Church Wedding Before Traditional Wedding: Putting The Cart Before The Horse

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The Nigerian is an elaborate person who doesn't waste any opportunity to party, his poor finances not withstanding. Weddings are one such avenue for our public show of extravagance. Some one-a comedian on one edition of Nite of a thousand Laughs-had observed that the most expensive thing in Nigeria was marriage because of the detail put into it : introductions, traditional wedding, church wedding, thanks giving service and then the honey moon which due to its tone in Nigeria he referred to as an ‘excursion'.

The comedian however also questioned why we Africans should bother our selves with such routine especially the Church wedding part asking if the white men did our own traditional wedding. He concluded that its was all part of our continued colonialism by the west.

The westerners who brought us all these practices-a church wedding after the traditional one- funnily do not put any emphasis on weddings. Couples meet on the road, in the train, in a pub, wherever, get discussing and walk down the road to a registry and get married. Parents, friends and relations only get to know about it later. Around here-perhaps due to the sacred importance we attached to the union, it is different. I will spare us the details.

But that is really not the issue this piece wishes to address. I grew up to know of a particular pattern marriage took. It is always the traditional wedding first before the Church or white wedding. Recently however, the leadership of the Catholic Church in some sections of the country-Nsukka Dioceses for example- have reversed the trend by breathing down their faithful a new decree or dogma as they call it that the Church wedding shall hence forth be superior to the Traditional union and must be performed first. In fact, the way the law is, it leaves the impression that the Church doesn't now attach any importance whatsoever to the Traditional union and doesn't really care if it holds or not. What was important was the Church union. 

Their reason? Many young men take wives, perform the traditional rites and don't –especially due to the financial demands- go the whole hug to bless the marriage on the alter. The two begin to co-habit, bear children and all that which is not Christian and of course keeps both parents and off springs from the church sacraments. Hence the new order.

With due respect to the Catholic Church and the Bishops who have promulgated these ‘decrees', I beg to disagree. With all sincerity, I appreciate their reason, but I simply can not come to terms with any thing-religious or other wise- which seek to relegate our cherished traditional values to the realms of antiquity and of no value whatsoever. This is exactly what this new law is doing.

The early Christian missionaries succeeded to a great deal because they some how found a way of infusing their teachings along our traditional beliefs not necessarily against it. That way, our people were at home so to speak with most of the teachings thus it was easier for them to come to church. Some essential values such as the sanctity of marriage were preserved and protected. When a Church teaching is such that it has the propensity of setting the Church against the people, such a law is all but healthy.

I am an advocate of the old order-our traditional wedding first- not because I am a curator of some sort or an old school fellow who feels so attached to the traditions and thus antagonistic to change. No, I am taking this stand based on what I see as the very great importance the traditional wedding bears-an essential part of our culture- which the new law threatens to erode.  

The traditional wedding includes all such rites as the payment of the bride price which symbolizes more than any ceremony on the alter can, an entry into a lifelong union by both families, wine carrying or Igba Nkwu-for the Igbos- which is sort of a public acknowledgement by the bride that yes this is the man I love and married to, exchange of gifts etc.

These ceremonies do not only have strong significance in upholding the sanctity of marriage and advancing our culture, it also helps to better unite both the family of the bride and groom who are both now united by the marriage of their children. It helps to foster unity, and better understanding between people of varying beliefs and more importantly, members of these two families contribute to ensure the union is a success.

When we de-emphasis these, and glorify the exchange of ring on the alter-which is essentially an alien practice borrowed from the West- we are simply putting the cart before the horse and inviting a series of other problem while trying to solve a religious one. Amongst many of these other problems, we are giving youngsters permission to get married with or without the consent of their families.

While I subscribe to change without which our society could not have evolved from what it was fifty years back to what it is now, I wish to strongly advocate for a retention of those traditions and practices which distinguishes us as Africans, makes us unique and gives us an identity.

With our music getting essentially hip-hop, our dressing getting wilder, our mother tongue becoming extinct and our traditional weddings taking the back stage, I am afraid we-Africans-are gradually losing what we have as an identity. The Catholic Church of all institutions should appreciate this.


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Datuouwadaberechi posted on 09-21-2008, 14:57:57 PM
thanks for a very important article.
as u point out, its not that religion isnt important, but we should NOT conceed to letting go of what makes us unique.... traditions passed on from our ancestors...our essense as a people.
this colonial mentality, or maybe its now globalisation should be resisted oh.
Valteena posted on 09-21-2008, 15:15:10 PM
"When we de-emphasis these, and glorify the exchange of ring on the alter-which is essentially an alien practice borrowed from the West- we are simply putting the cart before the horse and inviting a series of other problem while trying to solve a religious one. Amongst many of these other problems, we are giving youngsters permission to get married with or without the consent of their families".

"While I subscribe to change without which our society could not have evolved from what it was fifty years back to what it is now, I wish to strongly advocate for a retention of those traditions and practices which distinguishes us as Africans, makes us unique and gives us an identity."

"With our music getting essentially hip-hop, our dressing getting wilder, our mother tongue becoming extinct and our traditional weddings taking the back stage, I am afraid we-Africans-are gradually losing what we have as an identity. The Catholic Church of all institutions should appreciate this".


I completely concur with the well articulated view in the above article. Couldn't fault it if I tried. Nice job
Re: Church Wedding Before Traditional: The Cart Before The Horse
Employlawone posted on 09-22-2008, 08:16:16 AM
QUOTE:
[/QUOTE]The westerners who brought us all these practices-a church wedding after the traditional one- funnily do not put any emphasis on weddings. Couples meet on the road, in the train, in a pub, wherever, get discussing and walk down the road to a registry and get married. Parents, friends and relations only get to know about it later. Around here-perhaps due to the sacred importance we attached to the union, it is different. I will spare us the details.[QUOTE]


The statement above is a very simplistic stereotyping of the Western society. Whilst it is true that 'cold climate' cultures relate more closely with the nuclear family, it is certainly inaccurate to generalise the point to the extent that you have.
Re: Church Wedding Before Traditional: The Cart Before The Horse
Heart-thief posted on 09-22-2008, 09:57:47 AM
QUOTE:
\"When we de-emphasis these, and glorify the exchange of ring on the alter-which is essentially an alien practice borrowed from the West- we are simply putting the cart before the horse and inviting a series of other problem while trying to solve a religious one. Amongst many of these other problems, we are giving youngsters permission to get married with or without the consent of their families\".

\"While I subscribe to change without which our society could not have evolved from what it was fifty years back to what it is now, I wish to strongly advocate for a retention of those traditions and practices which distinguishes us as Africans, makes us unique and gives us an identity.\"

\"With our music getting essentially hip-hop, our dressing getting wilder, our mother tongue becoming extinct and our traditional weddings taking the back stage, I am afraid we-Africans-are gradually losing what we have as an identity. The Catholic Church of all institutions should appreciate this\".


hmmm thank you!!
Like I always say, we africans love to copy and we copy wrongly. . . we even sometimes, overtake those we're learning from--- I pray we awake from our slumber and get back on track.
Re: Church Wedding Before Traditional: The Cart Before The Horse
Lionking posted on 09-22-2008, 13:41:57 PM
I keep saying it - the Roman Catholic church in Igboland has a lot to answer for. From ordering Igbo Catholics not to vote for any non-Catholic to blackmailing Catholic parents from giving out their daughters to non-Catholic husbands. Look at most town unions in Anambra axis for example - they are polarized on Catholic vs Protestant basis largely instigated by the Catholic bishops.

Now the new one in Nsukka diocese is that church wedding must be performed first before native law and custom. Imagine celibate priests and bishops enforcing marriage regulations on hapless couples and their families. Dem go tire. In my area, most Catholic ladies quietly ignored the bishop and married who ever came forward to ask for their hand. As the joke in my place goes, na fada go marry the girls?
Re: Church Wedding Before Traditional: The Cart Before The Horse
Sapele Man posted on 09-22-2008, 14:05:04 PM
QUOTE:
hmmm thank you!!
Like I always say, we africans love to copy and we copy wrongly. . . we even sometimes, overtake those we're learning from--- I pray we awake from our slumber and get back on track.


heart-thief

Sorry, you'ill have to pray very hard and for a very long time.
Re: Church Wedding Before Traditional: The Cart Before The Horse
Dewdrops posted on 09-22-2008, 14:42:00 PM
Dog dey bark!
Re: Church Wedding Before Traditional: The Cart Before The Horse
Depirate posted on 09-22-2008, 16:50:08 PM
Sure let us glorify our great heritage.

Let us glorify my grandfather not letting my mother marry my father due to the part of igboland he came from (they eloped by the way)

Let us glorify the osu heritage of igboland

Let us glorify parents choosing their childrens spouses

Let us glorify female genital mutilation

Let us glorify female subservience

Let us condemn the foreign tradition that is choice

Let us condemn 2 people who just want to get married because they want to spend the rest of their lives together (what do they matter as long as tradition is maintained)

Ps did not read the article (get the general drift from the comments)

Pps the African identity has nothing to do with what marriage rites are performed first
Re: Church Wedding Before Traditional: The Cart Before The Horse
Onowu1 posted on 09-23-2008, 08:03:47 AM

Here comes depirate.
I was enjoying this well written article and discusion before "depirate" just put sand in my coffee. There is nothing wrong with church changing some part of our traditions. But making changes based on the economic benefit to the church? Give me a break. Then "depirate" start pirating all the ills of the Igbo tradition. Fogething that Christianity came through river Niger and most of those bad traditions practice by depirate's forefather's are no longer in practice. Please villigars like you will stop intrupting, distorting or clogging a well writen article.

Udo dire gi (Peace!)

Onowu1
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