Shocking Reasons Behind Paying the Bride Price

should paying the bride price be abolished

Should the Bride Price be Abolished in Nigeria

The question of bride price and other traditional marriage rites leave people with different opinions on the subject. While some support the tradition, others feel it should be scrapped but before we delve into the matter we need to know the origin of this practice and the reason behind it.

History of Bride Price

Marriage by purchase was the most commonly practised form of betrothal in historical African society and women were regarded as goods, or gifts. Interestingly, paying bride price isn’t just an African tradition but is also practised in many Asian countries and in the Middle East. 

 

In Nigeria, there’s no uniform or fixed amount of bride price as it varies from one tribe to another. Even within similar tribes especially in the south East, the bride price isn’t the same.

 

Bride price is a sum of money or quantity of goods given to a bride’s family by that of the groom. In many parts of Nigeria especially the South-East, the bride price must be paid first in order for the couple to get permission to marry in church or in other civil ceremonies, or the marriage is not considered valid by the bride’s family. In some parts of Nigeria when a child is born where the bride price of the woman has not been paid, the child belongs to the woman’s family even when he eventually pays the bride price of the woman. I actually know a couple that this happened to.

 

In a situation whereby the groom is unable to meet up to the requirements of the bride for whatever reason, both families can reach an agreement in which he pays whatever he owes within a specified period of time. 

Are Women Actually being Sold Using the Bride Price?

One of my insomnia episodes (let me say I slept a lot that afternoon) I stumbled on a radio station Max FM, interestingly this topic was being discussed on air in the midnight show. 

 

A woman who’s age we couldn’t tell but mentioned that she has been married for a long time stated that paying bride price was a way African men subjugate women. A man who claimed to be a women’s advocate also supported her stating that the trend should be abolished as this has contributed more to domestic violence and abuse in most marriages in Nigeria (I don’t know how true this is and will leave it as it is).

 

An elderly man strongly supported the tradition and maintained that the man isn’t required to provide all of the listed requirements. He also said it depends on the woman”s family. Another man called in support adding that it shows he honours the woman. He reiterated that the concept of bride price is a show of love and not ownership.

 

Okay let me digress a bit…

Did you see the viral post about a man that had to pay ₦580k for the traditional marriage rite even as a low salary earner? Instances like this can make a man distance himself from that family when he eventually marries the woman and I don’t blame the man. My dad of blessed memories always ensured that we visited my maternal home the years we travelled as a family for Christmas. We spent Christmas at Awka then the New Year at Umuahia, my maternal home. This was possible because of the way my mum’s family handled the bride price and other marriages rites.

The Controversies Surrounding the Bride Price

I would have loved to say that paying bride price is a cultural heritage especially in Africa and should still be upheld. We cannot lose what makes us unique to embrace a different culture introduced by the westerners. However in recent times this culture has been commercialized.

 

The practice is like a means to commodify women and show class. Many men have been forced to break up with the woman they truly love and wanted to spend the rest of their life with because of the expensive bride price or were even forced to do the unthinkable just to meet up with the requirement. There was an incidence in October 2019, where a 17-year old girl in Zamfara set herself ablaze over her boyfriend’s inability to pay her bride price.

 

Critical voices across Africa including popular writer and feminist Chimamanda Adichie, some scholars, activists and public intellectuals have begun to condemn the act of paying bride price.

 

Do you support the idea that bride price should be abolished? How’s the bride price requirements where you’re from? For the married folks how did you handle it? Your unreserved opinion and comments would be highly appreciated. Waiting for you in the comment section.

Cheers!

 

Chinyelu Adum is a blend of several traits- fun lover, fashion enthusiast, picture freak, a creative content writer and SEO consultant.

52 comments On Shocking Reasons Behind Paying the Bride Price

  • Thank you for this write up

  • Chijioke Ndubuisi Ofojimba

    You have answered the question in few sentences in your post.

    1. It should be something we should uphold because it makes us unique other than adhering to a western culture

    2. It has been commercialized. If it wasn’t commercialized, then it will still be a respectable practice.

    I don’t think paying of bride price should be abolished simply because few “elders” are using it as a means to solve their money problem. It doesn’t even make sense to give that much, such #580k for a bride price when said money and goods do not even go to the ladies parents.

    As it is said, it is a rite, a formal introduction of the man to the said ladies kindred or umunna/umunne, so obviously palm wine and few items and little cash ought to be presented and this are on instances where the kindred or umunna/umunne exist. It is also similar to formal introduction to the said man to the ladies immediate family, the man ought to go with respectable items and not king Solomon’s breakfast list.

    • You missed where I said I would have loved to say that the tradition should be upheld. The concept of the bride price has been abused sincerely. Thanks for sharing your opinion 👍

  • It should not be abolished per say, but be modified in such a way that an average man can afford every important aspects. However, should not be abused.

  • Babajide Aroyewun

    Fascinating!
    Well, while some of the points you mentioned are valid, it’s also sometimes a measure of the possible prowress of the new man to carry responsibilities.
    It’s no coincedence that any man willing to marry from some certain part of Nigeria will have a VERY CLEAR idea of what he his getting into. Abi you want to use certificate to marry Dangotes daughter ni?

  • This topic is one that as a continent we should look at and definitely as a country we should come to a conclusion to ensure marriage is affordable.. I do agree and of the opinion that bride prices should be paid and collected that’s a bond not necessarily the amount.. But then again at what cost that’s why I earlier solicited for a conference..
    The rites of the south south and south east especially should be reviewed.. The high cost has led our young men into committing unimaginable atrocities or settling for less / more and not for love.. You can imagine where our men are majorly concerned about the qualification of a woman and not the characteristics she possess.. No wonder the high rate in divorce.
    Bride prices and rites should be brought to a minimum to enable men and women marry on time and for the right reasons.. Many women may never get married owing to some of these factors. In a community here in PH Onne to be precise my female colleague told me to begin their marriage rite is well over a million to say how are you.. That would even signal that u have started the process.. I clearly made her know that I can’t afford such if I were to be in love from Onne.. Same with places like Kalabari etc..

    To rap up communities should thoroughly screen these rites and bring them to a minimum such that with a 100dollars one would have been through with all the needed rites.. Putting into consideration the economic situation of the country while giving them a fighting chance to pull through these trying times especially allowing love and peaceful homes to be our bedrock and not selfish practices.

  • To my option, I think bride price should not be a law on tradition. It should be a gift of appreciation from the groom’s family to the bride. This gift of appreciation can be of any kind, cash, goods or materials things.
    Bride price shouldn’t be done as it’s happening and has been happening in years passes and years to come.
    Some states, traditional and family makes bride price look like the female children are being sold to another family, state, tradition or even believe as the case maybe.
    Some traditions and family even go as far as adding ground nut oil, matches sticks, bitter cola for elders etc, and calling it a list for the bride price.
    In some states, tradition and families, when you calculate the total amount for bride price alone it’s enough for you to do the wedding and after party.
    Wedding is a thing of joy and happiness. It’s a ones in a life time event, so why added unnecessary things or money to bride price,or do you want your daughter running back to you after some few months that her husband is broke all because of the money he spent for the wedding and bride price.
    Bride price shouldn’t be done as if the female gender are sold to another family,it should be a thing of appreciation, thanks and love for the family of the bride to see the groom fit to take care of their daughter.

    • A gift of appreciation sounds fair enough. It’s so sad that some families have allowed greed to overshadow the main purpose of the bride price. Thank you for sharing your opinion👍🏼

  • I don’t see the point of bride price to be honest. It’s an archaic practice

  • A gift of appreciation sounds fair enough. It’s so sad that some families have allowed greed to overshadow the main purpose of the bride price. Thank you for sharing your opinion👍🏼

  • Who go settle this matter now? …. I usually look at things differently, in as much as people feel these prices are outrageous or too expensive is some places, the fundamental problem a lot of people fail to see is that our system is messed up esp economically. The level of unemployment is alarming, the environment is not enabling enough to do business or become prolific. Eg the unofficial expected time for a man to get married in this country is from maybe age 27 (that’s after school, nysc, apprentiship etc). But believe me, most people are clueless at that age even up to 35 some are still yet to find their bearing. It’s not totally their fault. So, expecting these set of people that make up a large percentage of riped men based on the aforementioned age range to pay 500k + for BP will always raise uproar until the system gets better.

    I might be wrong, but no BP is up to 1M, that’s about 2,200usd. If things were good enough in this country, a lot of people wont find it hard to fulfill the traditional rights.

    Last last na money yab man. We go all dey alright…

    • Haaa…someone mentioned that some places in PH, Onne to be precise pay up to 1M. It’s just crazy. There’s life after marriage. If those elders really cared about the couple’s welfare especially the woman, they wouldn’t use the bride price as an opportunity to feed their greed even if the man is Dangote.

  • Bride prices isn’t a bad thing, it has been from the on set, paying a lady’s bride price show she is fully urs.
    Let’s look from the other hand some parents or family are been wicked wen it comes to bride price payment , they would want to use the person to achieve all what didn’t achieve.
    Most person’s sells their children all in the name if bride price payment.

  • Bride price is cool. It’s what makes us we. It’s part of our story telling. Has it been abused over time? Yes. Should we therefore throw it into the dustbin of history? I answer this by asking a question of my own; should we be throwing the baby and the bath water? Of course NO. What to do is to sift the wheat from the chaff in our marriage systems. Some cultures are already doing so. They are beginning to delete what’s at best ridiculously discouraging demands made by either parents or societies. So I think that with time, we are sure to get there.

  • I think bride price as a tradition was a way to measure value, ergo “we want to see just how much you think our daughter is worth”
    Worth here would signify dignity, value, pride.
    Money was the best tender for measurement hence….
    Fulani would take strokes of cane – That was a bride price: the price being Pain i.e how much pain can you endure? how important is this bride to you?
    Ancient spartans would send the man into the cold jungle alone to get a leopard: The price was bravery
    But the point of it all was to protect women and give them value: would i treat a woman that i received 24 lashes for lightly?? i think not!
    This i think was the general concept of a BRIDEPRICE.

    The issue here is with perception and the “injection basis priority” of money, the tradition has been watered and nuanced.
    The concept should be retained but in all honesty, times have changed and there should be a better way to maintain these values while becoming more progressive.

    Some cultures in the west would collect a pile of money just to see how you value their daughter but ultimately return the whole bulk to you less a stipend just to show you its all value not commercial…. This is very progressive.

    All in all tradition was made for us, not the other way round: that should matter in all our dealings.

  • Great write up.
    Speaking solely for myself, the way it’s handled could make or break the relationship between the groom and his bride and her people.
    I once dated a girl from Enugu who told me how in her words, ‘her cousin was sold off for almost a million naira’! This was way back in 2004 so to me it was just ridiculous. The guy in question completed the father’s house in the village where a part of the 3 part ceremony would take place, he was to take over her brothers education and a whole load more. Guy was minted so it didn’t drain him that much but his attitude towards his betrothed was different in marriage. It’s like he had paid for a maid and was going to get his moneys worth and in no time, the glow from this one time Ms. NYSC was all gloom. Shortly after, the violence kicked in and before she lost her life, she ran back home where her father seeing what was left of her, kept her hidden when the man came there insisting she returned to him. I think the story ended with the father having to pay a chunk of the expenditure back to the man who turned back like someone who just got a refund from an online store and never looked back.
    In my case, I was charged a paltry N40, 000 which my father in law put right back in my hand and whispered to me, ‘Its tradition but he isn’t selling his daughter, he is getting a son’. I wasn’t expecting that as I thought my own father who did the same for my 3 sisters was just being ‘British’ but that singular act in essence brought about a different kind of love and respect for the family I had married into.
    Would I collect a bride price on my daughter when that time comes? Most definitely but it would be returned with the same words my father in law gave me albeit a bit more threatening, ‘I am not selling my daughter to you, I am bringing you into my family’!

  • Taking away bride price is like taking away a make peice of our culture out of us.
    We are Africans and this is how we dioour thing. Bride price have nothing to do with domestic violence.
    Chiamanda abi what i her name self is just looking for content to make herself relevant let her just goan keep herself company with her awards.

  • Shouldn’t be, can’t be
    It’s our tradition and we should continue cos it makes us unique and it is beautiful. I am saving my millions for my igbo bride

  • The idea of paying bride price should be upheld till Jesus comes if he tarries. It’s a cultural practice and it’s been a social way of interaction btwn different cultures and families as the case may be.

    My take is, if you come from a place where the price is on the high side, there should be a way of adjustment, and then other paparazi is cut off. Besides, where a groom cannot afford a minimum , fairly good amount for a price, both parties should come together to sort the bills
    Finally, abolishing pride price will still not make any difference over the way a woman is handled and threated however, caustion must not be thrown to the wind. If we decide to abolish it, women may have less value in their matrimonial homes as the uncultured adultress men will begin to take tunes of wives and do all sorts with women since it is now free of charge with no stress.

    Moreso, people can begin to marry themselves with no formal identity, no family support or approval, if we are not careful the society will be thrown to chaois ,when a cousin does not know an in-law, a mother does not know her step son, uncle, father in-law, sister doesn’t recognize her nephew etc.
    The old people were never fools, they had wisdom.

    All we can cry about in this age and time, is to call those who have outrageous sum to order. Or risk having their female daughters pregnanted bfr marriage and lost forever.

  • Christabel Kanayo

    The idea of paying bride price should be upheld till Jesus comes if he tarries. It’s a cultural practice and it’s been a social way of interaction btwn different cultures and families as the case may be.

    My take is, if you come from a place where the price is on the high side, there should be a way of adjustment, and then other paparazi is cut off. Besides, where a groom cannot afford a minimum , fairly good amount for a price, both parties should come together to sort the bills
    Finally, abolishing pride price will still not make any difference over the way a woman is handled and threated however, caustion must not be thrown to the wind. If we decide to abolish it, women may have less value in their matrimonial homes as the uncultured adultress men will begin to take tunes of wives and do all sorts with women since it is now free of charge with no stress.

    Moreso, people can begin to marry themselves with no formal identity, no family support or approval, if we are not careful the society will be thrown to chaois ,when a cousin does not know an in-law, a mother does not know her step son, uncle, father in-law, sister doesn’t recognize her nephew etc.
    The old people were never fools, they had wisdom.

    All we can cry about in this age and time, is to call those who have outrageous sum to order. Or risk having their female daughters pregnanted bfr marriage and lost forever.

  • Kelechi Onuchukwu

    Tradition must be obeyed, It is as simple as that. However, the process these days i don’t understand it and i see reasons why young men are complaining about the high cost of traditional rites because it is almost synonymous to sale of their daughters. Parents should do better biko.

  • Bride price isnt exactly a womans worth, its show of respect to her family that you do not take her for granted and you are willing to do whatever it takes to have her. It doesnt have to be money, it could be whatever its required by her culture

  • In my own opinion bride price should not be abolished, it’s a tradition that must be upheld! So they should marry us for free? Mba🤣! Well some families have commercialized this whole thing and turned it into a business and that’s really unfair. I think they should be a body regulating this whole thing and some laws or measures should be put in place regarding this bride price thingy! Women are not for sale and it should reflect as such! Bride price should be made affordable in all tribes for the average man. Thank u for this post

  • The bride price cannot be abolished cos it’s rooted in culture and cuts across all tribes and ethnicity in Nigeria. It is not a purchase tool, rather show of honor. Has it been abused by some? Yes a lot! Especially in some areas in the Southeastern Nigeria and this has brought about acrimony in many homes and not so funny experiences as well. My advice is that parents should be wise and be kind to their prospective Inlaws so that in the future they can enjoy the extended relationship

  • I find it hilarious that people on here find a way to equate Traditionalism to Christianity. For a lack of a better word, traditionalism = paganism…..simple and short.

    There have been horrible traditions that people have had to let go of cos of the morality of it all.

    Killings of albinos
    Killings of twins
    Discarding of the female babe
    Discarding the deformed.

    But now, this tradition, that is stemmed in the greed of man and has no biblical grounds is given credence because of what?

    In the bible, the only mention of a price of a woman was in the story of Laban, Leah, Rachel and Jacob and it was Jacobs idea to work 7 years for Rachel and then another 7 years when Laban swindled him into marrying Leah initially. If anything, if you see this as a bride price, the concept was already flawed from the biblical times. Laban ‘scammed’ Jacob as many fathers scam their prospective son in laws.

    Mary had no pride price
    Esther had no pride price

    Name one women in the bible that had a bride price lemme faint on my bed now.

    Bride price is the manifestation of the greed of the human race. And when women are married out as ‘property’ to the highest bidder, they shouldnt be surprised when they get treated as property cos when i pay for a phone and it doesnt work, guess wat, ‘i go buy another phone’

    🙂

  • I do not know the practice from ancient history, however I feel the concept of the brideprice has been negated. I believe it should be symbolic and not more like a business transaction. Some form of offering or gifts should take place across both families, something to honour and bond the event. It should be something readily available or something unique yet affordable. The bride’s family should pay as much as the groom’s. This will level the playing field from the onset. I believe we have lost the meaning of it but it should not be abolished, rather amended.

  • 👰 price should not be abolished, it’s a tradition we must uphold, but it should just be symbolic so it doesn’t seem like the bride is a comodity. In my opinion, a symbolic price of N100 sef is okay, just to show that a price was paid nothing more. Asking for ridiculous amount of money just shows that parents are now using their daughters as a poverty aleviation scheme and opens the door for abuse and mistreatment in the marriage.

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