Bride Price in Nigeria; All you need to Know

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Bride Price in Nigeria

To start with;

What is Bride Price in Nigeria?

Bride price is the amount of money or better still the number of goods and material things that the bride’s family has been given by the bride’s spouse.

When should the Bride Price be paid?

The bridal price must first be paid in many parts of Nigeria, especially in the South-East, so the couple will be allowed to get wedded in a church setting or in any other civil ceremonial setup,  a marriage in most part of the country is not considered to be legitimate by the family of the bride without paying the bride’s price.

Who Collects the bride price?

A father is the right person to receive a bride price in Nigerian patrilineal families. During his absence, the right turns to the head of his immediate family who must be a male.

Where no father or successor is available, the girl’s guardian or a loco parentis shall have the right to receive his ward’s bride price.

What’s the difference between Dowry and Bride Price?

The fact is paying bride price is a key ingredient of valid customary marriage and an established customary principle in Nigeria. The bride’s family can conclude unwritten contracts with the family of the bride, which he pays up or he promises to pay his Owings within a certain time period, depending on the wealth of the bride.

  • Dowry

A ‘ dowry ‘ means the properties and belongings a woman that is about to get wedded brings to her husband’s house.

  • Bride Price

While the bride price is any gift or payment to a parent or guardian of a woman for the sake of marriage, it can be in the form of money, brass rods, farm produce, cowries or other property of any kind whatsoever.

Customary Law Provision on Bride Price

According to the provisions of the customary law for bride price payments,  it is unnecessary to make full payment before the marriage is institutionalised, Nevertheless, part payments must be made at least in advance of a legal marriage.

The validity of the marriage, therefore, does not depend on paying fully the agreed bride price before marriage.

Failure to pay the Bride Price

If a husband does not fully pay the bride’s price or refuses to make y payment at all, the wife’s family is allowed to recall and keep the bride until the husband completed his obligation of fulfilling the bride price.

The family has an alternative means of bringing legal proceedings against the husband in some ways in order to recover these fees.

Bride Price Criticism

Although western white weddings are gaining momentum in Nigeria at this time, traditional marriages involving paying the cost of the bride tend to be a very common practice that has recently been subjected to lots of criticism.

Popular feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was a vocal opponent of paying the bride price.

“I think we should get rid of the whole idea of money in marriage, we are not selling anybody.”

Bride price brings the notion that women are commodities to be purchased and sold is based upon patriarchy.

It usually confers on the husband the idea that he now owns his wife by paying the bride price and can, therefore, do anything to her as he so wishes.

In the feminist’s thinking, it authorizes marital rape and abuse as the wife is considered to be the “property” of the husband.

The price is not just perceived harmful only to women, at a time the level of unemployment in the nation is on the rise coupled with inflation, many young men are not in a position to meet up with the overwhelming bride price costs that can sometimes go as high has amount to N350,000 including material things that need to be procured.

Most men resort to loans and installmental payments that their families receive in case of their death in what is called “debt of honour” which can capably traps their families and relatives in a never-ending debt cycle.

Bride Price and Divorce

In some rural communities, women are often forced to pay their entire bride’s price in case of divorce.

Since most women have small financial standings and in most cases dependent on their families, they can not afford divorce subjecting them to imprisonment in abusive and harmful marriages.

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