Recently I had a conversation with a friend and it drifted from a conversation to a question and answer session and this is how we touched base:
Me: Let’s about marriage
Her: Marriage? Huh?!
Yes: You heard me right, marriage
Her: The subject of marriage is not one that’s to be taken lightly, not when you come from my part of the world-Africa! Let’s narrow that down to Uganda. Marriage here has always been more than just two people coming together and choosing to grow old by each other’s side.
Me: What is more than coming together and is marriage taken that serious?
Her: Yes, it is a serious family affair! A number of times, one’s family members go an extra miles to ‘screen’ the partners they have chosen to get married to and in extreme cases even take up the role of wing-man. When two people come together, this is seen as a bond between the two families they belong to.
Me: Alright, so what exactly happens when your parents know and see you are ready for the institution of marriage?
Her: When the time comes, and parents and well-wishers see it fit that it’s about time you got married; especially for girls, at that point when you have just completed school, the question of marriage at family functions and events is not one you can easily dodge. It starts out as “we won’t put pressure on you” but before you know it you are getting tête-à-tête from the ‘Ssenga’ about how your biological clock is ticking! I wonder if the male fraternity can relate, Joel Jemba can you? *Looks at me with a keen eye.
Me: *giggles. I can feel your struggle but no! Anyway moving on swiftly; why do parents want to see their daughter or daughters married?
Her: The point is; no parent wants to miss out on the prestige that comes with having one of their daughters married,not forgetting the financial and material benefits that are associated with the ceremony otherwise known as bride price.
Me: Ooh okay, Fast forward to today, draw a line between marriages in our generation and marriages in our parents’ generation.
Her: well we cannot ignore the fact that our priorities and paradigms are changing as compared to our parents’ generation. Things like marriage and having children happen at a later stage in life for us and slowly by slowly,marriage is giving way to cohabitation.
Me: wait, what? Cohabitation!
Her: Yes,this is happening in the society we live in.
Me: Alright, now the question is; would you cohabite?
Her: I come from a typical African family with such strong values that something like cohabiting is considered immoral. I may be the purple snowflake here but I don’t find anything wrong with cohabitation! I don’t see why two normal adult human beings who I believe are responsible and can perfectly account for their lives should be stopped from living together.
Me: *Lifts eyebrow
Her: Call me messed up and a wannabe of the western culture; seeing that cohabitation is not an African norm, but moving in with my man, sharing an apartment and a bed without marriage is just fine. I mean, what better way to test-drive our relationship and learn more about each other at a deeper level than just living together.We do not have to first incur the extra costs of having a lavish wedding ceremony which may by the way, result in me running around with divorce papers a year or so down the road!
Me: Eh! Okay, wait what about the “Kwanjula”?
Her: Well that’s a story for another day; not with the pomp that is attached to them today.
Me: Another day you say, alright! final word?
Her: Dear mummy, dear daddy, uncles and aunties, relatives and friends, I hate to disappoint you but this is a personal choice and being the one who will have to face the consequences just in case what you think is right for me happens to lead to a dead end, formalizing my relationship, no, thank you! I will have children and prosper with my man, and then we’ll tie the knot, when we want-if we must! Marriage is easier said than done. It comes with a lot of sacrifices that quite frankly speaking, I’m not ready for. But wait, it’s my life;please correct me if it’s not!
Me: Say no more!