“I am a graduate and in my late 20s. I met a guy, we love each other and he is interested in taking the relationship to the next level, but my parents said no, because he is Calabar
and we are Yoruba. What do you see to that?? I have made certain decisions before without their interference. For this one, they said Calabar is far and also because of their culture.”
Whether it is good to marry from a different tribe or not is not the case, every human being is a summation of a lot of things – background, environment, family, education, upbringing….with ethnicity being just one out of the many factors. Saying someone shouldn’t marry solely because of ethnicity is like insisting on 100% compatibility between partners for marriage. Even siblings that grew up under the same roof and from the same parents, having the same upbringing, environment and every other thing will still have their individual differences.
Let’s examine the reasons your parents declined the marriage proposal;
I was recently discussing with a friend- a Nigerian studying in the UK, that a time is coming, which I believe is here already, where what parents will have to struggle with won’t be inter-tribal marriage, but interracial or international marriage and the reason is simple. Judging by the rate at which foreign higher institutions of learning are greatly becoming the first choice for postgraduate studies, and from the way youths have to mix up with classmates or communities from different continents, interracial marriages are bound to take place. Besides, we all know that love is a funny thing, it cuts through barrier, race or nationality.
So, dear parents, start working out for the new wave that is about to hit you.
And if Calabar is far, I wonder if your parents will object to the marriage if your husband flies you to the United State after the wedding.
- Cultural Difference
Hmm, culture is changing. That is the truth, how many youths not older than 25 know their local dialect? Is that the fault of the youths? If you never made it compulsory that I learn my language or other cultural practices, why insist I subject my marriage choice to cultural practices?
I strongly believe that the choice of a marital partner should be subjected to individual attributes, character and traits, not culture. I won’t debate the fact that, cultural differences used to matter back in the days of our parents, but do they still matter so much? I’m Yoruba and I was born and bred in Lagos, you are Calabar and you are born and bred in Lagos, how different do you think we’ll be? I once had a Delta roommate whose only attachment to being delta was his “Delta” name, which is not even his first name.
Neither am I suggesting that you become entirely blind to your partner’s cultural practices. You must find out how deeply committed/rooted to his culture s/he is, and find out if you can deal with that. Also, what happens to you if either of you dies, especially the husband. As much as the choice of who to date and eventually marry should be solely based on that individual, you must not leave out any loose ends, find out all you need to because with sound information/knowledge, comes a sound decision.
Here are preventive measures to avoiding being a victim of facing inter-tribal marriage issues.
- Know your parents’ stand on inter-tribal marriage before you fall in love.
Yes! It sounds funny but it’s true. If you know that your parents are ardent and bent, unshakable like the rock about their disapproval of inter-tribal marriage, you’ll always caution yourself to not fall head over heels with someone not your tribe, just the way it’s wise to know someone’s genotype before falling in love (A post on this some other time). Prevention, they say, is better than cure.
- Talk about it before it becomes a major issue.
This was what I did. In my 100 level, I became close to an Igbo girl, no serious feelings, just friends. So, it dawned on me that there was a possibility of actually falling in love with a non-Yoruba. By then, I was so sure of my mum’s stand about marrying a non-Yoruba. So I decided to bring the topic up very often. I asked her why she always said she didn’t want any of us (I and my siblings) to marry from another tribe apart from Yoruba, and when she told us her reasons, I simply argued them, using scriptures which I knew will be her weak point. You can’t argue with parents using facts. Parents seem to always have experiences to counter your points.
Back to mum’s story. With talking and arguing, she gradually began to see from my point of view. Finally, mum agreed that any tribe is good, but the lady must be cultured (or respectful). Talking about it did it for me, but mind you, this took over three years of going back and forth over it.
- Give your parents some exposure.
I’ve personally gathered that it is none exposed parents that insist on same tribe marriages. Parents that haven’t really mixed much and don’t have friends from other tribes or haven’t being in their midst for a prolonged time tend to be like that. Or should I rather say, that it’s parents that don’t have “good” friends from other tribes and haven’t being in the midst of people from other tribes with exceptional characters and life styles, because meeting some kind of people from other tribes can contribute to their firm beliefs against marrying from those tribes.
Give them some exposure, arrange a vacation(If you can afford it) for the sake of changing environment and mingling with other race and tribes and they will see that most of their fears are merely facades. Not that there are no causes to worry over inter-tribal marriage at all, but are they solid enough to prevent two grownups, convinced and fully aware of their choice from proceeding with it? I doubt it.
- Let them meet the guy/girl on a platonic level.
We know that what it takes to make marriage work is mostly based on an individual than the tribe he/she is from. It’s all a result of the character and principles we build as individuals. Some people from different tribes can excel in what makes for a better marriage and home that those of our tribe.
Get your parents to meet this individual on a natural level, so that before they are blinded by their tribalism, they will see the person for who the person really is, and it will grant the parents to access him/her as an individual, independent of his/her tribe. This I believe as well might take some time.
Here are some Corrective Measures; you are in it already, how do you fix it?
- Prove their fears and worries wrong.
Parents’ stand against inter-tribal marriage is mostly fed by fears: fears from experiences they have had and of course, those also contributed by our darling African Magic. They have heard stories, seen situations where inter-tribal marriages end in terrible disarray (not like same-tribe marriages don’t end likewise), but we are all quick to conclude that the cultural difference was the sole cause of the fiasco.
Prove them wrong, find out their fears and show them why it won’t matter in your case; words are cheap.
- Seek Higher counsel
Of course, talk to the people they respect- to your religious leaders or your parents’ older relatives. It will be easier for them to convince your parents. Parents will see your childishness before they will consider your wisdom. Thus, listening and accepting what you will say will be somewhat hard for them.
- Pray about it.
Lol! Yes, I know you were waiting for this point and here it is. Prayer can fix this like it can fix anything. But I need to let you know that prayer is not a scheme that exists to manipulate God’s hands in approving your own will. Prayer is to enforce His own will. I think it is important I state that.
- Be Patient.
So many youths make irrational decisions when faced with this situation. I understand that the the cord of love can be stronger than that of family. Hence, you decide to elope with your Romeo to marry against you parent’s wish. This is not a wise thing to do.
You are presently in your late 20s as you stated, so I assume time isn’t exactly on your side. I will strongly advice you to be patient about this. After all, marriage is a life long journey. Spending more time to prepare and ensure its success isn’t a lost investment at all.
Also, find a personal (intimate) and relaxed mood to talk with your parents (I suggest separately, or either of them who is more hinged on the “no inter-tribal marriage scheme”). Spend that time really finding out what the motive behind their stand is , what fed that belief until you are able to get to the root of that belief in their heart. It is at that point you will be able to uproot or influence it. This action will do one of two things – change you or change them.
You might wanna ask, What does the bible’s stand as regarding inter-tribal marriage?
The very first verse in the bible about marriage Gen 2:23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.” 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Passes a salient message, and that is the departure from your root to start a new home, meaning regardless of your race and tribe, what’s important is, leave that behind and become one with your spouse.
Some might want to argue that God prohibited the Israelite from marrying from some tribes, that is very true, but do you know why? The reason is clearly stated in this verse; 1 King 11:2 “The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.'”. It is to prevent them from being swayed by their godless ways and acts, which Solomon fell victim of. And even now, there is no more Jews (Israel) and Gentiles (Non-Israel).
So the bible is not against inter-tribal, interracial, inter-ethnic marriage.
I wish you the very best, and if you are very convinced of this union, I pray they see reasons and give you their blessings because you need it.
I’ll like to welcome practical (life) experiences on this topic, stating what happened and how you went about it, kindly contribute as a comment or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll do a sequel to this post sharing them.
I’ll be waiting to read your comments 😀
This suggested post will come in handy as well;