September 27, 2022

Afro-Scope Presents:


Greetings, folks!

Yes, this is still Harry Agina, but you must have noticed in my titling that this is not No Bullshitting Blog. Today’s blog is special and historical. This is the day that I introduce to you, “Afro-Scope,” the Afro-Centric Project! I will start with differentiating Harry Agina the “No Bullshitting” blogger, and Harry Agina the Communications, Motion-Picture Production, and Broadcasting Professional. The character and language of Harry Agina are different from the character and language of ‘Mr. No Bullshitting (Mr. NB)’ of the No Bullshitting Blog. ‘Mr. NB’ is Harry Agina’s journalistic alter-ego. And ‘Mr. NB’ is a radical social critic.

Anyway, I’m here to inform you that my team and I have just established our new blogsite. This site houses our “Afro-Centric Programming Project.” Yes, it will also house No Bullshitting Blog, where ‘Mr. NB’ can still do his lambasting as an Afro-Centric Social Critic. But it’s only one itty-bitty Category in our new encompassing “Afro-Scope” House. Yes, “Afro-Scope” is the name of the new blogsite. It was established just a couple of days back. Between now and December 2022, we shall gradually migrate everything on this site to the Afro-Scope site. Afro-Scope House comprises the following categories: “No Bullshitting Blog,” “AfroCultural Dramas,” “AfroCultural Titbits,” “AfroCultural Entertainment,” “AfroSports & News,” and more.

I have done the following brief personal introduction before, but I need to do it again for my new readers. It is relevant as a confidence-builder of sorts, as I introduce our new venture. It’s good as we woo our new readers to trust that we can deliver what we boast of. This starts with my own qualification to lead the gang aright. I must establish my experience and track record in the Afro-Scope InterCultural Exchange Project. I do understand both sides of the divide between Africa and the rest of the world. Hence, the products of my passion for all cultures of the world and my professional Communications background, will thrill you.

I am a Nigerian-American. I am an Arican by birth, but I have lived most of my adult life in the USA, having left Nigeria after Secondary/High School education. In relative significance, this is to say that I grew up and schooled/school in the USA. Furthermore, I have abundant travel and professional experiences in several other western countries. I have been to six of the seven continents of the world. And I have been to at least two cities on each of those six continents. I haven’t been to the seventh continent, Antarctica, and this is only because it’s not inhabited by humans. It only has scientists who visit and spend short periods at a time on their research projects.

As for my original continent, Africa, I once journeyed to eight countries, all within one stretch of six months—from August 1, 1990, to January 1991. It was an “Afro-Scope” Broadcast Television Documentary Project, titled “The Other Side of Africa.” The idea was to disabuse the minds of North American TV audiences who believed that Africa was a jungle of starving ape-people. This image had been painted for them by “Tarzan,” the movie, which portrays African as a jungle. The countries that we toured were Senegal, Togo, the Gambia, and Nigeria in West Africa; South Africa in southern Africa; Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Zambia in East Africa. A very significant event marked the beginning of our journey. I left Texas for the trip with my colleague, Shola Ajay, in the night of August 1, 1990. And the Gulf war that took the life of Saddam Hussein commenced in the morning of August 2, 1990. The presidential palace of Zambia was our first stop in the morning of August 2. In fact, it was the then president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, who broke the news to us that the Gulf war just commenced earlier that morning.

The name, “Afro-Scope” is self-explanatory—a Scope that beams on the African Continent, with a great Inter-Cultural Exchange purpose. The purpose is to contribute towards the bridging of the understanding-gap between the African Culture and the other Cultures of the world. We aim to help other peoples of the world to understand more about the peoples of the African continent, and their cultures and traditions. Naturally, one way to do this is by sharing the African Culture with the rest of the world. And we also share other cultures of the world with my African people. We offer you InfoTainment in Inter-Cultural Exchange between Africa and the rest of the world.

Enough about the new Afro-Scope site for now. This is the day that “No Bullshitting” becomes just one of the Blogs on the “Afro-Scope” Blog site— And now, I bring you edition 5 of Afro-Scope’s “AfroCultural Titbits” on Traditional Marriage In Africa. And I’ll take you straight to it, without further ado. Here is our traditionalist, Udoakpuenyi, for ya:

Welcome to edition 5 of our series on Traditional Marriage In Africa. I am the Udoakpuenyi who Harry talks about. In the four previous editions, we talked about general basic traditions in African marriages, with minor variations from community to community and from region to region. Harry discussed some basics in his Nnewi part of the Igbo culture. I addressed some comparisons between Igbo traditions in Nigeria, and another West African country, Ghana. Then I zeroed-in on my nephew Ik’s traditional marriage process in my part of Igbo land, Arochukwu town and its environs. We have the links to the past editions for you at the end of this, as usual, but let’s recap the gist before we move on. It’s from introduction stage called, “Iku aka n’uzo,” meaning ‘Knocking on the door” of the bride’s parents to seek their daughter’s hand in marriage. Then the investigation stage by both the bride’s and the groom’s families, to ascertain good character of the bride and the groom, respectively. When both families are satisfied with the findings of the investigations, the next stage is bride-pricing and bride-price payment. And then, finally, comes the day of the main event, where the couple is finally joined together as husband and wife in a grand celebration.

So far, we have told you what may be called “theory” in school classroom. It’s time for our promised “practical” in the laboratory, in form of a video presentation. We’re using the marriage of my nephew Ikechukwu, aka Ik. Our regular readers may recall that Ik and his parents and our community have gone through all the stages of traditions of marriage with Ifeoma, except the grand finale. That’s the highlight of my presentation today, with a little narrative recap. It starts with the presentation of required items to the bride’s family and community, by the family and community of the groom:

I, Harry Agina, will take over from Udoakpuenyi at this point. So, that was the grand finale of Ik’s traditional marriage, which is called “Igba Nkwu.” “Nkwu” is wine, and “Igba” is providing wine in abundance, with variety of food for the communities of the bride and groom to feast, wine and be merry. As you have seen, the bride price was just a token formality to keep the custom going. The money paid can’t even purchase a good candy. Naturally, we could only give you some excerpts from the event. The event went on for several hours, as usual. At the end of this, the groom is ready to take his wife home. In Ik’s culture (and some others in Igbo land), a younger sister of the bride follows her home for a week or so. This is so because the culture appreciates that she is going to a new environment. She needs someone familiar for company apart from her husband. This person will also help her to carry her boxes and other items to her new home. She is not to do any work or anything that day and a few more days to come. In some sub-cultures in Nigeria, including Kalabari of River State, the required items presented to the bride include a box of clothes and baby items.

These mandatory items ensure that the bride has enough clothes and items to start her new life in her new home. The baby needs affirm the fact that having offspring is a primary obligation in an African marriage. The couple is expected to have some babies, and indeed, the first one is expected one year after the marriage. Some grooms and their families actually want the bride to get pregnant first, before the final marriage. They want a guarantee that the bride can have children. Further to this custom, the first child is often hoped to be a boy. Our old readers may recall our statement in past editions, that the perpetuity of the family name is very important in Igbo land, and most other African land. Women marry away, and men ensure that the family name stays alive, forever! If a boy child does not happen to continue the lineage, for too long, the groom gets under pressure to consider marrying another wife. The search for a boy child is customary.

What is ‘too long’ for one groom, can be “too, too long” for another. Unfortunately, quite often, the woman who cannot have a boy child is sometimes left to carry the blame, ignorant about the fact that the male sperm determines whether a child is male or female. I must add this little explanation for the benefit of my African readers. Too many African men do ignorantly, unfairly, unjustly, chauvinistically persecute their wives for the failure of having male children. Here’s an authoritative bio-reproductive fact:  All women’s eggs contain only one chromosome, called X-chromosome. But a man’s sperms alternate between two chromosomes. A sperm has either an X-chromosome, or a Y-chromosome. Now, here’s the permutation, if you will: A woman’s embryos with XY chromosomes develop male sex organs, while an embryo with XX chromosomes develops female sex organs. That means that the sperm determines a baby’s sex!

God has already decreed that the woman can only have X-chromosome. She cannot produce Y-chromosome; so, it must come from the man. He has two options, so he should have the blame, because he fails to apply his second option to produce Y-chromosome. Hence, when a baby boy does not come, the groom should persecute his ‘sperm production factory’ for not coming up with enough sperms that have the Y-chromosome. He has no right to harass his bride. If anything, the wife should be the one doing the harassing! She should query the groom’s inability to make X-chromosomes, and not the other way round.

I will end this with a note on contemporary dilution of the African Culture and its traditions/customs. Yes, “modernization” is good, but only when it is done in good sense and moderation. With good modernization, traditions or customs that are tainted are refined or purified. And ones that are outrightly bad are eliminated. This is true for Africa, as well as all cultures of the world. One good example of eliminated traditions/customs in Africa is the killing of twins. Twins were killed at birth in ancient Africa because they were believed to be evil. Now, we know better, and twins are highly celebrated in Africa. Similar eliminations have also happened all over the world.

Unfortunately, too many misguided Africans, especially Pentecostal Christians, are bent on total annihilation of the entire African Culture. They are so ignorant that they are destroying the African Culture in the misguided name of Christ. Neither Christ, nor the Almighty God has ever told anybody that the African Culture, or any other culture for that matter, is evil. They couldn’t possibly say that, because humans cannot exist without culture and traditions. And the entire world cannot possibly merge into one culture with similar traditions. God Himself made it all so! Too many people in Africa now want to “modernize” everything into borrowed foreign cultures. They are taking away or diminishing the essence of our African Culture, which makes us different and good. A lot of the African traditions that contemporary Africans are eliminating, or diluting, are better in value than the foreign traditions that we copy in the name of modernization

I will conclude, finally, with an example of some bad effects of over-dilution or elimination of some ancient traditions in African marriage. I speak of a minor consequence of ignoring the “Iju-Ase” (Investigation) Process. Most contemporary young people who have entangled themselves in love do not take this process seriously. Even if the family insists on doing it, the love birds are not interested in the result. If it is not favorable, contemporary love birds will still go ahead and have their way to get married. I repeat that marriage is not just for the couples in Igbo culture, but for the whole families of the couple, even the extended families. If the couple rejects the opinion of the families and get married, sometimes, the families will wash off their hands from the whole affair. They will not partake in the rest of the process. Often, when this happens these days, some couples go on ‘crowd-renting’ to represent the kindred.

For ignoring this investigation tradition today, too many people now marry the wrong spouses. They do not find out some disagreeable traits in the spouses and their families. Naturally, more marriages end up in divorce these days, than in ancient Africa. And when something goes wrong in the marriage that the spouses’ families are excluded, the aggrieved family may not intervene. After all, they had sounded their warnings, which were not heeded. Hence, today, less divorced spouses reunite than it was in the past. The hitherto strong and effective family intervention benefit has diminished in the culture.

Written by Harry Agina and Udoakpuenyi.



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