Author: Max Umeh
Tradition is the foundation upon which a society is built. It is the thread that binds people together and gives birth to customs, values, creeds, and ideologies that make up their culture.
Hence distinguishing one group from another. It informs belief systems which affect the way such people carry out certain practices like marriage and burial ceremonies.
However, good ideas or concepts that are proffered to serve the best interests of a group of people are often influenced by what I call the “human factor.” It surfaces as tribal, religious, and even racial sentiments.
So when what is supposed to serve the best interests of a group of people gets turned into an instrument of bias, prejudice and avarice. It becomes a cancer that destroys.
This article focuses on how this pathetic situation affects platonic and romantic relationships all over the world. Countless times, I have seen and heard about cases in which young men and women are in love but get torn apart by these sentiments. All in the name of “Tradition.”
A man might propose to marry a lady. But gets discouraged by the outrageous demands being made on him by the lady’s parents and kindred for her bride price.
They distort the parameters of the said tradition to suit their purpose. Viewing it as an opportunity to enrich themselves overnight. Using their daughter as leverage, they plan to milk the man of every single penny he has in the name of tradition. This drives the man away because he cannot meet these demands.
They end up sacrificing the young lady’s future on the altar of their greed.
Another scenario involves a young couple in love with each other and wish to get married, but are of different tribes and/or religions. Their respective families kick against their relationship and do everything in their power to make sure they stay apart.
This is one scenario I can relate to because I have experienced it first hand.
I am Igbo, and I was once romantically involved with a beautiful Hausa – Fulani lady. We both did not mind the tribal/religious differences between us. We were too deep in love to care. But then the inevitable happened.
Her family insisted that I had to convert to Islam if they were to allow me to marry their daughter. Well, I did not oblige. And with that, she and I had no choice but to part ways.
Years later, I realized that taking the decision to stay apart was a grave mistake. We gave in too easily. We barely put up a fight to keep these “sentiments” from coming between us. If I could turn back the hand of time, I would handle the situation a lot differently today.
Many of us mortgage our futures and the futures of our children with these useless sentiments and link them all to tradition. But tradition has little or nothing to do with it. Rather, it is the result of selfishness, ego, and prejudice.
Parents must learn to respect the individuality and wishes of their children. They must understand that, though they have a responsibility to guide their kids in these matters, parenting should be handled objectively and not subjectively. They must put aside their personal interests and sentiments for the sake of their children’s happiness. And not the other way around.
As for the young folks, the choice is yours to make. It is left for you to know what is right for you and what is not. You have your life to live. Respect and appreciate the guidance of your parents. But learn to decipher when their guidance is pure and meant for your best interest; and when it is compromised by the aforementioned “human factor.”
Do not just say, “Well, I don’t have a choice. My parent’s wish is what I must obey.” You must have a mind of your own and learn to handle your personal life as independently. Remember, it is your future, not theirs.
To be clear, I am not saying you should be disobedient to your parents. What I mean is that sentimentality will always succumb to the power of reason.
If you find that your folks are kicking against your relationship with someone because of their tribe, race, or religion, don’t just give in to their demands without a fight. You must weigh their view on a scale at odds with yours regarding the person someone involves you with.
Then sit them down and discuss it with them. And present your strong points why marry the love of your life. There is more than a 50% chance they will be out-gunned and overwhelmed by the points you make and have no other choice but to let you go ahead with your wishes.
It may not always work, depending on the degree of your parents’ obstinacy. But it is worth a try. Do everything you can not to let unhealthy sentiments disguised as traditional/religious etiquette come in between you and the love of your life.
If you are out there and you are in love with someone who is of a different tribe or religion, follow your heart and take that leap of faith.