When bride price doesn’t get you the bride

00:46 by Kaggwa Andrew

As serious as a heart attack. May be that’s the way Christian Maseruka, 29, felt, on a day that would have changed the way the world looked at him. He was soon graduating from a boy to a man and that’s when he was hit with that bombshell. For a moment, he collapsed in his seat like a soldier dropping into abyss.
He had gotten many things right; the gifts, brown envelops, the birds, but his intelligence had been betrayed by just one extra demand, a house.
That’s when the would be happiest day in his life almost became a catastrophe. There was no way he could push through a wedding if he didn’t build himself a home. He had no time to put anything right.
“I had put a lot into this introduction, but the moment I saw our speaker in heated discussions with her family, I knew something was amiss though I just couldn’t put my finger to it, I had exhausted all they could have asked for,” says Maseruka.
Since that unforgettable introduction ceremony, Maseruka and the fiancée had to wait for at least for more years to walk down the aisle.
“We are building a home, but since my fiancée is still in her parents’ home, time is not on my side,” he says.
For many men like Maseruka, the idea to get married or start a family has always been triggered by age. However, with the evolution of norms, the criteria, methods and signals for marriage have since changed. Today many families around the world won’t let their daughter get into a marriage where the financial security is uncertain.
In settings where culture is a big influence to the daily life, different practices like those in marriage are still held high. An example in china, for a traditional marriage to be conducted, bridegroom should provide a new place for his future wife or, at least, his parents should help them establish a material foundation to provide for their future grandchildren.
According to a Chinese blog, Things you don’t know about China, article; Naked marriage: what’s’ real? Marriage is an important mark of maturity and accomplishment for Chinese. Marriage, to many of them, doesn’t only requires “love,” a more or less abstract concept, but other conditions such as material means and the responsibility to produce offspring for the family.
However, before China’s economy took off in the 1990s, Chinese didn’t have much, and for young people, as long as they had a stable job, a dorm room, and basic livelihood, it wasn’t difficult to get married.
Though, as time changed, a new form of marriage cropped up especially among young Chinese couples, it violates most of the norms followed by a traditional marriage.These young people choose to get married without owning a house, a car, or having a lavish wedding and even a ring, and this type of marriage is called ”naked marriage,” or “luohun” in Chinese.
In Uganda, even when such marriages have been common, parents like Maseruka’s in-laws have always existed and a TV advert by famous actor and Comedian Kato Lubwama confirms this. In the advert, Kato Lubwama is a father who chases a way the groom to be on realizing that they don’t own even a piece of land.
“The advert was totally an arts creation not a personal experience though, a voice for many voiceless parents, a big number of Ugandan parents would love to see their daughters get married to men that can’t fully take care of them,” says Kato Lubwama.
Maseruka seems tohave fallen prey to in-laws that echoedKato’s sentiments. He admits that he too understands where the parents are coming from though notes that those parents should learn to respect and at least trust their daughters’ choices.
“I understand they don’t want to see their daughters in bad situations after marriage but the best way they can love their girls is by respecting her choice of me.” Maseruka says.
For Simon Wasswa, 32, it was more than a house that the in laws demanded of him, they needed him to even have investments, land and a strong financial backing in case he lost his job the next day.
“They said there were looking out for their grandchildren’s interests in case we had some, those people were weird, I wondered why they were only assuming doom on a day that was meant for merry making, and it’s not like we were even planning on having kids,” Wasswa wonders adding that that visitation was the last he talked to that girl – they broke up.
Other parents though look at standards of the groom to be as bench mark.In the case of famous keynote speaker, activist and philanthropist, Frank Gashumba, a mere house or car doesn’t guarantee you his Sheila’s hand in marriage, you need to be way better than him.
During an interview with Bukedde TV’s Bridget Namitala, Gashumba stressed that he can’t let his daughter bring a man below his status.
“If am driving a Benz, I don’t expect Sheila to bring me a man who runs his daily activities on a Bodaboda, I’ve invested a lot in my daughter,” he told the presenter.
If more parents like Gashumba exist, that means men like Maseruka would have to wait for ages till they even plan on asking for someone’s hand in marriage. In Kato’s view, a man should wait, work and attain enough resources that can sustain him and the wife even when she was not employed.
“it should have been wise for one to wait and work and at least buy a piece of land for his future house, the cost of living is high today and you can’t convince me that you’re going to take care of my stay home daughter when you have food, rent, electricity and water bills calling, when will you save to buy her a dress?” Kato questions noting,that, they’resuch men overwhelmed with the burden of running a home that end up mistreating people’s daughters.
Wasswa though thinks it’s a person’s upbringing not their financial status that shapes the way they carry themselves.
“I’ve seen very successful men beat wives for the sake of doing it,” he says.
As stated by Kato, such demands don’t crop up because parents are looking for many, it’s all for the good of the couple.
“I would hate it if my daughter had a very big introduction where cars have been given out, home sets and yet they are going back to struggle with the landlord,” he says adding; “a house is a very big foundation of a family, if you started a family without one, you would have built a very weak foundation that’s more likely to crumble.”
Maseruka goes against both Kato and Gashumba arguing that some parents just pretend to be looking out for their daughters yet in the real sense, they don’t want a poor in law.
“You will find parents who will let their daughters go with a boy who still lives with his parents but since they are rich, there won’t be objections,” Maseruka says.
Not to really differ from Maseruka, Kato refers to a part in his advert where the groom gets the daughter’s defense only to be shut up by her father.
“That part locks the poor out, truth is no one would wish poverty for their daughter that’s why many set at least a standard of a house,” he says.
Maseruka agrees with the importance of a house in a marriage though notes that a wife leaving with you in both good and bad conditions even sets a better foundation for a relationship.
“some parents forget that a house is not a home, if I built a house with my wife giving me that much needed moral support, it will obviously turn out the way we want, though, she will feel like a stranger if she found me in a more contained self,” Maseruka says adding; “what makes a wife is the way she changes a man after marriage, there are men whose first try at building a house was an idea of the woman.A wife is that person who sees you through thick and thin, especially thin.”
Wasswa on the other hand thinks that such erratic demands by the parents have materialized marriage so much which has deluded the little love drop that existed before.
“with these set of conditions, am worried how many girls will marry out of love, there are more chances that they will stay at their parent’s for long and out of frustration they will go with whoever has a house without necessarily falling for them,” says Wasswa.
Kato though insists that since time immemorial, the role of taking care of the family has always belonged to the man and parents setting conditions of him owning a house is merely enforcing that role. He also notes that even in traditional settings, a man needed a house before they were given someone’s daughter.
“The difference is that our ancestors had all this land to their disposal that when it was time for one to marry, it was a simple matter of demarcating borders and give him a piece to start his family which is not possible today,” he says.
In the same vein, Joan Mugisha believes its common sense for men to provide housing security to their bride to be in every way.
“He’s the man, thus has to provide me with shelter, clothing and any form of facilitation, generally I think someone should start families when they are ready. Am not willing to get into a miserable marriage because of love, that love can make you cry through,” she said adding that any girl would love to end up in a gifted marriage regardless; “I would rather cry in a Benz than pretend to be happy on a bicycle.”
Joan also shares her experience growing up where they had to shift from one house to the other because their parents had not yet built.
“I remember changing houses, schools and friends almost on a yearly basis and it was pain, I wouldn’t want to go through that in marriage. I want a man with a house or at least a foundation of one,” she notes hysterically.
Karen Kagisha too thinks that like Chinese, such marriages should be emphasized in Uganda for sanity.
“This can get men to commit, a house is no mean achievement, it can get many to understand that marriage is not a one off thing. I think a house cements the fact that marriage and family are permanent” she says.
Sophia Ngira however seems to disagree with the two; “if marriage will require one to build a house, then Uganda is headed for more co habiting and more kids out of wedlock, how great is that?” she asks continuing; “if you love each other get married no one else and no other condition matters.”
Coincidentally, many of the girls Mars talked to concurred with Ngira‘s position though, continuously rejected the idea of ever being party to a naked marriage.


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