While my day hasn’t exactly been the most eventful, I did spend a lot of time thinking about tradition, as I couldn’t help but overhear it being discussed for the most of the day.
One of my cousins came to stay over at our house yesterday. And this cousin of mine is the first son of his father (who is also the first son of my paternal grandparents). Most tradition in my country Nigeria recognises the first son of the family as the heir, and my hometown is no exception. Only out of his own benevolence can he share what he has inherited from his father among the rest of his siblings.
But in a case where there is no male child, then the first female child gets whatever the parents owned before they passed. And this tradition is extended to many areas, including the traditional marriage aspect. The first son is usually the one that gives out the bride to the groom in the absence of their father, but, should the father be alive, the duty falls to him. But the important part of this is that: even if the father is alive, it is traditional for the first son to be present at the wedding ceremony.
In the cools of yesterday evening, as the sun sets behind the horizon, I was alone in the house, as everyone had gone out for different reasons. I heard a knock on the door and went to open it, lo and behold, it was my cousin’s step mom who had come to see my parents. I greeted her and told her they were not at home. She left a message saying that they are having a traditional marriage at their house this weekend, as one of her daughters was getting married, and that was what she had come to tell my parents, so they can be available for the ceremony. I had told her I will deliver the message to the when they returned back.
Less than an hour later, mom was back, as well as my cousin. To the hearing of my cousin, I told her who had come and the message she had asked me to deliver on her behalf. Then she asked my cousin if he was aware of the ceremony, and he said no, he wasn’t informed. It was the reaction from the two of after my cousin’s response that piqued my interest in the issue. The had spent most of the night and today talking about how my uncle ought to have called his first son to inform him about the wedding ceremony and how important it is that he is present.
My mom even went on to tell me about the wedding of my maternal cousin and how her younger brother had stopped the marriage ceremony because the first son of the family was absent. It wasn’t until he came that the marriage continued. All these had made me think about the need for these traditions in the first place.
I have mostly thought of Nigerian traditions as patriarchal and misogynistic. Because most of it tends to favour the male gender. A man can marry more than one wife, but a woman is frowned upon if she tries it. It is the woman’s responsibility to do all the house chores and care for the children while the man is to provide money for the family. The first son gets to inherit all that belonged to his parents even if he is the last child. As long as he’s the first son, it is his birthright.
Although, some of these traditions are dying out slowly, it is still much practiced by many people. Does explains the loud voice of Nigerian feminists across social media platforms. Although, I think many don’t know there is a line between feminism and sexism. I was tempted to interrupt the conversations I have had to endure for the most of the day and say: it is not compulsory for my cousin to be present at the wedding, and whether or not he is there does not determine if the marriage will be a happy one or a sad one. And that it was high time they forgot about these kind of tradition.
I am not saying we should completely forget our traditions, as that is one of what differentiates one ethnic group from the other. But there are certain traditions that shouldn’t be passed on to generations. And it is up to you and I to take the necessary actions for a change.
Thank You For Reading 🖤🖤