Before I go any further to discuss the topic for this blogpost, please be aware that what you are about to read in no way tries to condemn or justify the culture of Bride Prices or Dowries in our traditional marriage ceremony. This post only seeks to discuss into some detail, the constituents of the Bride Price in view of current modern cultures, practices and trends.
Now onto it.
I’m sure most of you have at one point or the other in your lifetime been to a traditional engagement ceremony in Ghana. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, it is usually along the same lines. A man and a woman date for some time; the man asks the woman to marry her (or the woman coerces the man to ask him to marry her :P); they agree to be with each other forever and then comes the Knocking Ceremony. As the name implies, it involves the man knocking at the door of the lady’s home, then being invited in by the bride's family. The man’s entrance is usually with singing, drumming or dancing (sometimes all of the above). Him, his abusuafoɔ (family: nuclear and extended) and friends come in bearing gifts of all forms, sizes and shapes - the Bride Price - in a colourful display. It’s very fascinating really. The elements of this gift package include, her dowry, a Bible, the engagement ring, yards of fabric, underwear for the lady, a suitcase (portmanteau) jewellery, a goat, a cow, a car (in some extreme cases), among other things. Some families prefer to give out a list and from what I’ve heard, this is the subject of many a debate, both internally and externally. It is very likely that if the potential mother/father-in-law approves of it, the potential son-in-law will disapprove of it. And so on, and so forth. Sometimes, the engagement ceremony is put on ice until some amicable agreement is achieved.
But I'm no expert in tradition, so I won't go any further down this road. My case is very simple. If in 1945 owning a full piece of Printex wax meant the world to you, in the year 2010, a full piece of Printex wax print pales in comparison to a 60 inch Plasma television! All in favour say "Aye aye Captain Rebel".
What in goodness name am I going to do with bails of Printex or GTP fabric? Perhaps if I had a shop in Makola, that would be ideal. But I'm not, so go figure! I like tradition, don’t get me wrong. I admire the thought that went behind the action back in the 1700s. Note: Pass tense. You do realize that these traditions were based on the customs of the era in which they were created, and back then, there was nothing like High Definition Television!!! I dey lie?
So I am making a decree, right here, right now on this World Wide Web. This decree goes out to enlighten any man out there who may dare to marry me, that he’s not going to get away easily with a few pieces of cloth and a portmanteau. No no no. I'm a modern girl (anybody know the equivalent of 90's girl in the 2000s?) as such, I have modernized my traditions, with modern items in my modern engagement list. As such modern items such as the full range of all of Apple’s products; I’m talking iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macbooks, iMacs, and whichever Apple product may have emerged; a 60-inch HDTV; designer watches (emphasis on “watches”); 12 sets of pants suits, some artwork from a famous painter (preferably a dead one), a complete gym set to maintain my figure after having our children and several others. I could go on until eternity. I want practical items, things that apply to my life in the year 2010. I don’t want to do things for the sake of tradition. The tradition must be applicable. We must evolve our traditions and in effect our bride price! Is that too much to ask? I don’t drink schnapps; nor does any other member of my family. So it would be prudent of you to bring in a bottle of Alize or Chardonnay or something like that. Forget about the old stuff. It’s absolutely useless! What am I going to do with unending yards of cloth? I might make a series of bed sheets out of them. That’s all their good for (from the Rebel's perspective, that is).
If traditions are based on the lifestyles of people, and we both agree that society evolves, why don’t our traditions evolve with the evolving society? Why do we stick to irrelevant customs made for people who have been dead for years now? Someone tell me why. If you think of a good reason, please let me know. I’m counting on you.