MULTICULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS: A NIGERIAN PERSPECTIVE

Friday, January 18, 2008

Many Nigerian parents expect their children to eventually marry an individual that is of the same religion and tribe. One of the reasons usually given for this attitude is that doing such will lessen marital strife. For Nigerians who leave the country for business or education abroad, they are often warned that bringing a foreigner as a spouse is forbidden and instructed to find a Nigerian to marry instead. However, in a world where advances make our ability to interact with each other easier and where Nigerians are forced to work and live with foreigners in their midst, is it reasonable to force one's children to limit themselves to a specific religion, tribe, race or nationality when they choose to marry?

YOU CAN'T HELP WHO YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH...
The truth is that for many people, they cannot help who they fall in love with. Consequently, I do not believe that people should not be punished because they happen to fall in love with someone that is not of the same religion, tribe, race or nationality. A young man I know was ostracized by his entire family when they discovered his intention to marry a German woman. He went ahead and married her and once they had a child, his family could no longer maintain their resistance to his marriage and welcomed their newest family member. But, not his wife.

DIFFERENT, THUS UNEQUAL?
Most of us either know of someone or have heard of someone who was forbidden from dating or marrying an individual just because of their cultural difference. Frequently, their parent's mindset is that people that are different inferior. Additionally, the attitude that others are somehow inferior to Nigerians or members of a specific group and therefore not worthy of marriage is not a healthy or sustainable approach. In fact, all it does is cause pain, dissatisfaction and sow the seeds of distrust that can eventually lead to tension and ultimately violence.

THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS, BUT...
Of course, not all Nigerians disapprove of multicultural relationships. Some Nigerian parents are very open-minded about who their children will marry and do not force their personal wishes on them. But, there are also an increasingly large number of parents that are encouraging and even forcing their children to marry foreigners in order to get 'papers'. Far be it from me to pass judgment, but I must say that I do find that to be troubling. Nonetheless, people have and always will do things for questionable ad sometimes, the wrong, reasons.

At the end of the day, if one is lucky to find a good person that they love, respect and can stand being around for a significant amount of time, their parents should be happy and support their decision to marry. Putting pressure on their children to marry a specific kind of person without placing emphasis on that person's character will simply spell a doomed union that will result in marital dissatisfaction and possibly divorce. No parent should prefer those options over respecting their child's multicultural relationship.

Here is a clip from Nigerian Curiosity TV featuring a young Nigerian speaking about his multicultural relationship and a few issues that it faced. Again, I am still working on making the clips better and will get there. Any suggestions on techniques and potential topics are always welcome.



Don't forget to nominate your PERSON OF 2007. Thus far, Patricia Etteh, Nuhu Ribadu, Maurice Iwu & INEC, Obasanjo, Yar'Adua, Olu Maintain (of 'Yahooze' fame) and the Nigerian people have been suggested. Do you think those individuals or organizations are worthy of recognition? Or, do you think that there is someone or something more deserving? Share your thoughts.

Further Reading:

- Polygamy & the State of the Nigerian Union
- Nigerian Curiosity's Person of 2007
- Osu or Not to Osu
- Calabar Fattening Rooms

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30 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Miss Pearse said...

Hmmm...It's official...I am in the "marriage" age group (Long story)...lol...My brother is in datn an Edo babe...To me,she is cool peoples and my brother really cares about her, but trust my parents with their tribalism...My mum had even said she wont b at d wedding if He decides to marry her. It's in d genome of my parents generation and I believe d only way it will stop is with US. As long as my kids are with decent partners and their families are respectful and eduated,they can marry whomever they please.
Maybe I'm saying this bcos I'm young sha...Lets see if I'll stick to d plan when d time comes.

For the love of me said...

These issues are tough issues. I don't think I have an opinion on it. Before I married, I may have vehemently said tribe didn't matter but it kinda does particularly in the Nigerian setting where families are largely involved in marriages. My inlaws are wonderful people, but there are some cultural differences that just make me want to scream and they dont understand why its hard for me to adjust.It is perhaps for these reaons that some parents object to multicultural relationships not necssarily because they see the other as inferior. That said, some parents are just plain difficult.

Doja said...

I saw a chinese girl with a pakistani boyfriend on the train the other day, there was something funny about it, but they looked happy and that was all that mattered.

Misan said...

I hear Luther Vandross calling out from beyond: "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with".

To each his own. That goes for parents who think that the best for their children involves dictating who they can/not marry. We should of course advise our children on the pros and cons of their choices, but the rest is up to them.

Thanks for bringing this up!

Jaja said...

I ve thought about this before. Of course you should get married to someone you love and can live with. But am a romantic.

Cross-cultural marriage may be MORE difficult, in the sense that u have a few more things to learn from someone who grew up in the next street than if they lived in your house all along.
But that on its own can be beautiful.
I keep thinking there are more important things to consider instead of what town one was born....

I' m still rooting for Patricia Etteh, for purely malicious and comical reasons.

Toochi said...

too right misan!

rethots said...

Hmmm, a touch(y) one. Anyway, in as much as i support not the idea of not having multicultural relationships (afterall, we don't choose to fall-in love....it just happens though, 'tis ours to nuture) i believe discretion is of utmost importance.
Eventually, 'tis us that have the challenges to live with (should they arise).

Waffarian said...

I think it all depends on what your values are in life. You will be surprised how quickly the cards turn when other factors are brought in. For example, "tribe" might all of a sudden not matter so much if "religion" was in question. A staunch Yoruba christian family might accept an igbo girl(just example) with open arms if the choice was between her and a yoruba muslim, or an educated urhobo family will happily accept an educated hausa girl if the choice was between her and one that was not educated, etc etc. I am sure you all get my drift....

Since that is the case, ie, how simple it is to change decisions overnight, then I guess at the end of the day, it does not really matter who you choose to be with as comparisons always brings out different reactions.

My opinion, being a woman, is that a good man is hard to find, talkless of bringing all the other factors. Starting from I want a black man, then I want a black man that is African, then, I want a black man that is Nigerian, then I want a black man that is African, Nigerian and Yoruba. But lets not stop here, I want a black man that is Nigerian, yoruba and has a good job....and so it continues...it never fucking ends. Where do you draw the line? For me, I stop at I want "a good man", because only that one self, na helele.

However, I also agree that culture is a very important factor in a marraige. I know people who had had difficulties in their families because of simple issues like food. For example, a man not used to the smell of "nuneh"(black beans) might think it is the most disgusting thing on earth, even crayfish self fit cause issues and that is where the real test comes. How open are we as human beings to accept things that we think are "foriegn"?
How open are we to accept that there are different ways of doing things than the way we have been brought up?

Can we be open enough to realise that since there are more than a 250 languages in Nigeria then there must be at least more than 250 ways of doing the same thing? Here, I am talking just about Nigeria, more than 250 ways....so lets apply the world...can we accept the fact that there is no way on earth, our own "way" is the "only right way"?

In my opinion, the only time we have problems with people of other races, cultures or religion is when we have not answered those questions. We have now the means, now more than ever, to learn more about the people we meet. Its a shame if we do not learn, there is so much to learn, and there is also so much we can contribute towards.

Sorry for the long comment...and i still get plenty to add self...heheheheh, but make i rest small.

Waffarian said...

forgive the "typos", na passion cause am

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

I have learned not to put clauses on what I ask for...that way I give God as much free will as he needs to direct my wishes. This I think should be the course one should take in one's quest for a partner.
I mean asking for prince charming might become a real headache when he shows up in 14th century tights, speaks in old English and rides horses and not cars. But what did you ask for? A prince charming and you got a prefectly good one.
I say ask for who is good for you. I could entertain advice but my choice of partner is my choice of partner because when shit hits the fan (excuse my language) all those people who were quick to talk and talk about him/her being the perfect choice will be no where to be found.
Marrying within your culture, religion,age group, career path (wharreva) might make things a bit easier but it by no means guarantees a happy life.
I say, keep an open mind and an open heart.

miss hotbody said...

I can date across racial boundaries but for better for worse, I cant imagine going down the aisle with a white or coloured person not to talk of bearing brown children...tufiakwa. just not my choice!

nneoma said...

I have seen the good and the bad of same culture relationships and different culture relationships. If ethnic group affiliation is one of those characteristics, though more involved, that an individual is going to have to ask themselves whether or not it is a major factors in their PERSONAL decision for a mate. For some it may be and for some it might not be. I don't think that we should judge people who do choose to stay within their own group and elsewhere. You have one life to live and for most, one marriage within that one life. Do what you think is best for you. Having said that, I have my own personal preferences which I choose not to share now, but I think those who know me (both in "real life" and my blogs) have a general idea for what my personal preferences are. But for those who are bold enough to go outside their ethnic group (oops, did I just implicitly reveal my preference), mad props to you...but like the Paul (I think in Corinthians, i may be off) you will see many troubles in this life...Paul was not referring to interracial relationships but marriage in general....just wanted to qualify that.

Beyond said...

Great post, don't really know what to say as this is a controversial topic which i don't think will ever have a specific solution as everyone's opinion differ.
But i surely will say that the Grace of God is the most important thing to keep a marriage happy and successful.

pamelastitch said...

Multicultural relationships take a lot of tolerance. I have often dated outside my region of Africa. The relationship that I was most happy in (was for 2 years) was with a man who knew a lot about my culture and was very accepting of who I am. He saw me as first a woman before anything else. He never expected me to be something which I wasn't. He never tried to shape me into his people. He just loved and accepted.

Many people who cannot date outside their culture or region, who often have difficulties, it generally stems from a place within them in which they have not accepted that they are dating someone from outside their country.

I remember talking to a guy about my relationship once, and you could have seen the glee in his face when I told him that we broke up. He was nearly jumping with joy when he said "so the south went with the south just the way it should be". That hurt!!

To be quite frank, my parents can have their own preferences but I am the one that will have to live with the man, so my choice is what counts. Moreover, aren't I supposed to leave my family's home to cleave to his.

Honeywell said...

i agree... it is sad when you basically tell your child to marry in other to become a citizen of another country, or force them to marry some dude simply because they are of the same kind of background.
i agree with pamelastitch. I know my parents are not like that, but even if they do, i am sorry to say, i had rather live a man i love and not hear from my parents than live with a man i do not know from abraham and hear from my mom every week.

fantasy queen said...

one of my first crushes was a russian...
i think when loves present it shouldnt be a problem, i overheard mum tell a friend she doesnt care what nationality we married from, we could even bring a korean home and as long as we're happy, she'd be happy for us.
i felt so proud of her at that moment. i think thats the attitude parents should have.

hey, heres something to blog about, you heard of the stories making headlines in the papers? obasanjos son and his soon to be ex wife blasting emselves and spilling the beans to whoever cares to listen(which is like everyone)...juicy.

pamelastitch said...

I mean south as in the region of Africa.

guerreiranigeriana said...

ah...this topic...one of my favorites *sarcasm*...i used to tell my mom that i was going to marry an italian man *this was a period in my life when i was really feeling the italians...haha*...and then we would engage in a discussion about love and marriage...she believes that i must marry a nigerian...and she has even determined that he must be from my dad's area (they are from different 'tribes')...i can understand her reasoning and concern, but i don't agree...especially since the boys are free to marry who they want (we won't talk about the inherent sexism)...and i believe love is far less superficial (except about obesity...just kidding..kind of)...

...i do plan on raising my children as humans, first and foremost...and that others around them are also humans, with different cultures and beliefs to be respected...from that perspective, anyone is game...regardless of 'race', religion, class and all the other ways we have created for classifying each other...if the person is respectful, trustworthy and makes you happy, that is what matters...

...i think waffarian and catwalq brought up some very salient points...i will end here as i could go on for days...glad you blogged about it...

david santos said...

Hi Solomons

Excellent post!
Thank you.
have a good day

Ms. emmotions said...

am really excited about this topic o....

its not even nigerians alone that kick against this sort of relationship, i find myself wondering why people spend to much time on irrelevance.......

i find my self agreeing with u this time agin, some thing must be done o...lol

Jinta said...

happiness is the key, when that is achieved, the rest do not matter (that is my p.c. answer o)

Omodudu said...

lol..I could not concentrate...I was caught up with the interviewee...lol
My parent are lucky, only one of their four kids will end up with a Nigerian...

Ahmed M. said...

This was nice to read. I have always been told that I must marry someone from my tribe. My parents insist that I must marry a Muslim girl. But, many of my girlfriends have been Yoruba Christians which drives my mother crazy. But, I think that eventually, she will learn to live with my decision, whatever it may be.

SET said...

HI, LONG TIME. HOPE ALL IS WELL.
THIS IS SO INTERESTING. I FEEL BAD THT PEOPLE LIMIT THEMSELVES OR ARE FORCED TO BECAUSE OF THEIR FAMILY DISAPPROVAL. I AM SO GLAD THAT MY FAMILY ARE NOT THAT WAY.

Marin said...

My aunt who is in her late forties now, was pressurised into breaking up with her Ibo fiancée by my grandparents. She ended up married to a Yoruba guy who has given her nothing but grief. She is a very bitter person, and seeing her and hearing her story made me determined from a very young age only to marry someone I love no matter where they come from, no matter what my parents opinion is. After all, both my grandparents are dead now and my aunt is carrying her cross all alone.

I am in a multicultural marriage, and I must say that while I understand the misgivings of parents, you fall in love with whomever you fall in love with. I did not go out looking for a white guy to marry, I never dated a Yoruba guy (that was not deliberate o), but my choice was always black and always African.

When I started to date my hubby, I could not tell my parents about him. I remember distinctly a visit to a family friend (in the UK) and somehow the topic came to Obj’s daughter who had just gotten married to a white man. One of the ladies was arguing that the man only married her for the contracts that he would get by marrying the president’s daughter. She said in a tone of finality “ a real white man can never fall in love with a real black woman”. And the black men who marry white women, it never ends well.
When we said we wanted to get married, my dad thought I must be pregnant. He even tried to convince me to admit it, lol. Of course, there was a lot of stress, but they have finally accepted my choice.

Any marriage, no matter whom you marry, the guy next door, a pastor, green, purple or white, will face its challenges. The main thing is that there is love and enough commitment to each other to weather the storms. Of course multicultural marriages have different types of challenges than same culture marriages, like people not thinking you are with your husband, or Nigerians always thinking they have to tell me “teach him about our food o” when we are at social events. My hubby that eats pepper more than me sef, lol. And people thinking that all white people don’t have family relationships, when my hubby’s family is more close-knitted and accepting of each other than my family. I am not saying they are perfect they have their own wahala– sometimes I tell my unmarried friends that I think it would be easier to be married to a Nigerian.

Some situations are funny – for example- if we have any friends that are going through a difficult time, my husband immediately says “lets send them some money”. But when I recently wanted to give a relative some money as a gift, he couldn’t understand why and said that he had never heard of any such tradition. After all the person is not suffering.
Also many white people thinking that you are the authority on African suffering and poverty and war. The funniest was after church last Sunday, when I was introduced to some elderly friend of my father in laws. The man turned to my husband and asked him seriously “were you a missionary there?” – as in is that how you met? I nearly burst out laughing. Hubby said we should have told him “no actually, she was the one evangelising me”. Sometimes I just want to scream at the ignorance of some people.

But, when I have a still moment, I am glad I married the man I married – not because he is white and non-Nigerian – but because he was the first guy I met that I unreservedly was able to say yes to. He is the one I love.

Sorry about the loooooong comment!

guerreiranigeriana said...

is that you interviewing the people?..your voice is very nice, kind of soothing...easy to listen to...

Miss B said...

Love and God is all dat matters however marriage is not a small matter regardless of who you marry.

What i say to each individual is to weigh everything-no relationship is without its challenges and no matter who one marries one is going to have to compromise.

What i hate is seeing people who marry and yet afterwards start complaining-if you know dat fufu is ur breakfast, lunch and supper dont go marry oyibo who is a sandwich only queen and come and hang around my house complaining about ur weight loss.

U saw him/ her as they were and u marry them for who they are whether they be another nationality, fat, idol worshipper or whatever it is their shortcoming in ur eyes are not what u hope they will become.

There is nothing worse than ungrateful people who are putting their spouses under undue pressure to conform to this image that God never made them to be.

Marrying someone from the same background does not automatically mean dat u are going to gel dat is primitive mindset. I may be black but dat does not mean that i have anything in common with all the black people i meet-at the end of the day it is the one who will love and treat u right.

Having said that if i were to get married i will definitely not marry a non african for the simple reason dat i believe my destiny is to live in a village in remote africa and it simply is not fair to subject some foreigner to the freezing chill dat bush attack cam cause on da buttocks not because i am racist. Cheers

notperfectdotcom said...

Until someone can guarantee me that marrying someone from the same tibe, background or whatever have you ensures a successful marriage then I'll to not only keep being open minded but also willing to learn new traditions and cultures.

Miss FlyHigh - LondonsNaijaQueen said...

I love your accent....

anyways I was born and bred in London ..my parents always made it clear that it had to be a Nigerian

I sha complied to that when I bought home an Igbo guy come and see how my pops abused me. I was shocked anyways we didn't work out.

Nigerians should chill with this only marry your own tribe business. Well it is hard to marry outsiude of your country esp if your country is dominantly controlled by culture. I mean a London person marrying and american would not be so hard to adapt with. on the otherhand a Nigerian (born and bred) marrying a Londonder there will be a lot of difficulties but if people can jump them hurdles then why not

Shangrila said...

I can't blame the Nigerians for having this "marry only Nigerians" mentality. Psychologically, it's a comfort zone, a safe decision, super not complicated. But then again, love knows no boundaries, and all is fair in love...these two maxims are enough to explain my point.

Shangri

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