Welcome to another edition of ‘Honest Conversations’ with Mrs. Modupe Ehirim. Feel free to read the past conversations here. We would love to hear your opinions so do leave a comment at the end of the post.
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When I met my dear husband, what attracted me to him was his gentlemanliness. Here was a man who opened the door of the car for me, gave me a gift every time he saw me, and played beautiful music for me when I visited him. The last thing on my mind was where he came from. As our relationship became serious and we decided to get married, we took note that he was Igbo and I was Yoruba. Should that mean anything to a couple that was in love and just wanted to get married? With the benefit of hindsight, I know now that it should. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Thank God for wise mothers. Once my parents saw that this relationship was going somewhere, my mum contacted her Igbo friends. She inquired from them what Igbo culture and tradition about marriage were. She was told about married women tying two wrappers, attending village and town meetings, serving of kolanuts to visitors and the like. Armed with this information, she sat me down and asked if I was ready to become an Igbo woman. She explained that in addition to being madly in love with this man, I needed to decide whether I wanted to become an Igbo woman. At that point, I truly was ready to do anything. I really wanted to marry him.
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Fast forward a couple of years; I was now married to the man of my dreams. It was time to register with the village and town meetings. It required attendance at monthly meetings which were conducted in Igbo language. It required attending dance practices in preparation for fund-raising ceremonies. It required tying two wrappers when attending wake-keeping ceremonies, even in Lagos, when someone in the kindred died. All these for a Yoruba girl who had all her life only known her parents and brother and sisters. My mother’s fact-finding efforts had prepared me alright, and helped to ease me into all of these changes in lifestyle. There was however a lot more that she didn’t know about. I had agreed to become an Igbo woman, but did I realize the full implications of that? I gradually found out that I didn’t. It was a real transition for me. What would have happened to me if my mother had not gone on that fact finding mission on my behalf?
The truth is that every day, a young man and young woman meet, fall in love with one another and want to spend the rest of their lives together. What many of them don’t realize is that the wedding is the beginning of a lifelong journey into the unknown. They were raised in different homes with different parents and siblings, maybe even different cultural influences were involved. They are influenced by different friends and life experiences. Their different educational, church, and personal experiences with God, all have a big influence on that which they value and decide is important to them. Agreeing to marry each other is equivalent to starting a new life with many unknowns. The road to happily ever after requires conscious effort to look ahead to discern what adjustments will be required after the wedding day ceremony is long forgotten.