In Search of An African Husband

by Uche Nworah

“Hello, I saw your article on marriage in Igboland and decided to send you an email. I am unsure if you will respond but I would really appreciate it if you would.

Currently I am dating a Nigerian man who is Igbo. He told me a few months back that he could not marry outside of village because of his heritage. He said that when he was smaller the elders prophesied to his parents that he and his siblings would marry inside their village and that if they married outside their village, he and his family would experience hardships (curses) such as death, struggle, financial burdens etc.

Is this true or is this a way so that he could avoid marrying me?”

“Igbos are indeed very traditional, we have lots of superstitious beliefs and so it would not be out of place for your fiancé to think the way he does at the moment. There have been those who have defied such tradition and married outside their village, there are no empirical evidence to suggest that such people have met with any extraordinary hardships as a result of their straying from their village and taking wives from elsewhere”.

“Unfortunately, he is not my fiancé’ but my boyfriend.He does not want to marry nor have children with me NOT because he does not love me but because he said it would be against what was prophesied and his life would be cursed as well as his family’s life.

We have hit so many walls regarding this that I am at my rope’s end. I do not know what to do. I love him, marriage and children are important to me but he refuses to marry me.

Is there anything documented to suggest that he can still marry outside his village? Is there such a thing as elders that prophesy in the lives of Igbos? Can I speak with the elders about this? I really love this man and before I let go, I need to know that I did everything to see if we could get beyond it. Thank you for your help”.

“There are countless Igbo communities that it would be difficult to assume that one can easily contact the so-called elders and try to appease them. The tradition does not work like that, someone like you will require a kind of in-road or bridge to get across to the elders if at all, but still, that may not solve the problem.

Perhaps your boyfriend’s problems for not marrying you are more personal than it may seem, and may not have anything to do with the elders. Some Igbos still have inhibitions about marrying ‘white people’ due to the cultural differences that may rock the marriage in the future. During courtship these may not be so much a problem but in marriage they play a big role. Perhaps you should engage him in a discussion or try to come to terms with his wishes”.

“I am not white. I am African – American. I have considered that perhaps it’s more personal than anything, however, he has confessed to me that he has never loved a woman the way he loves me. I am the first African – American woman he has dated. Every time I tell him that I want to walk away he does not want me to but I am 31 years oldand I do not want to spend my life in a dead end situation when I know that marriage and kids are important to me. Perhaps I have exhausted all options and have no other choice but to leave this man alone and walk away. Thank you so much for your advice and open ear”.

“I assumed you were white from your name, but still you may only share skin colour affinity with your Igbo boyfriend, the cultural differences still remain and are evident. If he was to marry you and take you to his village to meet his people, would you be up to the task of waking up early in the mornings and sweeping the compound, and then going down the village stream to fetch water for his grand mother, on finishing that, will you still have enough strength left to cook for your in-laws?”

“Yes, I would. I am not like the average American woman. I was raised to cook and clean. I spent summers on a farm and started cooking when I was 12. I am a great cook, I know how to clean the house and I love to cater for people. So I am no stranger to hard work. As a matter of fact there are many days I work 8 hours, drive and an hour home, cook dinner for him and myself and do 2 hours of home work for college and then make love to him.

So it’s not an issue of being a real woman to him. But you said something I was already thinking. It could be more than the tradition. I can not come to terms and accept that I will never marry or have kids if I stay with him and obviously there is no way around it. For months I have researched this issue with him and for months I have come up empty handed. I guess I should just move on when my heart allows it”.

By the way, if you know of any single African men who do not have any traditional hang-ups tell them about me. I am a good woman just in a bad situation. Thanks for all your information”

“Ok, I will”.

To be continued.

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Reverie November 28, 2007 - 1:42 pm

Poor girl. I really feel your pain. But the sad truth is that he never had any intention of marrying you. Unfortunately, a lot of Igbo men do this a lot. They know deep within that they are unlikely to marry outside their ethnic group, yet they date non-Igbo girls without any qualms, only to use and dump them at the last minute.

At least in some other ethnic groups, if their men know they have an aversion to taking a wife from outside their clan, they will not even date those who are not from their area. That way, people are spared a lot of pain and hard feelings. Take heart.

I pray the right man who will love you for who you are, will find you.

j October 28, 2007 - 4:38 am

my man told me that he cannot marry me because i'm not igbo last week and i truly feel your pain because i'm in the exact position that i love him so much that i cannot walk away and on the other hand i'm only 21 and have time to find another man. but 2 people in his family already married non-igbos and i think if he really really loved me he Would marry me without doing all these calculations in his head!..i'm just very dissapointed in him because he wasn't honest about his culture or his feelings..he's even come 2 my family and everyone liked him and he made everyone think that he is very serious about us. i just think this is racism..and i never thought it would exist in africa!i'm middle-eastern and my parents compromised alot eventhough they obviously prefer a middle-eastern guy,.. its just so sad, i just don't know how to move on…

Anonymous July 3, 2007 - 5:08 pm

I know an Igbo guy who told an african-american girl that he was going to marry so he could have sex with her in the shortest time possible. He left her after 2 weeks!

Tootsie June 17, 2007 - 4:41 pm

I don't believe that its necessarily an 'ibo thing'. I do believe just like the writer stated that it could be more of personal reasons best known to her BF than traditional underlying issues. Come on now y'all; when you meet that person who you think is the 'ONE', you'll break any and every barrier that may be in the way to tie that knot with or without approval. Remember the song "when a man loves a woman, can't keep his mind on nothing else" I guess this is a whole new topic…dont wanna have to go there. But just dropping my few lines on that…

lala May 22, 2007 - 8:37 pm

I am an African American engaged to an igbo man and can honestly say that we have had our share of problems from planning a wedding to having it cancelled because it was outside of his culture and trying to prove myself that I am a good woman though I am not igbo. I have helped out the family and gone above and beyond the call of duty in trying to prove myself to them. However he is so worth it he is attentive sensitive a great listener and we have a true spiritual connection with God and each other. Although he grew up in Nigeria he embraces the american culture also. so tell her to stick it out, but if he is being honest take it as just that he doesnt want to commit and move on.

cassie May 11, 2007 - 10:35 am

Quit being tribalistic and stop making this an igbo thing. I know a lot of non-igbo people who wont marry anyone outside their tribe and a lot of igbos who are married to non igbos and even white women

D May 11, 2007 - 3:39 am

Please walk away before it is too late. He has already stated his intentions and he wont change.

Reply May 10, 2007 - 9:04 pm

If a man is that influenced by his parents or elders, than, to me, I would never get involved with him in the first place. How can you get to know the "real" person, for they have been conditioned to believe what his parents or elders (of the village) have told them, and do not have a mind of their own. I am African American and I married a Nigerian man earlier this year. He and my stepson will be joining me in the states next month. I realized after the wedding that the church he goes to wants a woman to cover up her head (with a head clothe). Now I do not particularly care for african attire, and I do not pay all that money for my hairdo to have it wrapped up. Also, the women must wear sleeves down to their wrists (in that heat). The men sit separate from the females, they do not allow women to preach or minister in their church, and on-and-on . .One thing I love about him is that when he comes to America, he is willing to adapt to the ways here. Even when we visit there, he is willing for us to visit another church. But I find it interesting that if we go to his home church, he wants me to modify my appearance to conform to their ways. I asked him why can't the church members respect me, my Christian belief, and the way I dress . .(I am a very conservative looking African American woman). He seems to think I will look like a man if I do not cover my head (quite interesting)! I told him I could never look like a man, so I do not see how a head scarf places that much of a distinction between a male and female. That is the only area, so far, that I have noticed we differ. I am realizing that there may be more cultural differences as we actually live together as man and wife. But if two people love one another, and are willing to compromise, I think the marriage will survive.

If her man is not willing to marry her, than it is time to WALK AWAY, and probably knock yourself for wasting that much time in a relationship with someone who had no intentions of marrying you in the first place. You know he will not marry you, and I would not want to try and FORCE someone to marry me against his will (not to flattering is it?). Just move on .. . .

Christina May 10, 2007 - 5:30 pm

Hello there, i'm sorry to hear your story I am a white lady. I have often thought on similar lines about what you have said. Fortunately I was taken down to 'igboland' I seen the whole thing. I think if someone loves someone so much he will stopm being a traditionalist and compromise. There are plently of other lovely nigerian brothers out there for you. get away from this man. he could be already engaged. I have heard storoes about some igbo men who were engaged and were living with south africans and two weeks before their wives came they threw them out of the house. So how do you now thats what could be in his plan. He already made it clear.

Sheila May 10, 2007 - 4:20 pm

My sister you have a lot to learn about igbo men. I have know may of them for about 10 years now. GET OUT QUICKLY. this will not be going anywhere. If he truly loved you he would not be that way simple. Stop trying to analyze it that the problem to many women have. Love is not that hard. I am not trying to be harsh, but you being my sister I have to be real. Igbo men are beautiful, but they tend to do exactly what they want and as far as you know he may already have another agenda and that why he won't commit. Also as my mom has always told me why buy the cow when you already have the milk at home. You are already doing wifely duties so why would he need to marry you? My sister my advise is stop doing some of these things let him miss something, if you live with him get out he has to understand what he is missing. To the author you were very straight forward with this women, I hope she takes your advise.

Chiddy May 10, 2007 - 4:07 pm

Wow,touching story.I think she may have to move on if this guy is not willing to marry her.If he's really serious about not marrying an Igbo lady then there's little she can do to change his mind.She is good woman and deserves so much better.

Anonymous May 10, 2007 - 2:40 pm

Nah today? It is a known fact that Igbo people DO NOT like marrying non-Igbos. Anybody wasting his or her time toasting or dating one is just decieving his or herself. I would advice "move on Sister". He is not going to change. You are lucky he even told you! I have a friend that dated an Igbo guy for 8yrs (she met him at 23yrs) when she was 30, he told her his mother didnt like the fact that she was from Cross River State so he couldnt marry her! (after 8yrs!) I dont waste time with Igbo men. Once he introduces himself as Emeka, Obinna or whatever…I move on mentally. Sorry! I aint tribalistic just realistic!

Anonymous May 10, 2007 - 12:28 pm

God bless her. I was in a similar situation until 3 months ago. His familys views about non-Igbo people not going to change and he didn't want to do anything of which they didn't approve. While she is fighting a good fight, sadly, I think that she is fighting one in which she has already lost.


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