Source: Nii Amu Darko - This is the second part and continuation of the five part series 'Let’s Talk Marriage' in which I discuss marriage under five headings;
Marriage brewed in the African Pot, marriage among the Ga's
LET US TALK MARRIAGE: QUANTUM MECHANICS AND THE MYSTERY OF MARRIAGE
LET US TALK MARRIAGE: WHY MARRIAGE MUST NOT CHANGE
LET US TALK MARRIAGE: MARRIAGE, RELIGION AND THE STATE - CLASSICAL MECHANICS IN ACTION
LET US TALK MARRIAGE: ABRAHAMIC MARRIAGE SYSTEM – THE ROOT OF AFRICAN MARRIAGE SYSTEM
MARRIAGE BREWED IN THE AFRICAN POT: MARRIAGE AMONG THE GA'S
The only line I remember from Kwaw Ansah’s African Heritage were the words of the mother of Kwesi Bosoemefi, the principal character in the multiple Award Winning film. She said when the crab decided that it wanted to change its colour from black to red, it forgot that the heat which would do the colour change, was the same heat that would kill him.
You cannot be somebody else without killing who you are. That is a fundamental African problem. We have mortgaged our political and economic systems for foreign ones and the results are clear even to the blind. Some quite unknowingly are advocating for mortgaging of the only structure holding our nation together – our family system built around heterosexual relationship.
The African’s concept of nature and society is very sophisticated. In Ga we say, m? tsa m? n?, to wit, we are linked together. Zulus say Obuntu – I am because we are. Before John Lock brought his theory of Tabula Rasa, the African knew that his individuality is a product and part of his society. We worked out long ago that the individual is Biological DNA (DNAb) + Social DNA (DNAs)=Quantum DNA (DNAq).
Marriage in the African sense is a socio-cultural arrangement with an economic overlay between a man and a woman for the purpose of companionship, procreation and preservation of the species. Africans knew this sacrosanct biological fact before Sigmund Freud wrote that preservation of the species is one of two basic instincts of mankind.
The practicality of the biologic imperative of the union takes marriage beyond a ceremony to be the total mechanism by which the arrival of the next generation is guaranteed. Any arrangement with the potential to disrupt this next generation guarantee cannot be marriage. It is not good for society.
Among our people, marriage is not like an apple you pluck from a tree or an iPad you buy from an Apple Store. It is unity brewed from the collective emotions and blessings of two families fired by the energy of a whole community as their son and daughter start a new life of togetherness with the hope to be fruitful and multiply in whatever they do.
I will outline the main stages of the Marriage Ceremony as it is done in the typical Africa society of Ga where I was born and bred. I will expand on the stages at a later time.
MARRIAGE IN GA
There are 2 main parts of the marriage procedure:
1. Shibimo – Proposal/Engagement
i. Agboshimo – knocking or Proposal. Father of the boy sends a delegation to the family of the girl to do the proposal on behalf of his son.
ii. Kplemo – acceptance of Proposal by the girl
iii. Hen?toobo – groin cover to signify her nakedness is covered. This is the engagement. No-go-area for anyone.
iv. Gblanii – gifts for engagement
2. Kpeemo - wedding
i. S??nihamo - dowry
ii. Kpeemo – wedding
There are three ‘’involuntary’’ arrangements which result in marriage.
1. Hebaats?? (foetal betrothal) – family may send a delegation to a family of a pregnant lady that if she delivers a girl they will want her for their son as his future wife.
2. Hen?baats?? (child betrothal) – a family may give their young daughter to a boy of a family they respect as a prospective wife. The boy’s family will take care of the girl till she is of age (usually 20yrs) and then marry the man.
3. Gboshi?a (inherited wife) – a widow is given to a brother or cousin of her deceased husband.
Three Laws of Marriage.
1. Marriage is for life. We did not learn that from any religion.
2. A Ga can wed only one woman in his life. He may take other wives concurrently but he cannot wed another woman. No religion teaches this.
3. Marriage arrangements are for the 2 families. It is meant to build bridges and bring families together.
Implications of Marriage
1. Ga is potentially a polygamous society.
2. There is more than one type of marriage. Marriage practically means the two families accept the man and the woman as husband and wife.
3. Because of acceptance of different types of marriages, there are no illegitimate children in Ga. Children from all mothers have equal rights
4. Because of the biologic imperative, couples living together but are not married are considered husband and wife. This is what Europeans have just discovered and call it De facto. As a kid, at least 50% of couples in Ga were de facto but they lost no right or protection from the State.
5. Love without lives is dead. This is how important procreation is to marriage. The love dries out if it does not produce lives.
Evolution of Marriage
We have a robust and auto-regulating mechanism which has virtually cleansed the system of the undesirables.
1. Foetal and Child betrothal have virtually disappeared – the economic imperative which dictated those sorts of actions have changed. We do not have a fossilized system but an intuitive one.
2. The inherited wife concept has but all gone. Now, it is just ceremonial. When my father died my mum and the kids were given to my uncle. In the olden days, they could live as husband and wife.
3. With improvement in the economic power of women and their dependence on men decrease, the width and breath of polygamy are both decreasing. The economic overlay is changing and the system is responding.
4. The only negative in the evolution is the Colonial superimposition of the Ordnance on our system and its reinforcement by institutional Christianity. We will fix that anomaly.
We build institutions based on practical need and common sense. We change when it is appropriate and does not violate the social order. We do not change because some intelligent beings from outer space tell us to do so.
Tswa omanye aba!
Stay tuned for why we cannot and must not change the definition of Marriage.
LET US TALK MARRIAGE: MARRIAGE BREWED IN THE AFRICAN POT – MARRIAGE AMONG THE GA’S
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