“I couldn’t figure out what is so wrong with my head, but I knew it, something is wrong somewhere inside my brain, she said to herself.
“I am a woman, an African woman for that matter, yet, I find myself not comfortable with the idea of him getting down on one knee and asking me to marry him, because I feel it’s too traditional and gendered.
“I also think that love is two ways; proposal can come from any of the partners as long as you know and can define what you feel for each other. I don’t think there’s any reason a man should have to be the one to ask a woman to marry him.
“But I am restricted by my environment, I am afraid of losing it, ‘my morality as it concerns Africa’. I don’t want to be labeled a spoilt child, I don’t want to disappoint my father, and I can’t answer that question: ‘Is that how I raised you?’ I don’t want to be the subject of discussion among my peers. If I do it, will I still retain my value as a proud African girl-child?”
Hmmmmm! Is that really the African view of the subject matter?
I know many people deep down believes that if a woman has to propose to the man, it means that the man is not committed. I also know that in Africa, a woman is not suppose to take the lead to propose to a man owing to the persistence of gender roles in marriage tradition as it affects African cultures and moral values.
Culture, is defined as the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Your culture also dictates to you what to wear, how to wear it, your marriage, food, what is right or wrong, how you sit at the table, how you greet visitors, how you behave with loved ones, and a million other things.
Africa is said to be home to a number of tribes, ethnic and social groups. One of the key features of African culture is the large number of ethnic groups throughout the 54 countries on the continent. Nigeria alone has more than 300 tribes, for example. No matter what culture a people are a part of, one thing is certain; it will change.
As a key in our interconnected world, made up of many ethnically diverse societies though ridiculed by conflicts associated with religion, ethnicity, ethical beliefs and essentially, the elements which make up culture, it is still no longer fixed if it ever was. It is constantly in motion, thereby, making it difficult if not impossible to define culture in only one way.
Therefore, while change is inevitable, and in as much as we don’t want to be rigid or static, the past should also be respected and preserved.
Is sticking to traditional gender roles making you less comfortable in your own environment?
Talking about African view of a woman proposing marriage to her man, it is a thing frowned at in Africa. For our Ancestors, it is the duty of a man to choose and propose marriage to that lady whom he feels can love him like a mother, care for him like a sister, be there for him like a best friend, and share intimacy and bear him children as a wife.
If that is the case, a lady asks herself: How then do I know if I can measure up well enough to fill the vacuum and live up to his expectation in line with the above requirements?
Is it not better I allow him to observe and choose me as the one who have met his expectation instead of me going to tell him I’m the woman he desires?
What if he disagrees, will I feel embarrassed, avoid him or even hate him?
These and many more are some factors constituting a negative view in terms of women freely expressing themselves as it concerns marriage to their men.
While some men on the other hand, feels that their headship will be challenged should they allow or accept a marriage proposal from a woman. Others feel that such a woman does not have an atom of dignity left in her.
Well, as long as Africa is concern, she still believes and upholds her morals. In as much as she (Africa) does not encourage the woman to go after the man and make proposals to him without reservation, it is expected that she comes out of her ‘shell’, especially when the risk involved is minimal.
She should be able to tell if her man is dragging his feet backwards because of other minimal factors such as work schedule, business involvements, family relationship etc.
After a critical analysis of the above factors, can you tactfully suggest marriage to him and hear his response?
You mustn’t go down on one knee on the center of the high way to “propose” to your man so to say, you can mention it in a different way (in words or action): Activate and gear his reasoning towards the direction you desire (marriage).
Don’t be dull, ‘take the bull by the horn’. At the same time, be dignified.