Thursday, September 3, 2009

To You, I Say "I Do"... Oh, and To Your Family Too!

Maybe my biological clock’s alarm has been ringing very loudly, but of late it seems as though conversations with my family and relatives tend to revolve around marriage. Unfortunately, the resounding theme has been their preferences for who I will one day call my better-half. There is the absolute that he be a “practicing” Christian, that he not be a Northerner, that he be this, and he not be that...Arh bah! I keep wondering if these people are the ones going to get married and whether they'll be the ones in the marriage or I will. Despite how I feel about it, I cannot live in denial about the importance of the role of family (extended included) in this thing called marriage.

It's this importance that has made Ghanaian weddings, and in fact, “African” weddings, such complex “rituals”. These marriages usually begin with a delegation from the man's family going to inform the woman’s parents of their son’s interest in an “apple” in their family. This is followed by investigations by both families of the family they are about to get into a union with and the end result is a traditional wedding and/or a “church” wedding. I don’t fault families for all of this “wahala” that people have to go through in order to get married. After all, families want to ensure that their names and heritage would be passed on and not lost through marriage. It is for that fact that intermarriage, be it inter-tribal, inter-religious, inter-racial or inter-country, was not permissible in the days of our fore-fathers. But now, Ghana is making headlines in the race of intermarriages on the African continent; there is more intermarriage in Ghana than in any country on the African continent, if I am not mistaken. For many families, this poses serious questions about the loss of their family names and cultures.

I witnessed an inter-racial marriage a couple of weekends ago. Unlike the many Ghanaian wedding ceremonies that I have witnessed; there wasn't a long sermon or thanksgiving dancing. In 15 minutes, the deed was sealed, signifying the amalgamation of two worlds; one of traditions and complex cultures that rocket scientists cannot even begin to comprehend, and the other of little complexities. In this particular case, the woman outrightly informed her father of her preference for eluding the long-winded Ghanaian tradition of schnapps and its associated customs because she was getting married to an “Obroni” and it was unnecessary. This situation has left me on the receiving end of lectures about marriage and Ghanaian customs for about a month now.

Unlike the Western world where marriage is between two people who claim to be in love regardless of what the rest of the world thinks, in the Ghanaian custom, marriage does not only represent the union between two people but the union of two families. So before you are ever quick to say "I do", realize you’re also saying "I do" to the person’s family; even the ones who make you cringe on sight.

This article was written by LSG Staff Writer Abena Bampo Opoku.
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