Dowry or bride price is increasingly becoming a touchy subject. Just this past weekend, I read of a man who’s been taken to court to compel him to pay a dowry to his in-laws, even though, as he rightly argues, that he parted ways with his estranged wife.
Earlier in the year, we heard of another young man, having done the decent thing and gone for the negotiations, excused himself to go to the washroom only to disappear into thin air with his convoy. This was after the girl’s party made unreasonable demands.
Increasingly, and with justifiable cause, men are questioning the idea of bride price. It was an ideal way to show appreciation and commitment to the girl because — let’s face it — you don’t really have to. You could meet a girl, fall in love and start a family without bothering to inform the parents and many still do.
Strictly speaking, bride price is a voluntary, friendly gesture that has morphed into a distasteful exploitative experience for men of respectable intent.
Now, wedding committees comprising of bitter aunties and drunken uncles run the show, expecting the prospective groom meet their demands. This has led to many an extended relationship starting off on the wrong foot.
I won’t get into details of the deal as I have never attended one and despite numerous invitations by friends, I don’t plan to any time soon. However, after considerable brainpower was spent in deliberation, it seems Africa may have a leaf to borrow from our Indian brothers and sisters.
You see in India, they approach the subject practically; you and your bride are about to start a young family, the girl’s family understands that as a bachelor, all you have to your name is an old sofa in your little bedsitter and a single pot to boil noodles.
Hitting you up for money to prove your fidelity is counterproductive, as their daughter will now start off her happily-ever-after with a broke and possibly resentful husband.
Since they don’t want that and because the girl’s parents acknowledge that your financial burden has increased, they choose to give the girl away in good faith with some financial cushioning to get you both started off.
The girl’s parents take it as their final responsibility to make sure that their daughter has the best possible start to starting her own family and since they have already lived their lives, see no point in demanding money from the man who is expected to provide and protect for their daughter.
Even if you disagree with the Indian approach, there is also the small matter of quality to consider. We live in an age where girls no longer value chastity or home-making values and by the time they decide to settle down may have a body count in the double digits. Why would a sane man pay through the nose for generously used female anatomy?