Differing views on Marriage: East v West Africa


At the weekend, I went for a friends 30th birthday dinner with eight other of her female friends. The group varied in age from 27 to 30 and 9 of the ladies came from West Africa (six from Nigeria and three from Ghana) while I was the only one from East Africa (because Kenya and Uganda). Of the ten of us, one was newly married, I’m engaged and one another was separated from her husband. The topic of conversation? How in West Africa, all seven of them would be an anomaly and indeed even being in South Africa, they are still not safe from the frequent question of “So when will you get married?” or “You don’t have a boyfriend? GASP” or “Do you even date?”

While we all had a good chuckle, it was surprising to me as in my family of five girls, only two of my sisters are married and both after 30. The other two that are not face no pressure from my parents or others to settle down. To each his own. Outside of my family, I would place it at about 30-40% of my female friends that are married, with 40% being a very generous upper limit. The rest are pushing hard on their careers, some have kids and live with their partners, some are happily single while others are unhappily so and seriously looking to settle down. Again everyone has the right to pick and choose the time and age when they do settle down.

Typing this, I am reminded of Chimamanda’s talk on why we should all be feminists. We teach girls to aspire to marriage and from a very young age, we don’t do the same with boys and that smirks of discrimination. We also cheat girls out of their best lives yet when we start to whisper thoughts that they are inadequate unless their status is somehow related to a boy i.e. a wife, a fiancee, mother of sons OR the poorer relative, a baby mama!! With all the strides we have made as women, it is a crying shame that in 2014 we still have to battle with this issue of perception and inadequacy when we opt out of the path selected for us right from the moment the Doctor declared the baby to be a girl. Very sad day indeed!!

Having shared my views, I am curious to learn of whether others around me also feel the same pressure to settle down and how you deal with it, or what you do about it?

Interesting links to read:

  1. The Atlantics article on The Confidence Gap
  2. Rita J. King on How to Close the Confidence Gap

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