Nigeria: How Bad Economy Now Creates Outrageous Marriage Lists

….As parents exploit daughters’ suitors to the extreme

From the ’90s to the recent economic downturn in Nigeria, an average groom had the opportunity to bargain the dowry list of his spouse-to-be. The cheaper the list came, mostly reflected the financial status of his inlaws-to- be.

However, with the badly depreciating economy, that priviledge seems to have vanished into thin air, as families now tend to maximise the opportunity to either live well or recover expenses on their girl-children.

Suitors are now, more than any other time in the past, becoming under pressure to spend hugely on marriages that the resultant effect may not only leave many women unmarried, but also will increase single motherhood.

Also, Economy&Lifestyle has discovered a growing trend where parents expand dowry lists to include some strange items not known to the marriage culture. Is it not surprising that, these days, dowry lists include elcetric generators, refrigerators, motor bikes, bundles of zinc, wheel barrows and many other items that are not culturally linked to marriage rites. Our discovery is that all these are due to the deterioriating economy.

The economic situation in the country has also led to increase in bride prices, leaving young men desiring to settle down at the mercy of God.

Mr. Jimoh Olakunle, who recently wedded his hearthrob from the eastern part of Nigeria said an electric generating set was included in his bride’s dowry list which he was made not to negotiate.

He said: “The rate with which the economy of Nigeria is depreciating, I don’t think many young men will want to quickly get married now.

“Now, parents of brides add unimaginable items to their lists.

“I just got married in January and was shocked to see a generator included in the dowry list.

“My uncle advised I shouldn’t negotiate because I have already put my wife in the family way.

“Apart from the generator, the bride price was above N100, 000 which to me, was ridiculous, considering that their daughter was not meant to be for sale.

“But my In-laws were saying that the money they spent taking care of my wife was irreplaceable hence the amount was reasonable.

“That is why you see women roaming the streets,” he added.

The dowry is a part of the traditional marriage rites performed on a woman about to get married. It is passed down from one generation to another.

However, the state of the economy now clashes with tradition. Many families now plead high cost of living, as the reason to relegate tradition while drawing marriage lists.

However, Mrs. Kehinde Salami, a marriage counsellor, decried the situating, saying it is a shame that some items in the dowry lists are being altered so that luxury items will be added.

For her, a bride’s dowry , should reflect the kind of cultural background a lady is raised. Apart from exposing the financial status of a family, it should also show how much value a family places on human beings over money.

She said: “Including ridiculous items to a marriage list sends a wrong signal. It devalues the woman’s worth in the estimation of the family she is being married into.

“I seriously believe that caution should be taken and that the bridegroom should be considered when drafting a dowry list so that he will forever cherish and respect his wife.

“I don’t think the present condition of the economy should warrant inclusion of ridiculous items in a dowry list, unless parents have decided to sell off their daughter. and not give them out in marriage” she added.

But, for Mr. Clement Adeseyila, a community leader, the increase of bride price and inclusion of some luxury items is a reflection of current realities.