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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Letters to the Editor


On commoditizing marriages

Dear editor,

I wish there were laws banning the use of wealth, status, education, religion as inducement for marriage. Still I wish, there could be a cap on pre-marital expenditure. If you exceed the limit, you go to jail. But government wouldn’t legislate this. It is private and civil. When I called for boycott, my friend said that’s not the solution.

Rather reforms/changes must take place. That made me to think what may be done. I think we the people, bachelors to be precise can adopt some principles in this regard. We can be committed to the principles by declaring and observing them. Beyond awareness creation, we can create some incentives for compliance too. We can build a network too.

Principle 1: We shall not use wealth, status, education…to induce women into marriage. We will not encourage anyone to do so, and we shall discourage anyone who does.

Rationale: Wealth had been used to coerce many people into relations that didn’t last a year. It makes it competitive between rich and poor, classes, families…

Principle 2: if one wants to marry, he or she must commit that the bride price will not exceed 100 dalasis. One must not give nor receive anything exceeding this. This is a step to de-commoditize marriage.

Rationale: Love has no monetary price. And the bride has no price. It’s an affair of the hearts and minds. Whatever is paid must be affordable to all and small enough to allow parties to part away easily when everything fell. May be the 100 dalasi can be legitimizing fee for the social stamp for now. Progressively it can be abandoned.

Principle 3: For the ceremony, one must commit that he or she would not host any luxurious reception. One can receive friends and well wishers but not in the hotels/halls.

Rationale: The receptions are a waste of resources. It’s expensive and benefits the rich only. The money spent on such can be kept for future needs of the new family. If they think they have enough for that, they can donate to one social cause.

Principle 4: The couple, instead of hosting receptions, will do some voluntary work for a cause they hold dear to their hearts. It could even be their profession. It could be environmental cleansing exercise, healing, gardening, planting trees, teaching, delivering papers etc. Friends and well-wishers would join them in the cause.

Rationale: Marriage is a societal activity and must benefit society. Any family being started must start with executing social duties. May be that is a starting point for the unborn generation to be pro-society.

Principle 4: The activity would take 2-3 hours meaning water or minimum food only needed to ward off hunger or thirst would be bought. With or without inflation, this must not exceed 2000 dalasi. Progressively, this would be abandoned because people would bring water and food for themselves.

Rationale: We spent much time on wedding just sitting, clapping and dancing. Waw mbalax nexna mais amna luko daha. We have 24hrs only a day. We can’t spend 72hrs on weddings. We can spend 3hrs and use the rest for something else.

Principle 5: During the marriage, gifts exceeding 100 dalasi wouldn’t be accepted. And gifts shall not be declared public as this breeds competition.

Rationale: Gifts are not gifts if they are given for publicity or in anticipation of better returns one day. It is not a competition.

Principle 6: Of all money received, 25? may go to the couple. The 75? would go to a cause decided by the couples giving priority to health, education and social welfare.

Rationale: We can all learn a culture of being humanitarian at least once in our life. In this way, we can make the needy safe from paedophiles…We can overcome many societal troubles without much pain.

In this way, we can de-commoditize marriage, make relationships money free, minimize exploitation, make marriage social by benefitting society. In this way everyone would be humanitarian at least once in their lives. Finally, the competition would come to an end.

Is not being stingy, not imposing, just thinking another way

Muhammed Lenn
Medina Kanuma

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