Tuesday, 16 April 2013
(54): Kayan daki and marital stability in Hausaland (III)
In recent years an addition has been made to kayan daki, while traditionally, it is the groom who provides the pre-wedding gift known as lefe, now the family of the bride also makes similar provision. The reason for that is the fear that the bride would be seen as coming from a poor family such that she would have to rely on the clothes provided by the husband in the first years of marriage. These are unnecessary burdens that people create for themselves, which in turn hurts the stability of marriage. After the wedding is over, only the partners would be left to look after themselves, so why complicate matters. This is where our mothers and sisters will play an important role. They need to shift their attention from competition between the families of both the bride and the groom, and understand that as long as the two parties were married based on love, understanding and above all consider marriage as an act of worship, the question of Gori (mockery) should not arise.
Changing this culture is not the responsibility of one person, one family or a community. Each and every one should make his own contribution no matter how little. For this reason I will propose the following suggestions. Some of these suggestions will certainly clash with established norms and traditions of the marriage institution in Hausaland, but they are worth trying.
The first is to overturn the culture of kayan daki from the family of the bride, and make it the responsibility of the groom. It should simply be an extended part of the sadaki (dowry). It sometimes defies logic that the man who should bear responsibility for the upkeep of the family should spend less when it comes to the provision of basic necessities required for the marriage. For instance, the husband spends 250 thousand Naira to acquire an accommodation, and possibly another 250 to 500 thousand Naira for the lefe, while the family of the bride spends over 1 million Naira to furnish the house. Beyond that they have to spend substantial amount to prepare for gara (the post wedding gift). Certainly there is need for cultural change.
Secondly, another way to help in addressing the challenges posed by kayan daki is through the process of renting accommodation. This I have seen in some cultures has drastically reduced the burden of kayan daki on both sides. Building fully furnished accommodation by landlords will significantly address the problem of kayan daki. Of course the price of rent will go up, but once the rent is paid, the newly wedded couples have a ready-made accommodation to transfer to without any difficulty. To avoid landlords taking advantage of this situation, states can establish a commission that regulates the cost of rent between those that are fully furnished and ones that are not furnished.
The third suggestion has to do with orientation, which is almost lacking completely in Hausaland. As done in some cultures including the Malays of Malaysia. The Imams that conduct the solemnization of marriage should be conducting seminars and workshops on marriage. The intending couples should be trained on their responsibilities, the right of the husband on the wife, and the right of the wife on the husband, dealing with in-laws, neighbors, friends and all those that could contribute in the stability or the deterioration of the marriage should be taught. Before the couples get married, it should be a condition that they produce a certificate confirming the attendance of such workshops.
After the marriage, a certificate should be issued by the Mosque or the Imam who solemnized the marriage. If there are specific conditions on the marriage, they should be written clearly on the certificate. In recent years we have seen clashes between families who made an agreement that the girl will continue with her education after marriage, but immediately after the marriage, the husband reneges on the promise. There are cases where the couple agreed that the woman will not work, but once the marriage is conducted, she insists on finding a job. Writing these agreements on the marriage certificate could help address these challenges. After all marriage is a contract.
The certificate should be signed by the couples as well as the witnesses. It is amazing that in Hausaland, beyond the gathering of people on the wedding day, most people cannot produce evidence that they are married. People begin to realize this when traveling to countries requiring marriage certificate, or applying for visa that demands evidence of marriage, and then the couple would realize that none exists. They quickly rush to the high court for an affidavit, when they have been married for ten years or so. Should the couple decide to divorce; na sake ki ( I divorce you), in the darkness of the room should be out rightly rejected. It should be made a condition that the couples should go back to the Imam or the mosque to pronounce the divorce, in the presence of witnesses who signed the certificate of marriage, and another certificate be issued confirming the divorce. Perhaps this could help in regulating the frequency of divorce by irresponsible husbands who lack dattako (uprightness, reliability) karamci (generosity), kawaici (reticence), mutunci (respectfulness) as discussed at the beginning of this series etc.