Why Nnewi Men Frown At Late Marriage And Take Measures To Prevent It
I could remember that year vividly. It was in 1982 when my mom sent me to buy her Okra at Nkwo market.
I had followed her on several occasions to the same market to purchase foodstuff and she had reasonably assumed that I had learned her buying patterns or sense.
To my mom, at my age and exposure, such errand was supposed to be an easy task.
Taking a cursory look at the Okra pods I bought, my mom released two quick, thunderous and successive slaps on my cheeks shouting
“how do you expect me to cook with this over-aged Okra?”
“Return all pods to the seller, Mama Akuafia, and ask her to give you Okra suitable for soup making. Utufuluku!” She Ordered
Of course, I returned in time from the market with not-so-mature but tender okra pods which my mom adjudged okay for soup making.
The lesson still sticks till today.
I also learnt from my mum that the bones of an over-aged hen are very hard to masticate or chew and could crack the teeth of a strong adult.
For my mum, Okra and hen are more useful at their prime, not when they have over-matured or too old to be used.
Most old women in my village believe that even the womb of a mature woman conceives fibroid when it is not given a foetus to carry.
My townswomen also love to nurse their grandchildren at Omugwo or at the very early days of their infancy.
Also, it was a wide belief in my place that a man who waits till old age to marry is selfish. He doesn’t plan to train or raise his children to adulthood. He also needs a helper to satisfy his wife when he can no longer arise.
That was the same reason why Mr. Okenkwucha had to ask Dr. John Nwayo, 56 years old multiple Ph.D. holders who spent his youth acquiring degrees and suddenly realized that he needed to marry, to perish the thought of marrying his daughter.
Mr. Okenkwucha told Dr. Nwayo to “go to Ikedife Hospital, straight to the maternity section, and ask any nursing mother with a girl-child to give you her baby for a wife.
“Idiot! Do you want to die on top of my 20 years old daughter? You should have acquired more degrees at Fernanda Po before returning home. Anu ofia!” Mr. Okenkwucha thundered as he turned back Dr. John Nwayo and his entourage away from his house.
Before now in Nnewi, it was difficult for parents to give away their daughters in marriage to a 40-year-old single man.
A thorough inquiry would be conducted to ascertain why the dude was still single.
Once a man attained the age of marriage, his mother would do all including borrowing or pledging farmland to a creditor to raise money to finance her son’s marriage.
The male beneficiary of a marriage loan was expected to work harder to reclaim the land collateral by repaying the loan.
This kind of loan is called “ido ani n’ibe” in Nnewi.
Also, no man was expected to marry before the elder son(s) of his mom. The man eager to marry would have to sponsor the marriage of his older ones before he would be allowed to marry.
The social structures above ensured that men married at the appropriate time.
There were males nobody disturbed or bothered even if they remained single.
This class includes the nondescript or “efulefus”; semi-mad, completely mad and the imbecile.
Some of the people in this class were allowed to marry under certain conditions:
They would have a wife in nomenclature but not in reality. Some other male relations would be detailed to handle the procreation assignments as the kinsmen would not want a recreation of the undesirable traits of the apparent husband in “his” kids.
In Nnewi of old, beauty was not the main reason why a lady would be above 40 years and still be happily single.
It never happened where a daughter’s mother is “awake as fish” and would allow soap of non-marriage of her daughter “enter her eyes”. Simply put: a mother must resolve or find solutions as to why her daughter would remain unmarried and is approaching menopause.
There must be a cause for that and a solution must be found either in the water or on the land.
Before 1988, almost half of the 18-year-olds in school certificate class in all-girls’ secondary schools in my town would have been betrothed to one man or the other.
Many who insisted on furthering their education would do so with a ring on either of their fourth or third fingers.
If it were when my mother and her mates were in charge, almost all today’s ripe single ladies would have been cross-matched with their husbands many years before now.
I don’t know what happened to our marriage enabling structures.
So many of our young men and women are not being assisted to marry because we have become more educated, isolated and civilized.
These days, I hear our girls, especially the working class and those in high salary earning cadre, say that they are single and happy.
Some of our marriageable youth now find virtue in Baby Mama and Baby Papa appellations.
We must fix this problem