Any foreigner getting prepared to marry an African particularly a Nigerian however needs to know certain things about how marriage as an institution is considered in Africa (Nigeria). Marriage in Nigeria unlike what obtains in the western world is held very sacred by Nigerians, as a result is not taken to mean a contract. Once married to a Nigerian such a marriage is considered ever binding as divorce is almost forbidden. Unlike what we hear of in western countries, divorce leaves a woman with lots of loses so the thought of this want to make a woman spend the rest of life with her man. In some African societies, it is so worst that a woman may be customarily forbidden from moving out of her once matrimonial home with her personal belongings not even her plates and pots.
When we hear that among the western countries of the world, a divorce benefits a woman with almost half of her ex-husband’s assets it amuse us a lot, leaving the women hear to wonder whether this is true or merely invented. Remember also that an African culture may permit a man to take up another woman as his second wife even without divorcing his first heartthrob wife which he deem unnecessary until he is forced to do so. Such is life here in Africa. Though owing to economic problems it is becoming less common to find a man taking up a second wife
Situations also exist where the members of his family may not take divorce instituted and actualized by a man against his wife very seriously. For this reason, there are many women who even after divorce legally obtained against them at a competent court of laws continue to bear their ex-husbands name. It may also surprise you to learn that sometimes too at the death of man who has legally obtained divorce judgment against his wife, the ex-wife is returns to his matrimonial home often encouraged by her In-Laws. Such expectedly happens in the Nigerian society because the Nigerian society views marriage differently.
It is a society that marriage is viewed as a serious business. This explains the reason when a woman is getting married in this society; she is made to understand that being querulous about her husband’s actions towards her would not be welcomed much less contemplating returning to her maiden home because there were quarrels. She therefore needs to think twice and requires herself to ask herself several important questions before marrying that man. Marriage in Nigeria is like moving into a new home where she is never expected to return not even at the very strange complaint that could as worst as weighty. In the end she is advised to go back and continue to commit herself to her husband.
Again, any foreigner wishing to enter into a marriage with a Nigerian must also understands the maybe the attitude of overbearing influence of Mother-In-Laws on their Daughter-In-Laws. I just think the Nigerian society or African tradition by extension ordains it because it happens in Ghana, Benin, Liberia, Cameroon, Botswana, etc. It is simply so. African mothers generally do not appear to welcome the seeming ideas that the sons are married and have or should become independent of them. The Igbo of Nigeria believe that an “Okro” tree never grows taller than the person that planted it. That is how best it can be explained to any foreigner wishing to marry a Nigerian.
If you are getting married to Nigerian of Yoruba extraction consider it appropriate to always kneel down whenever you want to say “Eka aro” (Good morning), “Eka oson” (Good afternoon) or Ekwu-Irole” (Good evening) greetings to your Mother-In-law. It is applicable to father-In-Laws but father-In-Laws are generally more lenient. Greeting your Yoruba Father-In-Law requires your kneeling down as well if you are a lady. You offend the youngest member of your Yoruba husband’s family if you ever dare address him by pronouncing his/her name. Always bear this on mind. You require a pet name specially formulated by you to address them at any given time.
Notice also that though it not a rule, generally African traditions frown at a marriage proposal in which it is believed that a Lady is older than the husband to be. The reason being that is assumed that suppression of the man by his wife will soon follow if allowed. It is as a result of this that many mothers will go a long way in stoutly objecting to any proposed marriage on this basis. Many marriage proposals have hit the rock owing to this development. It is for this reason that most African women will conceal their true age guide against this. An African lady may therefore appear to be aging physically but never age wise.
The first time your Fiancé takes you to visit your Mother-In-law to be. Typical African society or call it ethics if you like expects you to sit down at a spot quietly observing all taking place within this environment, not talking much though. You might be expected to sometimes stand on feet to assist your In-Laws to be in maybe arranging the table for entertainment. Remember that taciturnity becomes your most cherished weapon in achieving your aim. Constantly dish out smiles to all whether they require it or not. Above all, you must understand that the African society places high regard on compliments. As noted above, a Yoruba society particularly may deny you of marriage if it is discovered that you are the type who shows aversions for greeting just anyone you find.
On maintaining constant visits to your Fiancé’s family home you need to win their favour and by extension your marriage by helping them to do some washings, sweepings, cooking not minding whether there are juniors around the vicinity. At this time, you also need to mind your dress code, shun skimpy wears, and never visit their homes with numerous faces as friends.
Finally, bear in mind that as a foreigner wishing to marry to a Nigerian that getting married to him certainly means getting married to the whole of his family. Some prudent Ladies operating within the African societies believe that pleasing their In-Laws more help them to maintain their matrimonial homes. Instances abound where a Man’s family refuse to partake in his wish to marry another woman because the rejected woman still has family’s heart. The implication is that proposed second marriage fails woefully.
You may have known that Africans place a very high value on traditional marriage system over church, Registry or other European styled weddings. Many foreigners have either been deceived into just consummating their weddings in churches or registries without first holding the traditional marriages or having it done at all. This is because the families of either the man or Lady do not approve of the marriage and the couple believes that the best way to come out of it is to quickly run to the church or registry. A couple may temporarily find peace in this but it will soon done on them that they are illegally married (in the eye of both families) and will however do so when peace returns. This is Marriage by Customary Acts, as it is legally known in some quarters like Nigeria remains the most recognized form of marriage in Africa.
Usually therefore, a proper marriage rites begins with the Introduction ceremony closely followed by traditional marriage and perhaps complemented with a church/registry wedding. In this way your marriage becomes a recognized one, well appreciated by all. You may be surprised to learn here that when a marriage not traditionally recognized suddenly ends with an unexpected death of the so-called wife what is required within a typical African tradition is first and foremost an insistence by the so-called wife’s family that a traditional marriage in which the Late woman will be married be conducted even before the corpse interred with funeral ceremony held.
Incase of the death of the so-called husband, the woman usually is shown the way out of her once assumed matrimonial home leaving behind the children. We have also seen cases where the children from such illegal marriages are never believed to be those of the man but the woman because they are still not legally married. Almost all the tribes of Africa do this except maybe South African Whites minorities.