Times are changing and we are changing with it but some have refused to change out of sheer ignorance. The question of bride price has been burning in the social media space for some time now. There are advocates who want bride price to be abolished. Their reason? It drives the slavery mentality in marriage. Married man or men (MM for short) use it to attack or insult their wives. These advocates said that whenever there is an argument between spouses the MM always raise the bride price issue.
Do you think bride price should be abolished?
Advocates for the abolishment of bride price also argue that when a man pays bride price he is effectively buying the woman and she becomes his property. Hence he can treat her as he deems fit.
But wait first, who are we to question the customs and traditions of our ancestors? We are the modern generation and we question everything under the sun. So a little knowledge about bride price should go a long way in helping us understand this better.
Bride wealth or bride token or bride price as it is commonly called in Nigeria, is the money a groom-to-be pays to the wife of his family. It symbolises eternal gratitude to the parents of the bride for giving their daughter to the groom. It is part of the culture and tradition of Nigerians for a man to pay bride price to the parents of a woman he intends to marry. If the bride price is not paid, the couples cannot marry even if they are living together, they cannot be considered as husband and wife. Bride price can be as little as N20 ( a community in Edo state ) and as much N1.2 million naira (this is usually applicable in eastern states like Imo state) and above. It all depends on a number of factors such as the family of the bride, the culture and tradition of the bride (bride price is usually higher in the eastern part of Nigeria while it is cheaper in the western states in Nigeria).
Bride price is not just a Nigerian thing, it is part of the African tradition. For instance, in South Africa, it is called Lobola.
In Nigeria, by virtue of Item 61 of the Exclusive Legislative list of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, there are three forms of Nigerian marriages namely marriage under the Act ( Statutory marriage ), marriage under customary law and marriage under Islamic law. Payment of bride price is not a prerequisite for marriage under the Act. Some of the personal requirements to a party to statutory marriage is age of the parties, single status, prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity, consent of the parties. (this would be discussed in details in another blog post). In marriage under customary law, the payment of bride price is compulsory and one of the most significant rites that must be performed for the marriage to be recognised as legal. In marriage under Islamic law, mahr is paid to the bride-to-be. Mahr is the obligation in the form of money or possessions paid by the from to the bride at the Islamic marriage.
So a marriage without bride price can still be valid if it is a marriage under the Act. It should be noted that one can marry under the Act without performing marriage under customary law and one can be validly married under customary law without being married under the Act. But marriages under customary law can only be valid if the bride price has been paid else the man will not be recognised as the husband of the woman.