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Greed, bad manners and corruption that comes with dowry

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 Bride price has also become a touchy subject [Photo: Getty]

In the last couple of weeks, I have seen several media articles where annoyed in-laws are making demands for dowry payments.  In 2017, The Nairobian carried an article about a father-in-law who has sued his son-in-law and making demands for among other things a hat, gumboots and paraffin. It beggars belief why anyone would allow the tiny matter of gumboots find its way to the Courts --surely it is a waste of the court’s time.

Contrary to what many people might think, modernity has not in any way erased the importance of dowry and bride price in most communities. In some rare instances, you will have some fathers who have seen the light of the gospel and therefore lost any desire to collect any form of funds in the name of bride price. Others have an abundance of ego and resources and therefore refuse to participate in any form of dowry collection. For now, those are in the minority and so we need to have an honest discussion on bride price.

Read Also: Getting married soon? This is how to calculate dowry

As well all know, the wedding confers status to the bride and to the mother of the bride.  Bride price and the attendant negotiations provide the father of the groom with some level of pride and social standing. Most mothers are obvious in their desires- they want their daughters married off in the grandest manner possible. Fathers might not be as overt and transparent in the prayers for their daughters, but most live in the secret hope that someday they will put some young man (and his family) through the misery and pain of having to sweat and offer some serious pound of flesh for the privilege of wedding their daughters. 

They also like to believe that all their investment in discipline, education, warding off lecherous village teens will one day deliver a king-size dowry for their daughters. So, any girl who hurriedly disappears into a come-we-stay arrangement denies her father a much-needed opportunity to self-actualise. That is why you have fathers making a fuss about unpaid dowry many years after the fact.

Bride price has also become a touchy subject because we now thrive in the world of freeloading men- men who have dropped all sense of pride and shame when it comes to paying bills. The examples are numerous- men who like showing up to houses they do not pay rent for and make demands to drink the best whisky and watch the latest games on Supersport.

You have men who shamelessly drive around in their girlfriends’ cars and balk at the thought of fuelling or servicing these automobiles. This freeloader mentality now extends to marriage where the same men want to waltz into this lifelong institution without making any form of commitment or investment to the bride’s family. Most of these freeloaders have an allergy towards commitment and they adopt a can’t pay, won’t pay attitude when it comes to dowry discussions.

They are happy to jump into convenient come-we-stay relationships where they enjoy the right domestic living arrangements, have the right number of children as evidence of their fertility but run for the hills at the first mention of the meet-the-parents’ conversation. These men will beg, borrow or even steal to wear the latest designer threads or drive the latest Turbo car, but they will not make any simple sacrifices in the direction of their in-laws.  Ladies though need to pay attention to the warning signs- any guy who hates paying even mandatory bills is a prime candidate for refusal to pay bride prices.

Some women have decided to take this bride price issue into their own hands. Some of them fearing the wrath of their paths provide the funds to their reluctant grooms to be to facilitate the whole bride price process. Others hide behind new-age fads and religion as they claim that they do not subscribe to the whole bride manenos. This is utter hogwash, all women love being fussed and fought for and over- history is replete with examples of incidences where the fight for the love of women has led to war.

Read Also: How outrageous dowry demands stop weddings, trap women in abusive marriages

These women who abandon their innate genetical coding to please their men do a serious disservice unto themselves. Those who offer to pay the bride price just elevate their men into the ultimate freeloaders with no capacity to even for toothpicks.  Those who opt to live in bride price free relationships also ought to know that their relationship is on quicksand, and at the first sign of trouble the man will flee.

Of course, just like all well-intentioned things, the practice of bride prices is fraught with greed, bad manners and corruption.  However, it just another way of ensuring that the community has a stake in the marriage and guaranteeing endless parties into the foreseeable future.

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