“It is just a vicious circle which ends up making women perpetually subordinate and dependant. It is a coated form of the modern slavery” one of the opponents argued.
At the end of the street, our reporter could hear a local government worker announcing the new government mass wedding bonanza with a loudspeaker. When approached by the reporter, the announcer, a man in his middle 40s told her that the potential candidates must first apply for the wedding. After one is short listed, they must be tested for HIV before being helped with the match-making. Then he added quickly: “The brides have the final say in choosing their husbands. Moreover, men who marry through this programme will not be allowed to divorce their wives without permission from the Bahiz board.”
Under normal circumstances, according to the local culture, the husband of a potential bride, pays the bride price as well as what the local call bride's "kayan daki," a collection of colourful brass and enamel household utensils which symbolize the bride’s marriage cum social status. While a local business magnet volunteered to pay for the "kayan daki," the Bahiz board takes the responsibility for the bride price. It would not be entirely wrong therefore, to say that the bride is being given away free to the groom, according to a local point of view. It is therefore with this view in mind that the local authority has insisted that the new groom is not allowed to divorce his new bride without the approval of from the Bahiz board.
While many have questioned the rationale behind a marriage without courtship in northern society of Rianige, where arranged marriage is one of the commonest practices, others challenge the argument of the Bahiz board that the women themselves do have the final say in choosing their husbands. This problem became clear when of the brides flatly rejected interest from one of the grooms, whom she knew long ago as irresponsible. It took the intervention of the board to “convince” her to “try” the groom for some months and change him to a better husband.
“You cannot get everything you want in a marriage” one of the board members reminded the bride, who grudgingly took the groom. She faced the option of accepting the “recommendation” of the board or risk not getting a husband and thereby forfeiting the financial benefits from the board as a married woman. Furthermore, the marriage raises her social acceptance and status and avoids unnecessary stigmatization in the society where single womanhood is clearly not encouraged or appreciated.
But that same attitude cannot be said to apply to men, who are not looked down upon for being unmarried. When Kata Kata’s reporter asked one of the potential grooms, Mallam Aboki what he would do if his would - be new wife refuses to cook for him, he looked at the correspondent as if she has just committed an abominable atrocity.
“When a wife cannot cook or born a baby for the husband, of what use is she?” Aboki asked nonchalantly.
The reporter quickly reminded him that he is not allowed to divorce his new wife without the authorisation of the Bahiz board. He smiled.
“The Bahiz board members are human beings, just men like me. Moreover, they are part of the local government and culture. We know how to get things done, either by force or by monetary persuasion.” Mallam Aboki replied with much confidence.
Our reporter only wished the potential brides could hear Mallam Aboki speaking.
The above story is a parody. It is entirely fictitious; therefore none of the characters mentioned in the story is real.