The African Village

‘I do’ is Really An ‘Us’ Thing

Marriage is a time-honored tradition that builds community and society as a whole. When a wedding takes place, it is not just about the two individuals making that commitment to be together. Their promise to each other and joining also brings their respective families together. The relationship between the families becomes more intimate than it was prior. You might say that things take on a whole different meaning after the couple become a unit.

Interestingly the family has always been part of the journey to marriage in African culture and tradition. Informally it often plays matchmaker, in some instances families procured the services of one. Some matchmakers (individuals or families themselves) have a history of providing their services to successive lineages over time. The process or journey to marriage is usually not done in isolation, but one where a desired match is a joint effort and originates from within the family unit.

As two individuals find each other, their decision to make it permanent would unite their respective families and thus create new bonds. These relationships affect the larger community and foster greater connectivity between all concerned. Community is a huge part of life in ancient and modern-day Africa and people of African descent and heritage.

A connection made by two has a ripple effect that starts with their nuclear families. This spreads to the extended family and the larger community. Celebrating the joy of a wedding transcends the couple that have found each other, the union of families and their hearts fosters greater community which resounds for generations to come. History is rich with how those ties evolve, strengthen societies and enrich lives through the initial joining and how it became enmeshed in the fabric of the greater whole.

Oluseyi Olanihun writes for The African Village


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