the way, in certain parts of Nigeria, women were priced according to the level of their education. The more educated, the more money one would fetch from suitors...

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