There was a time when Africans, especially the men, kept to their promise of someday returning home to marry the women they left behind. And indeed, a great many did without regard to the women’s financial or social standing. Promises were generally kept, and love honored. Others retuned to marry women that had been prearranged based on same or familiar culture, religion, and or family relationship. Those days are mostly long gone as relationship between fiancé and fiancée, at home and abroad, would generally come to an end within a few month of one party leaving the African shore.
Today, most Africans who return home to marry do so for different reasons — reasons that have no bearing on past relationship or on family connection. But somehow, most would not confess or admit to the true reasons why they return in search of a bride or groom; and neither would those in the continent admit to the real reasons why they agree to such marriages. As it turned out, there is a usually ulterior motive behind such marriages. The way I see it, it is mostly economics. On both sides, that is.
As the economic situation in the continent becomes dire, and as abject poverty becomes endemic, more and more African men and women find ways to snag overseas-based suitors. And as overseas-based suitors ponder their lot in life, most would come to the realization that their lives would be better off only if they could snag a partner with high financial potential to improve the household’s economic and social standing. In other words, recent marriages within the African community in the Diaspora are a bet on future income and prosperity. Altruism is out; self-indulgence and narcissism is in. Seen from both ends therefore, economic consideration becomes the overarching and decisive factor for marriage.
Put another way: marriage is a business venture. Most no longer speak of, or allude to love and affection and respect and rapport and common interest and common vision and such variables. Economic considerations trump all “emotional” arguments. That love is overrated, inconveniencing, and gradually becoming a nuisance is not lost on most African suitors; therefore, the vast majority of prospective brides and grooms have at the top of their minds a simply cost-benefit analysis. They wonder if marriage would be beneficial and wonder also what their prospective partners will bring to the table. And more so in recent years, those who discount economic considerations are now in the minority — their numbers thinning and becoming statistically insignificant.
But of course there are exceptions to this proposition as some marriages are still based on love and affection, family and cultural considerations, and on religious tenets and value.
But to truly grasp what is happening to marriage, one only needs to examine the African community in the United States of America where stories abound of how men go back home to get married to professional women and then come back here only to be used and abandoned by the women. But of course, imported professional husbands are also abandoning their wives.
In the end though, many African marriages are a farce, and an embarrassment to the marriage institution. It has gotten to this state mostly because men and women enter into the union based on false premise, false pretext and bogus promises. The lies and the deceits on both sides, the superficiality of intentions on both sides, and the unkept promises coupled with high expectations have become the bane of African marriages.
Africans, Nigerians especially, prefer nurses and doctors. These groups of professionals are considered cash-cows in the United States. If you live in any of the big cities in the United States, you are likely to hear about or be invited to a welcoming party for newly arrived African wives, who are sometimes 10-18 years younger than their husbands. And every so often, the new arrivals would be men, imported husbands.
Most African women come from systems and traditions were the men are better educated and are at the helm of political and economic power and therefore, in most cases, are the sole economic provider. But once in the US and able to go to college, work and provide for themselves, most of these women will no longer see their husbands as the sole-captain, but only as a co-captain, a co-breadwinner, and a co-equal. This realization changes the way they relate to their husbands.
Consequently, the big cities are replete with African women who are single mothers, or women who are in their second or third marriages, or who are simply providing sexual favors to hungry African men. And then there are groups of single or divorced African women who “move” from one city to another in search of husbands. Most are well read, well traveled and have achieved some measure of financial and career success. Buy then the question for most is “What is success without a husband or a children-filled home?”
Rare is the African man in the US who will marry a woman with children or marry a woman who just went through a messy divorce. So, for all those “homegrown African wives” who thinks they will find another husband once they leave their matrimonial homes, well, they are in for a big shock…a rude awakening! After the shock come the sadness and depression and hopelessness.
As for the men, well, most will feel cheated. They feel used. They feel like failures, and may develop psychological hatred for African women. It is never easy on the men. Never! After several years of sending money to Africa to support these women and having to go through the tedious immigration process and then to now have the women unilaterally declare self-independence, walk out of the marriage and in severe cases, call in the government to intercede, can be injurious to the men’s ego and sense of self. And once the men come out of the aforesaid experience, they tend to marry women of other races. Their view of the African woman is never the same again.
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