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Polygamy and Other African Tribal Customs

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Polygamy is a main feature of African tribal customs…

Christianity and Western values are influencing the African society for monogamous relationships. However, Islamic permission for polygamy has strengthened the African tribal customs in this regard. The statistics show that 36% women in rural areas and 24% women in urban areas have to accept polygamous marriages.

Most of the women prefer monogamous marriages to acquire importance with their husbands and to avoid pressures and jealousies of the previous wives. However, it is wrong to say that Islam has caused polygamy in Africa. The ancient African tribal customs prove that polygamy had been prevailing in the African countries for centuries.

Some claim that polygamy in Africa is result of marriage in teenage. Some point out that polygamy is result of age-gaps between husband and first wife. Some others even claim that African women accept polygamous marriages to get protection of the wealthy and influential married people.

In eight out of our eleven countries, the proneness to marriage in early ages is in varying degree. Incidentally the uneducated women not only prefer to marry early but also involve in polygamous relations. On the other hand the girls in schools prefer to delay their marriage for a significant time. The educated women also reject polygamous marriages and prefer to be single wives of their husbands. They don’t like to become junior wives to the less educated or previous wives.

Analysis show that the African women getting education have to face a short marriage market for a compatible husband. Some allege that such situations the women prefer prohibited relationships with older husbands of worth, hoping that their roles as "outside wives" will help them advance into superior social echelons.

Other African Tribal Customs

A traditional African wedding is a complex pack of divergent customs, rituals and events. The influence of Islam, Christianity and Western values is imminent. However, African public prefers to follow their centuries old African tribal customs with a lot of honor and pride.

A marriage in Africa is not union of two persons but of two families. And majority of African marriages are arranged. The role of families of the marriage partners is very important. The general public considers arranged marriages as a symbol of honor and prestige. That’s why every notable family and their children prefer arranged marriages even when their children develop some kind of affair before marriage. The children of a married couple are considered belonging to the families and their parents in equal terms.

On the other hand the poor families allow love marriages. The young people have to decide their life partners independently. Though they may have consent of their parents but still they are not forced to enter an arranged marriage against their wills.

In African tribal customs, the girls are supposed to avoid sexual interaction before marriages. They protect their virginity as a symbol of their honor and respect. Most of the women in African believe that they should follow a specific order of love, marriage and child birth.

In today’s Lamu communities the brides are mandated to be virgin before wedlock. They recognize it as a chapter of honor and respect. They want their women adjusted to safeguard their families and support a good esteem.

Under Western vehemence some people may accept pre-marital sexual relations as a part of marriage process. Some may argue that it is a way to determine sexual compatibility between the partners and to examine their fertility. However, there are certain scientific and psychological methods to determine the both sides without having sexual relation.

In African tribal customs the age of the marriage partners has never been an issue. However, under the influence of Islam and Western values, the modern states of African have preferred to fix a minimum age level for marriage. The marriage age level is low in uneducated girls while it is increasing fast in the educated girls. In Muslim and Protestant families the women prefer to marry from 19 years to 29 years of their ages.

In African tribal customs, the bride is shows to the whole tribe. It is a symbolic consent of the bride to enter in the world of women. She is going to be no more a girl but a woman who can share her private talks to other married women.

A special ceremony is organized. The public welcomes the bride with clapping and cheerful sounds. She is admitted as a star of night. The brides are expected to wear traditional marriage dresses. However, if families allow the bride may go for western styled marriage dresses.

About the Author

Saqib Ali offers deep insight into Muslim marriages in the light of Quran, Hadith and opinions of the Muslim Jurists. Read critical opinions into the concepts of marriage, divorce and family life in Islam at http://www.muslim-marriage-guide.com

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