Opinion: Marriage traditions and absentee fathers

by Eketi Edima Ette

The weekend came and went by and some age old drama that’s been happening since time immemorial happened again in some places.

So, at this wedding, it was time for the bride to match in. And she reached for her mother. Her biological father stepped forward and she shooed him away.

The man had been absent from her life since she was four, and only showed up when she was getting married. She fought against it, but the family of the groom insisted that the bride price should be paid to the man.

Absentee fathers deserve no honour at the weddings of children they’ve abandoned. Being a part of such ceremonies is not a right, but a privilege.

Anyway, as she refused for the father or any man to walk her in, her mum walked her down the aisle. When it was time to join the couple, the church asked who was giving the girl away. Her mum stepped forward.

*giggle giggle*

People began to murmur. Is there no man in that family? The bride kept her face like a smiling stone. The time came for signing the register, the pastor called for the parents of the bride. Mummy got up alone.

Pastor didn’t find it funny. He asked the woman to bring a male member of her family if the girl’s father wasn’t around. The bride said, “Pastor, my mother has been both parents for me and my sisters for 33 years. She will sign as my witness.”

Pastor said it isn’t done. That there must be a man as the head of the home. That he knows what happened with her dad. That she should forgive and forget.

Bride said, “With all due respect sir, this is my wedding day and my mother is my only parent. I will not stand here and perpetrate a farce. If without a man the wedding won’t continue, then so be it. No one will bestow honour on a man who doesn’t deserve it, because you want to fulfill cultural practice.”

And Mr Pastor didn’t have a comeback to that statement.

I’ve been to two weddings like the above, where the father of the bride abandoned his family and then popped up with his relatives to claim them when the daughters were ready to tie the knot.

They were demanding cows and goats and millions of naira. All because people said it is tradition.

Their shameless sense of entitlement made me want to puke.

To hell with horrible and unfair traditions that constantly favour absentee sperm donors and allow them to not take responsibility, not be sorry for their wrongs and yet demand and get things they shouldn’t.

A friend of mine told me of how her father’s family took everything they owned, kicked them out and disappeared when her father died of cancer. Twenty years later, they demanded her mother should come and pay something in the village, before they would listen to her.

After paying the so-called appeasement, she told them her daughter was getting married. The list they gave her husband-to-be ran into over three million naira and they refused to negotiate.

She asked me what they should do.

“Has your mother given you her blessings?”

“Yes, she has.”

“OK. Let her collect whatever your husband’s family want to give her. Then go to the registry and get married. If you want to add a church ceremony to it, do so.”

She and her husband did exactly that. They were threatened with curses of poverty, childlessness and death.
Five years, three children and successful careers later, we’re still waiting for those curses to show.
Mtscheeew! Awon traditional scammers.

To hell with this stupid, unfair tradition that makes the mother a personality on the fringes of tradition, that has very little or no say in her child’s matrimonial matters. Where a woman cannot collect things from her child’s in-laws as a legitimate parent.

This tradition is evil, repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.
It makes me happy to see many couples these days, who refuse to be coerced into following this archaic and unfair tradition.

Absentee fathers deserve no honour at the weddings of children they’ve abandoned. Being a part of such ceremonies is not a right, but a privilege.
One that they’ll only get if the children in question choose to forgive and let them take part. Otherwise, vamoose!

P/S: For those who will come and scream how I didn’t balance the post, the above principle applies to absentee mothers too. Tenkyiu.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Eketi Edima Ette is a writer. She can be reached on Twitter @Ketimay


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