Addressing the traditional, white wedding dichotomy
By Nwele Euphemia
In the Nigerian society, getting married involves some processes, but, the two recognised process that declares you married to your one true love is after your traditional marriage and ‘white wedding’ — as it is called in this part of the world — is done.
The traditional marriage is the basic rite you need to fulfil before you can make a woman your wife, it involves the introduction and the traditional marriage ceremony.
The ‘white wedding’ on the other hand is perceived as the marriage before God and man, when you make a covenant and promise to your wife before God, a marriage certificate would also be issued to you thereafter the process.
“I cannot say he is my husband yet; I mean, we haven’t done our white wedding.”
“Ah! No! we cannot go for her naming ceremony, we can’t visit her or her baby this organization would only visit our people who are legally married, they are yet to wed in the church so, no.”
“Please keep quiet! You have no right talking in this meeting, it is for married women/men and you are not in that league.”
You hear comments like the ones above because, a couple have only gotten married traditionally and did not fulfil the white wedding tradition. But, when we look at it critically and closely, you find out that, the traditional marriage is the basic marriage rites.
Before Nigeria colonisation, the traditional marriage was the only way we knew to give out our daughters in marriage, the ‘white wedding’ was no where in sight. The traditional marriage is complete, it covers all necessary rites needed to be performed, from the payment of the dowry to the blessings by the parents on the couples, and yes! The God factor does not leave the equation of the traditional marriage.
If you are also wondering about the certification of marriage after the process, that can be gotten through the registry, after you provide an evidence of marriage to them.
The religious force in marriage cannot be overlooked, but, my question today, and what we are looking at is the mindset that surrounds couples who have only been married traditionally.
This article is in no way suggesting that traditional marriage should be the only way of getting married in a nation like Nigeria, it is only trying to establish reasons why couples who have only gone through their traditional rights also be seen as MARRIED LEGALLY.
Speaking with a friend on this, he noted that in the Bible (a book of reference in the Christian religion), there is no record of a marriage that took place in the synagogue, that even the marriage at Galilee had Jesus coming to the place of the ceremony, and not the synagogue so he is of the opinion that those who have only gone through with their traditional rights have all the legal entitlements of being married.
Also, a recent trend on twitter, carried this debate, a fellow took to twitter to tweet his opinions and reasons as to why traditional marriage is a basic part of our society more than the white wedding. But then, that is his own opinion.
Despite the present loopholes in the traditional marriage setting (a talk for another day), individuals who have decided to get married traditionally only, are legally married, it is their choice to decide to go through with the ‘white wedding’ or not.
It would be wrong if you conclude that those couples who do not go through with the ‘white wedding’ are poor and of low standard, and you stand on that notion to say they cannot afford to go through with it. It would be wrong because, it was their choice, and people’s decision are not only influenced by the lack of money.
That a couple did not go through with the ‘white wedding’ does not mean they could not afford it; it was simply their choice.
Also, do away with the mindset of not regarding couples who only fulfilled the traditional rights as not yet married, it might be your choice to go through with the both processes, but it isn’t that of another person. So, please keep an open mind and try to not inflict your opinion on others. It would be awesome if societal and religious organisations can amend their policies and especially mindset, so that couples involved would not be denied of whatever benefit of been legally married.
I hope you found this article insightful, please leave a comment with your opinions on this, you can also reach out to me on Instagram @euphe_mya and on Facebook @Euphemia James.