The advent of the Christian religion have virtually eroded significant aspects of our culture and with it the benefits accruable from such cultures. The way we now live our lives, one is often times forced to ask if there is still anything that is left of our tradition. The negative impacts of the Christian religion appear to be more pronounced in Igbo land than in many other parts of Nigeria.
Much of our cultural practices are now remembered in tales than in reality and one wonders what it is that we can bequeath to our future generations. Gradually we are losing or have lost significant aspects of our identity.
The situation is not any way helped by the so-called globalization concept which uses the tool of technology to massively assault our sensibilities.
The ethnocentric views of the invading Europeans which was swallowed by our people even till this day is that they possess a superior cultural standard in terms of religion, marriage practices, politics, fashions etc. Christianity is of the Whiteman’s culture but many of us that profess it today are warring against such traditional practice that stipulates multiple marriages.
In some areas the so called ‘born-agains’ in their militant posturing rise against traditional masquerade dances, new yam festivals, any form of ritualistic practices and in ignorance born some artefacts simply because according to them it is offending to their beliefs. Some would go as far as changing the name of their community because according to them it is demonic and creating lack of progress and backwardness for them. More disturbing is that community and traditional leaders are misled in joining to wipe away their identity.
Everywhere you look today there is a glut of marriageable women who are roaming the streets. Many of them are above their prime, resourceful, educated, beautiful and desperately searching for a man’s hand in marriage. Except you are so close to one you may not understand the mental agonies our unmarried ladies’ encounter. If a simple disagreement occurs leading to altercation of words, they will attribute it to their unmarried life. In some homes they become a problem to the family and in some cases some parents and their siblings make life unbearable to the extent they are forced away from the home.
When they pick up quarrels, they are often reminded that they are not married or that their attitude is the reason for their unmarried status. They suffer rejection and are often the object of caricature. In search of solution they suddenly turn born again hobnobbing from one prayer house to another. In frustration and desperation many of them resort to fetish practices to grab a man by force. In most cases where they succeed the marriage hardly survive and they are back to base. Some of them that are resourceful often fall victims to smart guys who scam and milk them and dump them, leaving them worse than they were.
The unemployment situation and the state of the economy have not been friendly for many young men to acquire the necessary wherewithal to take a woman in marriage. It is surprising that against their predicament as highlighted above, whenever a married man proposes to them, they would turn it down on account that the man is married. It is more of a taboo these days to expect a young woman to marry somebody already with a wife. Usually they would reel off: ‘I don’t want to share my man, I don’t want my children to suffer, there are numerous problems in polygamous marriage, I want my freedom, and the church would not wed us’ and many more they offer. Simply, put you are still living in the dark ages to contemplate second marriage for a girl in this day and age.
Every of their argument you can simply dismiss with a wave of the hand or rather with a superior point. They demonise polygamous marriage you would wonder if it is ever working anywhere in our clime. We are aware it is tolerably working well in many homes. We can recall recent reports in some areas where somebody has over forty-six wives and over a hundred children. What are their secrets? They would also extol one partner marriage as if it is not fraught with any problem when we are aware that many of them collapse so quickly shortly after it is consummated. The church and the bible have sensitised us to shun polygamous marriage, as if it is not in the same book, we read accounts of persons like Solomon, David and others with their numerous wives.
In defence, an ardent woman believer advised we should not reckon with the Old Testament because it is of the old and that Christ was not there then. Quickly, my ‘small bible sense’ reminded her that Christ said he is a fulfilment of the old or is it Law to which she provided no response. Again, if the Old Testament is not relevant why preach it in some cases and discard it at times, and why make it available in the first place. It is very clear that the abandonment of our culture in preference to the Oyibo way of life has accentuated some of the social ills bedevilling us as a nation and until we go back to them we may not be able to find the way out of the woods. Polygamy in the African traditional practice is one of the ways the few rich in the society can demonstrate their affluence.
Women are regarded as additional wealth and today there are so many wealthy men who can comfortably take on many wives in marriage and in the process reduce these women glut everywhere you go (apologies to MTN). Where there is more than one woman to a man, I believe the competition at home would make some women to sit up discipline wise. No matter how much the influences of western life on our culture, some of us remain sticklers to tradition and still appreciate polygamy in defiance. It is often said that the typical African man is polygamous in nature, a statement many usually make to acknowledge the extra marital disposition of men. So, if we all know this much, why bring ourselves into unnecessary conflict by disorienting our members in the church.
I want to recommend in the practice of our various faiths and its stipulations we should recognize the peculiarities of our culture and adjust those stipulations to suit our existing lifestyle before the new introductions. This is also the reason many members bolt away from the churches or go ahead to defy the injunctions when they can no longer reconcile themselves with what is and what should be. Funnily, our young girls would quickly shun the hand of a married man in marriage, but would not mind dating such a man secretly. Ironically, the Madam at home would do everything to stop her man from bringing in another woman as wife.
But the man being stopped at home is not stopped outside from keeping another woman who in many cases gets more attention and enjoys more resources of the man. Opinions abound that the ‘unofficial wife’ gets the best because, illegal as it is, she wants the juicy part of the man while the romance lasts, so that she is not badly short changed when the music is turned off. Sometimes it is said that men would build or rent tastefully furnished apartments for their mistresses which comfort the official wife does not get to enjoy. Now, which is better: admitting the one outside into the home and making the resources available to all and for the benefit of all or allowing the man with his escapades?