Bride price is an important aspect of marriage traditions in Nigeria. It is a system put in place to symbolise the act of a parent(s) giving away their daughter to her husband. However, due to its commercialisation, some people who asking for it to be abolished. They argue that paying the bride price makes some men to believe that they own the woman because they have paid so much to acquire her.
You know, the feeling that she was bought with his hard earned money and as such he has full control over her, and therefore, can treat her anyhow he wants.
But should bride price be abolished?
In our culture or religion, a woman is under the authority of her father until she enters the authority of her husband. When we do white weddings, the bride’s father walks her down the aisle and hands her over to the groom. To me, this signifies transfer of ownership because nobody hands the groom over to the bride.
A woman was acquired by a man, made to do his domestic chores and submit to his authority. The woman changes her identity and takes on the man’s surname; Changing of name is a patriarchal custom that denotes ownership.
I believe that marriage itself gives men a sense of entitlement, ownership and control of their wives. This is why, even if a man does not pay a penny as bride price, he would still believe that he owns the woman and feel entitled to control her. He can tell her to give up her career, tell her what to wear, because “marriage” not bride price, gives him that authority.
So bride price or no bride price, a man that will abuse and treat a woman like his property will do that based on his perceived entitlement.
The oyinbo method of a man proposing to his wife to be with an engagement ring is really not different from our own concept of paying the bride price (token) on the bride to be.
This is why I think that bride price is important because it constitutes a significant aspect of our cultural heritage. It’s the commercialism of the whole idea that we need to seriously rethink. Bride price should be symbolic.
My bride price was kuku 24 Naira. You cannot even buy a bottle of Coca-Cola with that amount.