3 influences on African marriages by colonization

by Duke Magazine
A wedding ceremony among the Amhara people of Ethiopia
Image credit: jsis.washington.edu

There is a need to clearly paint the picture of how the sociopolitical structures of Africans have been managed and kept off from the staggering touch of colonization.

The greatest curiosity coins out from how the fate of Africans in years past was carved by the colonial masters, but yet, still keeps their institutional norm of marriage abreast.

Evidently, marriage being a unit of socialization has in some way been affected with the European culture.

From how they are initiated to how they eventually play out, African marriages will continue to have a touch of the European culture.

Perhaps, these implications might not be the same, but they have been described to be universal.

Sequel to this, the present day African marriage has been shaped with colonization with the below facts.

A cross section of a Nigerian wedding
Image credit: NYtimes.com

Communal recognition in the place of  state ordinance

In the most fundamental of senses, Broadly, the certification given by the modern African state  to the married individuals is very similar to a communal recognition of the status of the individual.

 Marriage by ordinance goes with certain interpretations that remain unknown to simple pre-colonization communal recognition.

For example, one cannot marry more than one other person at a time under the ordinance. 

The obligations of married people to the state, such as taxation, as well as the conditions under which a marriage may be ended, are affected by the ordinance too.

A scene of a holy solemnization in church
Image credit: insideweddings.com

Marriage in Christian way

It is affirmative to say most African marriages have not been initiated unless a Christian leader confirms it. Christianity, the faith of 16th century Western Europe, was a compulsory part of colonization.

It thereby follows the notion that marriage is blessed by God for the Christians to only endure.

Monogamy practice initiated by European belief
Image credit: pixabay


This practice of marriage has always been debatable and given a nudge at as a biological impossibility. 

Science unarguably is none of the reasons the colonial masters decided to put monogamy at bay in Africa. These reasons curls from the religious to the political and through to the economic stances of culture.

Kevin MacDonald notes in “The Establishment and Maintenance of Socially Imposed Monogamy in Western Europe” that enforced monogamy in medieval Europe was mainly a method of social control over women and lower-class men.

This age-long abounding rules restrict the choice of lovers, even when there are many to get married to.

It is apparent that Monogamy is one of the existing legacies that the European bequeathed to Africans.

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