Bisi’s Wedding Diaries

5 October at 07:50 

As today marks exactly 30 days to my wedding, I will be doing 30 things to be grateful for. Today, I am grateful for #airport. I never thought in my life I would spend so much time at airports, neither did I know that the world will be my oyster. Coming from #Mushin, we were made to know that people like us can only dream. I am happy that like the dream of getting married, airport has given my dream of world domination wings to fly. #gaymarriage#30daysofthankfulness

6 October at 11:57 

Day 2 of 30 days to my wedding of 30 things to be grateful of. On the 6th October 2004, I sat on that sofa with Funmi Iyanda and I came out. She gave me the opportunity in no patronizing nor condescending way to tell my story. On that day I learnt the power of truth and authenticity. I learnt that life is what you make of it. I was a 29years old boy, just graduating from university with a prominent role in ‘Roses and Thorns’ a soap series on Galaxy Television. I lost everything after coming, but I gained today. Life was preparing for a journey beyond my expectations. In 29 days, I will say I do to a man I have come to find solace in his arms. #gaymarriage#30daysofthankfulness #newdawnwithfunmiiyanda #comingout#lgbtcomingout #authenticity #ido

7 October at 08:42 ·

Day 3 of 30 days of thankfulness of 30 days to my wedding. In 2014, around about this time, a friend sent me an email to a link to a fellowship program. I have applied for a couple before then and I have always been rejected. So when he sent me the form, I looked over it and ignored it. It will be another rejection. Two weeks later, my agent called me and said she saw a fellowship that she thinks will be great for me, it was the same fellowship. I told her I am not interested. She pushed me and I told her they will not pick me as I am not good enough. The following week, I was at Funmi Iyanda’s and she told me about the same fellowship and she was like ‘I am also a fellow of similar program with same organisation, I can nominate you’. She made me see why I should at least try.
So I went home and spent the night filling the form. I sent it to my agent who read it and made some corrections and add more information. She was angry that my low self esteem has made me leave out very important information. We sent the form and waited. A big part of me was waiting but the doubting part of me just kept telling me, get in with life. Few months later, I was in Berlin with my agent when the email came. I couldn’t open it. I thought it was rejection, but she did and screamed for job. I have been shortlisted. I was not happy, i felt it was just prolonging my rejection. Few weeks later, I did a Skype interview with the team in DC and few weeks later I received another email. I have been selected.
I became a fellow of @aspeninstitute and #aspennewvoices. It was a journey that changed my life. I started having platforms I never thought of in my life. I started having access to people that will look at me and instantly believe in me and want to help me make that dream come true. Through the fellowship, I was trained by @mothstories and then I did #tedxberlin and I have travelled around the world. I have written a lot of articles and became friends with @caitlynjenner and many more.

It feels so surreal when I think about it. It is this reason that today, on my 3rd day of thanksfulness, I want to thank the team at Aspen New Voices and my fellow fellows for believing in me.

10 October at 10:34 ·  

Day 6 of 30 days to my wedding of 30 things to be grateful for. Today I want to be thankful for my childhood. Many times we concentrate on the now and forgetting the journey it took to get to now. The laughter, the joy, the pains and the tears. My childhood was not perfect and I am happy it was not, but it was a journey I am proud of. I carry my joy and pains on the sleeves but most importantly, my childhood taught me what matters in the world. The essence of compassion, love and empathy. I learnt that sitting on the fence was not a neutral act. That silence is not golden. That boy can not and should not always be boys at the expense of girls. That I can play with dolls, pink dolls, pain my face and catwalk. Yes, sometimes I get beaten for it, but the hard headed boy I was, my passion and not the rejection was my childhood driver. As a loner, growing up in my head and in my world, I hardly make excuse for my action. I was thought to say sorry when wrong and never to say it unless I am sure I am wrong. I spent my childhood being a child and maybe that’s why, as a adult, I am still a child. Get angry like a child, smile like a child, think like a child, eat like one, sleep like one, and perform like one. I am Peter Pan but with the vision of an adult. Dear Ademola, Ojo, Kazeem, Iyanda Alimi, thanks for making the adult that is Adebisi Ademola Alimi. Next month I will marry my husband with the spirit of a child, will laugh with that spirit, enjoy the moment that my childhood has spent 41years preparing for my adulthood. In the presence of my friends, families and loved one, with shine on my face like a proud child, I will look into the eyes of my lover and say; I DO! #equalmarriage #samesexwedding#gaymarriage #ido #childhood #growingup

11 October at 11:55 · 

Day 7 of 30 to my wedding of 30 things to be grateful for. I want to celebrate everyone of you that has refused to turn a blind eye to bullying. Be it sexism, homophobia, racism, fatism, shortism and any other horrible isms out there that makes other look in the mirror and hate themselves. You bravely has given many people the courage to see another. You might not know this, but it is true. Every time to put a bully in their place and hug their victim, you have touched a life with love and compassion. Making life worthy is not in the amount of money you invest in it, but the amount of love. On social media a lot of people think it is their responsibility to invade other people’s space, call them names and tell them out to live their lives. I have been a victim of that. Many times I really would love to log off and delete my profile but gosh! You guys will not only stand up to these insecure people who wants to use other as a source of self confidence, but many of you will send messages and ring me. Today is to you. Thank you.
That is why I am begging you, that come the 20th of this month, join me and @glaad and other millions of people in the world as we say NO! to bullies. Turn your page purple in honour of people who lost their lives because of insecurities of others. You never know, you might just be saving the life of someone, destined to make the world a better place. Once again, to you all! Thank you #spiritday #spiritday2016 #ido #samesexwedding #gaymarriage#equalmarriage

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Ikenga!

She looked to her left, then her right. There was no one in sight. She could see light from afar but no shadows or figures. She kept walking, almost running. She knew that everything ends tonight.

It used to be sweet and good, but now, it’s painful.

Pain-ful. And bad.

Ugly-bad.

She continued to run-walk.

Everything had been good and beautiful until her husband, Ikenga, brought that witch of a sister to live with them. She had protested the decision, but Ikenga had promised her that it was just for some time. Maybe a month or two. But that month or two had stretched into six, seven, eight, nine months and half, and that girl became pregnant.

Pregnant! She almost screamed, she clamped her mouth with her left hand.

Pregnant for Ikenga!

Who would believe this?

And he never attempted to deny it. All he said was that she wasn’t related to him .

But how could she have been so foolish? How could she not have seen that they were not related? That the girl was his new wife, sent from the village by her mother-in-law, to come and take her Ikenga from her.

That witch of a mother!

She kept walking and running.

Crying.

That girl with her nonsense pregnancy! Ha the way she’d been flaunting it, as if she wants to torment my childlessness. It’s not my fault that my stomach cannot hold a pregnancy.

Ikenga had been so supportive of her, consoling her and fighting his mother for her. He had comforted her and followed her to all the doctors and pastors that were recommended. He had cooked and drank and bathed with all the oil and herbs and potions and concoctions they were given. He had prayed and fasted and thrown small parties for children like they were told, parties because children are spirits and if treated well and kindly with love and generosity, could bring babies to those who sought them.

Ikenga!

Why didn’t you tell me that you wanted a baby badly? Why humiliate me?

A light flashed from afar. A thick voice, almost like leather, asked who it was. She stopped.

Police! Yes. It was the police.

She ran towards them.

They kept the torchlight shining into her face, blinding her.

“Woman, what is the problem? Where are you coming from this late in the night?”

“I killed them! My husband and the pregnant girl. I killed them both with poison. Please arrest me… arrest me now!”

 

Som’Adina Kambilinudo is a writer, a human being. 

Nigerian women must approach the gates of Heaven with a penis in one hand!

Frankly speaking, I don’t see anything bad in what the G.O of RCCG preached about. He spoke for the men, from the male angle. Now, what are ladies telling themselves on this issue?

I think single ladies should also up their game! I do not mean they should go add to their culinary skills, single ladies need to start demanding and setting standards for the type of person they’d settle for.

Would they?

Are they not more bothered on how to prove they are a “wife material” in order to grab a penis? While the men are “dishing” out criteria to them what are the ladies doing? They’re smiling and nodding their heads in jubilation that the days of their “sorrow” as Singles are going to be over.

No man is doing you any favour by asking for your hand in marriage. You can decide not to marry a man who can’t cook, you can decide not to marry a man who can’t do house chores, and you can decide not to marry a man who can’t pray for 24hrs abeg!

It is either he meets your criteria or he “waka front” with his penis.

Listen, even if you can cook for Africa, if you marry a man who can’t cook, you won’t find it funny at some point.

Go and ask women who their husbands can’t even boil water, go and ask women married to men who just cross their legs in the sitting room watching Arsenal and Chelsea play while their “virtuous wives” are running from pillar to post: from the kitchen to the bedroom, changing diapers, running around all alone. They will tell you how frustrating it is. Whether you are sick or not, you will enter the kitchen and cook, whether you are pregnant and unfit, God help you if your pregnancy is the way it does me whenever I “carry belle”, you’d so look like a skeleton that you won’t even see yourself, let alone see kitchen, but you will still cook because you must take care of your husband who must be “kept” so as not to become ‘husbandless and go to hell fire’.

That is double wahala!

You know it is only Nigerian women who must approach the gates of Heaven with a penis in one hand and pestle in the other!

Hian!

Please, that Bullshit that our mothers and great-grandmothers had 50 children and still did all the house chores doesn’t apply here at all. Some of our mothers who suffered and suffered to keep their Husbands still got “more wives” added to them after all the cooking, the daily pounding of yam and preparing “efo riro” didn’t make them the “superb” wife still.
This is 2016, there are Bankers, Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Engineers etc. among women.Some women augment the income of their husbands, some single handedly pay the bills, while their jobless or “Contractor husbands” stay home all day. They will sit down and cross leg at home till their wives return from work. You mean, it is fair if these set of women return from work at 10:pm and they’d still dash to the kitchen, grab mortar and pestle and start pounding yam?

Abeg, as they are giving you criteria before they can marry you, give them yours too. Whatever criteria they set for you, set it for them too. Nobody is doing you favor by toasting you or by asking you to marry them. Or are you languishing and waiting earnestly for a “Messiah” to come pick you from the gutter?

In pastor E. A Adeboye’s voice… “Ladies, don’t marry a man who can’t pray for one hour at a stretch, don’t marry a man who can’t cook. Don’t marry a lazy man. Ask the nigga to pack his penis in a polythene bag and go find somewhere to sit joor. You don’t need him.”

*Drops mic*

 

buki
Bukola Afolabi Ogunyeye

 

This is all your fault…And slaps her again.

You started drinking when you were pregnant with your first baby, a bottle of small stout spread over four or five days to help with the nausea. By the time you had your second, you were up to one bottle every two days. By the time your daughter – your third child – came, you were drinking close to three bottles every day; ogogoro on days you didn’t have money to spend.

Do you know how much blood comes out of a head wound? Plenty.  Especially when you’re hit on the head with a spanner by your husband. This is after you’ve insulted him for hours and torn his shirt because he wouldn’t bring enough money for your daughter’s naming ceremony. It’s been five days since you brought her home, two weeks since you had her, a tiny little thing who almost died, and you should be resting but it is important to have this party.  It doesn’t matter that your husband hasn’t been getting much work as a tanker driver. Other drivers are complaining about his drinking.

When he is asked why he drinks, he says he has a witch at home.
When you are asked why you drink, you say, you are married to the devil.
Neighbours help you when the blood starts to flow. They got tired of separating your fights a long time ago. Too many people had been hit by a stray fist from you or your husband so they stayed away. But today there is blood and so they hold you by the hand – still spewing invectives and kicking– and take you to a nearby chemist.
Your first has been standing by the door all along; it was his shout, mummy! that drew the neighbours’ attention. Your second is in the village with your mother, he was sick before your went to the hospital. The baby is inside your one-room apartment, asleep through the quarrel.

He goes into the room after everyone leaves, you with the neighbours, your husband to his favourite bar. He struggles to climb the bed, forbidden to him because he wets himself every night.

He lifts the baby net gently. He sits there and looks at her for a few minutes.
The slap is sudden, startling her awake; her cry is piercing.

This is all your fault, he says. And slaps her again.

– Enajite Efemuaye

Shagari Street

It always begins with a song. Then memory sets in. Soon you are coursing down familiar roads, back streets, broken waters. Suddenly, you are back here again. It is the same house on Shagari Street with busybody neighbours.

You are one of the privileged few; you own a tokunbo car, you live in a self-contain, your white-collar job holds retirement benefits. And you worked for it; you earned by self-sacrifice as you soldiered through university fending for yourself.

It always began with a song. Fela. Then you lit your first cigarette. Orlando Owoh. Then you took your first gulp of liquor. You found your taste in forbidden substances, in the brew for the society’s dregs. The foremost reason stayed with you. You wear it on a locket, your mother, a maiden image just before Father desecrated her, left her for death.

Every time the thought recourse through you, you make  a fist and aim to drive it into wall, faces. You could not forgive the old bastard, not even at his funeral. You could barely hold the urge to grip his cold cotton-wool stuffed nose. Let him die again.

You carried the bitterness in a pouch, like bile. It stained your demeanour, left a tinge that earned the respect of men, the curiosity of ladies.

It was first trendy classmates, then desperate youth corp members, then she. You saw mother in her, didn’t you? It was the same eyes, you could swear on Father’s grave. It was the same smile too. Sade was a reincarnate.

Forbidden fruits never stayed out of your reach, pursuing a spouse out of the reach of your social class. Middle-class still you were. But education, you thought, was the cure to social divisions, the melting pot for unexplained inequalities.

She loved you. She treasured you. She kissed the strip of skin between your brows and yet, you did not shiver out of your dream. You had to have her, by all means. Orphan marries into Old money. Daughter of Millionaire Elopes. Perfect tabloid captions.

She left the old mansion in fair clothes and followed you to Shagari Street. You turned a princess into a house-keeper. She made your meals and your bed, and you both slept in it like young cubs. You kept her nights feverish and during her days, you fled to make money.

Then life happened. The cusp of love once filled with affection was diluted with reality’s tragedies. Tragedies you could live with. Tragedies she could live without. Then one night you returned and she had sulked back to the old mansion.

It always begins with a song. Burning Spear. You lit your first spliff. Bob Marley. Then you hit her on her return. Your bunched fist jammed into her translucent skin and called blood.

She returned but you didn’t. You did not forgive her; let soothing waters of love run on your hurt. Let the aqueous mixture sublime on the bed of passion, moans, and orgasms. You put a bottle of liquor in your right, a glowing spliff in your left, a condom on your member and you fucked the world instead.

You skipped nights and days, strayed into the dregs of the city to squeeze cheap lemon-sized breasts, oblivious of her missed period, her growing belly, your seed, the baby.

When her water broke, you were nowhere to be found. You were hustling the street for forbidden substances. Sade was wailing. Baby was coming. Sade was weeping, crying out labour pains on the floor of your apartment on Shagari Street. You were lying with a jaunty dancer called Linda. Sade stopped to cry and you shivered your orgasm. Baby stopped to move and you lit another spliff.

You returned to Shagari Street and you heard about their deaths. You had desecrated her, left her for death too.

You are Father.

Dami Ajayi

*First published on Mr Dami Ajayi.wordpress.com

*Published with author’s permission

Have You Seen Her?

Five young men stood in the clearing, each bloodshot eye marked by a white chalk ring, an unending circle of love.

As they swayed to blood rousing beats from a fusion of flute, drum and fiddle, their black loin wrappers shimmered under the blinding sun.

Shaved heads tilted back, chiseled muscles vibrated as their hoarse voices rose in a collective roar.

“Please, have you seen our sister? She’s the first fruit of our mother’s womb. Pray tell, for we must know if you have seen the one whose ringing laughter filled our father’s home.”

Heavy silence from those watching threatened to suck up the air.

“We have not seen her,” they cried. “Not since the day she left our mother’s bosom, waving as she held on to her new husband’s hand for a journey of no return.”

Faces contorted, their twirls and stomps sent up showers of fine red sand. “Who knew giving out a daughter was such a dangerous thing to do?”

Covered with sand grains, the swaying crowd shook heads as tears ran down their faces.

“Did you ever see our sister in that faraway land?” Their roar asked. “Was she happy? Did she talk about us? Despite the time and space, we never forgot about her.”

Stilled by the lone wail of the oja flute, the young men held out upturned palms. “They told us the earth opened and swallowed her. No one said the hands of her husband pushed her into the hole.”

“Our eyes are heavy because we have not seen our sister. And the fresh grave yawning before us says we shall see her no more.”

Yejide Kilanko © 2014

Misogyny, Nollywood and the rest of us…

From the Editor’s Desk: For the next sixteen days we will be featuring the thoughts of sixteen Nigerian Feminists on the state of Domestic Violence in Nigeria.

Nollywood will have a plot where a woman is raped, then will proceed to spend the rest of the fucking storyline focused on how absolutely devastated her husband is that his wife was raped. He can’t look at her. He can’t bring himself to sleep with her anymore. Marriage is fucked, cos hubby just can’t deal with this terrible thing that happened to him. Meanwhile, what is the actual victim doing all this time hubby is all torn up? Consoling the bloody idiot, begging him to please look at her, sleep with her, eat her food, let go as she’s let go. Kai!!!!!!

The other day, what else did Nollywood throw up? A man beats his wife whenever he’s possessed by the beating demon (sent by a woman whose sole aim is to destroy the marriage). Once demon temporarily leaves man, man will be all lovey lovey again with his wife, till the next demon possession. Oh, as you might guess, the demon-sender is the neighbour who’s always asking wifey what she’s still doing in that marriage after hubby has panel-beaten her. Of course, story ends when the prayerfulness of wifey gets demon permanently casted off & winchy winchy neighbor dies (you know that happens when demon-sending backfires nah).

Lawdhavemercy!!!! If many people weren’t digesting this trash, if many people aren’t being guided by media, this’d all be a big fucking comedy.

– Ugo Chime

In 9ja, driving a car makes you Mrs Somebody By Fiyinfoluwa Akinsiku

I have been thinking about the times I’ve had to drive home from work, back and forth, about one and a half hours apiece, Mondays and Fridays, making it 3hours on the highway in a week, and the plenty comments I got from Nigerian Policemen.

Nigerian Policemen are a funny lot, I mean, the ones that stand on the roadside, and what I do anytime I remember all our meetings, is to smile. My friends think it’s because I’m female. Men do not have such hilarious moments with the famous men in black. But that is an issue for another day.

My marital status suddenly changed, courtesy of these famous men. From afar, driving and negotiating bends and swerving to avoid potholes and ditches, I would suddenly behold these men. (In fact, very early one morning, I drove past them while they had their heads bent in prayers.) Ok. So, one of them would be in the middle of the road, indicating that I should stop. I would then have to slow down o.

When we are abreast, the conversation would usually go like this:

Good day officer!

Ah.. madam the madam, how are you, how the family?

We are fine sir, thanks be to God.

Madam, I for escort you o, but I know say your husband go vex. Safe journey o.

I usually extend my laughter on comments as this.

And so, no checkpoint would pass without reference to this imaginary man The Nigeria Police has decided to amalgamate me with. Oh yes, I am female, and there would be no logical reason as to why a female would be driving if not for an Oga at the top, seated majestically behind the scene, after handing over a car key to his dear wife. A cop even told me categorically at a checkpoint after exchanging pleasantries, ‘greet your husband for me o!’

On another occasion, a Policeman said to me with a flirtatious smile lingering on his face, ‘hello baby!’ when a friend drove me in a company bus. Helping a stranded man on the road even meant him asking how my ‘husband and the kids are doing.’ And so, a car has become the determinant of my marital status.

As a Nigerian woman, I wonder why I have to be considered spineless, as somebody who can’t do anything on her own. I wonder if the “Mrs” hash-tag has to trend for the sheer and simple dignities of driving to work.

I never replied any comments about my phantom hubby. I would just laugh it off really. It only gave my brain something to chew and ultimately provided the muse with stuff, giving me a peepshow of the mind-state of an average person, and telling me patriarchy has been taken too far.

I used to think that times have changed, that since women have now reached amazing heights, society can loosen up, a bit. At least, can’t they see what the Ellen Johnson-Sirleafs and Angela Merkels and Joyce Bandas have become? Or maybe I’m expecting too much from a traditional African society. Maybe not. Or maybe I’m expecting change to come too soon.

And so, Dear Policemen, I cannot categorically tell you I am Mrs Somebody, because my marital status has been made known to you by my Oga at the top, and it is not ‘married’. Thank You.

Iyawo Saara: In the Name of Religion, Tradition and other Evils

From the Editor’s Desk: Iyawo Saara is a term coined from the Arabic term – Sadaqh wife – translation: a woman (or as it is in most cases, a young girl) given out as alms in marriage.

I first came across this term in the late-eighties, when, as a child, I listened in as my aunt and herchild friends discussed one of their friends who had been kidnapped, in broad daylight, by a gang of thugs when they were on their way back from school. The other girls had fled the crime scene, eventually converging at the home of the parents of this particular girl. They had reported the incidence in tears, but to their surprise the parents hadn’t shown any concern, they had simply told my aunt and her friends to go home, they would ‘handle’ it.

They were gathered together that afternoon because my aunt and her friends, who refused to give up the search for their friend, had finally discovered where she was and why she had been kidnapped.

The story was simple, her parents had given her out as Iyawo Saara, because the girl was stubborn, the parents were afraid that if they allowed this girl to continue schooling she would become even worse. There were whispers about their daughter that she was a lakiriboto, (a lesbian) and to forestall such an ‘evil’ befalling their child, they had forcefully given her to a much older man, who already had several wives.

The fate of Iyawo Saara is a terrible one. This is due to the fact that because she had not been married off ‘properly’, in the ‘traditional’ manner of the Yorubas, she had no respect from her ‘husband’ or the members of his family. Therefore her position in the household is usually that of a sex slave and a drudge.

An Iyawo Saara is the lowest on the rung of ‘married women’, even lower than a mistress.

So, when I recently heard a story about a new ‘bride’ who was given out as Sadaqh earlier this year, I was in shock! This is 2015 and Nigerians still give out their daughters as alms. Unfortunately there was little or nothing I could do about it because I do not even know the girl in question personally, I overheard strangers discussing the fate of this poor girl on a bus rather gleefully. This girl’s story was similar to the above, she was stubborn, ran with a wild bunch of girls, according to the people on that bus heading to Beere, the ‘tipping point’ was when her father discovered she had gone and tattooed her arm. Her father had ‘given her the beating of her life’ and then bundled her off to a muslim cleric as ‘iyawo saara’. As at four weeks ago, they said she was still being ‘locked up for her own safety’, so she can ‘calm down.’

The enslavement of people is a criminal offence in Nigeria, but apparently this does not apply to women who have been given out as gifts into ‘marriage’.

I started asking questions about the legality of this act and if anybody had come across such heinous acts. My digging eventually led me to ask about ‘Iyawo Saara’ on Facebook. A few people came on my thread (as per usual the men) and said there was no such thing in Islam, but Adeola Opeyemi, one of the bright young things in Nigeria’s literary circles spoke up and said there is such a thing… below is her write up about Iyawo Saara: Sadaqh wife. Read and weep.

How does one describe this evil garbed in the cloak of religion and tradition?

In a small town on the outskirts of Ile-Ife, south-west Nigeria, I met Bukky (not real name) in 2012. She was a very young (probably in her late teens) new bride of a middle-aged man who lived not too far from my grandma’s house. While asking my grandmother how such a girl ended up with a man that old, I was told that the father had given her to him as a gift.

The girl’s father, in this case, happened to be a friend of the groom. I argued and raved. My octogenarian grandma’s stand, by the way, was different; she didn’t see anything wrong with the union. I persisted in emphasising that it’s a new age and that people shouldn’t do that shit anymore. But why should grandma even agree to that? It had been done nonetheless. My rants were mine and mine alone. My grandma didn’t care! Nobody I knew seemed to!

That wasn’t the first time I would encounter such marriage. Why would one even refer to that as a marriage? It isn’t! It’s a farce! A socially-accepted form of slavery and rape!

Growing up in Ilorin, a north central capital in the 90s, I saw a lot of marriages like that.

Unlike the ‘normal’ traditional marriage where there is a late wedding eve with songs and drums – all the pomp that could be mustered- and the bride accompanied to the groom’s house while her bridal train sang all the way, brides given as gifts are bundled up and delivered to the groom’s house like courier packages. The situation made further nauseating considering that the whole delivery is done in the night or in the early hours of the morning before sunlight. Pomp – any form of it – is definitely done away with in this form of marriage. The Nikkai ceremony or marriage proper for such give-away bride takes the form of a ‘visit of appreciation’ from the groom and his people few days after she has been given out.

Iyawo saara or Sadaqah marriage as this union is called, is a practice I thought had vanished with the 90s. I also used to think it only existed in the north and among the Ilorin indigenes who have always claimed to be descendants of the Fulanis and Hausas. I realized how wrong I was when I met Bukky in 2012. Bukky’s case made me realise this is neither a northern practice nor a dead one.

This practice of giving out female children as gifts originated from a misconstrued Islamic belief that the parents of a bride can decide to forfeit the bride price and give away their daughter, for free, in a case where the groom needed a bride but couldn’t afford the bride price. Like many misunderstood parts of the religion, a lot of people have comfortably ignored the fact that the Qur’an stated that the only way such marriage could be termed valid is with the consent of both parties (bride and groom) involved. Normally, a lot of people would argue that it is impossible to marry off a girl in this modern age without her consent but in a situation where the girl feels indebted to her parents or as the case is most times, she is petrified as to what could happen to her if she refuses her parents’ choice, it is quite easy to force such a girl into a union without her consent or with a consent given out of fear. When and how does the parents’ consent become the same thing as a child’s consent, especially in something as important as marriage?

While a cavalcade of Islamic scholars have and would continue to argue that such union is not a valid Islamic practice, we cannot ignore the fact that this is an act that is being practiced in the name of religion among Muslims.

It makes me wonder if a female child is the same as yams, rice, money or clothes to be given away to fulfil one of the five pillars of Islam – which is alms-giving.

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