Place of culture in love
Last updated on 14 Jul 2012 15:48
I listened in utter shock to the recent story of the Ojode family where the brother to the late assistant minister asked the Speaker of Parliament to halt payments of any dues to Ojode’s widow until they could agree on who would receive the money. In my head, it was so obvious who should inherit from the late assistant minister — his wife and son. But like I have often been told when it comes to matters of culture, it turned out I was being naïve.
A colleague tried to justify why the brother and mother had a right to Ojode’s property quite as much as his wife. It all revolved around the fact that the community needed to protect what belongs to their son in case the widow decides to remarry elsewhere — that way, she will not carry their son’s property to another man.
While my colleague’s viewpoint made sense, I wanted to argue that in this day and age, we marry a person, not their tribe, community or family. But then I thought, really?
No one tells a new bride just how much she is going to get entrenched into the affairs of her new extended family and the community. In her head, it is just about her and her beau. Then she realises that the beau comes with extensions; like the brother he pays school fees for, the aunt who calls every end month to get some money for this or that, the home church that keeps inviting him for a fundraiser, the clan that needs a goat every so often and the community that places certain demands that may send one reeling if they are unfamiliar with the practises.
I don’t think any research could ever prepare a bride for the many surprises in marriage, when it comes to dealing with a new family she did not grow up with and a community that is alien to her. They do things differently, they think differently; even their expectations are not always at par with what she may consider the norm. What does a woman do? Does she cut herself off from them and say: “This marriage is ‘population two’”?
Maybe we should just marry people who grew up in our households, or at least in our neighbourhoods? Our outlooks in life are likely to be the same, our experiences similar, the language the same, and when crunch time comes, there are no strange cultural demands to deal with.
But then again, when we love, we love the person. Only much later do we realise that we have to deal with extensions, most of which are unpleasant, but have to be dealt with anyway, in wisdom.