News came from abroad that Andile had married a man His father beat his chest in anger And his mother threw herself on the floor wailing While the neighbours came to sympathize At the agony of the neighbour’s son who had gone To the land of the white man and married a man
When Busi came of age A family came from the next village To marry her for their son Bheka who lived in the city The last time we had seen Bheka was when he was a boy Her parents agreed, her bride price was paid There was a big ceremony, in which Busi Dressed beautifully and received gifts Her groom was not present at either the proposal Nor the wedding ceremony because he was too busy working And his brother had to stand in his place But everyone called her Bheka’s wife And when it was time for her to leave She was put on a bus and accompanied To the city by her new in laws to begin her new life as a wife
Maybe Aisha’s was better At least the groom was seen But he was as old as her grandfather And she was still very young She sat trembling as the marital vows were made In Ehi’s case the bride was old enough to be his mother And guests gossiped that she has been his sugar mummy And claimed he was marrying her for her wealth But he seemed happy and the sugar mummy Didn’t seem to mind
Zi’s was different, In her case, the only son of a great family had died Without an heir And his family had married Zi to his spirit So she could produce children Who would carry on the family name But we all knew she would be impregnated by other men Or could spirits carry out their conjugal rights?
Old Chioma had been married for many years Without giving her husband any children When she hit menopause still childless, She had married a younger woman She called her wife, who would bear Her husband children Shouldn’t the young wife have been addressed As the husband’s new wife if she was going to give him children? No, she was Chioma’s wife because Chioma had married her
Last Saturday, Lunga had taken Lindiwe to the altar And made her his wife And the priest had read from the Holy book And explained, man and woman become one Forever and ever How could this be? When he was also at the ceremony Where our chief had chosen his fifth wife And we had all eaten and drank to the wishes Of a happy marriage and many children For the couple How could he say forever? When Teslimat has been divorced and married three times? And is still regarded as a married woman to her new husband Same as old Omo who has been married to the same man Before my parents were born Least I forget, the priest had no wife, I was told he was married to God Just like Sister Margaret
Also there is Rhoda the Lawyer, Who has been living with Baraka in the city, The women gossip that she is an immoral woman Because she not only lives with a man who is not her husband But also has children for a man who has paid no bride price Yet everyone acknowledges the fact that they live together And whenever she visits, both grandmothers Struggle to spend time with their grandchildren Since they disapprove so much of their children’s cohabitation Why not deny the fact that the grandchildren Are theirs?
And just the other day My mother said to me that I have come of age That soon it would be my turn to get married But I am confused as to what marriage really is As I do not understand Marital union and its intricacies,
Since Andile married a man like himself, And Busi is still regarded as Bekha’s wife even though it was his brother Who stood in as the groom at the wedding While young Aisha is married to a man her grandfather’s age And Ehi to a woman old enough to be his mother With Zi married to a spirit and old Chioma married to a younger woman Lunga and Lindiwe are married too And so are the priest and Sister Margaret. And the chief is also married to his five wives With Teslimat changing husbands and Omo still married to the same man While Rhoda’s bride price has still not been paid
For now I can not explain or understand What my fate or marital union would be like As all these are unions in their own rites Who or what would I end up with? Will my bride price be paid? Will my union be temporary or forever? Maybe I shall stand alone and wed myself Or something more interesting might happen Before then to determine the type of union I would have, As marital union still remains undefined to me Except to say, it has to do with the coming together Of one or more individuals With either their consent, or that of their parents or the society