On February 14, I felt one of the best ways I should unwind from the love euphoria serenading the world was to go for a special valentine church program. Well, I did go, hoping to hear some new pep talk on love. Suffice it to say I didn’t hear anything new, but, the minister said something that got my ears up. Prior to this church program, I had been battling inwardly on the rationale of white weddings and the whole extravaganza attached to these nuptials. I have always wanted to know between the church and traditional weddings, which was more important, or should I say, which the real wedding was.
This inner battle led me to ask some married people which of the two forms of wedding was the real wedding, or which was the significance that a marriage had begun. Most of the answers I received validated the dowry, that once a dowry is paid to the bride’s parents, the lady in question automatically becomes the groom’s wife. Then I fired my second question: Then why the white wedding since the bride has become the groom’s wife? They would say something like: you know GOD needs to bless the marriage, that’s why we went to the church. This answer made me ask, so GOD does not bless a marriage until the couple performs the white wedding? At this point, most of my interviewees would pause, and say something like, I don’t know but I know you need the blessing of your pastor.
I believe it’s time we defined certain cultures that have finally become tradition. Even if we cannot define it, we should at least question its validity, check its merits and relevance, then decide if such cultures are still necessary. To me, I feel it is burdensome for people to go through two forms of weddings before the society will accept them as truly wedded.
There are three kinds of weddings according to the Nigerian law: the native wedding, the Islamic wedding and the marriage by act. Before colonization, the native wedding was the most popular wedding. The coming of white folks brought the white wedding trend. And, ever since then, the trend has become the second phase of wedding for the Christians. Some argue they do not just do the white wedding because of church blessing, but because it is the only wedding legally recognized by law. The types of legally recognized wedding listed above punctures that line of thought. In fact, evidence abound that some people who wed in church without the native wedding are not legally married. The reason is because they just have church certificates, without going through the local government. This means invariably that the church wedding without the court authentication is a charade. In fact, it means that church wedding is not a form of wedding.
If this is legally correct, why should the minister on Valentine’s Day pontificate that the church wedding (white wedding) is the real wedding recognized by GOD. On hearing this that day, I perked up. I waited for the divine oracle to back up his claim with a biblical scripture. And he did; the man of God later used a bible verse that went thus: marriage is holy with the bed undefiled. To me, that begged the question: how does this translate to GOD authenticating the white wedding as the right kind of wedding?
We should call church wedding what it truly is, it is a white version of traditional marriage.
The whites brought Christianity to the ‘pagan’ African, their Christianity obviously came with their form of education, government, trade, mentality, fashion and culture. Though, we are independent politically, we are still heavily colonized by several means. In fact, the travesty of this colonization is that we are the colonizer and the colonized at the same time. Though we are free politically, so many Africans are struggling like the two major characters, Wangeci and Kiguunda in Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Ngugi Wa Miri’s play, I Will Marry When I Want – the two characters who do not understand why their native marriage was termed sinful by the church despite paying the entire traditional rites expected for one intending to marry.
So I ask: if one does not go through the process of a white wedding, does it mean God will not recognize the union?
If the answer is no, then I still say I see no reason for one to go through the hassles of two weddings. If the answer is no, then I say, after the first kind of wedding, be it native or white, any other type that follows is an empty ceremony with no real worth. If the answer is no, why will the church tell couples not to consummate their marriage till they come before “God” in the church to bless their marriage? If the answer is no, then what is the essence of wasting money, borrowing money, inviting folks – some who do not really wish you well – to come and witness the white wedding?
However, if the answer is yes, then, I see no reason we should waste our energy on the native wedding. One should head straight to the church and get that over with, and forget about buying drinks for all those beer-guzzling elders who did not contribute anything to the training of the bride. If the answer is yes, then one should damn tradition, make a forward match to the church and get done with the real recognized blessing.
On the contrary, if two of them are important or inevitable like the two ends of a stick, then it’s about time we found a way of simplifying it. Because, many a man go through severe headaches when they tinker out the cost of shouldering the two ceremonies – like how Kiguunda had to sell his only land to perform the white wedding. I do not believe marriage should be an expensive event. Personally, I feel it is really out of place to spend so much money celebrating an opening day of a serious event which you have not started. It is like throwing a party for an athlete who is ‘on your mark’, an athlete that should concentrate on the important race ahead. Wedding ceremonies should be a serious moment of reflection and not a day of wild jamboree.
Having said this, my one kobo on the white wedding is: it is a modern day definition of bondage. It is an expired cloth that has outlived its relevance. God’s blessing is also on the native wedding as long as you go about it the right way. The church does not have monopoly of God’s blessing.
May GOD open our eyes of understanding.