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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Marriage and Society by Yaya Sillah Part 1

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By Dr Cherno Omar Barry,
President of Writers Association of The Gambia


When should you find yourself a wife and get married?

Every man’s dream is that one day he will find a good, beautiful wife to marry. This is not as easy as you might think – it requires both effort and luck. Firstly, you must be physically, emotionally and financially strong, because you will need all these attributes to be able to maintain your wife and family. When you meet these requirements, you are obligated to find yourself a wife.

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Someone who is fit physically and emotionally, but is not financially strong, might ask for some help from their family or friends if they really want to marry. However I recommended that you wait until you are financially secure before you get married, because your wife and future family will be fully dependent on you.

Those who are not physically capable of satisfying their wife sexually must think twice before they form any sort of relationship. You have to understand that marriage is not compulsory, it is optional. It is very common in our society for people will get married when they know that they cannot satisfy their wife. This generally causes a lot conflict. In some cases the marriage will end in humiliation. To avoid this, don’t marry in first place if you are lacking the physical ability to satisfy a wife.

I strongly recommend that you be sure that you love the lady that you are going to get married to, and make sure that she loves you. Otherwise one or both of you are likely to end up cheating or requesting divorce. Try to get to know her well, before you decide to marry. Make sure you don’t have children or sex before you get married.

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It is very important to love and care for your wife.

The following example is to help you think carefully about marriage, follow your religion and traditions, and understand that your life depends on what you choose to do.         

Women, water, and money are all the same. When we have them, we must take care of them. Otherwise when we lose them, we will forever feel pain. You cannot live without water. Your life will be very difficult without money. Your life will be perfect with women. If you are in a position that is suitable for you to get married, doing so is best for you and for wider society.

In many parts of the Muslim world, including the Gambia, wives have historically been selected for boys in very early stages of their life. This was called Blo Seto, meaning ‘tied hand’. The chosen girl would in time become the boy’s wife. In childhood, her parents would bring her up to accept that she would marry the chosen boy in the future. They prepared her psychically, emotionally and spiritually to ensure the marriage would be successful. Each year before their marriage, his family would give small gifts and presents to her family. By the time she reached puberty, she would know everything about the boy, his family and his culture. In many cases, when they married in this way, they stayed together for life. Since these traditions now occur less and less in our society, young girls truly don’t learn how to become a good wife. When they get married they know very little about a husband’s family and customs. Muslim countries around the world must introduce a better system which teaches young girls about marriage and relationships; so that by the time they finish secondary school they know the role that they must play in their marriage.

Traditional wives

Traditional wives usually follow the traditional roles of marriage. They exist in every society and every generation. They are very common in every society. They always stand beside their husbands, and they are very well known for their loyalty to their marriage.

A traditional wife is a woman who has had home training from childhood about every single role and duty of a woman in marriage. It is very common for traditional wives to have been selected for their husband by proxy. They are experts in how to conduct themselves in married life, and experts in dealing with their husband, children, husband’s family and the wider community. They usually have stories based on true love, and they are very good at making love, showing love and giving love. When you first date them and you ask them how they feel about you, and what they think about marriage, they are normally very shy in telling you how they feel. They will usually reply by simply saying “I will marry someone who my parents choose for me”. They never have sex before marriage, and they usually believe that their virginity should be preserved only for their husband. Traditional wives will not stay in a room with another man without her husband or a family member’s presence. They never discuss with anyone what is happening in their bedroom, and they are very good at solving problems with their husband before people even know about it. Traditional wives are very good at confining their love and affection to their husband. They normally don’t cross the line when they deal with other men. They show care and responsibility towards the husband’s family, especially his mother and father. Traditional wives don’t usually call their husband by his real name – they normally use African romantic names like uncle, big brother or alh. They are lovingly shy and careful in the bedroom with their husband, and follow the conventional roles. This makes them exceptionally attractive to a husband. Traditional wives are very good at looking after themselves in the way they dress, their hygiene, their behaviour and their communication.

A traditional wife will never share her husband’s secrets with anyone. She keeps her private life to herself. She does not cheat or act unfaithfully. Traditional wives are very well known for their patience with their husband and children. They are also very well known for good cooking skills – the best food is always at the table when their husband gets home, and every day is like a celebration for him. She cooks different food every day. Her husband will always look forward to seeing her every day, and he is usually confident that he can tell her anything.

Traditional wives are very good storytellers – to their husbands and their children. They never shy away from dealing with family problems and issues which can lead to marriage breakdown. They cannot even think of leaving their husband, let alone divorcing him. They normally ignore all other men. They are usually content with what they have from their husband – family values, a good future for their children, her own legacy, and the importance of the community living together are more important to her than her own pleasure, desire and satisfaction. Traditional wives don’t usually fight for short-term pleasure – rather long-term pleasure in everything.

Traditional wives are very kind towards the poor and needy. I remember my grandma Keke, who was always very generous towards beggars. When she saw someone begging, she gave them whatever she had to share. Traditional wives are all like this. They don’t bother their husband or force them to do something against their will. They don’t usually accuse their husband of doing something which he did not do. They will always make sure that he is very sound and safe.

The big difference between a traditional wife and a radical wife (see below for definition) is her sincerity in taking her marital duties and responsibilities seriously. The radical wife usually has lots of love stories to tell, however she won’t continue to show you love and affection if you stop providing material and financial support and social favours for her. The traditional wife doesn’t usually worry about material and financial status. She doesn’t look at how much cash you have or the size of your bank balance. She looks in your heart for the love and care you have for her and your family. She doesn’t look at your stature, the position you hold or the business you have. She looks at your actions, your effort and the values you stand for. She doesn’t ask which club you belong to and who are the big boys you hang out with. She asks which faith and mosque you belong to. She doesn’t ask what you can do for her, but what she can do for you. These are characteristics of the traditional wife (and I will write more about her in a second volume of this book).

Somebody once asked me: “Could I transform my radical wife into a traditional wife?”  The answer is absolutely yes. First of all, if you want to help someone change themselves, you must help them feel ready for this, and let them choose what they want and how they want to live their life. You cannot force change on somebody if they don’t want to change, otherwise you will break your marriage.

I would recommend that you follow these few steps. I know that they have helped people in the past.

1: Let her be herself in every way. Gradually, try to draw her attention to religion and religious teaching. If she is trying something new in religious rituals, try to appreciate her as much as you can and compliment her on it. Let her feel that no change is better than becoming more religious. When you give her advice, try to refer to the holy Quran and the traditions of the prophet Muhammad. Show her good examples of religious and successful women who are more traditional than radical. Take her to religious places and religious gatherings. Buy her a few religious books to read. Make sure you include her in all your prayers.

2: Do not stop her from working if she is working a full time job. You have to take care of more home responsibilities in handling finances, paying the bills and providing all basic needs in the house. Don’t keep pushing her for a quick transformation; know that it may take time to fully change somebody. It is a journey that she will have to do of her own will, not for you but for herself. Do not stop her from socialising with her normal family and friends. She will drop them if she feels they are not good for her. Let her handle her own finances without any interference from you. Make sure you let other good people compliment her in her new ways, as she becomes a traditional wife. Make her more important in your life than ever before and spend as much time with her as you can. You may help her with the housework, including nursing the children and cleaning the house. Try to avoid every sort of misunderstanding during that period. You must realise that this is a new thing she is trying to achieve, and every positive action can help her move one step forward. Every negative action will push her one step backward. You have to be there when she needs you at any time. Don’t tell her that you are going to leave if she finds it hard to change. Do not put her under any sort of pressure whatsoever.

3: Don’t joke or tease her about getting married to a second wife.  Do not compare her to other women you may admire – let her choose her own mentors. Finally, make sure you help her all the way through. Believe me, if you do it this way she will become a traditional wife in less than three months.

There are many benefits to becoming a traditional wife – for the wife, the husband, and the children.

The importance of the traditional wife

Many people don’t really know the true meaning of a traditional wife. To them, she is just a woman who only has sex to have children and serves her husband’s needs like a subservient slave. This is not the case and it is a misinterpretation to view her in this way.

Marriage is the oldest tradition in human history, from Adam and Hawa to the present day. This being the case, whoever gets married must follow the traditions of Adam and Hawa.

The traditional wife is the ideal wife that every man dreams of. Traditional wives are part of every generation and every society. They are women who completely base their marriage on the traditional roles of marriage. Everything in their marriage is based on love, care, respect, fairness, sharing and understanding, without relying too much on freedom of choice and ambition.

Traditional wives have self-control in their pleasures and needs. However, as Fatou, a client who became a family friend told me, they are very romantic. They don’t give too much in the bedroom, but they also don’t take too much. Men love women like that. They always give you the feeling that you can get it when you want, and they can get it when they want. Traditional wives are also very shy about showing their body. They only let you have what is enough for you and then preserve the rest for next time, which is very healthy. They always make you feel like you are looking forward to every single night in bed. Women are like food – when you are going to eat them, take a small portion each time and make sure that you eat that portion very well. If you eat too much food at one time you will put on weight, which is not very good for your health. Traditional wives love men who eat well in the bedroom, but not those who eat too much at once. They tease you with their nice words, which are comforting for you, and they touch your body with mercy that makes you feel sensational. They look after you like a woman with her infant baby when she is breastfeeding.

Traditional wives are also very good at maintaining a marriage if there are problems arising. They are also very good mothers to all children. The thing that they know best is how to give love whenever and however it is possible. You just have to be in the right place at the right time – which is in a marriage.

The radical wife

A radical wife is a self-proclaimed wife who bases her marriage only on what she believes and what she wants, based on fake love and lots of fake love stories.

Following the Second World War, the position of women in society changed greatly. More women started working full time to fill positions that men used to fill. That gave women more power to control their finances and changed some women’s perceptions and attitudes towards male-dominated institutions like marriage. To them, marriage is a tool that men use to control women. This sort of attitude is common in women at each level of every generation and every society. It has nothing to do with whether or not a woman is educated. There are many educated women who are willing to play the role of the traditional wife. Tony Blair’s wife Cherie is one famous example. Many people believe Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles because she was more willing to play the role of a traditional wife. In my own village there were radical wives who did not have access to any type of education whatsoever. It is more to do with an attitude problem and too much freedom of choice.

A worrying number of women are beginning to think this way due to mass media and mass communication, which connects the world. Everything is within reach. Radical wives have freedom of choice, higher expectations, ignorance of traditional roles of marriage, and they support gender equality. As a result they change men like they change a pair of shoes. A radical wife also cares a lot about the size of her husband’s assets. They are also likely to have sex before marriage, which makes them not worthy of marriage. Some don’t live this way, but they all share one thing in common – fear of being controlled by men.

Radical wives usually don’t care much about social and religious values. They often attend religious ceremonies, but in their heart there is really no God. This makes it very hard to reform them. They usually want to live their lives independently and make decisions based on what they think is good for them without considering how others feel. Some of them are too interested in the material world – if you stop providing for them, slowly but surely they will leave to find another husband. We may call them materialistic women. I think this term is wrong, because every woman likes material objects, whether she is a traditional or radical wife. The only difference is that traditional wives will not ask you for such things, and she will not leave you if you don’t have them. Radical wives are the exact opposite.

I remember one of my clients had a radical wife. They left Uganda for the UK, and lived together for nearly 5 years. Previously she had been married to three other men, and she never really showed her fourth husband any love. She would ask him to buy her this and that, and if he didn’t, there would be no sex. If they did have sex, she called out the names of other men while they were having sex. One day she told her husband that she had been transferred to work every weekend in Belfast, in Northern Ireland. He didn’t have any choice but to agree with this move. One day, six months later, she was having a shower and had left her phone on the table. Her husband picked up the phone and started to look at the text messages. He could not believe what he was reading: hundreds of text messages from all over the UK, asking her how much she charged for sex. When her husband confronted, she confessed that she had been doing a part time job as a working girl for the past six months. He nearly had a heart attack. He left his house there and then, and came to me. After he told the full story, I recommended that he divorce her immediately, which he did a few weeks later.

This is very common in society now. That woman’s husband had his doubts about her for so long, but he did not have any evidence until he read those text messages six months later. If you are planning to get married, you must be ready to follow and play the traditional roles of marriage for your own benefit. Some radical wives are not interested in having any children. This normally makes them very lonely in the end. Those radical wives usually end up with lousy men, who in return use them and abuse them. When they get old, they usually end up in a nursing home where they do not receive any valuable care, help or support. Some have nothing to show for a lifetime of work. Additionally, what they took from different men is used solely to pay for their care.

The disadvantages of being a radical wife

Don’t get confused between radical wives and modern women. A modern woman is completely different – she is a woman who may be very well educated and who has a great understanding of social and religious life. She is ready to take on her role and serve her community, society and the world, and she plays her role very well. She can be either a traditional or a modern wife. I have seen lot of modern women playing the role of traditional wife, without affecting their career.

The radical wife will marry someone conditionally. She relies too much on freedom of choice, and aims to have full equality with men. There are many disadvantages in this. She will find it very difficult to socialise with religious and conservative people. She will find it difficult to find a suitable man who is looking for a strong family connection. She will find it difficult to raise children. She will find it very difficult to stay with only one man. It is also very common for her to struggle to maintain any type of friendship. She is usually not worthy of marriage. The majority of radical wives prefer to be in a sexual relationship with men outside marriage, and sometimes with women too. This way, no one can question her actions, and she can freely and independently do whatever she wants to. She doesn’t care about the future; she lives for now. That is why the future doesn’t care for her – it ends up ruining her.

If you are one of these wives, try to change your way of life before is too late. It is never too late to become a good person if you are willing. Life is too short – it is not worth leading a loser’s life. There is nothing wrong with being a good, traditional wife. Marriage could save you from danger. Women can never become men. You can be one of the greatest women in your lifetime without challenging the role of men in society. It doesn’t really matter how rich you are, your life is imperfect without a proper husband. I don’t have to name anyone, but I’m sure you know someone who used to behave in this way, and in the end I’m sure they regretted it. Don’t let yourself down and become a bad example for future generations. Your family and friends will only be proud of you when they see you happy and following something which has a future for you. They will not like seeing you changing men like pairs of shoes. Your intelligence will only come to light when you begin to do good for yourself and the wider community. People will only judge you by what they see and hear. However, God will judge you one day, and on that day there will be no turning back and your only thought will be “If only I had known better”. Well, you know now: what can you do about it?

Happy marriage is usually based on mutual love and understanding. That is why it is very important to choose the woman you love for marriage. This is what I call a ‘pick and choose’ wife. A ‘pick and choose’ wife is the best wife you could ever dream of. She is also someone who will not mind playing the full role of a traditional wife.



Alahaji Yaya Sillah, also known as Yaya—Patchari, was born in Jarra Sutukung Sillah Kunda in the LRR region of The Gambia. He is married with children. Born into a family of religious Muslim conservatives, his views are more liberal and moderate due to much time spent travelling the world. His area of expertise is sociology and spiritual counselling. Through his counselling service, he has inspired many people to become successful in their own right. His first book, published in 2014, was “Marriage and Society’, centred mainly on the essence of marriage and the importance of education. Later that same year, he established his own charity, the Back to School Foundation, which aims to promote education and research in Africa. In 2019 he founded Suba Kunda Publishing to promote African literature in the diaspora.

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